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spelling was actually used as one of the variations, and had its chance in the competition.

Our present system of English spelling, bad enough as it is from the point of view of Phonology, is at least fixed and steady in all save a few particulars. Not so in the seventeenth century. The subject of English spelling had been much discussed; and there had been attempts and movements towards a Spelling Reform, like that advocated by more recent Phonologists, on the principle of bringing the visible characters into strict accordance with the spoken sounds, or on some tolerable compromise between that principle and respect for etymology. Among the most recent of those Spelling Reformers in Milton's time had been his own teacher Alexander Gill the elder, head-master of St. Paul's School, in his "Logonomia Anglica" or Latin treatise on English Grammar, published in 1619, and Charles Butler, M.A., of Magdalen College, Oxford, in his "English Grammar, or the Institution of . Letters, Syllables, and Words in the English Tongue," published from the Oxford University Press in 1633. Still nothing like uniformity✔ had been attained. Within a certain range every author or printer might spell according to his own whim at the moment-the choice between a longer and a shorter form of spelling often determined, in the case of a printer, by the number of types he could get in at the end of a line; and so author differed from author, printer from printer, printers from authors, nay the same author or printer from himself yesterday or two minutes ago. Take a passage from the above-mentioned Butler in 1633 on this very point. So certaine," he says, "is the Orthographie "of the Hebrew, Greeke, and Latin; that all Nations, though never so far distant in place, and different in speeche, doe write them "alike: whereas many words in our language are written diversly, even at home: neither our new writers agreeing with the old; nor "either new or old among themselves. Which gave occasion to Sr 'John Price (wheither more tartly or truely I know not) taxing our "Orthographie to preferre his own [the Welsh]: where hee saith, "that foure good Secretaries, writing a sentence in English from his "mouth, differed all, one from another, in many letters: whereas so many Welch, writing the same in their tongue, varied not in any one letter."

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Our first extant specimens of Milton's hand-writing are of about the date when Butler wrote this passage; and the next forty years, to which belong the rest of his extant MSS. and all his volumes printed in his life-time, do not seem to have made much change in the respect now considered. How wavering and unstable was the spelling through these forty years will be best seen if we take the words collected, or the groups suggested, in last section, and exhibit the varieties of spelling of these very words, or in these groups, that are to be gathered from Milton's MSS. and the printed editions of his Poems.

(1.) Faire, vaine, soone, urne, doe, keepe, tooke, crowne, deepe, ruine, for

lorne, goddesse, with armes, aires, dayes: this was the first group I gave, to illustrate the frequency of the silent e final in cases where we have now dropt it. Well, without much search, I find in the MSS. and printed editions these alternatives-fair, vain, soon, urn, do, keep, took, crown, deep, ruin, forlorn, goddess and goddes, arms, airs, days. So general in the printed editions is the dropping of the final e in this class of words that, though they do occasionally retain it, I may note this as one of the differences between those editions and Milton's own MSS. Thus, the word urn occurs but once in Milton's poetry (Lycid. 20); and in the edition of 1645 it is printed urn, while Milton's MS. gives urne.

(2.) Take next the group of words given as exemplifying the omission of the final e where we insert it: viz. fals, vers, els, leavs, tast, hast. For these forms I find easily our present false, verse, else, leaves, taste, haste the printed editions here again, I think, agreeing with our modern practice more than the MSS. do. The two last words in the list may be prosecuted more particularly.-In the original edition of Paradise Lost the second line of the poem is distinctly printed,

"Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast."

So in Sonnet XX., as first printed in 1673

"Of Attic tast, with wine."

So also twice in the plural-

and

"Of all tasts else to please thir appetite ;"-P. L., VII. 49.

"With Sion's songs, to all true tasts excelling."-P. R., IV. 347.

Hence some have argued that the word taste in Milton's time must have been pronounced tast, like last or past. But that the inference was hasty and illegitimate would have been seen if the word had been traced through other passages. Four times, as we have seen, it is tast or tasts; but it occurs sixty-two times in all in the poetry, as noun or verb, and in fifty-eight of these cases with our ordinary spelling taste, e.g.—

"To quench the drouth of Phabus, which as they taste

(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst).”—Com. 66, 67.

66 so contriv'd as not to mix

Tastes, not well joynd, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change."—P. L., V.

334-336.

