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of a monkey, an ass, a rook, and a key. This principle was used in the ancient Egyptian systems of writing, and the alphabet of the Phænicians was based upon it. Thus, Aleph (ox) presents a rude outline of the head and horns of an ox; Beth (house or tent), that of a tent or hut; Gimel (camel) represents the neck and head of a camel. It therefore appears probable that out of a modified kind of hieroglyphics, there arose, in process of time, a regular alphabet, constructed so as to represent the various sounds uttered by the human voice.
It is impossible to fix with anything like certainty the date of the introduction of writing into Europe. Cadmus is said, as before stated, to have brought an alphabet of sixteen letters to Greece from the East, some fifteen centuries before Christ. To Odin, & celebrated chief among the Goths, who lived at a very remote period, is attributed the introduction of the Runic alphabet. “Runic " is a term implying secresy. The alphabet contained sixteen letters, which were considered by the heathen nations who used them to possess great magical powers. “Some tribes of the Britons, the Cymri more particularly," says Dr. Owen Pugh, “from a very remote antiquity, were possessed of a characteristic alphabet, containing all the appropriate and necessary signs for representing every inodification of sound in their language.” This alphabet is called in the language of the Cymri “ Coelbren y Beirdd,” or stave of the Bardic symbols, in reference to the supreme power assumed by the bards, who, in their official capacity of poets, historians, recorders of pedigree, &c., were the principal persons who made use of these characters. The forms of the letters were of the simplest description, consisting of straight lines and angles, and were cut into the sides of pieces of stick of a square form, parchment and paper, being then unknown. From recent discoveries in Ireland, it is proved that the Irish at a very early period possessed a system of writing called “Ogham," a term signifying " the secret of letters.” The alphabet consisted of four series of scores, or straight lines, each series embracing five characters, and each letter ranging from one to five. This system of writing is said to have been known and practised in Ireland long before the era of Christianity.
The Roman or Latin alphabet was of course employed by the people whose name it bears. They “are supposed to have made use of Etruscan characters for nearly two centuries after the foundation of their capital, and to have subsequently modelled their alphabet upon that employed by the Greek colonists in the south of Italy.”* The earliest Roman alphabet of which we have any record was composed of sixteen letters (capitals), and written from right to left. The order of the succession of the letters in the Roman alphabet has been the subject of much discussion among philologists; but no reason for it can be discovered, and all that can be said of it is that it is the same in the Samaritan or earliest form of Hebrew, as well as the. Greek, and probably the Phænician. Nearly all the methods of ancient alphabetic writing may be classed as capitals, uncials, and minuscule. The capitals are such letters as retain the earliest settled form of an alphabet, and are generally of angular shapes. The uncial letters appear to have arisen as writing on papyrus or vellum became common, when many of the straight lines of the capitals acquired a curved form to facilitate their more rapid execution. The modern minuscule,
designed for promoting facility in writing, appears to have arisen in the sixth and seventh centuries.
No memorials are known of a national alphabet existing in this country before the settlement of the Saxons, the only previous examples being Roman, and consisting of a few inscriptions on altars, urns, and coinage. But both the Saxon and the Gaelic races of Ireland and Scotland adopted the Roman alphabet, with few variations.
There was but little knowledge of letters in England before the arrival of Augustine in the sixth century; he is said to have established schools in Canterbury, and in other parts. Even after the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, reading and writing, though more cultivated than before, were for the most part confined to the clergy; hence the word“ clericus,” or “clerk,” which at first meant a clergyman, came in time to mean a penman, or writer, in which sense we now employ it. If a man could read and write, it was considered, in those days, a proof that he was in “ holy orders.” When kings, and other great men, had to authenticate documents, they made a sign of a cross opposite to where the clerk had written their names; and hence originated the expression which we now use to sign a letter.
Nor did learning appear to flourish much more on the continent, for Eginhard, one of the secretaries and the historian of Charlemagne, states that the emperor himself was unable to write, but at an advanced period of life he attempted to learn. He informs us that “he commonly kept under his pillow tablets and little books, to accustom himself, during his hours of rest, to form his letters; but he succeeded badly in that tardy toil unseasonably commenced,” and it would seem that Charlemagne never succeeded in learning to write, notwithstanding his strong desire to do so.
