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    #1

    "strange" meaning of the word "but" (H.D. Thoreau's language)

    Reading "A week on the Concord and Merrimack rivers" by Thoreau, I encountered a few sentences with "but" whose meaning I can't understand. Here they are:
    1) ...one shore at least exempted from all duties but such an honest man will gladly discharge.
    2) These hints we had but partially obeyed.
    3) ...as art is all of a ship but wood, and yet the wood alone will rudely serve the purpose of a ship, so our bout, being of wood, gladly availed itself of the old law that the heavier shall float the lighter...
    All the three have been taken from the beginning of the chapter "Saturday".

    Could you possibly rephrase these sentences so that the meaning of the word "but" become clearer to me?

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    #2

    Re: "strange" meaning of the word "but" (H.D. Thoreau's language)

    In 2), but = only.
    In 3) I think but = except the (though I'm not sure).
    In 1) I can't tell without more context.

    It would be easier to help if you had provided the complete sentences for us.

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    #3

    Re: "strange" meaning of the word "but" (H.D. Thoreau's language)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    In 2), but = only.
    In 3) I think but = except the (though I'm not sure).
    In 1) I can't tell without more context.

    It would be easier to help if you had provided the complete sentences for us.
    1)At length, on Saturday, the last day of August, 1839, we two, brothers, and natives of Concord, weighed anchor in this river
    port; for Concord, too, lies under the sun, a port of entry and departure for the bodies as well as the souls of men; one shore
    at least exempted from all duties but such as an honest man will gladly discharge.


    2) and 3) If rightly made, a boat would be a sort of amphibious animal, a creature of two elements,related by one half its structure to some swift and shapely fish, and by the other to some strong-winged and graceful bird. The
    fish shows where there should be the greatest breadth of beam and depth in the hold; its fins direct where to set the oars, and the tail gives some hint for the form and position of the rudder. The bird shows how to rig and trim the sails, and what form to give to the prow that it may balance the boat, and divide the air and water best. These hints we had but partially obeyed. But the eyes, though they are no sailors, will never be satisfied with any model, however fashionable, which does not answer all the requisitions of art. However, as art is all of a ship but the wood, and yet the wood alone will rudely serve the purpose of a ship, so our boat, being of wood, gladly availed itself of the old law that the heavier shall float the lighter, and though a dull water-fowl, proved a sufficient buoy for our purpose.

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    #4

    Re: "strange" meaning of the word "but" (H.D. Thoreau's language)

    What beautiful prose that is.

    In 1), the way I read it, but means except. So "but such as" can be read as except those [duties] which.

    I think post #2 is right about the other two.

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