1

Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. BY POE

Why is this "Only" used here? What is it trying to modify?

2

There are three qualities mentioned in the statement, "more active", "more happy" and "more wise". Of those,

Man is now (at this time) only (just) more active - (and not the other two).

Its just singling out "more active" as the only quality of the three that can be attributed to man.

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