This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
WRITING is the art of placing thought, by means of written characters, upon any object capable of receiving the same. The origin of this art is completely veiled in obscurity, no history giving authentic account of its first introduction and use. Its first recorded mention is in the Bible, wherein it is said, referring to the preparation of the Ten Commandments by Moses on Mount Sinai, that "The Tables were written on both their sides."
Fifteen hundred years before Christ, Cadmus, the Phoenician, had introduced letters into Greece, being sixteen in number, to which several were afterwards added. It is certain that the Greeks were among the very earliest of the nations of the earth to invent and make use of written characters for the record of ideas, which could be clearly interpreted by succeeding generations; though the invention of the art came from the advancing civilization of mankind, and had its origin with various nations at first in the form of hieroglyphics, or picture writing, which characters have, as mankind progressed, been simplified, systematized, and arranged in alphabets, giving us the various alphabetical characters now in use.
Writing and penmanship, though nearly synonymous terms, are quite different in meaning. Writing is the expression of thought by certain characters, and embraces penmanship, spelling, grammar and composition.
PENMANSHIP is the combination of peculiar characters used to represent the record of thought; and having, since its first invention, continued to change its form down to the present time, so it is probable the style of penmanship will continue to change in the future The great defect existing in the present system of penmanship is the superabundance of surplus marks, that really mean nothing. This fault, along with our defective alphabet, consumes in writing, at present, a great amount of unnecessary time and labor. Thus, in writing the word Though, we make twenty-seven motions, whereas, being but two sounds in the word, we actually require but two simple marks.
That style of writing whereby we use a character to represent each sound, is known as phonography, which system of penmanship enables the penman to write with the rapidity of speech. The phonetic or phonographic system of spelling, wherein each sound is represented by a character, gives us the nearest approach to a perfect alphabet in existence, and is the method of spelling and the style of writing to which we will, beyond question, ultimately attain.
It has been found extremely difficult, however, to suddenly change a style of alphabet in general use in a living language; and the mass of the American and English people will, without doubt, use the present style of penmanship, with various modifications, many decades in the future. To the perfection of that system in general use, in the English and American method of writing, which the present generation will be most likely to have occasion to use throughout their lifetime, this work is directed, as having thus the most practical value; though Short-hand is illustrated elsewhere.
Two styles of penmanship have been in use, and each in turn has been popular with Americans in the past fifty years; one known as the round hand, the other as the angular writing. The objection attaching to each is, that the round hand, while having the merit of legibility, requires too much time in its execution; and the angular, though rapidly written, is wanting in legibility. The best teachers of penmanship, of late, have obviated the objections attaching to these different styles, by combining the virtues of both in one, producing a semi-angular penmanship, possessing the legibility of the round hand along with the rapid execution of the angular.
To the Duntons, of Boston, and the late P. R. Spencer, as the founders of the semi-angular penmanship, are the people indebted for the beautiful system of writing now in general use in the schools throughout the country.
The copies, accompanied by directions in this book, will be found ample in number and sufficiently explicit in detail to give the student a knowledge of writing and flourishing. In acquiring a correct penmanship it is not the practice of many different copies that makes the proficient penman, but rather a proper understanding of a few select ones, for a few copies embrace the whole art.
As will be seen by an examination of the copy plates, each letter of the alphabet is made in a variety of styles, both large and small, succeeded by words alphabetically arranged in fine and coarse penmanship, which are excellently adapted to the wants of both ladies and gentlemen, according to the dictates of fancy in the selection of coarse and fine hand.
As a rule, however, the bold penmanship, indicating force of character, will be naturally adopted by gentlemen, while the finer hand, exhibiting delicacy and refinement, will be chosen by the ladies.
The principles of penmanship, also represented, give the complete analysis of each letter, while the proper and improperly made letters, representing good and bad placed side by side, will have a tendency to involuntarily improve the penmanship, even of the person who makes a casual examination of the letters of the alphabet thus made in contrast.
The illustrations of curves, proportions and shades that accompany these directions should also be carefully studied, as a knowledge of these scientific principles in penmanship will be found of great service to the student in giving a correct understanding of the formation of letters.
It is not sufficient, however, that the student merely study the theory of writing. To be proficient there must be actual practice. To conduct this exercise to advantage it is necessary to have the facilities for writing well. Essential to a successful practice are good tools with which to write. These comprise the following writing materials:
Metallic pens have generally superseded the quill. They are of all styles and quality of metal, gold and steel, however, being the best. In consequence of its flexibility and great durability, many prefer the gold pen; though in point of fine execution, the best penmen prefer the steel pen, a much sharper and finer hair line being cut with it than with the gold pen.
For practice in penmanship, obtain of the stationer five sheets of good foolscap paper. Midway from top to bottom of the sheet, cut the paper in two, placing one half inside the other. Use a strong paper for the cover, and sew the whole together, making a writing-book. Use a piece of blotting paper to rest the hand on. The oily perspiration constantly passing from the hand unfits the surface of the paper for receiving good penmanship. The hand should never touch the paper upon which it is designed, afterwards, to write.
Black ink is best. That which flows freely, and is nearest black when first used, gives the most satisfaction. The inkstand should be heavy and flat, with a large opening, from which to take ink, and not liable to tip over. The best inkstand is made of thick cut glass, enabling the writer to see the amount of ink in the same, and shows always how deep to set the pen when taking ink from the stand. Care should be observed not to take too much ink on the pen; and the surplus ink should be thrown back into the bottle, and never upon the carpet or floor. Close the bottle when done using it, thus preventing rapid evaporation of the ink, causing it soon to become too thick.
An important requisite that should accompany the other writing materials is the pen wiper, used always to clean the pen when the writing exercise is finished, when the ink does not flow readily to the point of the pen, or when lint has caught upon the point. A small piece of buckskin or chamois skin, obtained at the drug store, makes much the best wiper. The student should be provided with various sizes of paper, for different exercises to be written, such as commercial forms, letters, notes of invitation, etc., with envelopes to correspond in size; together with lead-pencil, rubber, ruler, and mucilage. Thus provided with all the materials necessary, the writing exercise, which otherwise would be an unpleasant task, becomes a pleasure.