might but indifferently lighten

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Oak imagined a terrible discovery resulting from this afternoon's work that might cast over Bathsheba's life a shade which the interposition of many lapsing years might but indifferently lighten, and which nothing at all might altogether remove.
(T. Hardy; Far from the Madding Crowd)

Would you be so kind as to tell me what 'indifferently' conveys here?

Thanks.
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    indifferent /ɪnˈdɪfrənt
    -fərənt/
    adj
    • (often followed by to) showing no care or concern; uninterested: he was indifferent to my pleas
    • unimportant; immaterial
    • of only average or moderate size, extent, quality, etc
    • not at all good; poor
    • showing or having no preferences; impartial
    http://www.wordreference.com/definition/indifferent

    I would suggest "of only average or moderate size, extent, quality, etc" is the most relevant definition here.

    Maybe, "...by a small amount..."

    "the interposition of many lapsing years might ... lighten...by a small amount"
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I should say 'indifferently' here means 'poorly' or 'feebly'. That is a regular meaning in such contexts. 'But' means 'only'.

    The phrase 'a shade which the interposition of many lapsing years might but indifferently lighten' means:
    'a shade which it was possible that even the interposition of many lapsing years would only feebly lighten'.
     
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