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The first few numbers will communicate a practical knowledge of that labour and time saving art, SHORT-HAND.
After this article the numbers will exhibit in their progress, a model place book, to be copied, or imitated, as circumstances shall justify, by all who approve the plan.
As a matter of very great convenience to the reader, especially for future reference, the contents of each page will, after the article Short-hand, be denoted by prominent words in the margin-to which marginal words, a general index may be framed upon the principal of Locke's Com. mon Place Book, which will be fully explained; thus furnishing to each reader an infallible key to any particular part which he may wish to re-examine at the same time suggest. ing to the aspirant after knowledge, a method, which, if pursued, cannot fail to produce to him incalculable benefits, by the ultimate saving of time and labour;—for it is asserted, without the fear of refutation, that a young man, who will first acquire a facility in Short-haud writing, and then proceed to write daily in a Common Place Book, upon the plan about to be suggested, may acquire more useful knowledge in one year, than it would be possible for him to obtain in three years, by any other method that has ever been devised.
For illustration, suppose two individuals, in every respect equal, take up a volume of 500 pages
the one hurries through it, and lays it down to be neglected and forgotten;-the other takes time while he reads, to weigh, deliberately, each chap. ter, section, or topic; and, while it is fresh in the mind, enters in his place book, in short-hand or common-hand, the substance, or, at least, the name of the subject, and page where it is found. Upon the completion of the volume, he will have formed, perhaps upon five pages, a summary of the 500. For most purposes, a perusal of the five pages will be as beneficial and satisfactory, as a re-perusal of the whole 500, though requiring but 100th part of the time. These five pages then serve as a general brief, or index to the volume-by which its contents are made familiar, or any particular part referred to, when occasion requires. Need the question then be asked, which of the two will make the greatest improvement, the one practising this plan, or the one neglecting it? The result is too obvious to deserve the question, or answer, as can be testified by many who have made the experiment.
It is only necessary, then, to go one step farther, and prea pare a key, to the place book thus constructed; and all the reading of a long life may be referred to, as the merchant refers to debit and credit in his leger, by the aid of his alphahet, journal, day book, &c.
I have already presented my readers with the theory of a system of stenography, exemplified by a variety of rules and illustrations, which, with proper application, have been found, in many instances, sufficient, without further aid, to inculcate a satisfactory knowledge of the subject. But at the solicitation of various respectable individuals, I have been induced to enter upon the novel plan of issuing in this periodical form, a series of instructions, to those who desire a still more minute exposition of the theory and practice.
The attainment of great proficiency in any of the arts or sciences is necessarily attended with greater or less degrees of toil and difficulty; and the opinion has pretty generally prevailed, that short-hand unavoidably opposes obstacles, not easily surmounted, even by the most astute and indefatigable—that facility in the art can in no case be acquired without a practice of many weeks or months. Whatever degree of truth there may be in this position, it will be my object (in part, at least,) to demonstrate, that such apprehensions are unjustifiably exaggerated, and that a very satisfactory, practical knowledge of short-hand may be acquired in
the course of a few days, by a common schoolboy of 10 years old.
I shall endeavour, in my progress, to remove from the path of the learner, every impediment which the nature of the subject does not necessarily interpose; and lend every other aid and facility in my power, to render the study and practice easy and agreeable, till each individual shall have brought into successful operation, the system which I have for many years used with so much satisfaction and benefit to myself.
Having carried this instruction to the necessary extent, my next aim will be, to point out the numerous purposes to which the art may be applied in the acquisition of other useful knowledge, by extracting from books, recording original thoughts, taking copies from the transient papers and other publications of the day, or from the still more fleeting language of the pulpit, the bar, and the legislative hall, which, without this art, soon fades from the recollection, like the breath of the speaker from the ear of him that hears.
In accomplishing this object, I shall furnish a variety of examples in fac simile, from my own short-hand common place book, and the notes taken in my public reports. From these sources I shall present the reader with numerous specimens of my own method of abstracting and coprising that which is diffuse, or of spreading upon paper, when necessary, with the facility of thought or speech, the entire language of an author or public speaker. Another, and no less interesting exercise for the learner will be, to draw from apparently unintelligible hooks, lines, and loops qwith tails, the choice effusions of some master spirit, who in former years poured forth his intellectual treasures, to the astonishment of multitudes perhaps now numbered, with himself, among the dead; and with whom, but for this art, had perished forever those precious fruits, which, now rescued from the sleep of years, redeemed and renovated from the ashes of the past, again burst upon the vision of the mind, like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
That nothing may be wanting on my part, I shall subjoin the very ingenious method pursued by the immortal Locke, for placing within his own immediate grasp, by the aid of a general index, each and every portion of all his multifarious reading during many years of his assiduous life. This plan, in the course of my succeeding lectures, will be fully explained and reduced to practice, and cannot fail to be highly useful to any individual who adopts it. It will gradually lead the mind into a ready and systematic analysis or synthesis, as the nature of the case may require, of every subject brought within its scope. This will tend to an ultimate expansion of the mental faculties, and particularly to maturing the judgment, and strengthening the memory, of which I have more fully spoken in my general introduction.
With respect to the most successful mode of communicating and acquiring ideas, there appears to have existed from time immemorial, a radical and lamentable error, which, among other duties, I shall endeavour to remove, so far as it bears upon the science under present consideration, and the art founded upon it. The substance of my remarks upon this branch of the subject, may be considered the result of some reading, considerable reflection, and an extensive experience in teaching and reporting.
The learner having made the characters of his new alphabet practically familiar, agreeably to the instructions given in pages 10 and 11 of the system, and learned the most simple and easy way of joining them on all occasions, as directed in pages 10 and 11, and exemplified in plates 3 and 4, he may proceed to copy the combinations in plate 5, completing each line before the pen is taken from the paper. By this exercise, an ease and grace of joining may be obtained more readily than in any other way; at the same time, while the hand becomes fixed to an appropriate size of character, and uniformity in the length and inclination of lines, diameter of loops, circles, &c. the learner will acquire a considerable degree of facility in the execution. This will be found highly useful in subsequent practice, as the letters require to be frequently combined, in the formation of words and sentences and upon a facility in this particular, will future success in a great measure depend.
The next thing necessary is, to adopt for the purpose of short-hand, a new mode of spelling, for which see page 11. But before I proceed to the golden rule for stenographic orthography, I will remark, that our common method of spelling is not acquired without a number of years close application; nor do all, even with this long continued effort, become proficients in the