CALLIGRAPHY is the art of fine writing. Writing is a means of communication by agreed signs; if these signs or sym bols are painted or engraved on wood or stone we have that extension and application of writing known as lettering, i.e., a large script generally formed with mechanical aids such as the rule, compass and square. But it is the essence of handwriting that it be free from such, though not from all, government; and of beautiful handwriting that it possess style. When the agreed forms, passing through a mind sensitive to symmetry, are ex pressed upon vellum, paper or other suitable material by an instructed hand with an appropriate tool, the result may be a handwriting possessing style. Calligraphy may be defined as freehand in which the freedom is so nicely reconciled with order that the understanding eye is pleased to contemplate it. Hence we immediately recognize the beauty resulting from right propor tion of the components to the whole of a letter, and between the parts to the whole of a word. Many scripts of the remote or recent past, such as the Rustic Capitals, Uncial, Half-Uncial, Quarter-Uncial, the Caroline Minuscule and the later Gothics, demonstrate that handwriting, though an elementary craft, is capable of infinite variations. Changes of fashion so affect the form, the cutting of the tool and the manner of holding it, that a collection of the hands employed in pre-Renaissance Europe exhibits a series of almost bewildering variations. The necessity for speed is the first great cause of variation; a second equally potent occasion lay in the use of special hands for certain pur poses. In the mediaeval period, outside the monastic scriptoria where the most formal upright and deliberate text hands were written, there were several recognized classes occupied with writing such as clerks, public scriveners, public notaries and in addition certain others who were ancestors of the later profes sional writing-masters. Finally, there were writers of the special hands used in documents issued from the papal and other chan ceries. Most of these classes, in the hope of preventing forgery, wrote hands of deliberate complexity.
The Renaissance, by its reaction from the complicated late Gothic and reversion to the simpler Caroline hands, indeed changed the writing tradition of all Europe, but not all the cisal pine countries adopted the new hands simultaneously—the tenacity, in fact, of Gothic is only in our own day being broken in its chief stronghold, Germany. Though the humanists de liberately reverted to the Caroline hand, theirs was not a barren facsimile of the 9th century letter for, since they laboured for a return to classical traditions, many scribes broke completely with the Caroline exemplars in the matter of majuscules, so that adaptations of the old Roman geometrically formed inscrip tion letters appear upon the vellum pages of humanistic codices equally with majuscules based upon the fine Tours forms.
The Renaissance did more than merely revert to the art styles of antiquity. In its early phase it was a movement in which a limitless curiosity of the mind—the mark of the true humanist —predominated and had not yet aroused the jealousy of the church. Indeed in the early 15th century, ecclesiastics vied with secular scholars in the task of renewing art and science. To record our least legacy of that age, we make acknowledgement to the secular humanistic scribes for the fine round book letter which is the foundation of our "roman" printing; to the scriveners of the papal chancery for our running hand. In an age in which science, religion and art were the chief, and commerce a sub ordinate interest, these novel scripts were introduced and propa gated by artists and ecclesiastics, while merchants, bankers and lawyers kept accounts and indited conveyances in a tortuous Gothic. The development of handwriting owes nothing to com merce until the next century, and then everything.
In mediaeval society it depended upon the officials of Church and State. Hands were invented and books written in accordance with liturgical, administrative and judicial requirements. Like other courts, the Roman Curia maintained (and maintains) a group of canon lawyers and scriveners known as the Apostolic Chancery from which were issued papal bulls, and later a more modest class of document. A small easily formed hand was' reserved by order of Pope Eugenius IV. (1431-47) for the en grossing of these minor documents written fast (brevi mane) and known as "briefs." The script itself became famous as "cancelleresca corsiva," chancery cursive, and in the next century printed and engraved models of it abounded.
The first works on letter formation deal with capital letters and were compiled by enthusiastic admirers of the old Latin in scriptions, like Ciriaco of Ancona, who transcribed, collated and copied all the memorials, gravestones and tablets they could dis cover. Andrea Mantegna introduced into his famous frescoes at the Eremitani in Padua careful renderings of certain inscriptions (since destroyed). Feliciano of Verona compiled a collection of inscriptions and dedicated it to Mantegna ; and from the same scholar's hand we have (Cod. Vaticanus 538) a codex which repre sents the earliest extant treatise on the shapes of inscription letters. The ms. is dated 1463 and is the first to give diagrams and instructions for the geometrical formation of Roman capitals.
