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From SEVEN ENGLISH CITIES By W. D. Howells:

I have tried to give some notion of the fond behavior of the arriving Americans in the hotels; no art can give the impression of their exceeding multitude. Expresses, panting with as much impatience as the disciplined English expresses ever suffer themselves to show, await them in the stations, which are effectively parts of the great hotels, and whir away to London with them as soon as they can drive up from the steamer; but many remain to rest, to get the sea out of their heads and legs, and to prepare their spirits for adjustment to the novel conditions. These the successive trains carry into the heart of the land everywhere, these and their baggage, to which they continue attached by their very heart-strings, invisibly stretching from their first-class corridor compartments to the different luggage-vans.

I can't understand the structure, hence the exact meaning, of the bolded clauses:

  1. Is "These the successive trains carry into the heart of the land everywhere" parsed as "These(meaning Americans) (that the successive trains carry into the heart of the land everywhere)"? But if so, where are other components of the sentence such as verb after "these"?

  2. Is "to which they continue attached by their very heart-strings" structured as "which they continue to be(which is omitted originally) attached by their very heart-strings"? Who is "they" here exactly? What is "which" refering to here?

2 Answers 2

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  1. It's an inversion of the usual word order, and means the same as

The successive trains carry these (the Americans) into the heart of the land everywhere.

So all the components of the sentence are present; the verb is carry, and these is its object. But placing these at the beginning of the sentence places more emphasis on these instead of on the trains. One would read it with a slight pause after These. It's an archaic style.

  1. They is still these, i.e. the Americans, and which is their baggage, the noun that to which immediately followed. That is, the Americans continue attached to their baggage....
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  • Is "to be" omitted in the "Americans continue attached to their baggage"? Is this grammatically allowed?
    – CYC
    Sep 18, 2020 at 5:29
  • @CYC: Nothing is omitted there; the verb is continue, intransitive. The main idea is "The Americans continue", i.e. they go on with their journey. As they do so, they are attached to their baggage. One could add a comma: "The Americans continue, attached to their baggage." Sep 18, 2020 at 7:44
  • But attached is an adjective so it should be "be attached to" right?
    – CYC
    Sep 18, 2020 at 12:54
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    @CYC: I'm not sure of the grammatical analysis, but the "The Americans continue, attached to their baggage" sounds correct to me (native AmE speaker) as it is. Changing it to "The Americans continue, being attached to their baggage" doesn't sound right. Sep 18, 2020 at 23:14
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This is a bit difficult to parse, particularly without some context (I have never read Seven English Cities, so I can't really say why the Americans are connected to their luggage by their heart-strings, for example); however, I think this is what it's trying to say:

These (the Americans who prepared their spirits for adjustment to the novel conditions) the successive trains carry into the heart of the land everywhere, these (the same Americans) and their baggage, to which they (the same Americans) continue to be attached by their very heart-strings...

Perhaps the clearest way to phrase it would be, if you'll allow the fancy writing to be replaced by more plain description:

The Americans, who after arriving took some time to adjust to their novel conditions, were carried into the heart of the land everywhere by the trains. These Americans continued to be attached to their luggage by their very heart-strings, which invisibly stretched from their first-class corridor compartments to the different luggage-vans.

(Edited based on @KateBunting's observations)

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    I understand it to mean that some arriving Americans go straight to London on the express trains, while others 'remain to rest'. These (the second group) travel by later trains to all parts of the country. It's natural to be anxious about your luggage on a train when it has to be stored some distance away from your seat. Sep 18, 2020 at 7:39
  • @KateBunting I think you may be right about this. Reading again, "successive trains" does seem to say that it isn't the first group (those who leave for the cities as soon as they arrive) being talked about, but the second (the ones who stay to adjust for a while). I'll edit my answer accordingly because I think what you said is correct.
    – RawrRenn
    Sep 18, 2020 at 22:47

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