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help me understand this sentence Options
vkhu
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 5:21:34 AM
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"We had not, however, rid here so long but we should have tided it up the river, but that the wind blew too fresh, and after we had lain four or five days, blew very hard."

Original text: Robinson Crusoe



All these "but" confused me. Can anyone break this one down or 'modernize' it please?
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 5:25:27 AM

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d'oh!
vkhu
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:36:29 AM
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Anyone else care to hazard a guess?
NancyUK
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:17:28 AM

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Hi vkhu

My guess is that it means something like this:

They had arrived at the river mouth on a ship. They had not been there long, and were expecting to be able to ride the tide up the river, however the wind was blowing too hard in an unfavourable direction to allow this. They waited four or five days, but by then the wind was blowing even harder.

Rid - maybe archaic past participle of ride? The boat rode the waves, the sea.
Tide - v.intr. Nautical To drift or ride with the tide: tided off the reef; tiding up the Hudson.
Fresh - (of wind) moderately strong or brisk.

Edit: As to the use of but - when you add archaic language and old-fashioned usage, it makes things exponentially more difficult. However, here goes another round of guessing...

It might be that the "buts" are used like this:

But #1: (usually used after a negative) without it happening or being the case that: we never go out but it rains.
But #2: (foll by that) except that: nothing is impossible but that we live forever.


I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance, Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance. Ogden Nash
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 2:34:34 PM

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Nancy is perfectly right on the meaning.
Some more details on the idiom (which may be helpful later in the book).

Yes - I've seen it before.
"We had rid" was an alternative to "we had ridden".
A boat "rides the waves".

The author is writing in the colloquial 'speech' of his time - not very easy to understand, even for English people, sometimes.

*************
The first "but" is a colloquial usage, and seems to me to be a mixture of the meaning Nancy gave and "that" - another 'unusual' one.
It is also only used with a negative first clause.

but conj.
6. that (used esp. after doubt, deny, etc., with a negative): I don't doubt but you'll do it.


"We had not, however, ridden (sailed) here so long that we should have drifted up the river with the tide."

The second "but" is exactly as Nancy says:
"we should have tided it up the river, but that the wind blew too fresh"
"we should have drifted up the river with the tide, except that the wind blew too fresh"
I would split the sentence there, personally.
"we should have drifted up the river with the tide. However the wind blew too strong".

You have not only old language, but colloquial language too.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017 6:19:50 AM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
The Russian translation goes:

We wouldn't, however, have stayed here so long and we should have tided it up the river, if not for the fact that the wind blew too fresh, and after we had lain four or five days, blew very hard.

This seems to be in line with what Nancy and Dragon said above. I am not sure, maybe there is an additional nuance with this We hadn't stayed so long if not for... I think the modern grammar is we wouldn't have stayed so long if not for... If I am not mistaken.d'oh!
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