O Diem Præclarum!


Ours is a shrill, intemperate sensibility. Our senses of right and wrong, of true and false, are adamantine, and all encompassing, extending even to ladies' casual wear. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about everything, and every disagreement is a potential casus belli.

Will some other sensibility, recycled from the past, do? Something, perhaps like Sir Thomas Browne's in Religio Medici:

There are many things delivered Rhetorically, many expressions therein meerly Topical, and as they best illustrate my intention; and therefore also there are many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of Reason.

Or perhaps rather more playful, like Laurence Sterne's in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman:

You must have a little patience. I have undertaken, you see, to write not only my life, but my opinions also; hoping and expecting that your knowledge of my character, and of what kind of a mortal I am, by the one, would give you a better relish for the other: As you proceed further with me, the slight acquaintance which is now beginning betwixt us, will grow into familiarity; and that, unless one of us is in fault, will terminate in friendship.--O diem præclarum!--then nothing which has touched me will be thought trifling in its nature, or tedious in its telling. Therefore, my dear friend and companion, if you should think me somewhat sparing of my narrative on my first setting out,-bear with me,-and let me go on, and tell my story my own way:--or if I should seem now and then to trifle upon the road,--or should sometimes put on a fool's cap with a bell to it, for a moment or two as we pass along,--don't fly off,-but rather courteously give me credit for a little more wisdom than appears upon my outside;-and as we jogg on, either laugh with me, or at me, or in short, do any thing,--only keep your temper.

© 2015-2020 Stephen M. Pentecost