The Devil and Most Diligent Preacher and other goodies

Not all sweet treats in cafes are of the edible variety.

In the presence of books, now and again I like to engage in bibliomancy, the practice of seeking insight or divination by opening a book to a random page and passage. Traditionally the book is sacred but by no means is that a binding rule.

In a cafe recently I pulled a book from the shelf. It was a treat; I was happy I was with camera.

English Literature Vol. I:

The inscription reads: James E. Essex – February 1879

Title page:

The book binds works predating 1400 to 1625. These are random samples — or “specimens” as they’re called in the book — from the Table of Contents. How can one enamored of and beholden to words fail to be absolutely tickled and fall in love all over again with these titles?

Geoffrey Chaucer: The Monk, Friar, Franklin, Wife of Bath, Poor Person – p. 31

Bishop Latimer: The Devil and Most Diligent Preacher – p. 128

William Shakespeare: Sonnet: That Time of Year – p. 192

Under Miscellaneous Poems: The Old and Young Courtier – p. 388

John Lyly: How the Life of a Young Man Should be Led – p. 403

A Father’s Grief for the Death of His Daughter – p. 404

Yes, the titles alone lend themselves to storytelling. I can feel the words forming on my tongue and pen at the ready to inscribe and birth them on the page.

I stilled my mind and opened the book to a random page and passage. It was very strange.

Interview with Lady Jane Gray – by Roger Ascham

One example, whether love or fear doth work more in a child for virtue and learning, I will gladly report; which may be heard with some pleasure, and followed with more profit …

Onward it flows. What's strange isn't the passage, rather its personal history. I employed this as an exercise for essay and discussion with a tutoring student last winter. What began as a passage unfamiliar turned into one I came to know well and whose content struck a chord (and nerve). It came 'round again. It means something.

Yes indeed, there are things sweeter than vanilla cupcakes with raspberry frosting in cafes.

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