Handwriting And Expression

No work dealing with the study of handwriting would be complete unless

it recognised that phase of it which touches on the delineation of

character by an examination of the caligraphy.

That many valuable clues can be picked up by the expert who applies the

principles on which the graphologist works is indisputable, nor is it

necessary to accept all the theories claimed as reliable by those who

practice th
s interesting branch of the art of writing-analysis.

There is no doubt that many persons have attained a remarkable degree of

proficiency in deducing from the hand-gestures of an unknown person a

very accurate estimate of his or her character, and this fact should

prove that the principles of the art of graphology are based on

scientific grounds, or at least that the rules on which the student

works are regular and not, as some suggest, mere guess-work or


The elder d'Israeli, in his fascinating work, the "Curiosities of

Literature," devotes considerable space to the subject. Among other

things, he says:--

"Assuredly nature would prompt every individual to have a distinct sort

of writing, as she has given a peculiar countenance, a voice, and a

manner. The flexibility of the muscles differs with every individual,

and the hand will follow the direction of the thoughts, and the emotions

and the habits of the writers.

"The phlegmatic will portray his words with signs of labour and

deliberation, while the playful haste of the volatile will scarcely

sketch them; the slovenly will blot and efface and scrawl, while the

neat and orderly-minded will view themselves in the paper before their

eyes. The merchant's clerk will not write like the lawyer or the poet.

Even nations are distinguished by their writing; the vivacity and

variableness of the Frenchman, and the delicacy and suppleness of the

Italian, are perceptibly distinct from the slowness and strength of pen

discoverable in the phlegmatic German, Dane, and Swede.

"When we are in grief we do not write as we should in joy. The elegant

and correct mind, which has acquired the fortunate habit of a fixity of

attention, will write with scarcely an erasure on the page, as Fenelon

and Gibbon; while we find in Pope's manuscripts the perpetual struggle

of correction, and the eager and rapid interlineations struck off in

heat. Lavater's notion of handwriting is by no means chimerical; nor was

General Paoli fanciful when he told Mr. Northcote he had decided on the

character and disposition of a man from his letters and the handwriting.

"Long before the days of Lavater, Shenstone in one of his letters said,

'I want to see Mrs. Jago's writing that I may judge of her temper.'

"One great truth must, however, be conceded to the opponents of the

physiognomy of handwriting. General rules only can be laid down. Yet the

vital principle must be true that the handwriting bears an analogy to

the character of the writer, as all voluntary actions are characteristic

of the individual."

* * * * *

Professor Foli, in his very useful work, "Handwriting as an Index to

Character" (London: C. A. Pearson, Ltd.), says:

"The changes which handwriting undergoes as maturity is reached prove

how directly it is influenced by the nervous condition of the writer.

"The writing proper to childhood is large, round and accompanied by a

laboured pen movement; whereas that which is normal as manhood or

womanhood is attained is smaller, and turned off by a more rapid and

fluent motion of the hand.

"Illness, again, affects the writing. As the hand is charged with more

or less of the nerve fluid, so the writing is stronger or weaker, firmer

or feebler, as the case may be.

"This goes to show the important influence which the nerve current

exerts in fashioning the handwriting. Small wonder that our handwriting

alters day by day. Yet it does not alter either. So far as its general

appearance is concerned I grant it _seems_ to do so. But look at the

really significant points of the writing written at different times.

Give a glance at the height at which the '_i_' is dotted, the way in

which the '_t_' is barred, the manner in which the letters are, or are

not, connected and finished off. These things will crop up with unerring

uniformity time after time.

"You do, of course, get a studied handwriting now and then, just as you

sometimes meet with a formed facial expression. But that does not

express the true character, simply because the control over the feelings

or the power of disguising what is felt is a salient point in the

character; and this very fact will serve to show that there is truth in


"That the pen, whether it be a fine or a broad pointed nib, plays a

certain part in determining the thickness or thinness of the strokes, I

am willing to allow, but here again we have no argument against

graphology, for most people have their favourite nib--just as they

prefer one occupation to another--and this is the one which will best

serve to define their characteristics. The same with the surface of the

paper upon which they write; some will select a smooth, others a rough

kind, but whatever that may be which is adopted with comfort, it will be

typical of the writer."

The following are some of the more marked signs of the character they

indicate. For a fuller exposition of their application it would be well

to study the work of Foli, before mentioned, and of Rosa Baughan (Upcott

Gill, London, 2_s._ 6_d._), with the scholarly work of J.

Crépieux-Jainin, entitled, "Handwriting and Expression," translated by

J. Holt Schooling.

* * * * *

_General Characteristic._--The fineness of an organism will be revealed

by a fine light penstroke. Coarse, low natures make heavy blurred

entangled lines.

