But it were absurd to pause in the detail of my extravagance.

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Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
Excited by such appliances to vice, my constitutional temperament broke forth with redoubled ardour, and I spurned even the common restraints of decency in the mad infatuation of my revels. But it were absurd to pause in the detail of my extravagance. Let it suffice, that among spendthrifts I out-Heroded Herod, and that, giving name to a multitude of novel follies, I added no brief appendix to the long catalogue of vices then usual in the most dissolute university of Europe.


Edgar Allan Poe; William Wilson.

I think were means here would be, am I right? Is were used often in this function or is it just an author’s idiosyncrasy?


Thank you,
Tom
 
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    You are correct. It means would be, and in proper modern English "were" shouldn't be used like this.
    Thank you for the answer. :)
    So, does that mean that were used to be employed in this meaning in Old English (or, say, in Enlgish from before XVIII century)?



    Tom
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So, does that mean that were used to be employed in this meaning in Old English (or, say, in English from before XVIII century)?
    Yes it did. Formerly the past subjunctive were could be used in both parts of a conditional construction: Now you can say 'Were he not here, I would be lonely'; formerly you could say 'Were he not here, I were lonely'.
     
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