11 JANUARY 1908, Page 19



SIa,—At the risk of becoming the object of your irony, may I point out, with reference to your critique of Lady Grove's book in your issue of December 218% 1907, that the question of "a" hotel or "an" hotel is not an arbitrary one ? Nor does it depend on the derivation of the word ; on the contrary, it is simply a question of euphony. In the word "hotel" the syllable beginning with " h " is unaccented, and therefore requires "an" before it; whereas in " hovel " the first syllable is accented, and requires "a." Similarly we say " a " history, but " an " historical novel, &c. Exceptio probat regulatn. We do not say " an " Hungarian or " an " humane man, although the following syllable is unaccented. Why so ? Because the "n" in "an" would be awkwardly entangled with the "n" in the next word. It is all a question of a good ear, and so intimately connected with real refinement.—I am,