Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

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Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Before the smartphone there was the commonplace book, that is, a note book where folks recorded stuff they wanted to remember.  You  can think of commonplace books kind of like scrapbooks folks carried around with them to help remember useful stuff.  You know?  Grandmother's recipe for fried chicken, the opening lines of the "Declaration of Independence," the latest lewd joke, etc.

This thread is our class commonplace book.  As you read each week, on occasion you'll pick up a quotation or idea worth remembering and passing on.  It might be worth remembering because it seems odd, funny, or profound.  Record it here and take a moment to explain why you think it worth remembering and thinking about later.

I'll get us started with three quotes I'll return to in the last message I'll have for you this semester, namely, quotes from John Adams, the second president.  

Adams wrote a lot about how democracy can't exist without education and folks willing to speak their minds.  In many respects, Adams is why classes in Early American Literature exist.  His words are certainly one reason I teach the course.  Adams said,

"Let us dare to read, think, speak and write." [I've got this on a mug.]

And,

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge..." [This is carved on the side of the National Archives.]

And,

"It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and a prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them. You say it is impossible. If I should agree with you in this, I would still say, let us try the experiment, and preserve our equality as long as we can. A better system of education for the common people might preserve them long from such artificial inequalities as are prejudicial to society, by confounding the natural distinctions of right and wrong, virtue and vice."

Two hundred forty-some-odd years later, we're a nation of near 300 million freemen with no nobles in sight.  We've kept the great experiment going by educating common people, like you and me, and each of us, when our time came, daring to read, think, speak, and write.  You'll be doing a lot of reading, thinking, speaking, and writing this semester.  

Welcome to Early American Literature, ENG 241, Spring 2011.  

Steve
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Keith Vertrees
I posted this in the Week 6 discussion as well, but I think it's a good resource for quotes from Washington in regards to slave ownership:

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=99
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Antonio Lewis
My two favorite quotations from Thomas Jefferson deal with nature and education.  The fist quote about nature is "The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on."  This is my favorite of the two.  I enjoy this quotation because of its truthfulness and I believe we take the Earth and its resources for granted sometimes.  Land is like common stock because if you invest in and work it properly, there will be rewards and return for you.  Examples of return include food, water, shelter, etc.  The other quotation I happen to like is "I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man."
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Kendall Plummer
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
My two favorite quotes from Jefferson are about music and admiration. "Do not neglect your music. It will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life to you." As a musician, I understand how music can make someone feel. It is constant and when one may feel that nothing else in their life is. "And as for admiration I am sure the man who powders most, parfumes most, embroiders most, and talks most nonsense, is most admired." The person who stands out the most, puts themself out there the most, and who lets their opinion be known, is usually the person looked up to and trusted as a leader.
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Cynthia
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Here are my choices for Jefferson's quotes:

1- “It is unfortunate that the efforts of mankind to recover the freedom, of which they have been so long deprived, will be accompanied with violence, with errors, and even with crimes. But while we weep over the means, we must pray for the end."
This quote is valuable to me because being wrote hundreds of years ago the irony is still the same.   The countries at war might be different but the overall effects of war are still present.  When the quote talks about being accompanied with violence, with errors and even with crimes, I tend to think about the Middle East at war.  Innocent families are being affected because of the war on terror.  “We must pray for the end” and hope that the war will someday be over.  To me the quote is one of my favorites because no matter what century we are in, the quotes meaning will always have the same meaning to those who read it.


2- “The flames kindled on the Fourth of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.”  
This quote really stood out to me because I have always felt that countries tried to mimic the United States government or democracy.  Can the democracy of the United States thrive in other countries? I think other countries who have the same type of democratic governments would agree that democracy can thrive.  If one looks at the top democratic countries, they mimic the exact traits U.S. does as a government.  After all, a democracy is the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives.  
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Keith Vertrees
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
I've found that the quotes that are the shortest tend to be the most entertaining. The same holds true for Jefferson, as I find his quipes to be far more enlightening than his paragraph long missives.

To that end, most of mine will be short.

"if a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? those by death are few. by resignation none."

The long term senators frustrate me every two years. There is no good that can come of someone being seated in the same office for decades. Well, perhaps good for them personally not but for the public.

"An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second."

An honest heart without a knowing head will at least still make decisions that are good by others, a knowing head without an honest heart is sure to lead to selfish and divisive actions.

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."

I have an extremely cynical view of religion. While the support structures that are formed through the church may be beneficial, the mob-like mentality bread be a judgmental superiority complex has caused nothing but pain for thousands of years.

"The disease of liberty is catching; those armies will take it in the south, carry it thence to their own country, spread there the infection of revolution and representative government, and raise its people from the prone condition of brutes to the erect altitude of man." (I specifically selected this one given the recent wave of unrest in the middle east.)

Liberty truly does seem to be a disease spreading throughout the middle east. The protests in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia... Basically everywhere from Algeria to Bahrain.

"...disapproving myself of transferring the honors and veneration for the great birthday of our republic to any individual, or of dividing them with individuals, I have declined letting my own birthday be known, and have engaged my family not to communicate it. This has been the uniform answer to every application of the kind."

