Friday, March 27, 2009

cutting a quill, 1770s



Young Man's Beft Companion.


Spelling, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, in an eafier Way than any yet publifhed ; and how to qualify any perfon for bufinefs, without the help of a Mafter.

Inftructions to write Variety of Hands, with Copies both in Profe and Verfe. How to write Letters on Businefs or Friendfhip. Forms of Indentures, Bonds, Bills of Sale, Receipts, wills, Leafes, Releafes, &c. ... (much, much more)

By GEORGE FISHER, Accomptant.

The Twenty-third Edition, Corrected and Improved.

London : Printed for W. Strahan, et al. M.DCC.LXXIX.

[Price bound 2s. 6d.]

(long s is used throughout, but I have replaced it with short s in this transcription, except where it is listed as a letter with head and tail - there I have used f)


FIRST, it is necessary to be provided with the following Implements, viz. good Pens, good and free Ink, and also good Paper, when arrived to commendable Performances ; likewise a flat Ruler for Sureness ; and a round one for Dispatch ; with a leaden Plummet or Pencil to rule lines : Also Gum Sandrick Powder (or Pounce, as they call it), with a little Cotton dipp'd therein, which rub gently over the Paper to make it bear Ink the better ; particularly when full Hands are to be written, such as Text, &c. and especially when you are obliged to scratch out a Word or Letter : for then there will be a Necessity for its Use ; and rubbing the Place with the Pounce, smooth it with the Haft of the Penknife, or clean Paper, and then you may write what is proper in the same Place. These Implements are summed in these Lines :

A Penknife, Razor-Metal, Quills good Store ;

Gum-Sandrick Paper to pounce Paper o'er ;

Ink, shining black, Paper more white than Snow,

Round and flat Rulers on yourself bestow.

With willing Mind, these, and industrious Hand,

Will make this Art your Servant at Command.

To hold the Pen.

THE Pen must be held somewhat sloping, with the Thumb and the two Fingers next to it ; the Ball of the Middle-finger must be placed straight, just against the upper Part of the Cut or Cradle, to keep the Pen steady : The Fore-finger lying straight on the Middle-finger ; and the Thumb must be fixed a little higher than the End of the Fore-finger, bending in the Joint ; and the Pen be so placed to be held easily without griping. The Elbow must be drawn towards the Body, but not too close. You must support your Hand by leaning on the Table-edge, resting on it half Way between your Wrist and Elbow, not suffering the Ball, or fleshy Part of your Hand, to touch the Paper ; but resting your Hand on the End of your Little-finger, that and your Fourth-finger bending inwards, and supported on the Table as abovesaid. So fixed, and sitting pretty upright, not leaning your Breast against the table, proceed to the making the small a, and a, c, e, i, m, r, s, w, and x ; which must all be made of equal Bigness and Height : the Distance or Width betwixt the two Strokes of the n, must be the same with the Distance or Width of the three Strokes of the m ; the same Proportion of Width must be observed in the u, w, and o. The Letters with Stems, or Heads, must be of equal Height ; as the b, d, f, h, k, l, and f. And those with Tails must be of equal Depth, as the f, g, p, q, and f. The Capitals must bear the same Proportion to one another, with respect to Bigness and Height, as A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I, &c.--This Proportion of Letters, both of Small and Great, must be observed in, and will serve for, all Hands whatsoever. N. B. That all upright Strokes, and those leaning to the left Hand, must be fine, or Hair-strokes, and all downright Strokes must be fuller or blacker. And when you are in Joining, where Letters will naturally join, without any Straining, take not off the Pen in Writing, especially in Running or mixed Hand. Care likewise must be duly taken, that there be an equal Distance between Letter and Letter, and also between Word and Word : The Distance between Word and Word may be the Space the small m takes up ; but between Letter and Letter, not quite so much. Sit not long at Writing, (that is, not longer than you improve) especially at the first, lest it weary you, and you grow tired of learning. Imitate the best Examples ; and have a constant Eye at your Copy ; and be not ambitious of writing fast, before you can write well ; Expedition will naturally follow, after you have gained a habit of writing fair and free ; and 'tis much more commendable to be an Hour in writing six Lines well, than to be able to write sixty Lines in the same Time, which perhaps will be altogether unintelligible. And besides, by a slow and fair Procedure, you will learn in half the Time ; and therefore 'tis a vain Thought in a Learner to desire to be quick before he hath acquired Experience, and a Freedom of Writing by frequent Practice. If you have Cotton in your Ink, look well that there be no Hairs at the Nib of your Pen. Never overcharge your Pen with Ink ; but shake what is too much into the Ink again.

How to make a Pen.

