Lines Written For A School Declamation Quotes

David Everett

"Tall Oaks From Little Acorns Grow"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Everett was at various times a lawyer, a journalist, and a school teacher. Following his undergraduate education at Dartmouth he taught grammar school for several years at New Ipswich, N. H. Leaving the teaching profession he began the study of law, which he practised for some time. He also was a reporter for the Boston Gazette and, later, for the Farmer's Museum, to which he contributed a number of Poor Richard type of articles. His literary output included a five-act drama in blank verse and a two-act play concerned with slavery. These Lines, also known as "The Boy Reciter," were written during his teaching years for a seven-year-old pupil to deliver at a recitation period:

You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage,
And if I chance to fall below
Demosthenes or Cicero,
Don't view me with a critic's eye,
But pass my imperfections by.
Large streams from little fountains flow,
Tall oaks from little acorns grow;
And though now I am small and young,
Of judgment weak and feeble tongue,
Yet all great, learned men, like me
Once learned to read their ABC.
But why may not Columbia's soil
Rear men as great as Britain's Isle,
Exceed what Greece and Rome have done
Or any land beneath the sun?
. . .