Saturday, February 2, 2013

A 'most peculiar' page?

 My brother, a sailor

It's always possible, of course, that people might say of us, we are a most peculiar page. Sometimes the risk is so customary, that it is simply too boring to flout it; yet, still, there is such a quality of life few would care to renounce, in being suspected of peculiarity, that rather than inhibiting our reading list, say, or inhabiting our narrative against its sunny nature, a lark breaks out from nowhere and the chips, so noted for designing their own fall, proclaim an unsuspected disdain for the ground. Who can query a restraint like that? Is there a concept, do you suppose, more fraught with inherent hilarity, than security? 

I give you the problem, of knowing one's hat size. Who can forget an Augustan blogger's boast, some couple of years ago, that he and his beau were the only two pedestrians properly dressed on the Miracle Mile, or some such Maupassant setting, jolies bourgeois to a fault?

Yet what more stunning depiction of the ascent of the lark could they have fashioned, do you suppose, for prompter recognition? Is not such resolute punctiliousness today, on matters of such tragically neglected importance, the very essence of our rapture in the Second Amendment, than which no nobler relic of anxiety has ever been codified? The thing was a bribe, to gain a Stand-ing Army, and yet we treat it as if it were the ultimate bond of society.

We offer no speculation into the evident dread some of our gentry feel, of being caught inadequately armed at Lexington or Concord, pinioned piteously to the ground, abandoned yet somehow now exposed. The arguments for cowardice bear too great a correlation to their testimony to our Senate, to resem-ble the likelier narrative of our heritage, much less the stuff of Saturday musings. There's no know-ing of one's hat size by timidity, no purpose to a rule that won't be tested for its vitality. A law that has no bearing on the world as it exists, is something, though, to fathom as a most peculiar page.

Department of History
Princeton University
To Arm the Revolution:
  Securing the Military
  Sanction, 1787 - 1789
Firestone Library
Princeton, 1970©

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