This compliance, though inadequate, was sufficient to raise Manfred’s hopes. He trusted that his power and wealth would easily advance his suit at the court of Rome, whither he resolved to engage Frederic to take a journey on purpose. That Prince had discovered so much passion for Matilda, that Manfred hoped to obtain all he wished by holding out or withdrawing his daughter's charms, according as the Marquis should appear more or less disposed to co-operate in his views.

This is a sentence from "The Castle of Otranto." And I'm confused as to how I should understand this sentence structure. It starts with that and again it's followed by "that"(that Manfred hoped to...) Since I can't understand this structure of these sentences I have difficulty interpreting what it actually means. (Especially the part "by holding out or withdrawing his daughter's charms")

Can you explain and help me understand what it means? Thank you!

  • 1. I think I can understand the second "that" is from "so much ~~~that" usage but is the first "that" can be interpreted as "The fact that?" 2. In this context, do "holding out" and "withdrawing" have opposite meanings in that he can change his attitude to achieve his goal? Jun 3, 2015 at 12:06
  • The sentence (sorry Horace) is poorly constructed and confusing, or at least is using fairly archaic construction and meanings.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:07
  • 18th century writing differs markedly from what we see today. Much of the use of commas is profoundly different. In the text you should view them not as logical syntax-parsing tools, but as pauses in a spoken rendering.
    – Robusto
    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:07
  • 1
    (It's not the two "that" clauses that confuse, but rather "according as the Marquis...". I suspect that "according as" had a different syntactic function then than it does now.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:10
  • hi HL. nothing in the question OP suggests that. the person is just asking about "that". anyway click to close. it's the most trivial sort of ELL question, we're stealing this question from those dudes.
    – Fattie
    Jun 3, 2015 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


The two thats have different functions. The first is referring to the Prince mentioned in the prevous sentence: 'That Prince' could be replaced by 'He' were it not that the author wishes to emphasise his rank. The second is simply part of a comparative; "so much passion...that Manfred hoped...". "Holding out his daughter's charms" might be allowing her to dance with the Marquis if the latter was co-operating with Manfred; withdrawing them would be refusing permission if he was not.

There is nothing complex in the grammar of the sentence; the difficulty is keeping track of the sentence structure when it is covered in festoons of verbiage. Though this skill is less necessary when reading modern novels, it is still worth acquiring in case you have to read a business memo or mission statement. Pronominal phrases also add to the confusion, but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary to use such phrases as "that Prince" or "the latter" because a simple "he" would be ambiguous.

  • Yeah, I guess it sort of makes sense if the first "that" is taken as a pronoun vs, I suppose, a conjunction. But it's poor writing in the sense that the reader must get most of the way to the end of the sentence before discovering which "that" is being used, making comprehension challenging even for a reader of that era.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:39
  • this is all true but shouldn't we simply send ELL questions to ELL instead of commenting (or even answering)??
    – Fattie
    Jun 3, 2015 at 13:01
  • To TimLymington Thank you very much for your detailed comment! Jun 3, 2015 at 13:10
  • @JoeBlow: By all means ask on meta: it seemed to me that a well-asked question identifying a specific problem in what is not a straightforward passage deserved a reply Jun 3, 2015 at 15:35

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