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Could someone please explain the bold term to me in layman's terms:

The gentleman's spiritual intercourse seemed to me as poor a piece of journey-work as ever this world saw.

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3 Answers 3

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Journeymen were workmen who had completed their apprenticeship, but not yet become masters of their craft (e.g., carpentry). The implication here is not only that the work is not masterful, but that even by the lesser expectations of a journeyman's work, it was bad.

I occasionally here journeyman used in a similar way describing professional athletes who (while very good compared to you and me) are far from the top of their specialty, and have played for a number of teams.

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journeywork - work done by a journeyman; hackwork

You could translate the bolded phrase to one word, "awful."

Awful - extremely bad or unpleasant

The gentleman's spiritual intercourse seemed to me as awful as ever this world saw.

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Journey-work was originally work done for daily wages. Journey is from the French journée, a day, which gives both this sense and the travelling one.

By extension, it also means inferior or inefficient work or hackwork, and that seems to be its meaning in your quotation.

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