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Eshley had conceived and executed a dainty picture of two reposeful milch-cows in a setting of walnut tree and meadow-grass and filtered sunbeam, and the Royal Academy had duly exposed the same on the walls of its Summer Exhibition. The Royal Academy encourages orderly, methodical habits in its children. Eshley had painted a successful and acceptable picture of cattle drowsing picturesquely under walnut trees, and as he had begun, so, of necessity, he went on.

quoted from the stalled ox

Does "the same" mean the same picture or the same picture that has the same concept? If it means the same picture, why does the writer use "the same" instead of "the picture"?

2 Answers 2

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It is possible to use the word same or the same as a pronoun, to refer to a person or thing that you have already mentioned.

Here is the Oxford Dictionary entry:

pronoun
...
1.1 (chiefly in formal or legal use) the person or thing just mentioned:
‘put the tailboard up and secure same with a length of wire’

The author of this short story, Saki, was killed at the age of 45 during the first world war. His work dates from the period before the war, writing was considerably more formal than it is today. According to this Ngram, this usage peaked around 1918- the end of the first world war. In modern English, this usage is, as the dictionary entry says, chiefly in formal or legal use.

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I would say the author means the same picture. As to the why the writer chose the same over the picture, I think it's more of a stylistic choice. This conclusion is based on the assumption that the author would've furnished more details if he indeed meant another picture that's very similar.

Furthermore, the story goes on to describe other less successful ventures of his that were returned to his studio, labelled "abominable heresies". So I believe it's safe to say that the story revolves around the specific paintings of Mr.Eshley, giving more credence to our theory above.

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