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    #1

    the clearest part of his harvest

    Does "the clearest part of his harvest" mean "the best part of his harvest"?


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    Let him do what he like, he can not but meet at every step of his life these same neighbors, who interfere with his enjoyments, impede his work, consume his produce; and when he has done with these, others, dressed in black, make their appearance, and sweep off the clearest part of his harvest. Picture, if you can, the condition, the wants, the character, the passions of such a man, and estimate the store of hatred and envy he is laying up in his heart!n

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    #2

    Re: the clearest part of his harvest

    Is it old-fashioned English?

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    #3

    Re: the clearest part of his harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodTaste View Post
    Is it old-fashioned English?
    Most likely. The text was written in 1856 in French, and then translated into English. I cannot make out completely what it means, either .
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: the clearest part of his harvest

    The older the industry, the older and more region-specific the words used. This example refers to farming a long time ago. As others have stated, this is a translation. We can only guess.

    Knowing what crop has been harvested would be very important in making an accurate guess: If the crop was wheat, for example, I couldn't speculate on what "the clearest part of his harvest" might mean. If, however, he had apples, then maybe the ones "dressed in black" (representing either the Church or government- the line between was pretty blurry back then) wanted the best quality fruit without or "clear" of blemishes.

    It's also possible a typographical error has found it's way into the translation: not a long leap from "clearest" to cleanest, which is a more typical word in English to describe grain quality today.

    In any case, the Church was very powerful in those days, and often did not bother to wait for farmers to offer some of their harvest, but came and took what they wanted. In fairness, the Church may have owned the land the farmer worked, so was entitled to a major share, whatever the tenant may have felt about the arrangement.

    I think you have the correct understanding of the given text, though you should be careful in using "the best part of..." something, because we often use that to indicate the largest portion, not necessarily the best quality.

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