The earliest printed work of the kind is a modest anonymous work with an undated colophon : "impressum Parme per Damianum Moyllum, Parmensem." As there are extant several mss. signed by Damiano Moille we may guess that he had a share in the authorship as well as in the printing of the alphabet. There is bibliographical evidence for concluding the date of pub lication to lie between 148o-83.
At about the same time the friar and mathematician Pacioli, notable as a friend of Leonardo, was busy on his De Divina Proportione, a treatise which included an appendix on the geometry of letter-making. The Padre's book was not printed until 1509, but existed in a finely illuminated manuscript copy much earlier, having been presented to Ludovico Sfroza (Il Moro) of Milan.
Fanti of Ferrara brought out in 1514 the first extension of the geometrical method to the rounded Gothic letter then greatly used for large choir-books: Theorica et practica Perspicassimi Sigromundi de Fantis . . . De Modo Scribendi Fabricandique omnes Litterarum species (Venice, Rubeus, 1514). The title is fuller than the contents, for Fanti gives no more than the Roman capitals in the method of Feliciano, Moille and Pacioli, plus a set of round semi-Gothic letters similarly made, which designs were roughly cut on wood by da Carpi. Whereas the models of capitals already published had been useful to architects and antiquarians and a few scribes, Fanti's small Gothic letters (lower case) of the kind then known as "modern letter" (lettera inoderna) were serviceable to the numerous clerks in monasteries and elsewhere. Arrighi, a calligrapher from Vicenza and subse quently an assistant in the Apostolic Chancery, published in 1522 a book of models of a current correspondence hand based upon the lettere de brevi. This, the first of all copybooks, was entitled Il Modo et Regola da Imparare di scriuere littera corsiva ouer cancellerescha nouamente composto per Ludovico Vicentino. The script in this first publication of Arrighi, scrittore de breui apos tolici in Roma, as he styles himself, is a singularly effective and beautiful combination of the neo-Caroline minuscule, slightly inclined by speed, with perpendicular majuscules reminiscent of the inscriptions, whose austerity is relieved with additional char acters of a decorative form, B CD e ` 3 x,N. There are also to be found flourishes, ligatures, initial and terminal letters of grace and freedom. Arrighi's fine professional hand is ornamental in comparison with the somewhat angular and pinched version of the same hand as it was officially used 5o years before. The popularity gained by the chancery script during the half-century 1470-1520 exposed it to great risks. Writers of diplomatic docu ments practised it with a discretion foreign to the temper of Mantegna, Cellini, da Vinci and scores of other artists, nobles and scholars who adopted it. The habit of writing "private" letters with a view to their being handed about as specimens of true Latinity developed interest in calligraphy, and with this powerful support the new cursive rapidly became the favourite correspondence script of the fashionable classes, absorbing a multitude of mannerisms which corrupted it until its original simplicity was scarcely recognizable. While in Vicentino's speci mens flourished forms were offered as an occasional pleasant alternative to the rigid capital and both were modestly propor tioned to the height of the ascending letters d, h and 1, later models exhibit an irritating superfluity of display. The burin of the copper engraver produced an excessively brilliant line which tempted pupils to employ a correspondingly fine pen, so that the later writing of the century was dominated rather by the technique of the engraver's burin than that of the scribe's pen. The first book in copper-plate is the handsome and ornate, though practical, Libro of Hercolani, a notary of Bologna His book is valuable as a good specimen of the late chancery hand distinguished by its decorative treatment of the ascending and descending letters. In the pure Vatican style these forms terminated in an angular serif, which existed side by side with a variety which terminated in a short blunt curve from right to left. The angular serif went out of use before 1520 and there after no models of the chancery hand for secular or official Vatican use recommend it.
