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of British Statesmen.



Governor-General, who has set an example of penmanship to the whole class of writers, which ought not to have been thrown away. Wellesley's handwriting is, perhaps, the best that we have ever seen. Sir George Barlow's was little inferior. Lord Minto wrote a remarkably firm, solid, legible hand. Lord Hastings and Lord Amherst were somewhat stately in their penmanship, but every letter was as clear as type. Lord William Bentinck ran his letters, and sometimes his words, a little too much into each other, but he wrote a good flowing hand that was rarely otherwise than legible. Lord Auckland's writing was peculiarly round and distinct-the very reverse of his successor's, Lord Ellenborough's, which was pretty and ladylike, and not distinct; but he was always one of the Honourable Company's naughty boys. Lord Dalhousie wrote a beautiful hand -flowing and elegant, but very distinct; and the present Governor-General, Lord Canning, need not blush to see his handwriting placed beside that of any of his contemporaries.'

My own collection of autographs confirms the truth of the preceding statements respecting the handwriting of British statesmen; and indeed,


An Archdeacon's Hieroglyphics.

speaking generally, the members of both Houses of Parliament, during the last thirty or forty years, may be pronounced very good writers. I used to think that the most remarkable exceptions to this rule were to be found among the Radical members of the House of Commons; and in more than one page of my collection, where the franks of these democratic gentlemen are placed in juxtaposition, the handwriting is certainly below the average.

Jacob Bryant said of Archdeacon Coxe's hieroglyphics, that they could be called neither a hand nor a fist, but a foot, and that a club one. They formed a clumsy, tangled, black skein, that ran across the paper in knots which it was impossible to untie into a meaning. On one occasion, Bishop Barrington, while expostulating with the Archdeacon for sending him a letter he could not read, told him of a very bad writer, a Frenchman, who answered a letter thus :- Out of respect, Sir, I write to you with my own hand; but to facilitate the reading, I send you a copy, which I have caused my amanuensis to make.'

John Bell, of the Chancery bar, wrote three hands one, which no one could read but him

The Bad Writer's Consolation. 203

self; another, which his clerk could read, and he could not; and a third, which nobody could read.

A comparatively recent writer in the Saturday Review speaks very slightingly of caligraphy; and in opposition to the opinions already referred to, appears to go the length of holding that bad handwriting is an all but universal characteristic of great men. He has no objection to the inculcation of good penmanship on the lower middle classes,' or on 'feminine correspondents; but stoutly disputes the propriety of your man of genius being encumbered with such a humble, excellent, clerkly, working-man's virtue' as legibility.

Under certain not very enviable circumstances, a bad writer has it in his power to draw a small amount of comfort from his illegible productions. 'Your handwriting is very bad indeed,' said a gentleman to a young college friend, who was more addicted to boating and cricketing than to hard study; 'you really ought to learn to write better.' 'Ay, ay,' returned the young man, 'it is all very well for you to tell me that, but if I were to write better, people would be finding out how I spell.'


Lamb on Handwriting.

In one of Charles Lamb's last letters, addressed to his old schoolfellow, George Dyer, he amusingly touches upon the subject of handwriting. 'You always wrote hieroglyphically,' he says; 'you ever wrote what I call a Grecian's hand. Your boy-of-genius hand and your mercantile hand are various. By your flourishes, I should think you never learned to make eagles or corkscrews, or flourish the governors' names in the writing school; and by the tenor and cut of your letters, I suspect you were never in it at all. By the length of this scrawl, you will think I have a design upon your optics; but I have writ as large as I could, out of respect to them; too large, indeed, for beauty. Mine is a sort of Deputy-Grecian's hand; a little better, and more of a worldly hand, than a Grecian's, but still remote from the mercantile.' 1


It frequently happens that where the body of a letter is clearly and legibly written, the signature of the writer is what has been aptly termed

1 'Grecian' and 'Deputy-Grecian' denote the higher forms of the boys at Christ's Hospital.

Illegible Signatures.


'a hopeless puzzle of intemperate scratches.' All collectors of autographs are familiar with illegible signatures; and before the abolition of Franking, the Post-Office authorities were frequently applied to for information as to the names of the privileged writers. As illustrative examples, I may mention the Parliamentary signatures of Lord Hotham, Sir James Weir Hogg, Mr. James Johnston of Straiton, Sir M. Folkes, and General Sharpe of Hoddom. But probably the most eccentric signature that ever appeared upon a frank is that of Mr. Richard Hodgson, which bears a striking resemblance to a bad impression of a wild bird's claw, and consequently, is about as like the writer's name as the most mysterious Egyptian hieroglyphic. I happen to possess facsimiles of thirty different signatures of the first Emperor Napoleon, some of which are certainly very extraordinary productions; but the most peculiar of the series is entirely eclipsed by that of Mr. Hodgson.

A few years ago, a lamented medical friend received an invitation to dinner in something like the following terms:-EDINR., 17th Novr. -MY DEAR SIR,-Will you favour me with your company at dinner on Friday next, the

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