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given, or who may require further illustrations and examples, he will be happy to render such assistance as his other avocations will permit.
He now commits this System of Stenography to the press, only indulging the hope that it may be useful in stimulating many to become acquainted with this valuable and truly delightful art, and especially young men, who, whether in colleges and schools, or at their own homes, are preparing to become members of learned professions, or are laying a foundation of knowledge which, in this age of improvement, is essential for enabling them to pass through life with credit and success. Many have commenced the study of Stenography, and have never realized its benefits; but in nearly every case this result may be traced, not to any inherent difficulty in the art sought to be attained, nor to any lack of ability on the part of the student to acquire it, but from the absence of that application and perseverance, without which proficiency in any branch of literature and science, is impossible. Let the young student once feel the conviction that the end to be secured is valuable, and then he will devote an amount of energy to its accomplishment, that will render success certain.
HISTORY AND PROGRESS
OF THE ART.
The enquiring mind not unfrequently exhibits a strong desire to search into the origin, and trace the progress, of any system of philosophy or art, with the details of which it may become acquainted. This is a natural and commendable feeling, and it is one which must lead to beneficial results. No apology, therefore, will be deemed necessary on our part for attempting to gratify that feeling, although the size and design of our work require that this portion of its contents should be characterized by brevity.
It is doubtful to whom belongs the merit of first condensing the labour of writing, by introducing the use of signs. Mr. Hanbury claims the honor for the ancient philosopher Pythagoras, who himself used symbols for writing, and allowed his disciples to take notes of his lectures in “winged writing, with secret characters ;" by some, the honor has been assigned to Zenophon (and the authority of Diogenes Lærtus is quoted in support of this opinion); by others, the art of compendious writing is said to have been invented by Marcenas; and according to Isidore, Tiro, the favourite freedman of Cicero, ought to be regarded as its inventor. (See Dio. lv. 7, and Isid. i. 22. Senec. E.p 90.)
It is certain, however, that Cicero used signs for the purpose of promoting swiftness in writing, and he also employed others for the purpose of recording for him the proceedings on the Catalinian conspiracy, in the same manner, though of course not with the same facility and accuracy, as the law reporters of England pursue their avocation in the present day. Plutarch, in his life of Cato the Younger, narrates the circum. stances attending the conspiracy of Cataline and others, during the consulship of Cicero. A council being summoned for the purpose of determining the punishment of the conspirators, Cato delivered a famous speech, which the historian adds, is the only oration of that celebrated tribune's extant, and it was preserved in this manner—"Cicero had selected a number of the swiftest writers, whom he had taught the art of abbreviating words by characters, and had placed them in different parts of the Senate-House. Before his consulate they had no shorthand writers."*
Whether this opinion be well founded or not, it is clear that afterwards stenographic writers were constantly employed by the Roman government; for Dr. Adams, in his Account of the Manners and Customs of the Romans, after treating of public servants and magistrates, states there were Scribæ, notaries or clerks, who wrote out the public accounts, the laws, and all the proceedings of the magistrates, and then is : “ There were also actuarii or notarii, who took down in short-hand what was done, (notis excipiebant).-Seut. Jul. 55. These were different from the scribæ, and were commonly slaves or freed-men.-Dio. lv. 7.” The plan of abbreviation adopted by these was the substitution of initials or radical signs, with the help of arbitraries, for words. We are informed that Octavius Augustus was celebrated for using arbitrary characters, or, to speak more accurately, hieroglyphics, so as to combine expedition with secresy; and history records that Titus Vespasian was expert as a practitioner of this “ winged writing.” We gather from these facts, and from others of a less clear and palpable nature which might be cited, that the Romans took especial pride and pleasure in the cultivation of this art, and that they devoted considerable attention to it; and as we are unable to trace its further progress, we may safely infer that it would decline with the declension of that mighty empire, then the mistress of science, and the conqueror of the world.
* Plutarch's Lives.
Translation by Dr. Langhorne.
In England, Stenography was first brought to alphabetical rule during the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; and the first treatise published in this country was by Timothy Bright, in 1588; it was entitled "
Characterie, or the art of short, swift, and secret Writing by Character;" and this book (whose designation is peculiarly full and apposite) seems to have been on the principle even now pursued, that of substituting“ brief strokes for letters and marks for words;" or to express this design in language more consonant with modern practice, that of having an alphabetical table, and a list of arbitraries; the latter to be used in the case words of frequent occurrence, when such are difficult to form by the ordinary alphabetical characters.
Mr. Harding, in his deservedly popular work on this art, alleges (on the authority of the researches of Mr. Hanbury) that Dr. Bright received his knowledge of this subject from the learned Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1549; but this opinion is not based on sufficient data to entitle it to confidence; and we shall probably not be justified in any further averment than this—that in 1588 Timothy Bright introduced to the English public a system of stenography, in its leading features similar to those published and practised from that time to the present. It would be wearisome to pursue the art in its progress from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, and to
give (were it feasible in every case) even a passing notice of the works—in number upwards of a hundred—which have issued from the press. Few of these excited any public notice; a very limited number obtained even ephemeral fame; a still smaller number are now either practised or known. Those of an older date, which have been rescued from oblivion, are the works of Byrom, Mavor, Gurney, and Taylor; and it must in truth be admitted, that the more recent publications of Gawtress, Lewis, and Harding (omitting a host of others which have not been fortunate enough, or have not had merit enough, to reach so great celebrity), have added little to the works of their talented predecessors, which either facilitates the writing or deciphering, or adds to the beauty of the art. It must in justice be equally stated that each author we have mentioned has communicated some new and improved symbols, or by interchanging their use, has rendered the writing more expeditious; and this, let it be remembered, is of great consequence in an art, the value of which depends principally upon the fact, whether by it an individual may be able to write the words as they fall from the lips of a speaker, and in an art, too, on which the addition or diminution of only a few signs depends its successful practise or otherwise. Were this not the case, the author of this little work would be presumptuous indeed in undertaking his task. If each succeeding writer, however, adds the smallest amount of valuable information to the stock already acquired, the acquisition of the art of stenography will speedily be brought, if it is not already brought, within the reach of all. Dr. Beattie, the author of the Minstrel, in 1783, after perusing Mr. Taylor's system, and pronouncing it incomparably the best, added—“ The art seems to be hardly susceptible of improvement;” it has, notwithstanding, been since then considerably improved, for we believe it would not be possible for anyone, however expert as a penman, to follow an ordi