[Rather: but] I’ll tell you all about it by-and-bye, sir

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Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 25

Quotation: "I ask again, is there anything the matter?” (Said Mr. R)

“Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy.”

“Then you have been both?”

Rather: but I’ll tell you all about it by-and-bye, sir; and I daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.”

Context: Jane was feverish because she saw something dreadful last night when Mr. R was not at home. Now she went out to meet returning Mr. R.
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Hi everyone! I don't quite understand the bold part. The major problems are the word "rather" and the logical relation of "but". I try to interpret it as below. Is it correct?

rather => 5 : in some degree : SOMEWHAT <it's rather warm> => I was somewhat afraid and unhappy at some time in the past.
the sentence => I was (just) somewhat afraid and unhappy at some time in the past: though I was not quite afraid and unhappy (=but), I'll soon tell you all about it.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Here "Rather" is a whole sentence, and "but" starts the following sentence. I would use a period, but Bronte chooses a colon.

    "Rather" uses the meaning you selected in the dictionary (somewhat) but here it is used as an understatement, to mean the opposite: to mean "extremely so" or "very much so". "Rather" used this way is a well-known British idiom, that any AE speaker recognizes.

    So the conversation reads:

    “Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy.”

    “Then you have been both?”

    Yes, very much so. But I’ll tell you all about it later, sir
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'd just add to Dojibear's excellent analysis a word about but. You asked about its logical relation to the rather, Irelia.

    The concessive is justified by the idea that something important should be communicated immediately, but I'll tell you all about it later...

    It might be worth adding that in speech the accent on rather in this ironic sense to mean absolutely falls on the second syllable, whereas in its normal qualifying sense it falls on the first. Whether it did so in the 19th century, I don't know.
     
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