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'Do you give the children Daffy, Mrs. Mann?' inquired Bumble, following with his eyes the interesting process of mixing.
'Ah, bless 'em, that I do, dear as it is,' replied the nurse. 'I couldn't see 'em suffer before my very eyes, you know sir.'
'No'; said Mr. Bumble approvingly; 'no, you could not. You are a humane woman, Mrs. Mann.'
( Oliver Twist Chapter 2)

What does the bold part mean? I searched but I didn't find a clue.

2 Answers 2

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She is saying that she gives Daffy to the children despite it being expensive . Or even though it is expensive / costly / dear.
I can't find a definition of "Daffy", and wonder if it is an old form of Taffy, a kind of toffee popular in the USA.

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    daffy - a medicine for children, named for a seventeenth-century clergyman. It consisted of senna (a laxative prepared from the roots of the cassia tree) and was commonly mixed with gin, thus daffy became slang for gin itself. Mrs Mann gives the children daffy in Oliver Twist. charlesdickenspage.com/….
    – James K
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 2:08
  • There is the explanation for Daffy:dictionary.tn/what-is-daffy-oliver-twist Sorry, cross posted, but this is another source
    – ForOU
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 2:11
  • Thanks for the answer. At first, I thought it might mean something as "although", but the period after "nurse" suggests otherwise. Perhaps punctuation was not used in the same way then as it is now.
    – ForOU
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 2:15
  • I've seen it referred to in other 19th century fiction as 'Daffy's Elixir'. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 8:08
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This answer is not to disagree with the accepted answer but to reply to the comment from OP about "although", which is about the construction.

dear as it is can be paraphrased as "although it is expensive" or "even though it is expensive" or "despite the fact that it is expensive."

The construction [adjective] as it is, concedes that the adjective is applicable; the understood meaning, when you put the matrix clause and that concessive clause together, is that the action of the matrix clause happens anyway.

I always put my bet on the tortoise, slow as he is.

She likes those old romantic comedies from the 1940s, sappy as they are.

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