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    #1

    The pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to share with me your opinion concerning the usage of the phrase in bold in the following sentence from Payn’s “Lost Mr.Massimgbert”?
    He went after the poachers, did he not? said I. “Yes, as usually” replied my Tutor; “he has done it before scores of times. “ “The pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last” returned I. “I should not be surprised if the wretched man has been murdered by some of those against whom he waged such unceasing war.”

    What do you mean about the following phrase?

    “the pitcher goes to the well once too often”

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V

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    #2

    Re: The pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last

    Not a teacher only native.

    It is a warning against pushing your luck too far. In this case, someone, presumably the gamekeeper/landowner has gone after the poachers. This is something they do regulary and the speaker is warning that if he continues to do so he might not be as fortunate as to come back.

    Hope this helps.

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    #3

    Re: The pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to share with me your opinion concerning the usage of the phrase in bold in the following sentence from Payn’s “Lost Mr.Massimgbert”?
    He went after the poachers, did he not? said I. “Yes, as usually” replied my Tutor; “he has done it before scores of times. “ “The pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last” returned I. “I should not be surprised if the wretched man has been murdered by some of those against whom he waged such unceasing war.”

    What do you mean about the following phrase?

    “the pitcher goes to the well once too often”

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V
    You take a pitcher (container) to a well for a purpose - to collect water.
    If the pitcher is broken, the purpose cannot be accomplished.
    In this case, there is the secondary suggestion that "he" is injured or killed.

    "The pitcher goes to the well once too often."
    Literally - if you take too much water from the well, there will be no water.
    Figuratively, it refers to asking for something too often. If you ask your friend for a little money once a year, your friend will probably lend or give you money. If you ask every week, your friend is sure to say no. The well has run dry.

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