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Some 18th and 19th Century Penmanship


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#1 Carrie

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 11:35

Thought you might like to see some examples from our archive.
Firstly a business agreement dating to 1782.
That agreement gave Samuel Greg the capital he needed to build Quarry Bank Mill in 1784.
Samuel's son was Robert Hyde Greg and before he entered the family business he went on a Grand Tour of Europe. To save on paper, the letters he sent home were crossed. an example - page one, two, [url="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v30/carrieh/work/page3.jpg""]three[/url], four.
Here's a transcription.

Chambery February 2nd, Sunday
Dear Agnes,
I did not imagine that our good fortune which has hitherto accompanied us every minute would have deserted us at Chambery the little Capital of Savoy. I thought it was fated to reach Italy without any interruption. It is doubly vexatious as we might have spent the time we must waste here both agreeably and profitably with our friends from Geneva, from whom we tore ourselves away with difficulty on Friday evening, whereas had we staid there till Tuesday, we should have crossed Mont Cenis on the same day & in the same conveyance as we shall now. The fact is that the Diligence from Geneva which sets out twice a week to meet the one which goes to Turin arrived a day too late & we have to wait for the next. It is also very provoking on account of the weather which is very favourable now but may change any moment and block us up for a fortnight. The town is however finely situated among the mountains, we are comfortably lodged & the delay enables me to send you some account of our journey from Paris which I might not otherwise have an opportunity
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of doing for some time. You would hear how I spent my time in Paris from my letters to Tom & my Mother of 18th & 25th Ult (?). We left Paris at 7 o’clock on the morning of 26th in the Diligence as I mentioned we intended to do. Our route lay through Auxerre and Dijon to Dole (see map). We reached the latter place at noon on the 29th and during the long route saw nothing very remarkable, either in the town or face of the country. The country is generally nicely varied with hill & dale uninclosed and not well wooded, but the roads have mostly rows of trees on both sides. The accommodations at the inns are tolerable. At Dole we began to approach the mountains and it was necessary to have a lighter Diligence. The regular one was however broken, and we were put into a most singular vehicle, something like a hearse, which moved along sideways, & having windows only on one side, if we were going near a wall, rock or steep mountain we could see nothing, it was besides so ill contrived there was no room either for head or legs. We travelled all night & at 5 o’clock next morning arrived starved & fatigued at St. Laurent, a little village, buried in frost and snow at the summit of the mountains. We then continued our journey in the same machine over a frozen road which lead through rocks & mountains covered with snow & dark forests of firs.
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The road was so dangerous & our carriage so bad that we walked almost all the way to Morais, a pretty little town at the foot of the Jura mountains, where we stopped to breakfast. I should never were I to travel around the world forget this days journey, it was a scene so new, so singular, so magnificent. Leaving the carriage to follow us we left Morais & commenced the ascent of these Alpine regions. The deep vallies were thickly interspersed with cottages & hamlets, the rocks covered with firs, the mountains with snow. Three times during the ascent, what we took to be the summit of the ridge became after a time the bottom of a deep valley, whilst the former valleys vanished entirely from our sight. At length we reached the village of Flantruse (?) situated so completely in the snowy regions, that there is no proceeding but in sledges. We went in one, our baggage followed in another. Our postillon drove tandem but without reins to the first horse. We went along smoothly quickly & pleasantly enough, when the road was safe; but sometimes it was quite frightful; the path was never more than eight feets wide, often not six, and very much inclined, and we could seldom
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keep at a distance of two feet from the point which if once passed would precipitate us several hundred feet or carry us with the greatest velocity for half a mile or a mile into the valley of frozen snow. It is not pleasant to stand so near the edge of a precipice, but to drive so near along a frozen path, without reins to the leading horse, would shake the strongest nerves. Our driver, however far from being alarmed either for himself or his precious charge, kept nodding the whole way, only opening his eyes to flog the horse or when a jog told him we were out of the track.
