As many of you remember from my previous post, Penmanship or Doing it Write, I recently set about improving my penmanship. Well, I didn't start right away. No, I took my time getting started only to begin, in earnest, today.

I could offer a myriad of excuses, but come now, does anyone really care all that much? Just rest assured that they are all valid, and if you truly are concerned about my delayed beginning, then I appreciate the attention, but perhaps you could take a step back.

So this morning, my first "free" morning in a long time, I decided it was time. I opened my packet of educational materials and began to read the lessons therein.

Now, if you have never had the chance to be in a prep. school in the 19th century, then the concepts in the readings are pretty arcane. However, this is not to say that they aren't thorough. The lesson book is written so as to be read by the teacher and it provides instruction to said master on how to properly instruct the young men as to the proper methods of penmanship.

I was expecting some adjustments were going to have to be made, but it was my expectation, that this would be limited to actual writing techniques. I had assumed that I would begin by copying letters ad-nauseum until my muscle memory took over and I was able to freely write as a gentleman of the 1800's would.

You can imagine my surprise when I spent the better part of this morning not only never actually putting pen to paper, but adjusting the way I held the pen and also how I sit! It turns out there are 4 different ways a man should sit whilst he writes...and none of them are what I am most comfortable doing.

So after reviewing the options for sitting, I adopted the "front position." This entails sitting with feet flat on the floor, shoulders pulled back and back straight, for as the lesson book tells us, "Those who do not wish to become hollow chested or round shouldered should learn to sit easily upright with their shoulders square."

One should sit near the desk, without leaning on it with your forearms resting on the top. Your arms should be at right angles to one another and your right forearm should rest on the muscle just in front of the elbow. Your right wrist should be above the table while your right hand rests on the 3d and 4th fingernails and so on.

There was a lot of instruction as to posture.

On a lark, I grabbed the pen, and following the detailed instructions in how to properly grip said pen, I jotted some notes.

It was interesting.

And this should be an interesting experiment.

I wonder if I will have difficulty in practicing and executing this. In the 19th century, the students had the benefit of masters who were well within their rights to strike a boy for sitting improperly. I do not have to fear such rebukes. But perhaps I am at a loss for this.

Maybe I should see if my wife wouldn't mind hitting me with a ruler every time I slouch.

Do you think she would be game?

Until next time, be a gentleman.