258 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
Let us commence then to study the two groups of movements.
First we take that which refers to the manipulation of the
instrument of writing, to the holding of the pen or pencil. This is
grasped with the first three fingers of the hand, and is moved up
and down with that sure uniformity which we are accustomed to
call the style of the writing. The movement is so individualistic
that each one of us, although using the same alphabet, imposes
his own character on writing, and there are as many handwritings
as there are men.
It is impossible to falsify handwriting, to write exactly like
another person. The infinitesimal differences are unfathomable
in their origin, but it is certain that they are fixed by the senses in
•each one of us when our own particular mechanism is established
and that they hinder us from ever varying it much. They become
a mark of identification, one of the clearest and most indelible in
In this way there will be fixed in us the modulations of the
wice, the accent with which we pronounce our mother tongue,
and all these mechanical requirements for motion which form our
own functional characters, destined to survive even after many of
our physical traits which are subject to continual though slow
. It is in childhood that the motor mechanism is fixed, that the
ohild is elaborating and stabilizing, by his own exertions, the char-
acters of. his individuality and in this he is obeying an invisible
individual law. At this age the motor mechanism is in its sensitive
stage, and is quick to obey the hidden orders of nature.
The child therefore experiences, in every motor effort, the
joyous satisfaction of responding to one of the necessities of life.
It is necessary to find out the age in which the mechanism
for writing is ready to be established; it will be established
without effort, naturally, giving pleasure and stimulating vital
Tips is certainly not the age in which they try, in the ordinary
schools, to excite the motor mechanism of writing, asking from