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Individuality of Handwriting. 209
the case of many of the softer sex, the signature by mark is frequently the result of a temporary nervousness.
Individuality of Handwriting. The individuality of handwriting is so remarkable at least in the case of the male sex —that even an approach to classification is a very difficult undertaking. I shall, however, make the attempt in the following list, which, it will be observed, embraces the names of a large number of distinguished men. I ought to state that, in the great majority of cases, the character of the hand is deduced from a single specimen of writing, which perhaps may not be considered a very fair criterion.
Free and flowing:—William Pitt, David Garrick, Marquis Wellesley, Marquis of Dalhousie, Earl Russell, Earl of Shaftesbury, Rev. Dr. Guthrie.
Free, but somewhat angular and ladylike.--Duke of Wellington (late), Earl of Derby (late), Earl of Dalhousie (formerly Lord Panmure).
Free, but not well formed.- Lord Macaulay, Rev. Robert Hall, John Wilson ('Christopher North'), Edward Irving, Dean Stanley, Rev. Dr. Norman Macleod.
Distinct round hands (in some cases very upright.) --Lord Chancellor Eldon, Sir James Mackintosh, Sir Walter Scott, Richard Cobden, Thomas Carlyle, Charl
Dickens, Dr. Wilberforce (Bishop of Winchester), Lord Lindsay (now Earl of Crawford and Balcarres), Dean Alford.
Neat, small, and on the whole legible.—Theodore Hook, Hugh Miller, Rev. Dr. Pusey, Dr. Robert Chambers, Harrison Ainsworth, Alfred Tennyson, John Ruskin, James Anthony Froude, Rev. Dr. Candlish, Lord Lytton, Shirley Brooks.
Very small, neat, and legible.—Thomas Gray,' Matthew Henry, Philip Doddridge, Samuel Rogers, Rev. Dr. John Brown, Giuseppe Mazzini.
Very neat and regular, but somewhat cramped and formal.—Sir James Graham (late), William Ewart Gladstone, M. Guizot, Rev. Dr. Caird.
Good bold hands.—Dugald Stewart, Patrick Fraser Tytler, Lord Brougham, Isaac Taylor, Dr. Whately (Archbishop of Dublin), Duke of Argyll, Rev. Charles Kingsley, Dr. Livingstone, Martin F. Tupper.
Beautifully formed and distinct.—Duke of Portland (Prime Minister), Leigh Hunt, David M. Moir (“Delta”), Sir Frederick Pollock, William M. Thackeray.
Bold and magnificent, but rather large.—Thomas Aird, Sheridan Knowles, Lord Elcho, John Steell.
Distinct, but vulgar.—Daniel O'Connell, Joseph Hume.
Very ordinary and badly formed.-James Hogg, Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Lord Chancellor Campbell. Systematically illegible.-Rev. Dr. Chalmers.
The following is one of a series of contributions, by an anonymous correspondent, to the columns of an English journal, during the year
1 The author of the "Elegy’ is said to have usually written with a crow-quill, in accordance with the practice of General' Tom Thumb.
1866, relative to the autographs of some other eminent persons, chiefly of an earlier age :
QUEEN ELIZABETH.-While princess she wrote a beautiful engrossing hand-clear and regular, almost, as an engraving of letters. After she had been Queen a long time, a melancholy change occurs.
The letters are thin, spiteful ; the lines irregular ; an ugly old maid's version of her former hand, and the signature is a thing to make one bless one's-self.
MARTIN LUTHER.—Firm and legible, though not very equal nor very straight.
SIR THOMAS MORE.-By no means displaying the calm firmness he possessed ; the lines crooked, and tumbling down hill.
RUBENS.—Manly, bold ; with a careless ease and clearness denoting mastery of hand.
LORD BACON.–Very like an elegant modern shorthand. Clear, neat, and regular. The signature involved with broken lines, as if a fly had struggled and died in a spider's web.
VOLTAIRE.- Very clear, regular, steady, and straight ; evidently not written rapidly, but with a continuous ease.
OLIVER CROMWELL.-Large, bold, legible, steady, sharp, and straight. The signature made up of halberds and pointed palisades. But another letter is not at all of this character. It displays a perplexed and undecided mind at the time it was written.
PRINCE DE CONDE.-Not at all in accordance with the strong expression and buffalo features of his face.
CHARLOTTE CORDAY.-Firm, clear, steady, but not without emotion.
CUVIER.–Very like the writing of Charlotte Corday, but not so strong and compact.
DANTON.—Wilful, daring, without method or care.
2 1 2
Development of Individualism.
GEORGE THE FOURTH.-Not at all the very gentlemanly. hand most people would expect-rather like a housemaid's.
POPE.—Very bad, small, full of indecision ; a very hedgerow of corre
ons and erasures. CARDINAL WOLSEY.– A good hand, disturbed only by nervous energy and self-will.
PORSON.-Correct and steady; the reverse of his personal appearance and habits.
SHAKESPEARE.—A very bad hand indeed, confused, crowded, crooked in the lines, scarcely legible.
NAPOLEON.-Still more illegible. No letters formed at all; the signature a mere hasty'scrimmage with the pen.
In the second volume of the facsimiles of the National Manuscripts already referred to, the gradual discontinuance of Gothic characteristics, and the development of individualism in handwriting, constitute two prominent features. As good illustrations of the latter, a recent critic in the North British Review selects three letters from Thomas Ruthall, Bishop of Durham, to Cardinal Wolsey, in the memorable year 1513 ; of which the first is in a professional hand, corrected by the Bishop, while the two others are in his own cursive handwriting. “They have, in their way,' he says, 'as much individuality as the human countenance itself, . . . which could only grow when writing had become a life-long habit, ... and above all, where men
Individuality and Legibility.
write for themselves, and with the abandon of men writing their own thoughts. Even in the present day,' he truly continues, "the clerkly hand of those who write officially is, except in the upper grades of the profession, chiefly characterized by the lack of individuality. It does not necessarily follow that individuality in handwriting implies illegibility, although, no doubt, as a general rule, the most decidedly characteristic hands present no very striking resemblance to copperplate. For the ordinary purposes of life, however, if it come to be a question between legibility without individuality, and individuality without legibility, I confess that I am very much disposed to prefer the former, even in the case of men of genius;' on the simple ground that few occupations are more aggravating than a tedious and uncertain effort to decipher a page of hieroglyphics, whether they happen to be the handiwork of a perfect stranger or of one's dearest friend.
In his recent work on Animals and Plants under Domnestication, Mr. Darwin makes the following interesting observations on the subject of handwriting :-On what a curious combination of corporeal structure, mental character,