minute style of editing and commenting great posts.
's microscopic eye saw on the fair skins of the Brobdignagian maids of honor ‘a mole here and there as broad as a trencher,’ and we shrink from a cup of the purest Hippocrene
after the critic's solar microscope has betrayed to us the grammatical, syntactical, and, above all, hypothetical monsters that sprawl in every drop of it. When a poet has been so much edited as Milton
, the temptation of whosoever undertakes a new edition to see what is not to be seen becomes great in proportion as he finds how little there is that has not been seen before.
is quite right in choosing to modernize the spelling of Milton
, for surely the reading of our classics should be made as little difficult as possible, and he is right also in making an exception of such abnormal forms as the poet may fairly be supposed to have chosen for melodic reasons.
His exhaustive discussion of the spelling of the original editions seems, however, to be the less called — for as he himself appears to admit that the compositor, not the author, was supreme in these matters, and that in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases to the thousand Milton
had no system, but spelt by immediate inspiration.
Yet Mr. Masson
fills nearly four pages with an analysis of the vowel sounds, in which, as if to demonstrate the futility of such attempts so long as men's ears differ, he tells us that the short a sound is the same in man
, the short o
sound in God
, and what he calls the long o
sound in broad
. Speaking of the apostrophe, Mr. Masson
tells us that ‘it is sometimes inserted, not as a possessive mark at all, but merely as a plural mark: hero's
for heroes, myrtle's
for myrtles, Gorgons
Now, in books printed about the time of Milton
's the apostrophe was put in almost at random, and in all the