we sermonised her on the [presumption] of


Senior Member
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 17

Quotation: "Theodore, do you remember those merry days?"

"Yaas, to be sure I do," drawled Lord Ingram; "and the poor old stick used to cry out 'Oh you villains childs!'--and then we sermonised her on the presumption of attempting to teach such clever blades as we were, when she was herself so ignorant."

Context: Blanche Ingram and Theodore Ingram were saying how they played tricks on their governesses.
Hi everyone! I don't quite understand "presumption" here. The WR dictionary tells mean "presume" could mean "to dare (to do something) with too much boldness". So I interpret the sentence as "and then we sermonised her on the conduct of daring with excessive boldness to attempt..." (you fool dared to teach clever pupils as we were). Is it correct? I'd say my interpretation is not idiomatic... But it's easy for me to understand. :D
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  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    The governess was "attempting to teach such clever blades." The clever blades considered the attempt to be presumptuous.
    Your understanding is correct.
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