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ADVERBS Much; never; none; not

Never is used where we now more commonly use "ever" in phrases as:

“And creep time ne'er so slow,
Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.

So 1 Hen. VI. v. 3. 98; Rich. II. v. 1. 64.

There is probably here a confusion of two constructions, (1) "And though time creep so slow as it never crept before," and (2) "And though time never crept so slow as in the case I am supposing." These two are combined into, "And though time creep--(how shall I describe it? though it crept) never so slow." Construction (2) is illustrated by

Never so weary, never so in woe,
I can no further crawl, no further go.

Here, strictly speaking, the ellipsis is "I have been," or "having been;" "I have never been so weary." But it is easy to see that "never so weary" being habitually used in this sense, Hermia might say, "I am never-so-weary," or still more easily, "though I were never-so-weary."

In such phrases as "never the nearer," never seems to mean "nought." So Wickliffe, John xix. 21: “But how he now seeth we wite nere, i.e. we know not.

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