From Joseph Conrad's The Tale.
I'm wondering about the meaning of the word sagacity in the following context:
"The Commanding Officer and his Second in command discussed the object with understanding. It appeared to them to be not so much a proof of the sagacity as of the activity of certain neutrals. This activity had in many cases taken the form of replenishing the stores of certain submarines at sea."
First of all, it refers to a proof of the sagacity of certain neutrals, doesn't it? I mean, not simply a proof of the sagacity of something in general (within the context)?
Second, what does sagacity mean here? It can't mean soundness of judgment etc. Does it lean towards words like wiliness or something similar, or what?
So what you're saying is that:
"It appeared to them to be not so much a proof of the good judgement of certain neutrals as of the activity of them"??
Hm, I could go along with that, but I'm still not sure what Conrad would mean by it. It does imply some sort of ironic point of view, doesn't it? I mean towards the neutrals; that they really aren't bright enough to know what they are doing? But then again, if I'm not completely misinformed, Conrad had some personal experiences of WWI. I think!
Perhaps not quite so damning as "not bright enough" - rather that the activity is not part of an overall plan, which would have needed forethought and assessment of a (in this case) naval situation.