must vindicate a claim to philosophical reflectiveness

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YutaBacon

Member
Japanese
Hello,
Would someone be so kind to explain me what the bold part means in this paragraph:

And here I must vindicate a claim to philosophical reflectiveness, by remarking that Mr. Brooke on this occasion little thought of the Radical speech which, at a later period, he was led to make on the incomes of the bishops. What elegant historian would neglect a striking opportunity for pointing out that his heroes did not foresee the history of the world, or even their own actions?—For example, that Henry of Navarre, when a Protestant baby, little thought of being a Catholic monarch; or that Alfred the Great, when he measured his laborious nights with burning candles, had no idea of future gentlemen measuring their idle days with watches. Here is a mine of truth, which, however vigorously it may be worked, is likely to outlast our coal. (George Eliot, Middlemarch, Chapter 7)

The context is: Mr. Brooke thinks that his niece's marriage to Casaubon is good because Casaubon is wealthy.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    The only way to do that is to provide you with a paraphrase of the sentence, YutaBacon. Here it is: I will live up to my reputation for being philosophically reflective by making a remark about Mr. Brooke and what he thought on the occasion. On this occasion, Mr. Brooke gave very little thought to the Radical speech that he would later make regarding the incomes of the bishops.

    Droll verbosity is characteristic of much nineteenth-century English literature.
     

    YutaBacon

    Member
    Japanese
    Then ' a claim to philosophical reflectiveness' is ' a claim to (the narrator's ) philosophical reflectiveness ', isn't it?
     

    YutaBacon

    Member
    Japanese
    Oh! I understand the sentence now! Thank you for your kindness.
    I interpreted it as ( Mr. Brooke's ) reflectiveness.

    I have one more question. Why does narrator say 'he was led to make' instead of saying ' he would be led to make' ?
    I think that the past tense is inappropriate here.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome.
    Why does narrator say 'he was led to make' instead of saying ' he would be led to make' ?
    At a later period suffices to inform readers about the sequence of events. There really isn't any need to use would be led to make in that paragraph about things that took place in the past. You'll be hard-pressed to find any obvious errors in verb tenses in Eliot's book.

    We are already wandering away from the topic of your thread, which is a bad idea. We members are asked to focus on one specific language question in each thread.
     

    YutaBacon

    Member
    Japanese
    I am sorry. I have become a member of this site only recently, so I am not yet used to the rule.
    I won't let it happen again.

    Thank you for answering my questions!
     
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