Page:Theory and Practice of Handwriting.djvu/129

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The History of Vertical Writing is the History of all Writing, as, up to about the middle of the 16th century such a thing as Sloping Writing was unknown. In its earliest and crudest forms writing was upright, whether pictorial, hieroglyphic or alphabetical. It has never been definitely ascertained and probably never will be whether writing originated in one centre, radiating thence to other and surrounding Countries, or concurrently in several and all independent of each other. The Mexican and Chinese yield us the most ancient specimens, whilst the honour of discovering the Alphabet alternates between the Egyptians and Phœnicians.

In England and on the Continent alike all writing is vertical until we reach the time of Elizabeth. From about a. d. 596 to the Norman Conquest the writing in Britain was Saxon and of five distinctive kinds. 1. The Roman Saxon, 2. The Set Saxon, 3. The running hand Saxon, 4. The Middle Saxon, and 5. The Elegant Saxon. William the First then introduced the Norman style which like its Saxon predecessor was perpendicular and remained so until the introduction of the Italian Sloping hand as mentioned. The Vertical Style survived much longer in some parts on the Continent but as will be seen from the plates of specimens chronologically arranged (Figs. 46 to 49) German handwriting succumbed to the new fashion much in the same way and at the same time as its neighbours. The posture, erect and straight, adopted by writers in those times is depicted in Figs. 1 and 2, as is also the middle straight position of the book or parchment. In the sixteenth century, then, Lawyers began to engross their conveyances and legal instruments in Sloping characters or letters