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meaning of the sentence Options
Zeli
Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 8:25:31 PM

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Joined: 3/11/2017
Posts: 21
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Quote:
They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. -Thoreau


1. Can I rewrite the first sentence to "They will wait for others to remedy the evil, well disposed that they may no longer have it to regret."?

2. How to understand "go by" in the second sentence?

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 10:25:56 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 26,250
Neurons: 140,249
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Zeli wrote:
1. Can I rewrite the first sentence to "They will wait for others to remedy the evil, well disposed that they may no longer have it to regret."?

No.
It would not make sense.
"well disposed that . . ." does not mean anything.

"Well disposed" is an adjectival phrase. It describes 'they':

Well disposed
in good condition; in good health.

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

"that they may no longer have it to regret" is an adverbial clause, saying why they would wait.

Quote:
2. How to understand "go by" in the second sentence?

I understand it literally, really.
They are not doing anything right. They are just watching 'right actions' as they go by (through time).

They are waiting, watching - someone else does something to remedy evil - they continue feebly watching.
They watch 'the right' go by.

Thoreau does not write in the most simple fashion!


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Zeli
Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 5:31:54 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 3/11/2017
Posts: 21
Neurons: 485
@Drag0nspeaker

Does "it" in the second sentence refer to "the right"?

And can I say "They are positive someone will remedy the evil so that they won't regret they don't remedy the evil by themselves, and when someone is doing right,they just watch, at most give him a vote and a Godspeed"?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, May 19, 2017 4:46:19 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 26,250
Neurons: 140,249
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Zeli wrote:
Does "it" in the second sentence refer to "the right"?

And can I say "They are positive someone will remedy the evil so that they won't regret they don't remedy the evil by themselves, and when someone is doing right,they just watch, at most give him a vote and a Godspeed"?

Yes - 'it' seems to refer to 'the right' - the actions others do to remedy evil.

*********
Your sentence is OK, except 'positive' seems a little bit too 'strong' - they are not so active. It is grammatically good. I'm now looking at 'style' and meaning.

I would replace 'positive' with 'waiting, comfortable'. I also changed one of the commas to a semi-colon and one to an 'and'.
"They wait, comfortable that someone will remedy the evil so they won't regret that they don't remedy the evil by themselves; and when someone is doing right, they just watch and at most give him a vote and a Godspeed."

Personally, I would not phrase the regret that way - though it is not wrong.

"They will wait, comfortable that someone will remedy the evil so they won't regret not remedying the evil themselves; and when someone does right, they just watch and at most give him a vote and a Godspeed."


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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