David Bates

(6 March 1809 – 25 January 1870 / Indian Hill / Ohio)

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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Childhood

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.

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