It’s possible that he wrote that, but seems unlikely that he said that. In most forms of English, a can precede anything, but an cannot precede a consonant. Therefore “a historic,” “a 'istoric,” and “an 'istoric” are possible, but “an historic” would be an impossible form.
If we can spell possum without an initial O and Adrianople without an initial H why should we have a problem spelling 'istoric without an initial H for those who pronounce it without an initial H and with an initial H for those who pronounce it with one?
Maybe we ought to go through English with separate characters for Germanic words with definite Hs [for example house and hloaf], Latin ones with silent Hs in some dialects of late Latin [and French ones for similar reasons], and Greek ones with silent Hs, often dropped, afaik by classical Greek. …?
[quote]The problem is that the h is a bit of a wuss as a consonant. When it occurs in
an unaccented syllable and is followed by a vowel, it tends to soften to a vowel-like mushiness.[/quote]
I still haven’t figured out the whole accented/nonaccented thing, but I am trying to figure out how H could “soften to a vowel-like mushiness,” and especially when it is followed by vowels. Consider Y/Y, W/U, and proper J/I. These are usually consonants when they are followedc by vowels, and vowels when they aren’t followed by vowels. The transformation K->X->H under Grimm’s law does go farther word-initially, and before vowels, but it doesn’t usually go K->X->H->Nothing before vowels.
If it’s different for you, then spell it 'istorical, at least after an, and save us the trouble. And we should spell that other word 'erb. I trip over “an historical” the same way I trip over “waggon” and “baggage” and “gif” and other spellings which pose pronunciation problems.
It’s funny. Whenever I read “an historic” I imagine a cockney flower seller saying it “it’s an 'istoric day luv. Now nip off ta’th pub for a pint.” Whereas I pretty much refuse to say “an historic” because it’s offensive to hear and makes people call me a pretentious asshole.