May you explain the usage and meaning of the rather in this sentence from Dickens's A tale of two cities?

But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.

  • For what it's wroth, Merriam-Webster lists "the rather" as an archaic expression meaning "the more quickly or readily".
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


Key to the understanding of this is that this is in the middle of a complex allegory of Fate and Death.

"The rather" is not how this would be phrased in modern English, so you have to interpret the context and not read the meaning of the words.

And by only reading the context, you can see that Dickens notes that "no one heard them" (ie nobody realised the effects of Fate) and instead to suggest that Fate was leading France to revolution was was to be atheistical and traitorous.

It is all rather complex, as "Woodman" is both a literal woodman, who is growing spruce in Norway which will ultimately be used to build Guillotines but is also an allegory of "Fate".

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