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.
Lines written for a School Declamation, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "The lofty oak from a small acorn grows", Lewis Duncombe (1711–1730), De Minimus Maxima (translation).