What does "by heaven" mean here?

I should be far enough from imagining, he replied, that I knew the cause of any of them, by heaven I should;

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    It's just an exclamation like 'indeed!' or 'forsooth!'. Kind of old-fashioned, not really used anymore. There's not much additional literal meaning to 'by heaven I should', it just means that the speaker is intensifying what he just said. – Mitch Jan 2 '14 at 14:02
  • It's shortened from something like "I swear by heaven/God/Jesus/etc." As reflected in other "minced oaths" such as archaic Egad! and Irish Bejasuz! – FumbleFingers Jan 2 '14 at 14:08

It means the same thing as "by God", and it probably came about because people wanted to avoid saying "God" in vain. Similar to words like "gosh" or "golly".

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