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The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin Options
flylikeeagle
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 6:48:38 AM

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I read the following in "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I":

"A portrait from Mr. Carlyle's portfolio not regretted by any who loved the original, surely confers sufficient distinction to warrant a few words of notice, when the character it depicts is withdrawn from mortal gaze."

Many words are confusing (to me, at least); "confer", "distinction", "warrant" and "mortal gaze".

Does "confer" here mean "grant" or "bestow"?
Does "distinction" mean "Excellence or eminence"?
What does "warrant" and "mortal gaze" mean?

Does the speaker mean that Carlyle praised Erasmus Darwin? or the opposite?


https://charles-darwin.classic-literature.co.uk/the-life-and-letters-of-charles-darwin-volume-i/ebook-page-12.asp
flylikeeagle
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 6:52:44 AM

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Help is needed :)
Romany
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 7:30:10 AM
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I don't want to dissuade you from reading English books and articles.

But I would advise you that, for now, you stick to modern English.

Books written in the 19thC use a different form of English that is no longer spoken, and often the words and phrases used are no longer even part of the language. Most native speakers - unless they are familiar with the different kinds of English spoken long before they were born - have so much difficutly understanding them that they simply don't even bother!

Even if one painstakingly looks up the meaning of every single unfamiliar word or usage, that doesn't necessarily help because the way they used English was different too; and things that meant something to them have no meaning or relevence to contemporary English.

I'm sure you'll get help with this particular passage by someone who has more time than I do at present. But even then...the whole book is written in this kind of language so you'd have to stop on just about every page to get it "translated" into modern English. It would be a long, slow process and possibly even then, wouldn't help you to understand the book as a whole. While your English learning will be boosted if you read things written in the language we all speak in 2019.
pjharvey
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 7:58:12 AM
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"Confers sufficient distinction" means something like "stands out" - it is noticeable.
"Warrant" means "deseve".
"Withdrawn from mortal gaze" means dead (not visible to the yeas of living creatures any more".

To sum up, the sentence means that the portrait was indeed not a good one, but noticeable because its subject was dead.
flylikeeagle
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 9:16:48 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 11/29/2018
Posts: 32
Neurons: 10,928
Location: Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt
Romany wrote:

I don't want to dissuade you from reading English books and articles.

But I would advise you that, for now, you stick to modern English.

Books written in the 19thC use a different form of English that is no longer spoken, and often the words and phrases used are no longer even part of the language. Most native speakers - unless they are familiar with the different kinds of English spoken long before they were born - have so much difficutly understanding them that they simply don't even bother!

Even if one painstakingly looks up the meaning of every single unfamiliar word or usage, that doesn't necessarily help because the way they used English was different too; and things that meant something to them have no meaning or relevence to contemporary English.

I'm sure you'll get help with this particular passage by someone who has more time than I do at present. But even then...the whole book is written in this kind of language so you'd have to stop on just about every page to get it "translated" into modern English. It would be a long, slow process and possibly even then, wouldn't help you to understand the book as a whole. While your English learning will be boosted if you read things written in the language we all speak in 2019.


Thanks for the advice :)
lazarius
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 12:55:12 AM

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Romany wrote:
But I would advise you that, for now, you stick to modern English.

Harry Potter? No, thank you. Right now reading "On the Origin of Species". Love it.

Quote:
I have, also, reason to believe that humble-bees are indispensable to the fertilisation of the heartsease (Viola tricolor), for other bees do not visit this flower. From experiments which I have tried, I have found that the visits of bees, if not indispensable, are at least highly beneficial to the fertilisation of our clovers; but humble-bees alone visit the common red clover (Trifolium pratense), as other bees cannot reach the nectar. Hence I have very little doubt, that if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, the heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests; and Mr. H. Newman, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that "more than two thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England." Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. Newman says, "Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice." Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district!
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:45:11 AM
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Lazarius - where the heck does "Harry Potter" come into this discussion?

And how does the fact that you are currently reading about bumble-bess help the OP?
lazarius
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:59:06 AM

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Romany wrote:
Lazarius - where the heck does "Harry Potter" come into this discussion?

The only contemporary book everybody reads today. Supposedly written in modern English. :)

Romany wrote:
And how does the fact that you are currently reading about bumble-bess help the OP?

Exactly the way your comment helps them. The Literature section is here for general discussion.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 10:05:01 AM

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Joined: 8/11/2011
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
flylikeeagle wrote:

Does the speaker mean that Carlyle praised Erasmus Darwin? or the opposite?



Saying that the portrait was "not regretted by any who loved the original" suggests that although it was not well-received as a work of art, it is still appreciated out of respect for the subject.
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