by intelligence (archaic?)

DeeDol

Senior Member
Slovak
Hi,

what does this line mean?


It is reported, you possess a book
Wherein you have quoted by intelligence
The names of all notorious offenders,
Lurking about the city.
John Webster: The White Devil
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suppose that intelligence is here used in sense 3 - news received or given, especially about an enemy http://www.wordreference.com/definition/intelligence. I have checked in the OED, and this word was already used in this sense in John Webster's day.

    I think the word by is ambiguous: it could mean that you have listed (quoted) the names by means of informers (still a normal sense of by today). Alternatively it could mean that you have gathered the names in order to provide useful information. From the OED:
    36. a. The sense of ‘means’ sometimes approaches or passes into that of ‘cause’ or ‘reason’: Because of, on account of, in consequence of, through; in virtue of, on the ground of. †by so, by that: therefore.
     
    Last edited:

    DeeDol

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thank you for the explanation. Could you please rephrase the line so that I can understand it better? I can try but it'll probably be wrong:)
    ... (a book) in which you have written the names you have received from your informers... OR
    ... (a book) in which you have written the names of offenders, (and this book) provides useful information...
    Ugh, that makes litte sense to me :(
     

    DeeDol

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Hi,

    I've been thinking about this. Couldn't it mean something like "because you were intelligent"/"in your intelligence"? I guess not, but I can't figure it out so I am trying to fit in any meaning.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I think "by your inteligence" is less likely to mean "because you are intelligent" than it is to mean "through your sources" (ie informers, wiretapping, etc. - we speak of 'intelligence agencies' for 'spy networks': ['humint', for 'human intelligence'] or 'information gathering' by other means, such as electronic eavesdropping, spy planes/drones, etc.; sorry, I forget the abbreviation for this one.
     
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