VERBS, AUXILIARY. Do, did, Shakespearian use ofDo, did. How used by Shakespeare? In St. Matt. xv. 37, Wickliffe has "and alle eten;" Tyndal, &c., "all dia eat." It is probable that one reason for inserting the did here was the similarity between the present and past of "eat," and the desire to avoid ambiguity. In the following verse, however, Wickliffe has "etun," Tyndal "ate," and the rest "did eat." This shows how variable was the use of did in the sixteenth century, and what slight causes determined its use or non-use. The following passage in connection with the above would seem to show that did was joined to eat to avoid ambiguity, and when it was not joined to other verbs: “And the Peloponnesians did eat it up while the Byzantines
died.” N. P. 180. It can hardly be denied that in such lines as
the did is omitted in the first verb and inserted in the second simply for the sake of the metre. Did is commonly used in excited narrative:
“It lifted up it (so Folio) head, and did address
Itself to motion,
“Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan,
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
But in both the above passages the inflection in -ed is also used.
“The sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.