from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A line for sounding, or with which soundings are made.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
T is thou alone our fathom-line finds soundless,
Who shall sound the heart of a man who lived a hundred years ago? and where is the fathom-line which shall plumb its mysteries?
Brethren, bethink you that this pestilence is a chastisement upon a blind and foolish people; and if it strikes the innocent as well as the guilty, if it falls as heavily upon the spotless virgin as upon the hoary sinner, remember that it is not for us to measure the workings of Omnipotence with the fathom-line of our earthly intellects; or to say this fair girl should be spared, and that hoary sinner taken.
What lurked beneath, they surmised as shrewdly as they could, but it was impossible, with plummet and fathom-line ever in hand, to sound the way with perfect accuracy, where the quicksands were ever shifting, and the depth or shallowness of the course perpetually varying.
Indian merchants said, that there was only one tree in the world that produced it; that the roots of that tree were fixed, 'where never fathom-line did touch the ground,' in the bed of the Indian Ocean, near to Java, among the Ten Thousand Islands of the far East; but its branches, rising high above the waters, flourished in the bright sunshine and free air.
Or dive into the bottom of the deep Where fathom-line would never touch the ground,
[Footnote 1: For thirty-five days they were advancing 'where fathom-line could never touch the ground.'] [Footnote 2: On Thursday, the 11th of October, 1492.] [Footnote 3: A light in the midst of darkness, signifying the spiritual light that he came to spread there.