A man has to <fend and fettle for the best>, and then trust in something beyond himself


Senior Member
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 445, chapter 19) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Mellors wrote to Connie, saying that he wanted to live with her, but he's frightened .…)

And though I’m frightened, I believe in your being with me. A man has to fend and fettle for the best, and then trust in something beyond himself. You can’t insure against the future, except by really believing in the best bit of you, and in the power beyond it. So I believe in the little flame between us.

The blue sentence is a little confusing to me. How should I understand it please? Fend means ward off, and fettle is a noun. But what is something beyong himself?

Thank you in advance
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    Senior Member
    English-US, standard and medical
    To fend for yourself does not mean to ward off. It means to take care of yourself, with the implication that it is a struggle. To fettle is, I believe, a regional BrE verb meaning to make or contrive. The meaning of the passage is that a man must work hard and struggle to do his best, then trust etc.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'Fettle' is a British dialect or northern regional verb, as well as a noun, meaning to keep in good order and look after, much the same as 'fend' in fact.

    fettle /ˈfɛtəl/ vb (transitive)
    1. to line or repair (the walls of a furnace)
    2. Brit dialect to prepare or arrange (a thing, oneself, etc), esp to put a finishing touch to
    3. to repair or mend (something)

    I see 'for the best' as meaning as well as one can.


    Senior Member
    Thank you. But does fend mean To attempt to manage without assistance(by a dictionary)?
    And what does trust in something beyond himself mean please?
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    Senior Member
    English - British
    I feel he meant the same thing as the definition I offered in post 4.
    The Oxford English Dictionary gives these meanings:
    4 b.
    to fend for: to make shift for, look after, provide for. So in to fend for oneself. Chiefly dial. or colloq.

    2 b.
    To busy oneself; to fuss.

    'To fend and fettle for the best' means 'do the best he can in life'.

    'Trust in something beyond himself' means 'trust that the universe or fate or something will look after him'.

    We have a proverb 'God helps those that help themselves'. Lawrence has put this saying into local dialect, while making it more impersonal and taking out the mention of God (replacing that with a vague 'something beyond himself').
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    Senior Member
    It makes sense in logic. Mellors/Lawrence thought all the men had to strive to change the direction of social development, the fate of human being,:thumbsup: even though I thought something beyond himself refers to the power of humanity/masculinity.