all recent London
imprints for the word pye
as the name of an eatable.
was the latest American author, so far as I know, who employed this last spelling (so an editor of the Atlantic Monthly
told me), in her manuscript forty years ago.
How have these great changes been brought about?
Sometimes by open protest, but more often by the silent acquiescence of sensible people in some obvious simplification of spelling.
The revolution which is now banishing the i from words ending in or
is the same in kind with that which dethroned the Anglo-Saxon k
. It is only that, as it happens to have made more headway in this country, it is called an American innovation.
The delightful English Roman Catholic author Digby
wrote, fifty years ago, that the moderns had found out a new way to spell “honor,” but no new mode of practising it; and this furnishes a date for this particular reform, although it really dates back much earlier, being mentioned with approval in Pegge's “Anecdotes,” first published in 1803.
In the books of a hundred years ago one might find, without question or misgiving, authour, errour, inferiour, humour
, and honour
. The last two still hold their own in English books, but not