Does "humble" refer to "practical people" or not?

WE have now traced various disconnected and irregular uprushes of psychic force in the cases which have been set forth, and we come at last to the particular episode which was really on a lower level than those which had gone before, but which occurred within the ken of a practical people who found means to explore it thoroughly and to introduce reason and system into what had been a mere object of aimless wonder. It is true that the circumstances were lowly, the actors humble, the place remote, and the communication sordid, being based on no higher motive than revenge.

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    – James K
    Feb 22, 2020 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


The text you quoted is a bit hard to follow (it probably could have been written a bit better, in my opinion), but:

In terms of basic grammar, "the actors humble" is actually a contraction of "the actors were humble" (with the word "were" ellipsized out). This means that "humble" is referring to the noun "the actors".

Now, does "the actors" refer to the same people as were earlier being referenced as "a practical people"? As I mentioned, the text is not the easiest to follow, but by my reading (and without other context), yes, it sounds like the two sentences are probably intended to refer to the same group of people, so yes, it is apparently saying that the people were both "practical", and they were also "humble".

Note that "humble" does not mean the same thing as "practical", though, so this is actually saying that they are both of those things ("the actors humble" is giving you additional information that they were also humble in addition to being practical), not simply stating the same thing in a different way.


I wouldn't say "humble" is about being practical. It is about NOT SHOWING OFF. For instance, you are great in chemistry and get into class, where you're a way better than your surrounding. So, you can either show everyone: "I'm the best" (showing off), or just keep yourself to yourself (you know that you know and don't need praise of others – humble).

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