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This shows the power of habit; perhaps considering the number of accidents this route is not dangerous, & the man has passed it so often as to overcome his fear. Place him onboard a ship in a gale of wind he would terrified, a sailor who is totally indifferent there would shrink to glide along the edge of a frozen precipice, and I think the following useful conclusion may be drawn that the best way of estimating the danger of any situation is to observe the sensations of those who have been most frequently in that situation. No Custom can make a person indifferent to real & pressing danger. The scenery all the way was grand & novel, hills and vallies of ice & snow, bare, interspersed & covered with firs, the contrasts formed by these were very striking, and increased by a singular sky one half exceedingly bright, the other covered with the blackest clouds, the cold was not inconivding (?) and our feeling of danger was just enough to complete the sublimity of the scene. The greatest height of these mountains is about 6000 feet, our road was I should think about 5000. At a little post house called Malíse the man stopped to rest the horses, this was most mortifying, for
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for the sun was about to set, & we should thereby not only lose the famous coup d’ail of the Alps & Lake of Geneva & Savoy, but have to descend in the dark the opposite side of the mountain. Hearing the summit was distant about 4 miles we walked forward, the sun set in the grandest manner, but alas! Above a quarter of an hour before we gained our point & we thought the view lost for ever. We still however hastened our pace & when at last we reached the summit though the sun had long been set to the vallies below, though we ourselves were in darkness, one half of the snowy body & the summit of Mont Blanc still glittered in his beams. It was truly a noble sight and what you cannot be at a less elevation, we were sensible of its immense height. In a few minutes we saw the Lake of Geneva & congratulated ourselves on the reward of our exertions. The clouds fortunately rolled away, the moon was strong & clear, and during the descent, though our distant prospect suffered, our near one was improved by the absence of sun, & the rocks and precipices appeared to great advantage. I would not on any account have descended in the sledge the road was far more dangerous than any we had passed, the path
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narrower, turns sharper, and precipices steeper and deeper the outside track of the sledge was often so near the edge that I dare not place my foot beyond it, and if the moon was observed for an instant we could not distinguish the track many yards before us. After descending for an hour we got clear of the snowy region, another hour brought us to the town of Gex at the bottom. The Diligence arrived an hour after & we reached Geneva at 11 o’clock. Next morning Friday; we called on Mr. Fazy, who was exceedingly kind to us & took us a long walk to see some of the finest views of that enchanting place, enchanting it truly is. We dined with Mr. Fazy, his mother, wife, sister & Mr. & Mrs. Martin who overwhelmed us with civilities. They had heard nothing from him of a long time & it so happened that the moment they saw us a letter was put into their hands from him. We spent the evening with them, Miss M. is a very nice girl. I brought several letters of introduction, all good ones & I have no doubt I could have as much society as I liked. It is provoking to think of being kept here when we did violence to our inclinations in leaving Geneva so soon, but as you say “it might have been worse”. The route hither is fine & mountainous, the vallies deserse (sic) their reputation of beautiful, & the people of courteous, its we can out walk the Diligence, we walk a great deal.
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Dearest love to my mother, we have met with no damp beds, nothing unpleasant, all goes on well, Isaac & I both quite well especially the latter. Get plenty to eat & drink & good, run no risks, when we can get breakfast before setting out. At Geneva paid for breakfast overnight but got home in the morning – Bulletin of health Feby 2nd 1817. Give my dear love to Mamame & all the family, to all friends in Manchester you know those I love best, remember me to them. Isaac desires his love to you & all. I improve in French & I have no few fears about Italian after this first week. Had my paper been larger my letter shd have been longer. Adieu dear Agnes write often to. Your truly affectionate Brother R. Greg


RHG's writing remained easy to read throughout his life, although it often wasn't as neat as the writing seen in his Grand Tour letters. Here's an example of his handwriting when he was 56 years of age.
Finally, a little bit of our Memoranda which was started in 1881 by one of the Clerks, James Hewitt.

Edited by Carrie, 22 August 2005 - 11:38.


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#2 tntaylor

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 11:55

WOW! That crossed letter writing style is...intense. It looks perfectly gridded (if that's even a word) and SO neat! Oh, to have handwriting like that...:)9

t!
flippin' like a pancake
poppin' like a cork

#3 Carrie

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 20:47

I love RHG's writing, it's so easy to read, even on a crossed letter like that. The layout of all his crossed letters really does seem to be perfect. Now if only his sons had taken after him with their writing, one of them had the tiniest scrawl whist the other liked big flourished crosses on his "t's" and I really do struggle with the latter's writing.

I forgot to say, the Grand Tour letter dates to 1817.






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