By all my rare old historic associations, breathed Bury;

enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Context: Redburn meets with a young named Harry Bolton. After Bolton talked his story to Redburn, Redburn understood that he was an orphan left in Bury in Suffolk county.
What I am not sure of the following paragraph: Who is talking here? If it is city Bury, I am not able to understand this first sentence: By all my rare old historic associations, breathed Bury


By all my rare old historic associations, breathed Bury;
by my Abbey-gate, that bears to this day the arms of Edward the Confessor; by my carved roof of the old church of St. Mary's, which escaped the low rage of the bigoted Puritans; by the royal ashes of Mary Tudor, that sleep in my midst; by my Norman ruins, and by all the old abbots of Bury, do not, oh Harry! abandon me. .....
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, it is the city of Bury talking.

    So, 'breathed Bury' means that 'Bury' whispered or spoke very softly.

    And the 'rare old historic associations' are all the things that are mentioned after this sentence: the old church, Norman ruins, old abbots etc. They are unique historical buildings and people associated with the city of Bury.

    Why the city used the word 'by' will depend on what came before and afterwards. Why is Bury 'talking'?

    'By' is often used in this way when swearing something (in old-fashioned language) e.g:

    (I swear) by my sword I will avenge my mother's death.
    (I swear) by all that is holy, I will search for the stolen treasure until my death. etc etc

    There could be other contexts in which it is used – as I say, we'd need to know a lot more about why Bury is speaking.
     

    enkidu68

    Senior Member
    turkish
    Can we say like this after all or sum up "Don't abonden me Harry for the sake of all my historic assocations which are my monesteries, abbots, gardens etc."
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Well, if that is relevant to the context, then yes. I'm afraid the quote you gave doesn't tell me that.

    But if Bury seems to be trying to make Harry stay, rather than leave, then, yes, that would work.
     

    enkidu68

    Senior Member
    turkish
    I think yes it does. I am citing next part of the paragraph below:

    Where will you find shadier walks than under my lime-trees? where lovelier gardens than those within the old walls of my monastery, approached through my lordly Gate? Or if, oh Harry! indifferent to my historic mosses, and caring not for my annual verdure, thou must needs be lured by other tassels, and wouldst fain, like the Prodigal, squander thy patrimony, then, go not away from old Bury to do it. For here, on Angel-Hill, are my coffee and card-rooms, and billiard saloons, where you may lounge away your mornings, and empty your glass and your purse as you list.
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    I think yes it does. I am citing next part of the paragraph below:

    Where will you find shadier walks than under my lime-trees? where lovelier gardens than those within the old walls of my monastery, approached through my lordly Gate? Or if, oh Harry! indifferent to my historic mosses, and caring not for my annual verdure, thou must needs be lured by other tassels, and wouldst fain, like the Prodigal, squander thy patrimony, then, go not away from old Bury to do it. For here, on Angel-Hill, are my coffee and card-rooms, and billiard saloons, where you may lounge away your mornings, and empty your glass and your purse

    as you list.
    Then I agree with you.
     
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