A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Some casual influence
has dropped good seed, which has taken root and beareth fruit to
perfection. The words are the title of a dramatic poem by Robert
Browning. Pippa is a chaste-minded, light-hearted peasant maiden, who
resolves to enjoy New Year's Day, her only holiday. Various groups of
persons overhear her as she passes-by singing her innocent ditties,
and some of her stray words, falling into their hearts, act with secret
but sure influence for good. (1842.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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