We interrupt this Mother’s Day to say… I’m sorry.
There’s a pernicious rumor in Blogdom that I’ve heard a few times now. It goes something like this: The words “I’m sorry” are an anachronism, if you’re writing a Regency.
To which I say, “I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong.”
Some quotes from Pride and Prejudice:
Elizabeth, from The Proposal at Hunsford:
In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot — I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one.
From Darcy’s letter (THE Letter):
But from the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my actions and their motives has been read. — If, in the explanation of them which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of relating feelings which may be offensive to your’s, I can only say that I am sorry. — The necessity must be obeyed — and farther apology would be absurd.
Darcy, during the Second Proposal:
“I am sorry, exceedingly sorry,” replied Darcy, in a tone of surprise and emotion, “that you have ever been informed of what may, in a mistaken light, have given you uneasiness. I did not think Mrs. Gardiner was so little to be trusted.”
And I could go on and on. That word appears dozens of times in P&P alone. This book was written in the late 1700s to early 1800s, and first published in 1813. It’s as Regency as Regency gets. For heaven’s sake, it’s the the very origin of the Regency romance genre! So let’s quash this “I’m sorry” anachronism myth without apology.
If it’s good enough for Jane, it’s good enough for me.