hose foundations take hold on the pit


Senior Member
Hi folks, this is cited from Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Context: Redburn was taken to a place named “Aladdin’s Place” which is not known exactly where it is or what is done in.
Q: Does this bold one mean “whose foundations lie until to the Hell in a metaphoric way?”

I shuddered at every footfall, and almost thought it must be some assassin pursuing me. The whole place seemed infected; and a strange thought came over me, that in the very damasks around, some eastern plague had been imported. And was that pale yellow wine, that I drank below, drugged? thought I. This must be some house whose foundations take hold on the pit. But these fearful reveries only enchanted me fastto my chair; so that, though I then wished to rush forth from the house, my limbs seemed manacled.
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think the pit is Hell, as you suggest, that the building has its foundations there. "Until" is not right though, the passage refers to place, not time.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    But sometimes I remember having seen word "until" with places too.
    In a journey, you travel in time and space, so in something like "stay on this road until you get to the post office, then turn right", it could refer to either. But we know from other uses that it is never used for place where there is no time element involved.
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