Oct 22, 2015 - Sale 2394

Sale 2394 - Lot 362

Price Realized: $ 3,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
"WRONG SPELLING . . . [IS] AN ABUSE OF THE LANGUAGE NOT TO BE TOLERATED" WEBSTER, NOAH. Autograph Letter Signed, "N Webster," to unnamed editors ("Messrs Editors"), directing them to An American Dictionary and elsewhere for his spelling reform justifications, and complaining of the miserable state of philology in England and America. 1 1/2 pages, 4to, written on the recto and verso of a single sheet; few short closed separations at folds, extreme ends of few words truncated at right edge verso (but still legible), minor scattered abrasions, some brittling to edges with minor chipping at lower right; 1/4 morocco clamshell box. (MRS) Np, nd

Additional Details

"Soon after I published my large Dictionary . . . one of our most learned philologists wrote to me, that when he first saw my spelling of certain words, he had objections to the alterations; but after reading my reasons, his objections were removed.
"The alterations I have made are comparatively few, & my reasons for these are stated in the American Dictionary. . . . To prevent the prevalence of erroneous opinions on this subject, I have sent to the newspaper press, my reasons for certain alterations of spelling, for the benefit of those who have not, & are not able to procure, my larger dictionary. . . .
"The attentive reader of my books & my observations will see that the few alterations . . . are founded on reasons which to me appeared substantial. The ignorance or negligence which introduced wrong spelling, &, in some cases, made words which are nonsense, & then permitted these words to occupy a place in our best books, even in the Bible, for centuries; appeared to me an abuse of the language not to be tolerated.
"I was educated in all the errors & blunders of the English books; & it has given me more trouble to unlearn & correct them, than to have learned the language correctly . . . .
"My reasons for what I have done are before the public; . . . . If what I have written is not sufficient to justify me, the addition of observations would be of no use.
"My scheme of forming a series of books, from a spelling book to an etymological & defining dictionary, is now finished. . . . English philology is in a miserable condition, both in England & the United States; old errors are continually republished; . . . without more accurate scholarship . . . in both countries . . . all efforts of mine to reform & improve the language will be useless."
The postscript: "The pamphlet which I have sent to you will supersede further observations."