Cogent and conclusive this;

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enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Context: Crew did like Harry since he was not a tough person etc.
Q: Seamen were sure that Harry was a outlaw person, so they belittled him, is it something like that?

These white-fingered gentry must be light-fingered too, they say to themselves, or they would not be after putting their hands into our tar. What else can bring them to sea? Cogent and conclusive this; and thus Harry, from the very beginning, was put down for a very equivocal character.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A literary inversion for "this was (a) cogent and conclusive (argument)" at the beginning, so yes to your first part. They 'put him down' as if in notes or a book: regarded him, set him down, had him down for, decided he was, etc. 'Equivocal' literally more like "dubious" but euphemistically for presumably dishonest.

    By the way, nineteenth-century writers building up these convoluted, indirect sentences is/are rightly called 'elephantine': they're like an elephant in a tutu pretending to be coy and flirtatious, when all the reader hears is the loud thump-thump-thump of the big words.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    A literary inversion for "this was (a) cogent and conclusive (argument)" at the beginning, so yes to your first part. They 'put him down' as if in notes or a book: regarded him, set him down, had him down for, decided he was, etc. 'Equivocal' literally more like "dubious" but euphemistically for presumably dishonest.

    By the way, nineteenth-century writers building up these convoluted, indirect sentences is/are rightly called 'elephantine': they're like an elephant in a tutu pretending to be coy and flirtatious, when all the reader hears is the loud thump-thump-thump of the big words.
    Let''s not argue about Melville (who is not an elephant in a tutu). His ponderousness here and there only makes passages like chapter 60 of Redburn all the better.
     
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