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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Lines Spoken by a Boy of Seven Years

By David Everett (1770–1813)

[Born in Princeton, Mass., 1770. Died at Marietta, O., 1813. Caleb Bingham’s “Columbian Orator.” 1810.]

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 I now am small and young,

Of judgment weak and feeble tongue,

Yet all great learned men, like me,

Once learned to read their A, B, C.

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?

Mayn’t Massachusetts boast as great

As any other sister State?

Or where’s the town, go far and near,

That does not find a rival here?

Or where’s the boy, but three feet high,

Who’s made improvements more than I?

These thoughts inspire my youthful mind

To be the greatest of mankind:

Great, not like Cæsar, stained with blood,

But only great as I am good.