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1) what does he mean by one and other, does one refer to life as in a metonymy and the other to lucre?

2) Isn't "by like feeble tenure holding lungs and pouch, and yet knowing and desiring nothing beyond them" an incomplete sentence, if so why is it separated by semi-colons?

HERMAN MELVILLE - THE CONFIDENCE MAN

http://www.online-literature.com/melville/confidence-man/11

"At length, the good merchant, whose eyes were pensively resting upon the gay tables in the distance, broke the spell by saying that, from the spectacle before them, one would little divine what other quarters of the boat might reveal. He cited the case, accidentally encountered but an hour or two previous, of a shrunken old miser, clad in shrunken old moleskin, stretched out, an invalid, on a bare plank in the emigrants' quarters, eagerly clinging to life and lucre, though the one was gasping for outlet, and about the other he was in torment lest death, or some other unprincipled cut-purse, should be the means of his losing it; by like feeble tenure holding lungs and pouch, and yet knowing and desiring nothing beyond them; for his mind, never raised above mould, was now all but mouldered away. To such a degree, indeed, that he had no trust in anything, not even in his parchment bonds, which, the better to preserve from the tooth of time, he had packed down and sealed up, like brandy peaches, in a tin case of spirits."
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1. I don't know that this is anything to do with metonymy, but, yes, "the one" = "his life" and "the other" = "his money".

2. Yes, it's an incomplete sentence, but clauses separated by semicolons don't have to be complete sentences. A good deal of flexibility is possible. Having said that, the passage in question is typical of the long and convoluted constructions that authors such as Melville took delight in, and this style would not be so popular nowadays.
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eagerly clinging to life and lucre,
though the one was gasping for outlet, and about the other he was in torment

lest death, or some other unprincipled cut-purse,
should be the means of his losing it;
by like feeble tenure
holding lungs and pouch
and yet knowing and desiring nothing beyond them;
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I think the unusual punctuation was intended to help to clarify the structure of this very long sentence. Whether it has succeeded is another question.

CJ
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thank you a lot
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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