What little learning there was in England in the ninth century appears to have received a check from the repeated incursions and devastations of the Danes, until Alfred ascended the throne, when learning again flourished, and increased facility in rapid writing soon displayed itself; but the wars attendant on the Danish, and afterwards on the Norman conquests, put an effectual stop to it. The Normans are said to have found the English very illiterate, but they brought about a better state of things. The Conqueror has been described as a patronizer and lover of letters, and in this respect many of his successors resembled him; but the introduction by them of the French language into England, and the attempts they made for securing its universal adoption, must have been great impediments to the progress of learning. Hence a knowledge of letters was for the most part confined to the clergy, and even the nobility had but little of it. As to the mass of the community, they were the “unlearned vulgar," and nothing can be more marked than the tone of contempt in which they are referred to by the scholars of this period. In their correspondence with each other, they seem to consider all beyond their own little circle as beings of an inferior order; and we must admit that they were the means of preserving the knowledge which then existed by the multiplication of books. “In every great abbey there was an apartment called the Scriptorium, where many writers were constantly busied in transcribing, not only the service books for the choir, but books for the library.” The books thus produced were very expensive; in 1274, the price of a Bible with a commentary, “ fairly written,” was £30, while the pay of a labouring man was only 11d. per day. It is probable that the high price of books was owing, in great measure, to the scarcity of the parchment on which they were written; paper made from linen rags did not come into use till some years afterwards.
In the fifteenth century a glorious though gradual change awaited the world—a change by which ignorance was to be dethroned, and superstition driven from her strongholds. For this we are indebted to the invention of the printing-press, which may emphatically be called a “manifold writer.” The claimants for the honour of this invention have been many, but it is now generally assigned to John Guttemburgh, of Mentz. Engraved letters on wooden blocks were first employed, but afterwards gradually merged into printing from moveable types. The first book printed in English was by William Caxton, and entitled “The Histories of Troy." This was soon followed by others, of which but few copies were printed, in consequence of the number of readers being so few. A translation of the Bible of 600 copies, in the time of Henry VIII., was not sold in three years. “The art of reading,” says Lord Kames, “made very slow progress to encourage printing in England; capital punishment for murder was remitted, if the criminal could but read.” In a letter, dated 1516, there is an account of a seditious paper which was stuck on St. Paul's church; and in order to discover who had written it, the aldermen of London and the privy councillors were ordered to go round all the wards, " to see all write who could.” The issuing of such an order as this shows to what a limited extent writing must have been known. It would appear country gentlemen were not better scribes than the citizens; for, in a book printed about this time, it is gravely suggested that those gentlemen who could not write might note anything down by “cutting notches in a stick.”
The letters used in the first printed books were of course imitations of those previously used in writing, and were all of the old sharp, gothic shape. It was not till about the fifteenth century that the use of capital letters at the commencement of sentences, lines of poetry, &c., became general. Previous to the sixteenth century there were no stops used in writing. The colon was introduced in 1580, and the semicolon in 1599. It was about this time that the beautiful leaning characters known as italics were introduced into England from Italy, and these tended to make the art of writing more popular by rendering it more easy of attainment. The reign of Elizabeth marks an epoch in this art. In her youth she was instructed in writing by the accomplished Roger Ascham, and that she was an apt scholar is shown by the careful pages of her“ copy-book,” still preserved in the Bodleian Library. A prayer-book, entirely written with her own hand, in five languages, was disposed of at the sale of the Duchess of Portland for 100 guineas. After Roger Ascham we find the name of Peter Bales, one of the earliest professed writingmasters. In 1590, he published a work entitled the “Writing Master;" and in 1595 he challenged a rival in penmanship to a trial of skill, the prize to be a golden pen, value £20, which he himself won. In subsequent years many schools were established and endowed in England, for the express purpose of teaching writing alone; and some of their teachers attained great celebrity for the art.“ John Bland, who died in 1756, was celebrated for his reformation of the finer sort of cursive or running-hand, which he divested of the shackled formality that, up to his time, still characterized the works of the most eminent penmen. He was followed by Tomkins, another very skilful professor of the art, to whose pure taste and expert hand we are chiefly indebted, if not for the creation, at all events for the final polish and well-balanced proportion of our present large round-hand. The Royal Academy of British Painters availed themselves of the skill of Mr. Tomkins to write the headings of the address which they presented to the founder of the academy, George III., with the feeling that, from a corporation of artists, even written documents should exhibit the charm of art in their execution. Such was the success of the modern calligrapher in this undertaking, that Sir Joshua Reynolds determined to paint his portrait, which was the last picture he painted previous to his loss of sight, and is one of his most characteristic productions. Tomkins, at his death (as recently as 1816), bequeathed this portrait to the city of London, and it is placed in the city chamber, surrounded by specimens of his calligraphic art.”*
Notwithstanding the encouragement given to learning in our times, a knowledge of the art of writing is far from being general. In the year 1846, it appeared from an educational inquiry, instituted by the House of Commons, that in England and Wales alone there were nearly eight millions of persons unable to write their own names ; and of the remainder, there must have been many who were unable to do more than write their names, and very many others unable to write with ease, not to say elegance. While our national“ hand” is more esteemed than any other in Europe, such has been the carelessness with which it has been taught, except in strictly commercial education, that not only is the writing of the humbler classes very defective, but even the signatures of many of our most eminent men all but illegible. Our present premier recently did well, in another capacity, to draw the attention of schoolmasters in connection with the Committee of Council on Education, to the importance of greater attention being given to the teaching of writing. It is in harmony with the spirit which dictated his circular-letter that we now proceed briefly to consider this subject in a practical point of view.