THIS is gained sooner by Experience and Observation from others that can make a Pen well, than by verbal Directions. But Note, that those Quills called Seconds are the best, as being hard, long and round in the Barrel ; and before you begin to cut the Quill, scrape off the superfluous Scurf with the Back of your Penknife ; scrape most on the Back of the Quill, that the slit may be the finer, and without Gander's Teeth (as the Roughness in the Slit is by some called). After you have scraped the Quill as aforesaid, cut the Quill at the End, half through, on the back Part ; and then turning up the Belly, cut the other Half, or Part, quite through, viz. about a Quarter or almost Half an Inch, at the End of the Quill, which will then appear forked : then enter the Penknife a little in the back Notch, and then putting the Peg of the Penknife-haft (or the end of another Quill into the back Notch, holding your Thumb pretty hard on the Back of the Quill as high as you intend the Slit to be) with a sudden or quick Twitch, force up the Slit ; it must be sudden and smart, that the Slit may be clearer ; Then by several Cuts on each Side bring the Quill into equal Shape or Form on both Sides ; and having brought it to a fine Point, place the Inside of the Nib on the Nail of your Thumb, and enter the Knife at the Extremity of the Nib ; and then by other proper Cuts finish the Pen, bringing it into a handsome Shape, and proper Form. But meddle not with the Nib again, by giving it any Trimming or fine Cuts, for that causes a Roughness, and spoils it : But if you do, to bring the Nib the evener, you must nib it again, as above directed. Note, that the breadth of the Nib must be proportioned to the Breadth of the Body, or downright black Strokes of the Letters, in whatsoever Hand you write, whether Small or Text. Note also, That in your sitting to write, you place yourself directly against a fore-right Light, or else to have it on your left Hand (which I esteem best) but by no Means to have the Light on your right Hand, because the Shadow of your Writing-hand will obstruct your Sight.

Thus far for Direction. Now for Application. I have here set Copies of the most usual, fashionable, and commendable Hands for Business ; with Alphabets of Great and Small Letters proper to each. Be sure you make your Letters well (both Small and Great) before you proceed to Joining. Be careful in Imitation, and observe the foregoing Directions, and without doubt you will gain your End. Command of Hand, or the Art of striking Letters, &c. is gained by frequent practicing after good Examples.

(There follow some pages of examples, then of Copy Book Headings to practice writing. But the last section is worth quoting in full.)

Double Lines in Verse.
All you that in fair Writing would excel,
How much you write regard not, but how well.
Bear your Pen lightly, keep a steady Hand,
And that's the Way fair Writing to command.
Carefully mend in each succeeding Line,
For that's the Way to reach to what is fine.
Descending Strokes are dark, but upwards small;
Even at Head and Feet keep Letters all.
From Blots keep clean your Book, and always mind
To have your Letters all one Way inclin'd.
Grace every Line with perfect, full and small,
And keep a due Proportion in them all.
Hold your Pen lightly, gripe it not too hard,
And with due Care your Copy well regard.
Join every Letter to his next with Care,
And let your Strokes be admirably fair.
Keep a light Hand, and smoothly glide along;
Ascending fine, and downright Strokes are strong.
Let graceful Beauty in each Line appear,
And see the Front do not excel the Rear.
Majestic Grace, both beautiful and strong,
Doth, or else ought, to every Line belong.
No Roughness at the Edge should e'er be seen,
But all the Letters should be smooth and clean.
On Care depends the Beauty of each Line,
For that alone will make your Art to shine.
Praise is deserved by the careful Hand,
But for the Unthinking doth Correction stand.
Quit yourself nobly with a prudent Care,
Of clumsy Writing and of Blots beware.
Remember strictly what the Art enjoins,
Equal-sized Letters, and as equal Lines.
Small Letters must of equal Height be seen;
The same of great, both beautifully clean.
Time and Delight will easy make the Task!
Delight, Delight's the only Thing I ask!
Vain are the Hopes of those who think to gain
This noble Treasure without taking Pain.
Whilst idle Drones supinely dream of Fame,
The Industrious actually do get the same.
'Xemplar Lines are Writing's surest Law,
Precepts may lead us, but Examples draw.
Youth is the Time for Progress in all Arts;
Then use your Youth to gain the noblest Parts.
Zeal for Attainment of each Art will prove
One means of purchasing the general Love.


evangoer said...

It was a lot easier when *you* showed us how to do this in 2006. Maybe pedagogy has improved. :)

batgirl said...

You fee then the aduantage of hauing a Mafter, for fo many actions are moft eafily fhown but only with difficulty defcribed.

If I weren't trying to give a true appearance and representation of the printed page, I would have broken this into paragraphs and used considerably more white space.
But I am fworn to verifimilitude aboue all.

Kali said...

I haue alwayf keenly felt the aduantage of hauing a Mafter.

Thank you!


batgirl said...

You are moft welcome! Alas I fear we are fo rarely at once in the fame place that I am more a manual of inftruction than a Mafter in full.
I haue a book for you. Would it better be fent by poft? (I haften to add that it is mere amufement, not inftruction.)

Kali said...

Amufment if a bleffing, and hath itf place in inftruction, af well you know.

Poft if beft, I believe, af I know not when I fhall again enjoy the company of my friends o'er the Rockpile. We are hoping for Fwan, but it is by no means a fettled matter.

Kali said...

And I haften to add, do not fell your influence fhort af a Mafter--I alwayf find your commentf and fuggestionf infightful. Your input into my docmentation for Faint Thomaf waf invaluable.

Anonymous said...

Now I haue not need to hurry-scurry o'er lofflefs Tomes and pages left off of numbers. To haue pulled such as this in but one Place, a Greateft Service haue you made. Thanks of limitlefs number to you.

Surely do I hope againft hope that soon shall the comiffioner put hand to the collar of that tatterdemalion whofe name he calls himfelf Bat.

batgirl said...

You are moft welcome, fir!
And fhould it be that my ftudy of The Inftructor leadeth to more matter of ufefulnefs, I fhall moft certainly commit it alfo to the fcreen, for general ufe.

Indeed, one waits moft earneftly for news of faid Rapfcallion.