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1) Can "but" be used instead of that when an idea of doubt, fear or distaste?

2) Can "but" mean that...not, therefore "There never is a tax law presented but someone will oppose it" means "There never is a tax law that someone will not oppose"?

3) What does "but" mean here? "Still, he was far from the illiberality of denying that philosophy duly bounded was not permissible. Only he deemed it at least desirable that, when such a case as that alleged of the unfortunate man was made the subject of philosophic discussion, it should be so philosophized upon, as not to afford handles to those unblessed with the true light. For, but to grant that there was so much as a mystery about such a case, might by those persons be held for a tacit surrender of the question."

Hernan Melville - The Confidence Man

http://www.online-literature.com/melville/confidence-man/13
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wholegrain1) Can "but" be used instead of that when an idea of doubt, fear or distaste?

2) Can "but" mean that...not, therefore "There never is a tax law presented but someone will oppose it" means "There never is a tax law that someone will not oppose"?

3) What does "but" mean here?
"Still, he was far from the illiberality of denying that philosophy duly bounded was not permissible. Only he deemed it at least desirable that, when such a case as that alleged of the unfortunate man was made the subject of philosophic discussion, it should be so philosophized upon, as not to afford handles to those unblessed with the true light. For but to grant that there was so much as a mystery about such a case, might by those persons be held for a tacit surrender of the question."

Hernan Melville - The Confidence Man

http://www.online-literature.com/melville/confidence-man/13

No comma - the meaning is close to that in #2
wholegrain1) Can "but" be used instead of that when an idea of doubt, fear or distaste?

2) Can "but" mean that...not, therefore "There never is a tax law presented but someone will oppose it" means "There never is a tax law that someone will not oppose"?
Hi, wholegrain.
I think it's a gross oversimplification to say that "but" is substituted for "that" in your example. "That" is just a relative pronoun, while "but" in your example (IMHO) is a conjunction connecting two independent clauses. (I may be all wet!)

I never saw a tax law which/that someone didn't oppose. To me, this is a relative clause, or dependent clause (surely not indepent) where "that" serves as direct object of the verb "to oppose." (In your example, "to oppose" has its own direct object, "it.")

In you example, "someone will oppose it" is an independent clause, so I'd take "but" as a conjunction. I cant think of another common conjunction or conjunctive phrase which can replace it in this example. The sentence would probably have to be rewritten, as you have done.

Perhaps you realize this: << that.....not, therefore >> , but what you say is a little hard for me to follow. (Does question 1. apply to the example in question 2., or is there no example for question 1. ?)

- A.
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Are you sure? So can you say "For that to not grant that there was so much as a mystery about such a case, might by those persons be held for a tacit surrender of the question."? Most people to whom I asked said it meant merely, although it doesn't seem to be the case.
I was asking the third question because of this definition I picked up in a dictionary:

"7. That . . . not. Used after a negative or question: There never is a tax law presented but someone will oppose it."
I asked the second question because you can say "I don't fear but he is dead" instead of "I don't fear that he is dead" like in Shakespeare.
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wholegrain you can say "I don't fear but he is dead" instead of "I don't fear that he is dead"
Ouch! I need some sleep.

I'd take this one to mean the opposite. "I don't fear [the opposite of that] he is dead." EQUALS "I'm sure he is dead." That is, "but" equals "the exception to." I don't fear the exception to his being dead. I understand the sentence to be a double negative. I don't fear that he is not dead.

I think you could optionally keep the "that" in your sentence. I don't fear that he is dead. (He's alive!)
I don't fear but [that] he's dead. (He's dead! - I have no doubt!) I don't fear (admit the possibility of) the opposite.


Give me a little time on these. - A.
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