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at the end of every verse, whether the line be filled up or not. It is on account of these turnings that the lesser divisions in the Bible are called Verses.
That part of Composition which teaches the laws of Versification is named PROSODY, from the Greek prosodia, accent; and, although the English language does not possess the modulations which belonged to the accents of the Greeks, yet accentuation, such as we have it, is the sole foundation of our Verse. Those are supposed to have been of the nature of musical notes, and hence their name, from the Latin compound accino, I sing.
The accents of the English tongue (which are only to be found in Dictionaries) merely mark the stress of the voice, when resting upon certain syllables, in the same way that EMPHASIS (Greek phao, I speak) denotes a more forcible pronunciation of a particular word in a sentence. Seeing that, on our principles, every polysyllable is a combination of so many separate words, Accent and Emphasis are the same; and every compound, with its accentuated syllable, is, obviously, a minor sentence (or Phrase) with its emphatical word. "As emphasis," says Mr. Walker, "evidently points out the most significant word in a sentence, so, where other reasons
do not forbid, the accent always dwells with greatest force on that part of the word which, from its importance, the hearer has always the greatest occasion to observe; and this is necessarily the root, or body, of the word."
Accents, having been fixed by custom, are invariable; but Emphasis shifts with the meaning of the speaker. Although the example given by Mr. Sheridan has been often quoted, it is an illustration so plain, and yet so ample, that it would be affectation to substitute another. It is a question of six words which may have five different interpretations:
"Shall you ride to town to-morrow?”
"If the emphasis is on shall, as 'Shall you ride to town to-morrow?' it implies, that the person spoken to had expressed before such an intention, but that there is some doubt, in the questioner, whether he be determined on it or not; and the answer may be, ' certainly,' or, ‘ I am not sure.' If it be on you, as, 'Shall you ride to town to-morrow?' the question implies that some one is to go, and 'Do you mean to go yourself, or send some one in your stead?' and the answer may be ‘No, but my servant shall.' If on ride, as, "Shall you ride, &c.?' the answer may be 'No, I shall walk, or go in a coach.' If on town, as, 'Shall you ride to town to-morrow?' the answer may be, 'No, but I shall ride to the forest.' If on to-morrow, as, 'Shall you ride to town to-morrow?" the answer may be, 'No, not to-morrow, but the next day.""
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 Auxiliaries, 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
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 equi