i. The sun was near setting. G. Eliot, Dan. Der., II, Ch. XVII, 282.
ii. * He was unusually angry and near to losing his self-control. Marj. Bowen,
I will maintain, II, Ch. III, 187. ** I at first was near to laugh. Emerson, Eng. Traits, 80a. Note a) Instead of to be, also to go and to come are sometimes found together with near (nigh) to express with it an impending action or state.
i. To flee from the agonies that went nigh to tearing soul from body would have been to flee from all that 1 had left of life. Watts Dunton, Aylwin, XII, Ch. IV, 355.
ii. There be some women, Silvius, had they mark'd him | In parcels as I did, would have gone near | To fall in love with him. Shak., As you like it, III, 5, 124.
B) The fact that near (nigh), also in these combinations, is feit as an
adjective is evident from its admiting of being modified by an adverb
of degree and placed in the degrees of comparison. i. I have been for some time persuading my aunt to let me wear them (sc.
the jewels). I fancy I'm very nearsucceeding. Goldsmith, She Stoops, II.
I am afraid to think how long it is since fan-shaped caps were worn —
they must be so near coming in again. G. Eliot, M i 11, I, Ch. II, 3.
Your schoolmaster came very near inconveniencing us and you too. Anstey,
Vice Versa, Ch. XVI, 319. II. The nation was never nearer to thinking seriously of compulsory service.
Westm. Gaz.. No. 4943, 16. b) the prepositional phrases in act to, upon the brink of, (up)on
(occasionally at) the eve of, (up)on (occasionally at) the point
of, (up)on the verge of.
1) To be in act to, regularly followed by an infinitive, is chiefly found in literary language. For illustration see also Ch. XIX, 39.
Sprung from a race whose rising blood, | When stirr'd beyond its calmer mood, | And trodden hard upon, is like I The rattle-snake's in act to strike, | What marvel if this worn out trunk I Beneath its woes a moment sunk? Byron, Mazeppa, XIII, 16
He gazed so long | That both his eyes were dazzled as he stood, | This way and that dividing the swift mind, | In act to throw. Ten., Morte d'Arthur, 61.
He lifted the cup and was in act to pledge them. when he suddenly dropped it on the table. Kinosley, Westw. Ho!, Ch. I, 66.
His finger was upon the trigger, and he was in act to fire. But suddenly his companion uttered a cry of warning, and, riding quickly to his side. placed a hand upon hjs arm. Buchanan, That Winter Night, Ch. III. 35.
Note. To be in act to + infinitive should be carefully distinguished from to be in the act of + gerund, wich is used to represent an action as actually going forward. For illustration see also Ch. XIX, 39. The Chevalier has his glass charged and was in the act of giving a toast. Buchanan, That Winter Night, Ch. XVI, 131.
2) To be (up)on the brink of requires no comment.