to such of the little people as came by

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Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
I wasted some time in futile questionings, conveyed, as well as I was able,to such of the little people as came by. They all failed to understand my gestures; some were simply stolid, some thought it was a jest and laughed at me.
(The Time Machine – H. G. Wells)

(The entire text can be found here on the Project Gutenberg website.)

I don't understand the structure (and the meaning) of the first sentence. What is the significance of the parallel structure as well as I was able... as came by? I understand the meaning of the first part - he conveyed his questionings as best as he could - but what does 'as came by' mean? Does it mean litererally as they were approaching him? Or does it have a different meaning?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The third 'as' is unrelated to the first two. It belongs with 'such': such of the little people as came by = those of them who came by.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, entangledbank.

    It belongs with 'such': such of the little people as came by = those of them who came by.
    But in that case, could I replace 'as' with 'who' like you did in your rewording? '... to such of the little people who came by'?
     
    Last edited:

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You have parsed the sentence incorrectly. Leaving out the adverbial phrase we have:


    I wasted some time in futile questionings, conveyed to such of the little people as came by.

    If we paraphrase this then we get:

    I wasted some time in futile questionings, conveyed to those little people who came by.

    Or, abbreviating: I questioned the little people who came by.


    The adverbial phrase 'as well as I was able' can be paraphrased 'to the best of my ability'.


    Does this help?


    (Cross-posted with eb)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, 'such .. as' is a fixed pair; its equivalent requires replacing both words: 'those .. who'. The 'such .. as' construction is perhaps somewhat old-fashioned or literary now, more common in Wells's time than ours, but still not unusual.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ... The 'such .. as' construction is perhaps somewhat old-fashioned or literary now, more common in Wells's time than ours...
    ... and furthermore "such as" is nowadays a very common phrase meaning "for example" (such as the way I am using it now). So you are best advised, for two reasons, not to use it as Wells does.
     
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