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[281] to affirm that there is not a single variety of spelling or accent to be found in Milton which is without example in his predecessors or contemporaries. Even highth, which is thought peculiarly Miltonic, is common (in Hakluyt, for example), and still often heard in New England. Mr. Masson gives an odd reason for Milton's preference of it ‘as indicating more correctly the formation of the word by the addition of the suffix th to the adjective high.’ Is an adjective, then, at the base of growth, earth, birth, truth, and other words of this kind? Horne Tooke made a better guess than this. If Mr. Masson be right in supposing that a peculiar meaning is implied in the spelling bearth (Paradise Lost, IX. 624), which he interprets as ‘collective produce,’ though in the only other instance where it occurs it is neither more nor less than birth, it should seem that Milton had hit upon Horne Tooke's etymology. But it is really solemn trifling to lay any stress on the spelling of the original editions, after having admitted, as Mr. Masson has honestly done, that in all likelihood Milton had nothing to do with it. And yet he cannot refrain. On the word voutsafe he hangs nearly a page of dissertation on the nicety of Milton's ear. Mr. Masson thinks that Milton ‘must have had a reason for it,’1 and finds that reason in ‘his dislike to [of] the sound ch, or to [of] that sound combined with s. . . . . . His fine ear taught him ’

1 He thinks the same of the variation strook and struck,though they were probably pronounced alike. In Marlowe's ‘Faustus’ two consecutive sentences (in prose) begin with the words ‘Cursed be he that struck.’ In a note on the passage Mr. Dyce tells us that the old editions (there were three) have stroke and strooke in the first instance, and all agree on strucke in the second. No inference can be drawn from such casualties.

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