Page:Theory and Practice of Handwriting.djvu/162

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direction of the extended lower arm. The plane formed by the forefinger and thumb has a very slight inclination to the left, the fourth and fifth fingers are moderately bent, and the hand rests on the nail-joint of the latter.

This posture of hand secures to the fingers that hold the pen the greatest freedom of movement for up- and down-strokes. If now you close your eyes and, without turning or twisting the hand, blindly make a few movements and extensions of the three fingers that hold the pen, the strokes produced will be directed pretty exactly towards the middle of the body and at the same time stand perpendicular to the edge of the desk, supposing that the point of the writing pen is exactly in the middle, in front of the writer. The direction of these strokes, with regard both to the edge of the desk and to the breast, will of course remain exactly the same, if, other conditions being kept unchanged, the paper lies at one time oblique, at another straight before the middle of the body. Only their position relative to the edges of the sheet and to the line will change. They will stand perpendicular to the latter if the sheet lies straight, they will stand obliquely on it if the sheet is placed obliquely. If, however, you push the paper and the blindly writing hand away towards the right, and are careful that in this position the, action described above is maintained and the writing-motion completed without constraint by the bending and extension of the three fingers, then the down-strokes though directed as before towards the middle of the writer, will at the same time stand obliquely to the edge of the desk. Their inclination to the line will obviously here too be entirely dependent on the turning of the paper.

From this preliminary experiment the rule seems to follow that in writing, as well in middle position as in right position of the copy-book left positions do not conceivably occur in right-handed writing, it is always those down-strokes which are directed towards the breast of the writer that flow most easily from the pen. At the same time the possibility of producing other directions of the down-strokes by violent twistings of the hand is not to be denied, but, as the experiments described above seem to teach us, only such down-strokes as fall on the line of connection between pen-point and breast-bone are executed in accordance with the laws of hand-motion and without constraint.

Let us now see whether these personal observations are confirmed when we let others write, without influencing them at all, in any position of body and copy-book they please. In boys from eight to twelve years of age I measured in 1,586 cases the direction of the down-strokes in regard to the body, and found that with those who