Biography of David Bates
Born at Indian Hill, Ohio, March 6, 1809, David Bates was educated as a clerk in Buffalo and then in a mercantile house in Indianapolis, Indiana. Eventually he rose in the company to be a full member and its buyer, and he and his family settled in Philadelphia. He contributed as a man of letters to journals and published a volume of poetry, Eolian, in 1849. His son Stockton, who published his collected works after his father's death on January 25, 1870, wrote that "Two of his poems, `Speak Gently,' and `Childhood,' have attained a world-wide reputation; while the former of these, by translation into other languages, has become almost a universal hymn" (Poetical Works [Philadelphia, 1870]: vii). The former was made even more famous by Lewis Carroll's parody of it in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1866): 84-85 ... "Speak roughly to your little boy, / And beat him when he sneezes; / He only does it to annoy, / Because he knows it teases."
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David Bates Poems
Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood, With its careless, thoughtless air, Like the verdant, tangled wildwood, Wants the training hand of care.
Reproach will seldom mend the young, If they are left to need it; The breath of love must stir the tongue, If you would have them heed it.
Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.
See it springing all around us --
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.