Gradually, by means of a fine pen and a supple wrist, the originally unassuming serif was turned into the most conspicuous feature in the word—and in the page—so that a late Italian 16th century letter is almost a network of deliberately formed blots. This development may be conveniently watched in the books of Palatino, a first-rate scribe who gained great renown in Spain where he was copied by Ycia. Pens then became finer and en abled Periccioli (Siena 161o) not only to execute very delicate calligraphical entrelac borders but exceedingly subtle script which gained a seductive sparkle when reproduced from intaglio plates. All the Italian scripts found their way abroad ; the fine early hands and their bulbous successors may be met in various parts of Europe. The Italian artists transplanted to Fontainebleau by Francis I. included a humbler rank of decorators, craftsmen and calligraphers. These found Gothic, formal and cursive, gen erally practised. Tory wrote an Italian hand and his Champ fleury a plea for beautiful letterini and an elaboration of the geometrical method of making Roman capitals he had learned from Pacioli and Durer. Gothic book hands are also given, but we have to wait a generation for a French pattern book of cor respondence hands. In the books of Hamon and de la Rue we find good chancery models and a number of Lettres de Fantaisie (alphabets of wavy, crooked, club-footed and other similarly treated latins). Cursive francoyse, as current Gothic was called, always appears in the early French books. This was the letter from which the Civilite type was made, and which in the next generation was to be amalgamated with the Italian hand pro ducing the elegant compromise known as "Ronde." It has a vigorous character and may rank as the French national hand, still employed to-day, but with its Gothicisms heavily diluted. Early fine Rondes are to be found in the book of Louis Barbedor (1628).
In the middle of the 17th century, Colbert, when Louis XIV.'s financial secretary, took in hand the revision of French official scripts and, in consequence, the clerks in the offices of State were instructed to abandon the old Gothic cursives and to confine themselves to the upright Ronde known as financiere, inclined bdtarde, and a running form known as coulee.
Such changes gained effect gradually: generations of masters recommended almost non-Gothic as the "Italian hand," so great was the prestige of that name. The rise of the fine French school of portrait engraving influenced the use of Roman scripts and the opposition of Colbert left Gothic scarcely a vestigial exist ence by the end of the century.
To Colbert, the eminent master Senault dedicated his fine book —Livre d'ecriture representant la beaute de tons les caracteres financiers maitenant a la mode (166o). Other French models of calligraphy circulated also in England and in Holland ; French influence in England being more direct than the Italian, though there were such Italians as Petruccio Ubaldini who taught callig raphy to the English Court (c. 158o). Jean de Beauchesne and John Baildon's A Booke containing divers sortes of hands, also a "True and just proportio of the capitall Romae" (London, Thomas Vautrouillier, I S 71) is the first English manual of cal ligraphy. Beauchesne is the same who had brought out Le Thresor d'Escripture in Paris (155o). Both contained admirable models; the English book having handsome forms of current Gothic and secretary hands as well as fine italics.
Billingsley's The Pen's Excellency (London) still has many more secretary, court and other Gothic hands than Roman.
Billingsley's is one of the few English books independent of the designs of Barbedor and Materot which powerfully affected London masters of the 17th century. But though England learned much from France, specimens of the work of Van der Velde, Boissens, Perlingh and other conspicuous Dutch exponents of the art were highly esteemed when the London writing-masters found their services demanded by youths training for clerkships in the growing English commercial houses. The Dutch possessed at that time most of the carrying trade and were for that reason directly imitated in England. The Dutch naturally copied the Frenchmen since French literature was not only read but, owing to the repressive legislation against Paris printers, also printed in the Low Countries.
The difference between the late Italian i6th, early French and Dutch 17th century hands was not considerable—mainly a matter of width of letter. The Italians had a habit of angularizing the letter, the Dutch of widening and giving it greater inclination. What French, Dutch and English writers commonly called the "Italian" hand is a free, flowing and obviously inclined hand in which the ascenders are looped and the majuscules entirely cursive—wholly different from the Chancery of Vicentino. This was the result of the demand for speed, itself the concomitant of commercial development.
