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Few but

Posted by R. Berg on October 19, 2003

In Reply to: In a passage on Columbus posted by ESC on October 19, 2003

: : At the age of twenty-four, by a lucky chance, Columbus was thrown into Lisbon, center of European oceanic enterprise. There, he conceived the great enterprise that few but a sailor would have planned, and none but a sailor could have executed. His idea was to reach "The Indias".

: : 1.What does "thrown into" mean?
: : 2.What does "few but", "none but" mean?

: "Thrown into." He was in the city with little preparation, orientation. Just thrown in to sink or swim.

: It's possible that a non-sailor could have conceived the plan but it would have been unusual. Only a sailor could have actually executed the plan.

"But" means "except" in contexts like that. Few persons except a sailor. No person except a sailor.

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