_Activity_ is denoted by the length of the letters. Where it is feeble

the letters will be widely spaced and rounded.

_Excitability_ is shown by sharp strokes and stops. The more acute and

irregular the pen-strokes the greater the intensity of feeling.

_Aggression_, which is the inclination to attack, the destructive force,

is indicated by the final strokes of letters and the cross-bars of _t_'s

advancing well forward, the dots of the _i_'s placed well forward. In

such a word as "time" the dot would probably be between the _m_ and _e_.

The style is angular and well and evenly spaced, altogether a forward,

"go-ahead" writing.

_Economy_, or acquisitiveness, is shown by the finishing strokes being

turned backwards, and inwards; by a cramped hand, a disposition to

curtail strokes, particularly the endings of letters, as if the

expenditure of ink was begrudged.

_Secretiveness_, or extra caution, has its sign in the narrow,

tightly-closed form of the body of the letters _a_, _d_, _g_, _o_, _q_,

the _a_ and _o_ often being merely a narrow _v_. The general tendency of

the writing is to compression, the final strokes being very short. When

very marked, the letters dwindle into an indistinct unformed condition.

The substitution of dashes for punctuation is another symptom.

_Insincerity._--Beware of the man or woman whose writing is a fine, wavy

line, upright, with short, stumpy and indistinct tops and tails, words

running at their end to an almost straight line, the letters merely

indicated. The flatter, finer and more perpendicular this writing, the

greater the insincerity. Such a writer would probably be a polite,

pleasing and plausible person, but double-faced as Janus.

_Love of praise_, glory, ambition are shown by a tendency to write

upwards, the lines of writing trending towards the right-hand corner of

the paper. The signature will usually have a curved line below it, with

a degree of flourish.

_Self-esteem_, to which is allied conceit and ostentation, shows itself

in proportion to the size of the writing, the taller and more flourished

the upstrokes and the longer the downstrokes, the greater the

self-assertiveness. The flourish beneath the signature will be very

pronounced, often an elaborate spider's web of interlaced lines. The

writing is more or less angular with the finals turned backwards and


_Will power_ is shown by firm bars to the _t_, with a tendency to

descend from left to right, bludgeon-like downstrokes to tailed letters,

writing rather angular than rounded, and the final strokes finished by

a heavy pressure. Straight, firm, downward strokes take the place of the

tails to _y_, _g_, _f_, _q_.

_Sympathy_, good nature, kindness of heart are shown by a flowing open

hand, the finals of the letters being extended and thrown out with an

expansive movement. The tailed letters are long and looped, and often

turned up the right side of the letter. The letters are well apart but

not necessarily unconnected, and the style is curved. As a general rule

hard matter-of-fact natures incline to an angular style; the artistic

and softer nature affects rounded, gracefully curved strokes, and avoids

straight perpendiculars or horizontals.

_Constructiveness_, which implies the ability to combine and connect

words and phrases, is shown by joining the words together, several being

written without lifting the pen from the paper. The more simple and

ingenuous the method of attaching the words, the greater will be the

ability. When this joining of words is carried to extremes, it may be

taken as a sign of good deductive judgment.

_Observation_, by which is implied the keen, penetrating, inquiring mind

(which in excess becomes curiosity), is marked by angularity of the

strokes and finals; a small, generally neat, handwriting, with the

letters disconnected.

_Punctuation_ affords a very valuable clue to character-reading, for

reasons set out in the chapter "How to Study a Handwriting." They are

the most mechanical and unpremeditated of hand-gestures, and are,

therefore, the more valuable.

When, for example, a dot is thick and heavy, we infer that the pen has

been driven across the paper with a strong, decided movement of the

hand, which would be consistent with extreme energy and will power;

whereas, when the dot is light and faintly indicated we may be certain

that only a moderate force has been expended upon its production, which

would be compatible with less resistance and endurance in the character.

Again, a dot whose outlines were blurred would show a certain

sensuousness of character--strong passions and a want of restraint over

the lower propensities; whereas, a dot whose edges were sharply defined

would tell of refinement and a loathing against all that was coarse or


Careful attention to punctuation indicates neatness, order, method and

love of arrangement; nor is it necessary that the punctuation should be

strictly correct, for the art is but imperfectly mastered by most

people, even the best educated.

Stops that partake of the appearance of a comma indicate a degree of

impetuosity; well rounded stops imply calmness and tranquility of

temperament. When the full stops are fashioned after the form of a comma

and droop towards the right hand they indicate a tendency to sulkiness.

When they are merely angular we may infer impatience and a "peppery"


Flourishes are always indicative of a certain amount of assertiveness.

The simpler the flourish the less artificial this self-insistence; the

more elaborate, the greater the desire to seem what one is not.