Carrol Cox wrote:
> Incidentally, a fairly regularized spelling must have become established
> in the late 17th century, because in the first couple decades of the
> 18th century various writers are using misspellings to carry
> information, which couldn't have happened with the loose spelling
> practiced by Shakespeare, Donne, & Milton. About 60 or 70 years ago
> Helen Darbishire wanted to make a big interpretive point out of the
> occurrence of "he" and "hee" at various places in _Paradise Lost_ -- but
> that kind of "symbolism" wasn't available yet in 1665 (even ignoring the
> fact that Milton being blind could have hardly proofread spelling).
I think your point about variation showing only against regularity is a good one.
I wonder what you make of the erratum for the first edition of PL—“Lib. 2. v. 414,
for we read wee.” Why do you limit the function his spellings might have served
to _symbolism_ (in scare quotes, yet)?