English writing gained in currency as commerce expanded. When in 1658, Oliver Cromwell broke the Dutch commercial power and, by his Mercantile Act, secured that every cargo shipped to England was carried in English bottoms, there resulted a vast increase in the nation's shipping. Commercial clerkships became desirable positions, bringing a fine opportunity for such professors as Snell (1693), Seddon (1695) and others who all learned from the Dutch masters, but whose hands drew away from their models and finally expressed those characteristics which came in another generation to be regarded by the rest of the world, if not by Englishmen, as thoroughly English and ad mirable for the purposes of salesmanship. Thus the commercial success of England drew hearty foreign respect for the script in which English Bills of Lading and Notes of Exchange were made out; named Anglaise in France, letra Inglesa in Spain, it domi nated in Italy itself at the end of the 19th century as "Lettere Inglese." Gothic now persists only with the greatest difficulty— where once it had been used for the text of deeds it fights for existence as a script for titles, and to-day Afjerea and TtIiti Inbenture witnesseth its sole traces.
In contemporary France the ronde is being hard pressed by anglaise. The Cours d'Inscription Calligraphique, published by Ecole des Travaux Publics has a very extensive circulation, and though treating of bdtarde and ronde gives primary place to anglaise.
The situation is not very different in present-day Spain. The magnificent i6th century specimens of Iciar (155o) and Brun (1583) were adaptations of the hand of Palatino and Vicentino, but these writers succeeded neither in acclimatizing these nor in venting any new, living, national hands. This was achieved by Lucas, who created a characteristic Spanish upright round-hand and companion inclined bdtarde which with astonishingly trifling variations remained in possession for two centuries, giving way only before anglaise. The hands of many English writing-masters were familiar to the leading Spanish calligraphers of the 18th century. It would be an exaggeration to claim that the script, which we are accustomed to term "copper-plate," possesses an attractive personality. It is colourless, thoroughly unromantic and dull. These, however, were precisely the qualities which commended it to those who wrote out invoices. Above all it was expeditious, and the writing-masters of London knew better than to teach them to tricking out of ascenders with solid blacks or capitals with meandering loops which a generation of earlier masters thought would endear their own calligraphy to present and future. The simple and practical nature of English business hand did not exactly serve the material interests of the English writing-master. Plain round-hand is not so difficult to acquire as to need either perpetual practice at home or continual resort to a master. The early American colonists followed the calli graphical styles of the home country and Benjamin Franklin practised a fine anglaise from which a printing type was subse quently engraved. The first American copybook (Jenkins, 1791) continued the mid-18th century English script. In 1809 Joseph Carstairs of London championed a theory of handwriting in which the forearm and not the fingers controlled the script. His book was translated into French and Spanish and was introduced into the United States by Foster in 183o. It was employed overseas with such success that it even became known as the American System. The American hand,' however, did in fact develop from a continuation of this movement of the forearm and a condensation of the running hand exemplified in Jenkins. Dayton copyrighted in 1855 the first specimen of what developed into a style which now may fairly claim to rank as the national American hand. It is a style which requires a very fine pen as the down strokes taper from top to bottom. There is a slightly increased slope, a tendency to flourished terminations and a no ticeable degree of condensation. It had little success at first and it is possible that it would have made no progress but for the plagiarization by the very active "Professor" Spencer, who, in spite of the protests of Dayton, claimed the design as his own and taught it throughout a chain of business colleges established in 44 cities by the time of his death in 1861. The style which is known to this day as the Spencerian system is by no means without its exponents. It is not a particularly unpleasant letter except when written carelessly.
Nineteenth-century England learned to write from the copy books of Vere Foster, whose lithographed models expressed edi fying admonitions in a flawless current hand of the plainest style. The "Civil Service" hand also, an upright version of the same design, was and is commonly practised. Both scripts are declin ing, for one thing because when written with great speed they become illegible. The pressure of life to-day tells heavily against decent handwriting. Writing too much and therefore too quickly we corrupt the shape and become accustomed to low standards. We may find a way out by practising two hands, a rough scribble and a ceremonial script. Twentieth-century mechanics ensure a future for correspondence calligraphy if the desk equipment of every schoolboy and girl could include a typewriter.
