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There is a paragraph in beginning of Thomas Hardy's "The Distracted Preacher":

But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him, they were rather pleased with the substitute than otherwise, though he had scarcely as yet acquired ballast of character sufficient to steady the consciences of the hundred-and-forty Methodists of pure blood who, at this time, lived in Nether-Moynton, and to give in addition supplementary support to the mixed race which went to church in the morning and chapel in the evening, or when there was a tea–as many as a hundred-and-ten people more, all told, and including the parish-clerk in the winter-time, when it was too dark for the vicar to observe who passed up the street at seven o’clock–which, to be just to him, he was never anxious to do.

My Questions are:

  1. What is the meaning of "...who styled themselves of his connection..."?
  2. what does this part of sentence refer to? "--as many as a hundred-and-ten people more, all told, and including the parish-clerk in the winter-time..."
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  • The hundred and ten are (the maximum number of) people who might come to tea, in addition to the hundred and forty Methodists already mentioned. Those who styled themselves of his connection are those who presented themselves as being connected to him. Aug 11 '21 at 19:19
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This is a very long sentence with multiple pieces of information.

Style is a moderately old-fashioned verb meaning "to call or name [something]." Here, some of the village inhabitants are styling themselves "of his connection." Connection (or connexion) is a word that means "the Methodist community as a whole." So those villagers who "called themselves Methodists" are the ones who became acquainted with him and were pleased with him.

The "hundred-and-ten people more" are those people who, unlike the 140 strict Methodists, go to both "church" in the morning and "chapel" in the evening (or when there was a social function like a tea). "Church" and "chapel" are metonyms for the sect of Christianity the people belong to; I am not at all an expert, but from context I believe that "church" refers the Church of England and "chapel" refers to the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Hardy is metaphorically calling the strict Methodists "pure blood" and the both-kinds people "mixed race," though of course there is no genetic or racial element involved.

See also this lit.SE question.

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  • Something to add: "...who styled themselves of his connection..." means those who presented themselves as belonging to the Methodist denomination (source) Aug 11 '21 at 21:22
  • @GratefulDisciple, edited, thanks!
    – randomhead
    Aug 11 '21 at 21:35
  • Christian denominations is a more appropriate description than sects for the Church of England and the Methodists. Although the distinction is sometimes fine and arguable, especially in a historical context, both groups would certainly regard themselves as denominations. The description sect is often derogatory. Aug 11 '21 at 22:37
  • @randomhead What do you guys think about "he was never anxious to do"? does it just refer to the vicar who couldn't see pedestrians at 7 o'clock in winter time? or does it refer to the minister who couldn't steady conscience of Methodists and give in supplementary support to mixed-race followers, etc. at the same time? Aug 12 '21 at 18:17
  • @Sina, the link at the bottom of my answer is to a question about exactly that.
    – randomhead
    Aug 12 '21 at 19:12

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