for not insulting whom

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Gabriel Aparta

Senior Member
Español - Venezuela
Hi, please, from David Copperfield by Dickens:

"And when you make use of your position of favoritism here, sir," pursued Mr. Mell, with his lip trembling very much, "to insult a gentleman—"

...
I cut this part out

—"To insult one who is not fortunate in life, sir, and who never gave you the least offence, and the many reasons for not insulting whom you are old enough and wise enough to understand," said Mr. Mell, with his lip trembling more and more, "you commit a mean and base action.

I find it really hard to understand that part. That third part doesn't seem to follow the sequence, and I don't quite get what that whom mean. Does it refer to the person speaking (Mr. Mell, a professor scolding the teenager) or the person listening?

Thanks!
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It refers to the same "one" as at the beginning of the sentence. The idea is this:

    "To insult one who is not fortunate in life, sir, and who never gave you the least offence, and who is a person (whom) you are old enough and wise enough to understand why you should not insult him..."
     
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