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Temperament and Handwriting. 219
-it will have its way—but it hardly knows what that way is.—The taste is acquisitivethere is a natural tendency to thrift, an economist from principle; much readiness of talent, but all turned to one purpose-liberality is all screwed down to practical proof-the judgment is ever on the rack—we have here the rough side of wisdom-strong and fastidious, pertinacious and inflexible—the leading feature is restless ability—the weak point, too anxious a temperament.'
I am inclined to believe that, in a general way, a certain relation exists between character and handwriting. Upwards of twenty years ago, an article on 'Autography' appeared in Chambers's Fournal, in which reference is made to a writer in the Northern Journal of Medicine (the late Dr. William Seller?), who furnishes a physiological reason, viz., temperament, for the diversities in handwriting. The author of the article considers that the two extremes of natural temperament or complexion are well known to every one.
• We shall take,' he says, a man with light auburn hair, blue sparkling eyes, a ruddy complexion, ample chest, and muscular, well-rounded, agile frame. . . . When such a man sits down to write, he makes short
Fair and Dark Complexions.
work of it. He snatches the first pen that comes in the way, never looks how it is pointed, dabs it into the ink, and then dashes on from side to side of the paper in a full, free, and slipslop style, his ideas--or at all events his words -flowing faster than his agile fingers and leaping muscles can give them a form. ... On the contrary, select a man with deep black hair, black eyes, brown or sallow complexion, and thin spare form. ... After weighing well his subject in his mind, he sits down deliberately, selects and mends his pen, adjusts his paper, and in close, stiff, and upright characters traces with a snail's pace his well-weighed and sententious composition.' He then refers to the intermediate shades of temperament, and gives a classified table embracing six different heads, to each of which a special style of handwriting is assigned.
L'art de juger du Caractère des Hommes sur leur Ecriture is the title of a little French work on the subject under consideration. The author gives several interesting facsimiles of handwriting, including that of Voltaire, Chateaubriand, Queen Elizabeth of England, and her unfortunate ‘sister,' Mary Queen of Scots. In referring to the two royal autographs, he says, Practical Application.
Who would believe that these two handwritings are of the same age? The first (that of Elizabeth) denotes hardness of character and ostentation; the other indicates simpleness, sweetness, nobleness. The difference of these two hands plainly answers to that of their characters.'
Like all sound and practical preachers, I must take leave to conclude my somewhat rambling observations with a direct address to my 'gentle readers' in the shape of a very brief
by way of practical application :
As to matter.-Let your letters be expressed in a simple, natural, easy, unaffected style; and let their length depend upon the subject in hand and other regulating circumstances.
As to manner.—Let your handwriting be as distinct and legible as possible ; and if a postscript should occasionally prove unavoidable, never run the risk of making your correspondent cross, by resorting to the objectional practice of crossing
MADAME DE SÉVIGNÉ À M. DE COULANGES.
À PARIS, 15 décembre 1670. Je m'en vais vous mander la chose la plus étonnante, la plus surprenante, la plus merveilleuse, la plus miraculeuse, la plus triomphante, la plus étourdissante, la plus inouïe, la plus singulière, la plus extraordinaire, la plus incroyable, la plus imprévue, la plus grande, la plus petite, la plus rare, la plus commune, la plus éclatante, la plus secrète jusqu'à aujourd'hui, la plus brillante, la plus digne d'envie ; une chose que nous ne saurions croire à Paris ; comment la pourroit-on croire à Lyon ? une chose qui fait crier miséricorde à tout le monde ; une chose qui comble de joie Madame de Rohan et Madame de Hauterive ; une chose enfin qui se fera dimanche, où ceux qui la verront croiront avoir la berlue; une chose qui se fera dimanche, et qui ne sera peut-être pas
faite lundi. Je ne puis me résoudre à vous la dire ; devinez-la, je vous le donne en trois ; jetez-vous votre langue aux chiens ? Hé bien ! il faut donc vous la dire. M. de Lauzun épouse dimanche au Louvre,