So much for the epistolary department of post-Renaissance calligraphy (the early fine formal book hands may be studied in the article on PALAEOGRAPHY: Latin). Calligraphical book hands settled the forms of the earliest printing types, but were them selves affected when the type forms acquired a momentum of their own. It is not true that typography killed calligraphy out right—some of the finest calligraphy in the history of book pro duction was executed within the memory of the generation which witnessed the invention of printing, as may be seen from the work of Antonio Sinibaldi of Florence and Mennius of Naples, to name only two famous scribes of the Italian school. The anonymous calligrapher whose splendid "Chantilly" Caesar is fit to rank with the finest of mediaeval manuscripts, heads a not less brilliant French school. The art died for lack of patrons, not for lack of calligraphers. These eked out a penurious existence as rubricators attached to printing houses, or as engrossers of choir-books which required larger characters than type founders were willing to cast.
The age of Louis XIV. witnessed an abortive revival of cal ligraphy to which the manuscripts by Jarry, Gilbert, Damoiselet and Rousselot remain a pathetic testimony. This school so for malized their book hands and cursives as to deceive the eye into thinking that they were types. Scribes like Eclabart were in fact able to write whole books in a letter indistinguishable from printing type.
Gothic remained here and there in occasional use and, even in our own day, it not infrequently garnishes a presentation address. Col. Lindbergh's reception by the City of New York in 1927 was signalized by the presentation of a gorgeous address of welcome in which the regard of the American nation was tendered in a Methode de J. Carstairs faussement appelee Methode Americaine," Paris, 1839.
text comprising four or five cacophonous Gothics, semi-Gothics and Romans. If in any English address the calligraphy has been handsome and noble or even sober and dignified, it will have been due entirely to the teaching and practice of Mr. Edward Johnston whose Writing and Illuminating and Lettering (London, 1906) created a new interest in calligraphy among wealthy amateurs and collectors and a new school of excellent scribes. To Mr. John ston's teaching therefore we owe that revival of fine calligraphy in which England may well take great pride. Mr. Johnston did what the renaissance had done before him : he went back to the Caroline Minuscule and though he learned, and learned well, from certain fine English mediaeval hands his own beautiful book-hand is individual and underived. As the Exhibition of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators (London) proves, he has created a body of skilful English calligraphers, whose fine scripts give us no excuse for using the debased Gothics and pinchbeck Romans labo riously confected by the hack employees of the west-end heraldic artist, the court stationer and the Fifth-Avenue bookseller.
Johnston's influence has not been merely national ; it has perhaps been greatest. in Germany. The works of Neff, Diirer and of Baurenfeind were succeeded by an indifferent posterity and until our own generation Germany used a mean informal Gothic for commemorative and other purposes where a ceremonial writing was required. In 1910 Mr. Edward Johnston's pupil Fraulein Simons introduced his teaching into Germany with great success and the printing revival due to William Morris which had already made rapid progress rallied to its support. In 1928 Germany has a school of calligraphers second to none in inventiveness and skill. The Gothic letter does not lack champions : the Austrian Professor Larisch and Herr Otto Hupp, two of the generation who were writing before Mr. Johnston's movement assumed its present im portance, both practised Gothic. Prof. Koch of Offenbach is a representative of the present lively generation and for a variety of national and other reasons prefers to work in Gothic, though he learned from Johnston the handsome Roman and italic hands. F. H. Ehmcke, though skilled in Gothic, specializes in Roman. There are not wanting certain influences in Germany which while seeking inspiration from the new movement would be happier if the old Gothic hands could be revived. Thus the Bund fur Deutsche Schri f t exists to encourage the Gothic hands. It remains to be seen whether this reaction will be successful.
There is perhaps a tendency on the part of the Johnstonian school to narrow its interest and practice to formal book-hands and to ignore the need for a simple, easy, running cursive. The layman fears that if he writes with a modicum of care his script will be confounded with his office boy's, and it is even claimed that "character" in handwriting is more important than legibility. This is a reductio ad absurdum and it may be replied that a self respecting person employing the inevitable and natural movement of his pen to make modest capitals and a lower-case script in which the angles shall be regular, the characters symmetrically rounded, the descenders and ascenders proportionate to their bodies will there and then have the elements of legibility, style and character.