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    #1

    with a deeper plummet

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence from O.Henry’s ”The Complete Life of John Hopkins”?

    When a poor man finds a long-hidden quarter-dollar that has slipped through a rip into his vest lining, he sounds the pleasure of life with a deeper plummet than any millionaire can hope to cast.

    plummet = measure of truth, righteousness, morality

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: with a deeper plummet

    The verb 'sounds' has an obscure and archaic meaning, which still exists in the nautical term 'soundings'.

    When a poor man finds a long-hidden quarter-dollar that has slipped through a rip into his vest lining, he sounds the pleasure of life with a deeper plummet than any millionaire can hope to cast.
    The 'plummet' is a noun - not a verb, as more usually. It is a piece of lead (Pb - plumbum). The plummet is at the end of a string and you throw ('cast') it over the side of a ship to take a sounding (='check how deep the water is').

    'The pleasure of life' in the quote is the water. I'm sure you can work out the rest of the image.

    b

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    #3

    Re: with a deeper plummet

    Hi BobK,

    Thank you for your elucidation.

    Here is a brief further information concerning my interpretation of the term “deeper plummet” especially with regard to the present case:

    There is a saying that no man has tasted the full flavor of life until he has known poverty, love and war. The justness of this reflection commends it to the lover of condensed philosophy. The three conditions embrace about all there is in life worth knowing. A surface thinker might deem that wealth should be added to the list. Not so. When a poor man finds a long-bidden quarter-dollar that has slipped through a rip into his vest lining, be sounds the pleasure of life with a deeper plummet than any millionaire can hope to cast.

    It seems that the wise executive power that rules life has thought best to drill man in these three conditions; and none may escape all three.

    What are the most important things in life? You have to fall in love. You have to go to war. You have to be poor. Nobody`s life is complete without these three things.

    But do you also have to be rich? It that as important as the other things? No, it isn`t.

    A poor man is very happy when he finds a dollar. He felt great admiration for it.

    A rich man can`t understand this.

    Here are a few other examples for a masterstroke usage of the key term (noun).

    Deeper than e'er plummet sounded. (see Shakespeare's The Tempest)

    My fear is that one or more violent incidents will become the pretext for a deeper plummet into counter-terrorism.

    Regards,

    V.

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