We have, at considerable trouble, collected and carefully examined most of the recent publications on teaching of the art of writing, in order that we might be in a position to recommend some one work suitable for self-improvement; but we confess that we are sadly disappointed at the result. We have before us Carstairs' “ Art of Writing, shewing several Methods of acquiring Improvement in Business-hand Writing, &c."† The work contains some useful hints on the position of the body, method of holding the pen, &c.; also carefully prepared plates, with graduated copies. This author's system appears to have been well received; it obtained the approval of a numerous meeting held in 1816, and the public patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Joseph Hume, Esq., and many others. To us, however, his system appears by far too complicated, and his work is too expensive for wide circulation. The Committee of Council on Education have directed their attention to this subject, and published a “Manual of Writing, founded on Mulhauser's Method of teaching Writing, and adapted to English Use;" I but while it may be useful in directing the operations of day schools, it is of little value for individual home instruction. Most of the other publications abound with sloping lines and faint outlines of letters, but they do not lay down any principles, nor teach the pupil to exercise and trust his own judgment. Perhaps the best little publication amongst them is Farnell's “ New Running-Hand System,” S but we cannot recommend it without reservation.
*Humphreys's “ Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing." + London: J.S.'Hodson. 7th Ed. 1837.
London: J. W. Parker. London: Jarrold and Sons.
For several years we have had frequent opportunities of testing a system essentially different from all of those before us, and we believe vastly superior to them. We have from time to time conducted large classes of young men through courses of instruction in it, and always with satisfactory results. Our exhausted space will not allow us here to go into details; we have therefore determined to prepare and bring out in a separate form" A Course of Lessons on Writing, and a Series of Progressive exercises for SelfImprovement."* We commend this contemplated publication to our readers, and trust it will be found to meet the wants of many, and thus
“Speed the street intercourse from soul to soul,
J. A. C.
* Will be published by Houlston and Stoneman, and ready in a few days.
Keligion. DO THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED
WILL BE ETERNAL?
AFFIRMATIVE ARTICLE.-IV. In reference to this, and all other religious illogical and untenable, as such reasoning questions, our first and chief inquiry is, leaves out of sight the demands of his justice “What saith the scripture?” Revelation is in inflicting the due proportion of punishan unfolding and certifying of all that pertains ment upon the transgressor, as the just and to the nature, character, and destiny of man, necessary consequence of his sin. If his and therefore, as such, we owe it the deepest justice demand the eternal punishment of reverence. This is the authority to which the guilty, neither the love nor the mercy we appeal, the standard by which we try of God will avert the doom. With regard the theories and opinions of men. ' “ To the to “Sigma’s” view of thè “remarkable fact, law and the testimony; if they speak not that all the denunciations of the Divine anger according to this word, it is because there is are directed, not against the sinner, but no light in them.”
against his sins," we would reply, sin canIn the present paper, we propose to con- not be condemned, and punished, or even sider very briefly the objections urged against exist, apart from the sinner. What is sin? this doctrine of the eternal punishment of | It is the “transgression of the law" by the wicked.
responsible beings; the departure of moral Those who oppose this doctrine often take agents, in their conduct, from that standard a one-sided or partial view of the revealed rule or authority, the obedience of which the character of God. They contemplate him Moral Governor perceives is necessary to chiefly as the benevolent and universal Fa secure the welfare of the universe. “His ther, forgetting his character as the Supreme government designs only good; and punishRuler, Lawgiver, and Judge of moral and ment for the transgressors, equally with accountable beings, and, as such, requiring reward for the obedient, is a precautionary their willing and cheerful obedience to his measure—a provision to secure it."* How law, under pain of his displeasure. Hence, then can sin be punished, if not in the perwe perceive that any objection against the eternal punishment of the wicked, drawn
* Hamilton's “Rewards and Punishments," from the infinite benevolence of God, is both sec. 6.