A Description Of Bad Handwriting


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The following is from a letter of John Twedell to Dr. Samuel Parr written in November 1792. Tweddell expressed his irritation regarding the penmanship of Dr. Parr’s assistant:

And now, as I suppose I am freed from the danger of any more headaches occasioned to me by your amanuensis, let me request of you to give him a jobation upon his villainous penmanship. […] Small, indeed, are the hopes of life if you enter a correspondence with him. His abominable hieroglyphics shake you from top to toe. Pray, my good Sir, do labour to convince him that letters were designed to be the intelligible expression of ideas to convey distant meaning by legible characters, to be the faithful interpreters of thought between remote friends. But Martin, I perceive, has formed a directly opposite opinion. He thinks that they were framed for the purposes of perplexity. […]

His letters put one in mind of tumult and anarchy: there is sedition in every sentence; syllable has no longer any confidence in syllable, but dissolves its connection, as preferring an alliance with the succeeding word. A page of his epistle looks like the floor of a garden-house, covered with old and crooked nails which have been just released from a century’s durance in a brick-wall.

“I am fully convinced of one thing, either that he or his pen is intoxicated when he writes to me,” he continued. “for his letters seem to have borrowed the reel of wine, and stagger from one corner of the sheet to the other.”


Samuel Parr, The Works of Samuel Parr, Vol. 1, 1828

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

15 thoughts on “A Description Of Bad Handwriting

  1. I love this quote!!! I was signing the paperwork at a voting booth this past election, and the woman proctor asked if I was a doctor! My signature is…something else…at least the “A” in my first name and the “R” in my last name are readable!


      1. It was, Madam, the invention of the ball point pen that began the perfidious decline into decent communications and has led us,in twists and turns to the imbecilic use of tweets.


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