28 January 2011

a thoughtful reader observes...

...in response to a previous post, "Why don't people seem to have such looping, graceful handwriting anymore?". A good question, sir, and one that instantly prompted this thought, "Because they are too busy texting and emailing to be bothered".  It is yet one more mournful reality of contemporary life; elegant penmanship is no longer the thing.  Today's thing, of course, the Mac, the Blackberry, leaves no evidence of the human hand at all, no opportunity to know the writer by his or her broadly stroked "t" or stratospherically dotted "i" and certainly not by a  signature which is the guarantee that a piece of writing has been created by a distinct person and that person alone.  The signature confirms the intent and authenticity of a document and without that, your job-seeking letter to the International Tree Society might just as well have been written by a squirrel.  Frightening, I think, that there has been such a fervent impulse to abandon handwriting in favor of the tapping and scratching required to make these devices go and so cast off a unique mark of identity and authority.
So with that, I share a few images from the highly esteemed Gately's Universal Educator, a sturdy authority on nearly every aspect of life in the late 1800's.  Gately's, dated 1883, was described as An Educational Cyclopedia and was created to satisfy the "desire among the people for information on all educational subjects..."  Here, the subject is Penmanship, and on that matter I leave it to the esteemed writer of this most illuminating chapter.

"Its practical value is obvious, and its acquisition is palpably a matter of the greatest importance to every one, no matter in what condition of life.  As has been well said, it is 'the record of the past, the regulator of the future, the soul of commerce, and the messenger of thought'."

'Through the medium of the pen, missives of love, sympathy, and condolence, cementing friendships and reviving pleasant memories, traverse continents and make voyages to every quarter of the globe."

"How to acquire a good handwriting is, then, the question which naturally arises.  Most people admire good penmanship and would like to write well, but is seems to them that their case is hopeless, that only those who are gifted by nature with a genius for such work can ever succeed."

"We claim that nine persons in every ten, no matter what the natural bent of their mind may be, can become, by careful practice, what the majority of people would term, 'excellent penmen'."

"Probably no one accomplishment, within the reach of almost every one, will furnish a better stepping-stone to a successful business life than that of penmanship.  Hundreds of young men, and young women too, are realizing the truthfulness of this assertion every day, many of whom are occupying responsible and lucrative positions secured largely if not solely on account of their ability to write well.  An earnest determination, persistently followed, will make success a certainty."

As is plain, a brief journey through the pages of Gately's is abundantly rewarding and I think I need to share a bit more of its wisdom in future, but for now, I want to wish my wonderful mother a very Happy Birthday.

In keeping with the sentiment of this post, here is a glimpse of the first page of the baby diary kept by my grandmother after her return home with my mother.  It begins, "We've been home for almost two weeks and every day has shown new developments in our Abigail.  She has been a precious baby and so good (we keep our fingers crossed) so far..."

Dear Mum, Many Happy Returns of the Day!

No comments: