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The Accents and Emphases, in a sentence, may, therefore, be compared to the pulsations of a string; and it is easy to conceive that they may strike the ear, as dissonant or musical, according as their succession is abrupt or harmonious. But, separate from the Emphasis on individual words, there is a tone and cadence, belonging to each of the members of a period, which, if not properly assorted, will destroy the harmony of the whole. The varied tones of narration, of interrogation, of entreaty and of command, are discriminative of these different feelings in the speaker. To these tones, the arrangement of the words is completely subordinate; and, although they are not pronounced in the page, an attentive writer always takes them silently into account, in the construction of his sentences. It would seem that those vocal expressions of the passions are different in different countries, if what Condillac says be accurate,
“ that the tone in which an Englishman expresses anger would, in Italy, be only a mark of surprise.” But, this subject will come again under review when we treat of the laws of Versification.
OF AUXILIARY VERBS.
A Verb is modified in several ways, and particularly by the conjunction of another verb. • I love to ride,' and I like to write,' specify that the actions of riding and of writing are agreeable to me.
The infinitives To ride' and ·To write' are the names of actions, and may, therefore, be considered as nouns in the accusative case, as much as if I had said, 'I love Mary' and I like money.' It is this kind of union of words that grammarians allude to in their rule, “One verb governs another in the infinitive."
There are certain verbs that are called Auriliaries, because they are seldom used except to precede the names of action, or states of being; that is, they are chiefly employed to modify other verbs. These conjunctions of one verb with another form circumlocutions, by which the English are enabled to express with precision the vast variety of moods and tenses that exist in general Grammar; part of which are designated by means of terminations in the classic and some other tongues. The terminations of the English verb are few, and, comparatively, of little importance; and, therefore, it is of material consequence, in a Work on Composition, that the power of the auxiliary verbs should be more minutely stated than is usual in the common Grammars of the Schools.
To do and To Be express ACTION and existence in general; and the nature of the act, or state, can be known only from the verbal noun or participle, to which each respectively may be joined. Every active verb (as it is termed) is despoiled of its variable affixes of activity, as well as of person, when it is conjugated with the auxiliary To do, and appears in the simple state of an infinitive, as in
I do love for I love.
Did (doed) is believed to have been once do do, marking by repetition that the act is finished, and hence the Ed. These two forms of conjugation have exactly the same original signification ; but, (as happens in all cases where we have two words, or phrases, that are etymologically equivalent, either one becomes obsolete, or custom gradually produces a shade of distinction. ACcordingly, the prefixing of the auxiliary do is understood to make the expression more determinately energetic. Wherever it is not recognized as producing that effect, it is a mere expletive, from its adding a word to the sentence without any additional idea. The minor poets frequently write do, does, and did, for no other purpose than to make up the requisite number of feet, a practice thus satirized by Pope :
“ While expletives their feeble aid do join,
There is a third manner of conjugating the
for I love.
In the preceding form, the participle loving is considered more as relative to the action itself than as pointing to the object; and hence the state, or exertion, seems to be continuous. “I crossed the street yesterday” is simply the relation
of a past event; but “I was crossing the street yesterday” is a suspension of the action, and the natural inquiry is, what happened while you were so doing? The classical reader will readily discover an affinity between this mode of speech and the middle voice of the Greeks.
It is this state of unfinished action which is understood in such phrases as, “ The house is building,” and “ The house was building," in which the action is taken abstractedly, without attending to the agent. The Romans expressed the same idea by means of the passive voice,
domus ædificatur," and domus ædificabatur. Every language has its idioms, which pedants only would attempt to change. For some time past, “the bridge is being built," “ the tunnel is being excavated," and other expressions of a like kind, have pained the eye and stunned the ear. Instead of “ The stone is falling,” and “ The man is dying,” we shall next be taught to say, “ The stone is being fallen,” and “ The man is being dead.”
Viewing the present participle solely in its verbal state, it becomes assimilated to the infinitive, and is a general name for the whole class of continuous exertions. The Latins changed its termination, and called it a GERUND, from gero, I carry on. They treated it as a noun, and accom