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Hereditary Handwriting.

and training, must handwriting depend! Yet every one must have noted the occasional close similarity of the handwriting in father and son, although the father had not taught the son. A A great collector of franks assured me that in his collection there were several franks of father and son hardly distinguishable except by their dates. Hofacker, in Germany, remarks on the inheritance of handwriting ; and it has even been asserted that English boys, when taught to write in France, naturally cling to their English manner of writing.'

I have sometimes been struck with the peculiarity here referred to, particularly in the case of signatures; and in those families where the same Christian name has prevailed throughout a series of generations, the resemblance is occasionally very striking. The signature of the late Lord Palmerston was remarkably similar to that of his father.

The members of the medical profession are not celebrated for their caligraphy—if, at least, we may form an opinion from their prescriptions, which, however, their patients are probably not intended to understand ; but, prescriptions apart, my observation leads me to

Authors' Manuscript.



conclude that, in respect to handwriting, they are surpassed by both lawyers and clergymen. Authors also have the reputation of writing badly ; but, so far as my experience goes, they are certainly not below the average. Thackeray, for example, was remarkable both for the clearness of his handwriting and for the general neatness of his manuscripts ; and little more than a year ago, our old friend ‘Sylvanus Urban' pronounced a very favourable verdict on the handwriting of two other distinguished authors. After acknowledging that ‘Dickens's manuscript is what printers call bad copy,' he goes on to say that Shirley Brooks writes

" plainly, and with very little revision ; while Douglas Jerrold's copy was almost as good as copperplate.' He further informs us, however, that “Tom Taylor writes as if he had wool at the end of his pen; and that 'Lord Lyttleton, who moved a clause to the Reform Bill, that nobody should have a vote who could not write a legible hand, writes so illegibly that the clerks at the table could not read the resolution which he handed in.'1


*Christopher Kenrick,' in Gentleman's Magazine for December 1868.


Female Handwriting.

If the handwriting of the male sex is characterized by its individuality, that of the ladies, on the other hand, appears to be no less remarkable for the very opposite quality-to wit, the painful uniformity of its style. Occasionally, no doubt, we meet with a lady's handwriting which is distinguished by its boldness and freedom ; but I think it cannot be denied that stiff, formal angularity has long been the prevailing characteristic. It is by no means improbable that the largely extended use of steel pens may have something to do with the peculiarity in question; and possibly, in the course of time, the same cause may produce a greater uniformity in the handwriting of the male sex. As an example of a fine female hand, I may mention that of the Queen, whose signature is peculiarly bold and dignified. The handwriting of most of the literary ladies who figure in my collection of autographs is by no means remarkable for its beauty. While Miss Ferrier, Mrs. Trollope, Miss Mitford, and Miss Martineau all write very ordinary hands, those of · L. E. L.' and Mrs. Norton, although by no means pretty, have the merit of being both regular and

Character from Handwriting. 217

legible. As tolerably favourable examples; I may mention the Countess of Blessington, Lady Eastlake, Helen Faucit (Mrs. Martin), Mrs. Godwin, Lady Charlotte Bury, and Adelaide Kemble—the handwriting of the three last, although very different in character, being bold and decided ; while that of Charlotte Brontë may be referred to as remarkable for its legibility, notwithstanding its excessive minuteness.

Character from Handwriting. It has long been a pretty prevalent opinion that the leading points of a person's character may be deduced from his handwriting ; and most of us are probably familiar with the advertisements of professed interpreters which from time to time appear in the public prints in something like the following terms :- Send 13 postage stamps, along with a specimen of your ordinary handwriting, to the subjoined address, and in the course of a few days you will receive a full and correct description of the principal features in your character. I have occasionally heard of very good shots being made by these learned professors. Their




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descriptions, besides being somewhat vague, are generally so very comprehensive that it frequently happens that some of the qualities specified are perfectly correct. In most cases, moreover, the opinion' embraces a large proportion of favourable attributes, which the amiable applicants complacently appropriate without the smallest hesitation. The following is a copy of a tolerably truthful reply which a friend received, several years ago, from a female diviner rejoicing in the name of Mrs. Gedoin Jenkins :

—A busy and anxious person—a strong and active mind-the intellect ever at work—it is no easy life this character leads—the mental energy is ever jolting over difficulties—the nature quick and sententiousthe temper excitable and solicitous—the disposition hasty and impetuous, ready with expedient, prompt in action-but there is ever too much of impatience-a lively imagination prompts to unusual diligence. This character must find the world very slow.—There is little he meets that keeps pace with his desiresthe ability is close and vigorous-a practical genius-a mind that devotes itself to usefulness -a worker of difficult things, and of inflexible perseverance-the will is restless and unsettled

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