PRONOUNS, RELATIVE AND INTERROGATIVE. What for "why;" "whatever;" "who;" "any"What is used for "for what," "why" (quid), as in
“What (why) shall I don this robe and trouble you?
“What need we any spur but our own cause?
“What shall I need to draw my sword?
and in some other passages where the context shows this to be the meaning:
“What should I stay?
The following use of what for "in what state," i.e. "how far advanced," should be noticed:
“Falstaff. This apoplexy is, as I take it, a kind of lethargy.
Justice. What tell you me of it: be it as it is.
These adverbial uses of what are illustrated by “His equal mind I copy what I can
“M. What is the night?
Lady M. Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
And, as I love, would imitate the man.” POPE, Imit. Hor. ii. 131.