Our Own Dear John Ronald: A Compliment?

Can you work it out?

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“‘I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.’

This was unexpected and rather difficult.  There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.”

JRRT: LOTR, Book I, Chapter I

 

J.R.R. Tolkien. Photo by Billett Potter
Worked it out yet?

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