Similarly with the word haste. On its first occurrence in Paradise Lost (I. 357) it is spelt hast; but the word, as noun or verb, occurs thirtyseven times besides in Milton's poetry; and in twenty-five of these places (sixteen of them in Par. Lost) we have the normal spelling haste, while in twelve (P. L., X. 17, XI. 104; P. R., III. 223, 303, 437 ;

1

Sams. Ag. 1027, 1441, 1678; Com. 568, Od. Nat. 212, Ps. VI. 23, Ps. VII. 5) we have again the odd form hast.

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(3.) The next group was the y and ie group. Here also there is instability; for I find starry as well as starrie, majesty as well as majestie, and our present forms guilty, happy, fly, cry, descry, as well as guiltie, happie, flie, crie, descrie. Thus I have traced every occurrence of guilty in the poems, with this result in the 1645 edition of the Minor Poems it occurs but once, and then in our present form guilty; in Paradise Lost it occurs five times, and is always spelt guiltie in the original edition; in the Second or 1673 edition of the Minor Poems it occurs twice, and each time with a relapse into the form guilty. So, on the other hand, while we have ayr, voyce, tyme, tyger, lye, poyson, ycie, and jubily, these words come up also in their more familiar forms as air, voice, time, tiger, lie, poison, ice, and jubilee. The word poison occurs but twice in Milton's poetry-once as poyson (Com. 47), and once as poison (Com. 526); unless we choose to add the adjective poisonous in Sams. Ag 563, where the spelling in the original edition is poysonous. The adjective icy occurs only once, in the compound ycie-pearled (Death of a Fair Infant, 15); but the noun ice occurs six times, and always as ice. The rarer word jubilee occurs three times, once as jubily (Sol. Mus. 9), once as jubilee (P. L., III. 348), and once as jubilie (P. L., VI. 884).

(4.) Than, then; least, lest.—As far as my observation goes, then is constantly kept as equivalent to our conjunction than ("O worse then chains," in Sams. Ag. 68, is one of the latest instances); while the same spelling then is uniform for our adverb then, except in such a case of deviation into than for the rhyme's sake as that noted in last section.— But least and lest are unstable. In the first six occurrences of the conjunction lest in Paradise Lost, the spelling in the original edition is least (e.g. "least bad men should boast "); but in the next two occurrences of the word (V. 396 and 731) the spelling is lest, as now ("No fear lest Dinner coole," and "lest unawares we lose "); after which, in twentyseven recurrences of the word in the rest of the poem it is invariably again least. To make amends, however, the spelling is again lest in each of eleven occurrences of the word in Par. Reg. and Sams. Ag. ; while it is so also in three occurrences in Comus (156, 406, 940), both in the 1645 edition of the Minor Poems and in that of 1673— though this last edition prints the word least in three places in pieces first published in it (Sonnet XIX. 6, Ps. II. 25, and Ps. VII. 4). Again, in forty-seven occurrences of the adjective least in the total body of the poems, the normal form least is kept forty-three times; but the form lest happens four times (P. L., IX. 460, 555, and X. 875, 951).

(5.) I have noted the general defect in Milton, as in other old printing, of our apostrophe marking the possessive case, as in man's, men's, father's, and the ambiguity sometimes arising from that defect. Butler

in his Grammar has no apostrophe in the possessive, but gives a mans wisdom, a horses strength, chickens meat, knives edges, as examples of the case singular and plural. Occasionally, however, in Milton's original editions we do have the apostrophe: e.g. P. L., I. 466 “ Gaza's frontier bounds," Pens. 29 "Of woody Ida's inmost grove," Com. 232" By slow Meander's margent green." In the Second (or 1673) edition of the Minor Poems I find man's work (Sonnet XIX. 10), Assembly's ears (Vac. Ex. 28) and other instances of our present form.

(6.) Vowel-sounds generally, and their Spellings.-Here we may systematize a little.-On a rough analysis, which satisfies most grammarians, though it stops short of the perfect one proposed by Mr. Ellis and others, there are twelve or thirteen simple vowel-sounds in English, and four diphthongs proper. Let us go over them one by one, inquiring into Milton's practice with respect to each :—

The Short A sound (as in man).—This sound is represented in chief by the letter a, but also occasionally by e (clerk, serjeant, Derby, Berkshire).-Milton's usage for the sound is ours; but in the prose heading of his Arcades, both in 1645 and 1673, the heroine of the piece is called "The Countess Dowager of Darby." The words clerk and serjeant do not occur in the poetry; but clerk, spelt so, occurs in his prose-writings.

