[only] I wanted them to be shed on my breast: [now] a senseless floor has received them {tense}

Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 27) | Genius

Quotation: You are passionate. I expected a scene of some kind. I was prepared for the hot rain of tears; only I wanted them to be shed on my breast: now a senseless floor has received them, or your drenched handkerchief. But I err: you have not wept at all!
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Hi everyone! I have a question about the bold part. The words “only” and “now” puzzle me. The tenses are also remarkable. I’m confused… So I post the thread for help.
 
  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I was prepared for the hot rain of tears-- the only difference (in my expectation and the reality) was that I wanted the tears to be shed on my breast but you have shed them on the floor, or your hanky. But I am making a mistake in assuming that (that you have wept)-- you haven't wept at all!

    "Only" introduces the lone difference there.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Oh, thank you for your explanation. The usage of "only" is new to me. :D

    I've found such an "only" in OED. Do you mean this "only" here?

    2. b.B.2.b In a clause: Except that, were it not that, but that.
    1802 H. Martin Helen of Glenross II. 226 Only he is very melancholy, he would be agreeable.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    From Oxford Dictionaries (online)

    CONJUNCTION

    informal
    Except that; but:
    'he is still a young man, only he seems older because of his careworn expression'
    'the place was like school, only better'
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    It's a fairly common usage. For example, you could say, "I wanted to see him, only not this soon." It's sort of shorthand for 'I wanted to see him, but I didn't want to see him this soon."
     
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