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IRREGULARITIES. Transpositions of adverbs

Transposition of Adverbs. The Elizabethan authors allowed themselves great licence in this respect.

We place adverbial expressions that measure excess or defect before the adjective which they modify, "twenty times better," &c. This is not always the case in Shakespeare:

“Being twenty times of better fortune.

“Our spoils (that) we have brought home
Do more than counterpoise, a full third part,
The charges of the action.

“I am solicited not by a few,
And those of true condition.

For not transposed, see also 305.

“Like to a harvest man that's task'd to mow
Or all, or lose his hire.

In "All good things vanish less than in a day" (Nash), there is, perhaps, a confusion between "less long-lived than a day" and "more quickly than in a day." At all events the emphatic use of "less" accounts for the transposition.

Such transpositions are most natural and frequent in the case of adverbs of limitation, as but (see But, 54), only, even, &c.

“Only I say,

for "I only say."

“Only I yield to die.

for "I yield only in order to die," “And I assure you
Even that your pity is enough to cure me,” B. J. for "that even your pity."

“He did it to please his mother and to be partly proud,

for "and partly to be proud."

Somewhat similar is

“Your single bond,

for "the bond of you alone."

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