'Earlier' instead of 'ago' in the given context

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Dear life

Senior Member
India- Bengali
As I was reading Dream Children by Charles Lamb, I found the sentence:
When he died, though he had not been dead for an hour, it seemed as if he had died a great while ago.
I guess, in modern English, 'ago' would be replaced with 'earlier'. Please let me know if I'm right.

Context: The essayist, in his reverie, sees him ruminating over his childhood before his supposed children and when it comes to the memories of his brother, he regrets that although his brother had carried Lamb on his back when the latter was lame footed, he never was able to carry his brother on his back when the latter was in pain because they both had already grown older and Lamb's brother was elder.
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We might tend today to use "earlier" to refer to a prior period or event as seen from the perspective of the past, and reserve "ago" for things seen from the perspective of the present, but the Lamb example doesn't seem strange at all.
     

    Dear life

    Senior Member
    India- Bengali
    Thanks both of you :)
    We might tend today to use "earlier" to refer to a prior period or event as seen from the perspective of the past, and reserve "ago" for things seen from the perspective of the present, but the Lamb example doesn't seem strange at all.
    This is why the question struck me and I guess, if 'earlier' was used here, it won't be wrong. Isn't it?
    Please help!
     
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