Page:Theory and Practice of Handwriting.djvu/161

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143
APPENDIX II

conviction that Vertical Writing in straight middle position is the only correct one.

Gross on the other hand desired perpendicular writing, but, strangely enough, at the same time a slightly oblique position of the copy-book. This is, as I hope to make clear further on, an internal contradiction which the first practical experiments in writing must have rendered obvious. Nevertheless it was the very fresh and stirring pamphlet of Gross that directed the attention of a wide circle to the need of a writing-reform, and thereby gave the impulse to all subsequent efforts. Thus it came about that Dr. Martins, District Medical Adviser, discussed the proposals of Gross in the Medical District Union at Ansbach, and carried a motion in the Middle Franconia Medical Council, to the effect that the Government should, through the official organs, have data collected as to the possible dangers of oblique writing. Simultaneously a critique by Mr. Methsieder, District School Inspector, was produced, which strongly advocated perpendicular writing. At the same sitting of the Medical Council in 1879, the president Dr. Merkel, Medical Adviser, also declared very decidedly in favour of Vertical Writing, which he himself had been exclusively using for many years.

Without going into details on the labours and counter-currents of the next ten years, I will now try to explain our present knowledge of the physiology of writing, and, in connection therewith, give an account of the results of the experiments with perpendicular writing in separate school-classes in Central Franconia, Flensburg and Vienna. In the question before us the direction of the down-stroke as regards the line of writing is the principal point; everything else depends on this. Downstrokes are formed by simple bending of the three writing-fingers, with the assistance at the same time of a slight bending at the wrist. In the upstroke the fingers by extension return again to their original position, while simultaneously the point of the pen is, by movement of hand or arm, pushed away a little towards the right. The first consideration, then, that forces itself upon us is: What direction of down-stroke is unconstrained and natural, and best suits the organs concerned in writing?

The following experiment will show.

Assume a straight symmetrical posture of body, lay a sheet of paper in the middle before you and place your hand ready for writing on it, leaving the hand however still in its position of rest without any sort of muscular tension. It will be seen that the palm of the hand is then not turned downwards towards the paper, as many ancient and modern writing-rules wrongly require, but that it stands perpendicular to the surface of the desk, and the whole hand lies exactly in the