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YOUNG WOMAN'S COMPANION;
ON THE ART OF READING AND WRITING.
The knowledge of letters is one of the greatest blessings that ever God bestowed on the children of men : by this means, mankind are enabled to preserve the memory of things done in their own times, and to lay up a rich store of knowledge for all succeeding generations.
By the art of reading we learn a thousand things which our eyes can never see, and which our own thoughts would never have reached to: we are instructed by books in the wisdom of ancient ages ; we learn what our ancestors have said and done, and enjoy the benefit of the wise and judicious remarks which they have made through their whole course of life, without the fatigue of their long and painful experiments. By this means children may be led in a great measure, into the wisdom of old age. It is by the art of reading that we can sit at home, and acquaint ourselves with what has been done in the distant parts of the world. The histories and the customs of all ages and all nations are brought, as it were, to our doors. By this art we are let into the koowledge of the affairs of the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans; their wars, their laws, and their religion : we can tell what they did in the nations of Europe, Asia and Africa, above a thousand years ago.
But the greatest blessing that we derive from reading is, the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures ; wherein God has conveyed down to us the discoveries of his wisdom, power,
and grace, through many past ages; and whereby we attain the knowledge of Christ, and of the way of salvation by a Mediator.
It must be confessed, that, in former ages, before printing was invented, the art of reading was not so common even in polite nations, because books were much more costly, since they must have been all written with a pen, and were therefore hardly to be obtained by the bulk of mankind : but since the providence of God has brought printing into the world, and knowledge is so plentifully diffused through our nation, at so cheap a rate, it is a pity that any children should be born and brought up in Great Britain, without learning to read; and especially, since by this means, every one may see with his own eyes what God requires of him in order to eternal happiness.
The art of writing also is so exceedingly useful, and is now grown so very common, that children in general may attain it at an easy rate: by this means we communicate our thoughts and all our affairs to our friends at ever so great a distance: we tell them our wants, our sorrows, and our joys; and interest them in our concerns, as though they were near We maintain correspondence and traffic with persons in distant nations, and the wealth and grandeur of Great Britain is maintained by this means. By the art of writing we treasure up all things that concern us in a safe repository; and as often as we please, by consulting our paper records, we renew our remembrance of things that relate to this life or the life to come: and why should any of the children of men be debarred from this privilege, if it may be attained at a cheap and easy rate, without entrenching upon other duties of life, and without omitting any more necessary business that may belong to their stations?
It might also be added, that true spelling is such a part of knowledge as children ought to be acquainted with, since it is a matter of shame and ridicule in so polite an age as ours, when persons who have learned to use the pen cannot write three words together without a mistake; and when they put letters together in such an awkward and ignorant manner, it is hard to make sense of them, or to tell what they mean.
As the sons of a family should be educated in the knowledge of writing, reading, and spelling, so neither should the daughters be trained up without them. Reading is as needful for one sex as the other; nor should girls be forbidden
to learn the use of the pen,
much to their advantage in almost all circumstances of life, even in the very lowest rank of servitude or hard labour. The female youth therefore, especially those of better circumstances in the world, should maintain the skill in writing which they have already acquired, by taking every occasion to exercise it; and take some pains in acquainting themselves with true spelling, the want of which is one reason why so many of them are ashamed to write; and yet they are not ashamed to own and declare this, as though it were a just and sufficient excuse for neglecting and losing the use of
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEARNING TO WRITE.
IT is necessary to be provided with good pens, ink, and paper, likewise a fat ruler for sureness, and a round one for dispatch; with a leaden plummet or pencil to rule lines.
The principal things to be aimed at, in order to write any hand well, are these two: first, to get an exact 110tion or idea of a good letier, which inay be done by frequent and nice observation of a correct copy; the other is, to get such a command of hand, as to be able to express, with the pen, the idea opon the paper; which is attained by careful and constant practice after good examples. The learner being informed of the most necessary things to be observed in the practice of the hand he intends to be master of, I shall now mention some things to be generally observed in writing.
1. The essential properties of a good piece of writing are, a due proportion of the characters throughout the whole; a just distance between the letters themselves, as well as the words; a natural leaning or inclination of the letters one to another; together with a clean smooth stroke, performed with a masterly boldness and freedom.
The proportion of the several letters, in most bands, is generally regulated by the o and n; therefore let the making of them' be the first of your care and practice; and the other letters must be of the same fulness of stroke as they are. The proportion and shape of the letters in any hand ought to be the same, whether they are written in a large; or small size : therefore let every hand be first learned in a Jarge character ; wbich will not only fix the idea of a good letter sooner in your mind, but also give you a much greater freedom, and in a shorter tine, than writing in the sinall way. It is certain, that the lesser is always contained in the greater; and he who attains to write any hand large, may soon write it as small as he pleases.
2. Hold your pen between the two fore-fingers extended almost straight, and the thumb bending a little outward, and in your right hand, with the bollow side of your pen downwards, and the nib flat npon the paper: let it rest between the two upper joints of ihe fore-finger, and upon the end of the niddle one, about an inch from the nib of the pel:; the end of the little finger, and that which is next to it, bent in towards the palen of the hand, about half an inch distant from the end of the middle finger. Let the book or paper lie directly before you, and your hand rest only on the tip of your little finger; let no other part of your arm or wrist touch the paper or desk; let be almost close to your side, and the pen pointed towards the outer part of the right shoulder : rest your left arm very lightly between the wrist and elbow, keeping your body upright, and from touching the desk. And for the slope hands, turn your left side a little towards the desk; but in the upright ones, let the body be directly before it, and the right elbow turned outward from your side.
*** The above remarks are fully exemplified in the annered Copperplates, in which are two Alphabets, accompanied by specimens of different sorts of writing.
TO MAKE A PEN.
SCRAPE off the thin rind of the quill with the back edge of your penknife, and hold it in your left hand, with the feather end from you; then enter the back thereof sloping, and cut off in length twice the circumference of the quill, and then cut off as much from the inside. Then turn ihe quill, and enter your penknife into the middle of the back, taking care that the blade, in making the slit, shall not incline to the one side nor to the other. Then put in the peg of your penknife haft, or the end of a whole quill, and with a sudden twitch force up the slit, holding your left thumb upon the back of the quill, to prevent the slit froin going