IRREGULARITIES. Confusion of two constructions with superlativeConfusion of two Constructions in Superlatives.
“Of all other affections it is the most importune.” B. E. Envy.
“This is the greatest error of all the rest.
“York is most unmeet of any man.
“Of all men else I have avoided thee.
“He hath simply the best wit of any handicraft-man in Athens.
“To try whose right,
Of thine or mine, 1 is most in Helena.
”Ib. iii. 2. 337.
This (which is a thoroughly Greek idiom, though independent in English) is illustrated by Milton's famous line--
“I do not like the tower of any place.
The fairest of her daughters Eve.The line is a confusion of two constructions, "Eve fairer than all her daughters," and "Eve fairest of all women." So "I dislike the tower more than any place," and "most of all places," becomes "of any place." Our modern "He is the best man that I have ever seen," seems itself to be incorrect, if "that" be the relative to "man." It may, perhaps, be an abbreviation of "He is the best man of the men that I have ever seen."