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HANDWRITING

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 917 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HANDWRITING. Under PALAEOGRAPHY and WRITING, the history of handwriting is dealt with. Questions of handwriting come before legal tribunals mainly in connexion with the law of evidence. In Roman law, the authenticity of documents was proved first by the attesting witnesses; in the second place, if they were dead, by comparison of handwritings. It was necessary, however, that the document to be used for purposes of comparison either should have been executed with the formalities of a public document, or should have its genuineness proved by three attesting witnesses. The determination was apparently, in the latter case, left to experts, who were sworn to give an impartial opinion (Code 4, 21. 20). Proof by comparison of handwritings, with a reference if necessary to three experts as to the handwriting which is to be used for the purposes of comparison, is provided for in the French Code of Civil Procedure (arts. 193 et seq.); and in Quebec (Code Proc. Civ. arts. 392 et seq.) and St Lucia (Code Civ. Proc. arts. 286 et seq.), the French system has been adopted with modifications. Comparison by witnesses of disputed writings with any writing proved to the satisfaction of the judge to be genuine is accepted in England and Ireland in all legal proceedings whether criminal or civil, including proceedings before arbitrators (Denman Act, 28 & 29 Vict. C. 18, 55. 1, 8); and such writings and the evidence of -witnesses respecting the same may be submitted to the court and jury as evidence of the genuineness or otherwise of the writing in dispute. It is admitted in Scotland (where the term comparatio literarum is in use) and in most of the American states, subject to the same conditions. In England, prior to the Common Law Procedure Act of 18J4 (now superseded by the act of 1866), documents irrelevant to the matter in issue were not admissible for the sole purpose of comparison, and this rule has been adopted, and is still adhered to, in some of the states in America. In England, as in the United States, and in most legal systems, the primary and best evidence of hand-writing is that of the writer himself. Witnesses who saw him write the writing in question, or who are familiar with his handwriting either from having seen him write or from having corresponded with him, or otherwise, may be called. In cases of disputed handwriting the court will accept the evidence of experts in handwriting, i.e. persons who have an adequate knowledge of handwriting, whether acquired in the way of their business or not, such as solicitors or bank cashiers (R. v. Silverlock, 1894, 2 Q.B. 766). In such cases the witness is required to compare the admitted handwriting of the person whose writing is in question with the disputed document, and to state in detail the similarities or differences as to the formation of words and letters, on which he. bases his opinion as to the genuineness or otherwise of the disputed document. By the use of the magnifying glass, or, as in the Parnell case, by enlarged photographs of the letters alleged to have been written by Mr Parnell, the court and jury are much assisted to appreciate the grounds on which the conclusions of the expert are founded. Evidence of this kind, being based on opinion and theory, needs to be very carefully weighed, and the dangers of implicit reliance on it have been illustrated in many cases (e.g. the Beck case in 1904; and see Seaman v. Netherclift, 1876, 1 C.P.D. S40). Evidence by comparison of handwriting comes in principally either in default, or in corroboration, of the other modes of proof. Where attestation is necessary to the validity of a document, e.g. wills and bills of sale, the execution must be proved by one or more of the attesting witnesses, unless they are dead or cannot be produced, when it is sufficient to prove the signature of one of them to the attesting clause (28 & 29 Vict. C. 18, s. 7). Signatures to certain public and official documents need not in general be proved (see e.g. Evidence Act, 1845, SS. 1, 2). See Taylor, Law of Evidence (loth ed., London, 1906); Erskine, Principles of the Law of Scotland (loth ed., Edinburgh, 1903) ; Bouvier, Law Dicty. (Boston and London, 1897) ; Harris, Identification (Albany, 1892) ; Hagan, Disputed Handwriting (New York, 1894); also the article IDENTIFICATION. (A. W. R.) HANG-CHOW-FU, a city of China, in the province of Cheh-Kiang, 2 M. N.W. of the Tsien.tang-Kiang, at the southern terminus of the Grand canal, by which it communicates with Peking. It lies about too m. S.W. of Shanghai, in 3o° 20' 20" N., 12o° 7', 27" E. Towards the west is the Si-hu or Western Lake, a beautiful sheet of water, with its banks and islands studded with villas, monuments and gardens, and its surface traversed by gaily-painted pleasure boats. Exclusive of extensive and flourishing suburbs, the city has a circuit. of 12 m.; its streets are well paved and clean; and it possesses a large number of arches, public monuments, temples, hospitals and colleges. It has long ranked as one of the great centres of Chinese commerce and Chinese learning. In 1869 the silk manufactures alone were said to give employment to 6o,000 persons within its walls, and it has an extensive production of gold and silver work and tinsel paper. On one of the islands in the lake is the great Wen-lan-ko or pavilion of literary assemblies, and it is said that at the examinations for the second degree, twice every three years, from ro,000 to 15,000 candidates come together. In the north-east corner of the city is the Nestorian church which was noted by Marco Polo, the facade being " elaborately carved and the gates covered with elegantly wrought iron." There is a Roman Catholic mission in Hang-chow, and the Church Missionary Society, the American Presbyterians, and the Baptists have stations. The local dialect differs from the Mandarin mainly in pronunciation. The population, which is remarkable for gaiety of clothing, was formerly reckoned at 2,000,000, but is now variously estimated at 300,000, 400,000 or 800,000. Hang-chow-fu was declared open to foreign trade in 1896, in pursuance of the Japanese treaty of Shimonoseki. It is connected with Shanghai by inland canal, which is navigable for boats drawing up to 4 ft. of water, and which might be greatly improved by dredging. The cities of Shanghai, Hang-chow and Suchow form the three points of a triangle, each being connected with, the other by canal, and trade is now open by steam between all three under. the inland navigation rules. These canals pass through the richest and most populous districts of China, and in particular lead into the great silk-producing districts. They have for many centuries been the highway of commerce, and afford a cheap and economical means of transport. Hangchow lies at the head of the large estuary of that name, which is, however, too shallow for navigation by steamers. The estuary or bay is funnel-shaped, and its con-figuration produces at spring tides a " bore " or tidal wave, which at its maximum reaches a height of 15 to 20 ft. The value of trade passing through the customs in 1899 was £1,729,000; in 1904 these figures had risen to £2,543,831. Hang-chow-fu is the Kinsai of Marco Polo, who describes it as the finest and noblest city in the world, and speaks enthusiastically of the number and splendour of its mansions and the wealth and luxuriance of its inhabitants. According to this authority it had a circuit of Too m., and no fewer than 12,000 bridges and 3000 baths. The name Kinsai, which appears in Wassaf as Khanzai, in Ibn Batuta as Khansa, in Odoric of Pordenone as Camsay, and elsewhere as Campsay and Cassay, is really a corruption of the Chinese King-sze, capital, the same word which is still applied to Peking. From the loth to the 13th century (96o-1272) the city, whose real name was then Ling-nan, was the capital of southern China and the seat of the Sung dynasty, which was dethroned by the Mongolians shortly before Marco Polo's visit. Up to 1861, when it was laid in ruins by the T'aip'ings, Hangchow continued to maintain its position as one of the most flourishing cities in the empire.
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