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From My Commonplace Book

"The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together.  If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things~ praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts~ not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs."~ C.S. Lewis

"A garden is an evidence of faith, and it links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.  The truth is, none of us belongs merely to today; we are a small part of the whole progression of mankind.  We have a responsibility to pass to the next generation as much good as we can, and we are also responsible for those who went before us."~ Gladys Taber

". . . a wise and elegant thrift~ nothing wasted, nothing wanted . . ."~ a description in 1885 of Zilpah P. Grant by her biographer

"“For a liberal arts education is not a tool like a hoe or a blueprint or an electric mixer. It is a true and precious stone which can glow just as wholesomely on a kitchen table as when it is put on exhibition in a jeweler’s window or bartered for bread and butter. Learning is a boon, a personal good. It is a light in the mind, a pleasure for the spirit, an object to be enjoyed. It is refreshment, warmth, illumination, a window from which we get a view of the world. To what barbarian plane are we descending when we demand that it serve only the economy?”~ Phyllis McGinley

"From the hour I began to reason, and possibly from the hour I began to feel, I have been a conservative. Quite possibly I am on the losing side; often I think so. Yet, out of a curious perversity I had rather lose with Socrates, let us say, than win with Lenin."~ Russell Kirk


  1. I always enjoy and benefit from your commonplace book posts, Martha. I'm curious about the second and third quotes: do they come from books? I'd love to know more context, if you know it.

  2. I'll do my best. :) Gladys Taber wrote a series of books in the 1960's and '70's about the Connecticutt farmhouse she and her husband bought and renovated. (I'm going mostly from memory.) They wanted a place in the country to spend weekends and holidays with their children. They called the place Stillmeadow. I think they lived in NYC the rest of the time. She wrote books about their life there and I think they all have "Stillmeadow" in the title. The quote comes from _Stillmeadow Album_, which is the only one I have read or seen. It's a quiet, gentle book about pets, gardening, and other homey things. The black and white pictures are just what you'd expect from a book published then~ dark and full of indistinct objects, but it is an enjoyable book if you like books about home.

    I can't tell you much about the third quote. I had to look up Zilpah Grant because I'd never heard of her. She was a New England educator and promoter of education for girls and women in the 1820's to '50's. I haven't read her biography (I don't even know the name of it!) and I don't recall where I ran across this quote, but I hope there is something of her wise and elegant thrift in the way my family lives. :)


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