The Long A sound (as in far, father).—Its representative in chief is a ; but it is also represented by al, as in alms, palm, psalm.—These three words are always spelt so in Milton, save that palm twice, out of eight times, becomes palme. His usage of balm is more peculiar. He begins (Com. 674, 991) with balm and balmy, spelt as now; the noun appears next in Par. Lost, and there as Baume (I. 774); in five subsequent appearances in the same poem it is balme, while the adjective, four times repeated, is balmie; finally, in Sams. Ag., where we have the noun twice, it is again balm.

The Short E sound (as in met).—Its representative in chief is e; but it is also represented by a, ea, ai, ie, ei, eo, ay, ey: e.g. any, Thames, bread, said, friend, their (unemphatic), jeopardy, foray, they (unemphatic).—We have noted the occurrence in Milton of such spellings for this sound as spreds, sed and se'd (for said), seaven, and freind. Well, these are unstable; for he gives us also spreads, said (for which sed or se'd is but a rare freak with him, for the look of the rhyme : L'All. 103, Hobs. I. 17, Lyc. 129), seven and friend, just as now. Threads occurs but twice, and both times as threds. Jet occurs but once, and then as jeat, but rhyming to violet (Lyc. 144). Thir frequent occurs for the unemphatic their (e.g. the last line of P. L., "Through Eden took thir solitarie way "); but the form their is also common enough. We have ern and hearbs in the same page of L'Allegro; but our present spellings earn and herb are the normal ones in the poetry.

The Long E sound proper, often called the Long A sound (as in there).This is, however, seldom represented in English by e: more frequently

by a, ai, ay, ei, ey, ea, eig, eigh—e.g. name, main, say, vein, prey, yea, reign, weight.-Take, in this group, these spellings in Milton: strein (for strain: Od. Nat. 17), raign, ayr. These are unusual now; but in Milton too they are mere casual deviations from the more usual strain, reign, air. The spelling strein was merely suggested by vein to which it rhymes, and which, though there and generally spelt vein, is sometimes veine. He has the spellings ayr and air within eighteen lines of each other (Pens.), and both aires and airs for the plural.

The Short I sound (as in thin, him): chief representative i; but represented also by y, e, ee, ie, and ui; e.g. hymn, pity, me (unemphatic), been (unemphatic), pierce, pitied, build. In this group Milton's spelling is ours, with allowance for such occasional forms as guiltie, majestie, &c., already noticed, and for a stray word like peirc'd. These are simply occasional, however, for he has guilty, majesty, &c., when he likes, and lets peirc'd in other places become pierc'd.-In nineteen passages which I have looked at in the original editions the usual form been occurs eleven times, while eight times there is the slighter form bin. Pure caprice seems to have determined the variation; for, though once or twice been may be a little emphatic, it occurs also when there is no more emphasis than bin would have conveyed.

The Long I sound proper (though hardly the mere 1 of THIN lengthened) : generally called the long E sound (as in clique, pique).—It is rarely represented by i: more frequently by e, ee, ea, ei, ie, and sometimes by æ, œ, ey, and ay: e.g. me, see, bead, deceive, believe, Cæsar, Phoebus, key, quay. The usage in the poems for this sound is rather complicated. It was common in Milton's time to spell monosyllabic words containing this sound with a double e: thus, mee, hee, shee, wee, yee, bee (the verb, as well as the noun). Butler, however, who adopts the habit, and recommends the double e generally for this long sound, notes that such words were still often written with the single e as now: me, he, she, we, ye, be. Now Milton has both forms of spelling, sometimes me, &c., and sometimes mee, &c.: whether on any principle may be inquired hereafter. Certainly no principle can be detected in such spellings of his for the same sound as sphear, neather (neither), weild, feild, preist, dieties (deities), theefe, deceave, heer, neer, sease (seize), eev'n, beleeve, extreams. He keeps indeed, I think, to sphear or spheare (though I find spherse in the plural: At a Vac. Ex. 40); but he is as ready as any one now would be to write words of this class in our present forms, and so gives us neither, wield, field, priest, deities, thief, deceive, here, near, seize, even, believe, extremes. He has even more than two ways of spelling some of these and similar words: thus seize, sieze, sease, seise.

A Short O sound (as in God, not): represented chiefly by o, but sometimes by a, au, and oe: e.g. salt, want, vault, does (3rd pers. sing. of the verb do). I have noted nothing peculiar in Milton's spelling here.

The same sound prolonged, and therefore capable of being called the long O sound, though not usually called so (as in broad). It is not

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