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A dreary commitment? and again: live by example

Posted by Sphinx on December 13, 2003

"I find young people exciting. They have an air of freedom, and they have not a dreary commitment to mean ambitions or love of comfort. They are not anxious social climbers, and they have no devotion to material things. All this seems to me to link them with life, and the origins of things."

1.Could you explain what is a dreary commitment?
2.Is it right to say 'they have not a dreary commitment' instead of 'they don't have'?

And dear folks, thanks for your kind posts, but it seems that none of you paid much attention to my confusion. We often say live by one's hands, by fishing, farming... but never by 'example'! 'Live by' means make a living using something - something that you depend on. Living by example, therefore, is incomprehensible! Can you give other examples in which 'live by' is used like this?

(I've heard of 'live by the book', but it's another matter altogether - 'live by' here means conduct one's life accroding to the Bible.)