suffering to try

Cub Pilot

Senior Member
Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, chapter The Boys' Ambition
The text:
When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left as all burning to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that came to our section left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. <——-Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)——->

What does suffering mean in this context?
Any help is much appreciated:)!
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Perhaps it's equivalent to the modern expression, "we were dying to try that kind of life". It sounds negative, but it denotes a great yearning or desire for something.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    When I read this I can't find any definition of suffer used in a positive sense. All definitions convey a negative sense commenting on painful or regrettable circumstances. So I can't realize the meaning of suffer posted in #2.
    You are using a 2019 dictionary to look up a word in an 1883 book. The set of meanings for "suffering" have changed in 136 years. If you want to find this exact meaning in a dictionary, you will have to use an 1883 American English dictionary.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    eagerly anxious

    They were feeling (mild) mental distress until they could try it. Just like you feel anxious when waiting on anything you look forward to. You can't wait for it to happen.
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