176 Old-time Schools and School-books
to the alphabet. The letters, Roman and Italic, large and small, were arranged in several columns, and opposite each letter in a final column was the letter's name. Webster called r, er, and w, 00, while in addition to the usual name for k, he gives he, and for j', ye. Authorities differed in naming the letters. Hale's speller, 1799, names w, ew, and says in a footnote : " Two words or two syllables make an awkward name for a letter. U and w have the same sounds, and should have names as nearly alike as can be distinguished from each other."
A London speller of 1712 pronounced w, wee, and in another English speller j appears as jee or jod; still another colonial speller gives j as iazh and z as zad or zed.
In Webster's book the alphabet is succeeded by a page packed with " ab, eb, ib," and the rest of those meaningless word fragments. Then come three-letter words, and orthoepy is fairly begun. The long columns march on without a break over to page 43 where we find a few " lessons of easy words to teach children to read, and to know their duty." This first reading looks like poetry, yet when you test it, you discover it is a very prosaic prose. The opening paragraph is
No man may put off the law of God; My joy is in his law all the day. O may I not go in the way of sin ! Let me not go in the way of ill men.
Throughout the remainder of the book the reading breaks the spelling columns quite frequently.