Front Page Titles (by Subject) XI.: Orthography. - The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
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XI.: Orthography. - John Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates 
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, edited with Introduction and Notes by William Talbot Allison (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1911).
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Francis Peck was the first critic to remark the singularity of Milton’s spelling.3 He notes that he used bee, hee, shee, mee, wee, livlyhood, then for than, ther for there, thir for their, vertue for virtue, yeild for yield, ancient for antient. Milton lived in what is called the early modern period of English literature, when the language was being reorganized. In spelling, as in sentence-building and paragraphing, each writer was a law unto himself. But just as Milton had decided ideas as to the proper length of sentences, so he tried to spell by rule in a day when there was no rule. In the system which he devised, and to which he was generally faithful, the main purpose seems to have been simplicity. There is an approach to the modern practice of phonetic spelling in dropping the weak final e, as hear for heare, soon for soone, son for sonne. He often omits a mute e, as cov’nant, spok’n, ev’n, alleg’d, certainly for certainely, or a useless consonantal termination, as general for generall, equal for equall, gospel for gospell, stil for still, especial for especiall. The suffix ate he shortens to at, as subordinat, privat, prelat. The spelling of preterites and past participles is unsettled in Milton’s writings, as is that of words ending in y and ie. He often changed the final d into t after the dropping of e in verbs ending in a surd consonant, as stopt, profest, banisht, punisht.
In this treatise we find that the spelling of the personal pronouns varies. There is such individual orthography as vertue for virtue, thir for their, meer for meere, onely for only, then for than, goverment for government, ly for lie, furder for further, and sent for scent. The present text of The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates possesses special interest for the student of Milton’s system of orthography. It is a copy of the actual spelling of the first edition, collated with the second edition, and including the numerous additions made in the new issue of the pamphlet in 1650. By comparing the text of the first with that of the second edition, we find many alterations in the spelling. Nearly all these changes tend toward simplicity, and are in accord with the principles explained above, and with the spelling in his earlier divorce pamphlet, Colasterion, published in 1645. We are of opinion, therefore, that Milton was too much occupied with personal affairs, or with current events, to correct the proof-sheets of the first edition. The first copy may have been the work of an amanuensis, or the compositor may have set at naught this finical advocate of spelling reform; at any rate, the first edition was not satisfactory to the author. In his careful revision of the spelling for the later issue, we discover Milton’s carefulness in the details of the writer’s art, and his devotion to his own way of doing things. The following table shows some of the more important changes made in the spelling of the second edition:
[3 ]New Memoirs of Life and Poet (Works of Milton, p. 269).