modal alteration

mo·dal al·ter·a·tion

in electric irritability, a change in the mode of response of degenerated muscle to electric stimulation, the contraction being sluggish instead of quick.
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References in classic literature ?
Well, then we must make a cross-country journey to Newhaven, and so over to Dieppe.
At Canterbury, therefore, we alighted, only to find that we should have to wait an hour before we could get a train to Newhaven.
The question, now is whether we should take a premature lunch here, or run our chance of starving before we reach the buffet at Newhaven.