I hate birthdays. There is nothing to celebrate, and I find the practice of celebrating living for another year to be somewhat morbid.
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Courtney
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
There are so many great quotations by Thomas Jefferson it is hard to pick just two. I chose Friendship like Wine and He Who Knows Best.

1. Friendship like Wine: “I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk, and restorative cordial.”

I chose this quotation because it holds true and is very meaningful to me. When you sit back and relax, think about this question: What Is Friendship? For me, this quotation defines it perfectly. A good friendship is sometimes rocky at first, but ripens like a fine wine over time.

2. Wasting the labour of the people: “if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

I chose this quotation because it too holds true. If our government actually did what they say they did, people would be happy. Everyone holds on to hopes and dreams that our government knows what is best, but unfortunately, I don’t always think that is the case.
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Courtney
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
There are so many great quotations by Thomas Jefferson it is hard to pick just two. I chose Friendship like Wine and He Who Knows Best.

1. Friendship like Wine: “I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk, and restorative cordial.”

I chose this quotation because it holds true and is very meaningful to me. When you sit back and relax, think about this question: What Is Friendship? For me, this quotation defines it perfectly. A good friendship is sometimes rocky at first, but ripens like a fine wine over time.

2. Wasting the labour of the people: “if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

I chose this quotation because it too holds true. If our government actually did what they say they did, people would be happy. Everyone holds on to hopes and dreams that our government knows what is best, but unfortunately, I don’t always think that is the case.
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Sha Trent
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
It's amazing how profound Jefferson was, he had a strong, relevant voice regarding countless topics. I'd have to say that the two quotations that 'moved' me the most were:

1816 January 6. (to Charles Yancey) "If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be."[7]

(The quote reminds me of my favorite quote by Albert Einstein: " Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results")


1790 April 4. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph) "Do not neglect your music. It will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life to you."[10]

(I was drawn to this one simply because I love music and believe in the healing power TJ spoke of regarding its presence in life.)
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Brittani Fleming
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
The Autobiography of Ben Franklin turned out to be a very interesting piece of literature.  My favorite quote from the autobiography is "Human Felicity is produced not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day"   This quote is my favorite because it explains what human happiness is truly about. In the autobiography, this is stated as the reason Frankin decides to do publice service work.  His inventions helped improve the quality of colonial life, thus providing happiness for Americans.  All the public service work he does is just like volunteer work that we do today.  This quote is truly valuable because it shows that small acts of kindness done for others can lead to the greatest overall happiness and wellbeing
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Ben Morgan
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
So the two quotes which I chose from the readings this week are important to me for different reasons. They both fell in line with some of the things I am most passionate about. The first pertains to my love for music. Having studied Jefferson and his musical tastes and preferences, I have come to find that when he speaks of music, it is not just a liking or something he is fond of, but rather, a work, a lifestyle, a passion. I enjoy so much reading and hearing of his love for music, namely with the violin. So, one of the quotes I picked is as follows: "Do not neglect your music. It will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life to you." I have found this to be so true for myself.
The second quote which I picked falls under the category of patriotism. If there is one major thing I am grateful for, it is the fact that I was born in this great country! I love the USA. There is a camaraderie, a pride, a power, and a bonding force that I believe drives our country to what it is today. I simply love the fact the we can be seen as a power house. A country which was built on passion and rage, and to this day will fight for what is does not agree with. Even when debates and arguments separate our political preferences, I feel as if a love for our countries name is a binding link. So, the second quote states: "The flames kindled on the Fourth of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.” America!
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Cynthia
In reply to this post by Courtney
OOOHH..I loved the one about friendship! It is so real and we can incorporate anytime in life, in 20 years will still have the same meaning.
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

tcason24
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
In researching over The Declaration of Independence, I came across three quotes which stood out to me and meant the most:

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress...solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are obsolved from all allegiance to the British crown..."

-This quote reiterates the purpose of the Declaration of Independence. I believe Jefferson was stating, "In case you didn't understand the TITLE of our requests, this should clear up any wondering ideas of what we want and how things are going to be for now on." You've got to love Jefferson for that!

"Free and independent states...have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do."

-Basically stating, WORLD WE ARE OFFICIALLY INDEPENDENT AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS! No matter what you've heard or seen about America, we are now ran by ourselves and come directly to us if anything needs to be handled.

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much libery than to those attending too small a degree of it."

-The United Stes are willing fail from any acts of their own liberty than to be ran by someone else. We do not want any help from Britain regardless the results of our own acts. We want to run as an independent and learn from our own mistakes.
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Re: Post Quotations and Passages: A Class Commonplace Book

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Great quotes.  The last, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much libery than to those attending too small a degree of it," is from one of the letters Thomas Jefferson wrote to Archibald Stuart.  I think one from late December 1791.  

Stuart was a young lawyer who studied for a year under Jefferson at Monticello.  Wouldn't this have been cool?  I've never researched to find out what became of Stuart.  Someday I should.  With a teacher and mentor like Jefferson, I would expect great things.

It's a great letter.  If it's the letter I'm remembering  Jefferson goes on to discuss Federalism and states rights.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)



On Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 8:28 PM, tcason24 [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much libery than to those attending too small a degree of it