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. . . when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself. And much this way it was with me. I said nothing, and tried to think nothing.
— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick  (From Google Books)

What is the grammatical function of “much” here?

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    This much is an adverb, meaning "a great deal". Jan 24, 2014 at 14:25

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Ditto Damkerng's comment. I don't know why he didn't make that an answer.

I'd just like to add that this is a rather out-of-date use of the word. Note you're quoting from a 160-year-old book. This is a predicate adjective, that is, a sentence using a form of "to be" that connect an adjective to the subject. In the past, as here, it was fairly common to say adjective - to be - subject, like "Surprised I was." Today we almost always say subject - to be - adjective, like "I was surprised." So a modern writer would most likely have written this, "It was much this way with me." (Actually a modern writer probably wouldn't say "much this way" and would use very different wording, like "This is how it was with me", but whatever.)

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Look the free dictionary. In the second chapter, where much is considered as a determiner, the 9th meaning is

practically; nearly (esp in the phrase much the same)

So, here the meaning is not "strongly this way", but on the contrary, "about this way"

The meaning of the whole will be "I went appropriately this way.", But in a more live language.

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