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the human voice and human ear, the leading organs employed for the transmission of thought, it traces the various modes which have been pursued, and, in conformity with the dictates of experience, determines upon the use of alphabetic characters, for the purpose of swift writing, instead of arbitrary signs for words, sentences, or ideas.
In the next place, it furnishes rules, which, if reduced to practice, will enable us to record language with the least possible time, labour, and space, compatible with legibility.
It shows the common alphabet to be totally at variance with the primary object of short-hand, which is despatch—that several of the letters are superfluous, and none of them well chosen, as they contain unnecessary crooks and curves, which tend to perplex and embarrass the learner, while they require time and space, to the sacrifice of ease and facility.
In this system, the alphabet consists of twenty characters, which are extremely simple, easily made, and readily combined, without loss of time, labour, space, or legibility. They are employed Ist. To represent, individually, certain words, which are known to occur very frequently. 2d. As letters, or representatives of sounds, to be joined together in writing all words not denoted by individual characters. 3d. For some of the most frequent prefixes; and 4th. For the most frequent terminations of words.
There is in this system, a symmetry not only in the adaptation of the visible signs to each other, so as to insure the greatest brevity, perspicuity, simplicity, and beauty--but the elementary rules harmonize with each other and the whole, according to fixed scientific principles.
It was thought an important object by the author, to
condense the theory and instructions, into a convenient and cheap form for individuals and schools, and to illus trate and exemplify the whole by rules and engravings, so as to place it within the reach of those who cannot attend a regular course of personal instructions.
The work passed with unparalleled success through seven large editions, and was then presented to the public in a stereotype impression, with a number of corrections and improvements, and seventeen new copperplate engravings. Several editions from the stereotype having been sold, it is now issued in a larger form and type. And although the theory remains nearly the same, it is believed that the arrangement and general accuracy of this edition, will be found valuable improvements to those who seek a knowledge of short-hand through the book alone.
It is therefore earnestly recommended to the attention of parents, and particularly to teachers, who may, at a very trifling expense, acquire the theory from the book, and communicate it to their schools.
The learner should not be discouraged, though he be not able at once to record the entire language of a fuent speaker: nor should he hence infer, that the system is incomplete, or the art unattainable,—for with the same propriety might the young reader condemn and abandon the use of the common alphabet, because he cannot at once read elegantly—the musician his notes, or the tyro in mathematics his elements of Euclid—let him persevere in practice, and he will soon attain the object of pursuit.
To turn this necessary practice to the best possible account, he should record in a common place book from day to day, such facts, and other items of information, as may be considered immediately interesting, or worthy of future perusal—his notes should be read while
the subject is familiar, and by this course, the writing and reading of short-hand may in a few days be made easy, useful, and amusing, while the art cannot fail to become a potent labour and time-saving engine, not only for the actual accumulation and preservation of knowledge, but for the cultivation and expansion of the mind, and improvement of the memory. For by judicious exercise, this faculty can be trained to receive more, and retain longer, whatever may be worthy of its attention.
This improvement, however, does not depend on the substitution of one faculty for another, but on their mutual co-operation, as auxiliary, each to the other. For though we are able by short-hand to preserve a literal
of any particular subject, for our gratification and instruction, thereby increasing our stock of knowledge; yet, if memory be left to languish in sickly inactivity, and thus gradually lose its energies and become enervated, for the want of proper exercise, the loss is greater than the gain.
The memory, then, while it should not be overburdened with unnecessary verbiage, should never be released from that habitual exertion on which its own preservation and usefulness depend ; the great secret of preserving and improving the memory, consists in giving it a sufficient quantity of the right kind of aliment, affording due time for its digestion, and no more relaxation than is absolutely necessary to its health and vigour.
The person who can write rapidly, does not consequently substitute writing for memory, but employs it as an assistant; and every person when committing words to paper for his future use and improvement, should endeavour to fix in memory, at least the leading features of the subject, depending on short-hand, for that only which memory cannot recall.
When the memory is thus properly exercised, it cannot fail to be improved ; and the mind, being released from the unnecessary incumbrance of words, will find more time to grow and expand, by reflecting, or comparing and analyzing the ideas which words may have infused; for the memory should be rather the repository of ideas than of words, which are the mere vehicles of thought, and always at hand.
Although the following system is in itself complete, so far as intended for correspondence and general use, yet, for the gratification of those who may wish to make other abridgments, and particularly those of the learned professions, who may think proper to engraft upon the established system, certain technical or other abbreviations, adapted to their own respective professions, the following hints may be useful.
The lawyer or judge may, with much propriety, even if writing short-hand, substitute in place of certain words which occur very frequently, the initial common hand letter, as P. for plaintiff, D. for defendant, W. for witness, C. for court, T. for testimony, V. for verdict, J. for judgment, &c.
The physician may, with like propriety, use P. for patient, pulse, or perspiration, F. for fever, I. for inflammation, R. for respiration, &c.
The clergyman may find it convenient to use H. for heart or heaven, S. for sinner or salvation, R. for redemption or resurrection, J. for judgment, C. for conscience, condemnation, &c.
Young gentlemen who attend lectures on chemistry, anatomy, or other subjects, may save much labour and time, by using the initials of certain technical terms, which occur frequently in the course of their study.
It is a source of no small gratification to the author of this work, that his labours have been extensively
patronized, that his system is now used in the Pulpit, at the Bar, and in the Legislative Hall, by many gentlemen who do honour to their respective professionsthat it is introduced into numerous Academies and Colleges throughout the United States, and that its practice serves to enrich the common place book of thousands, who would not descend to the drudgery of writing by long hand in hours, what they now record in minutes.
Although the value of short-hand can never be duly appreciated, except by those wno have acquired it, still they must be wilfully blind who do not discover its utility, as a labour and time-saving art; especially when the time necessary to its acquisition is reduced to a few hours, and the expense is brought within the ability of all. It is not, however, to be supposed, that every individual who acquires a knowledge of the theory, will be able to report the language of the most rapid speaker. Nor is there one in ten thousand, who will ever be called to the station of a Gurney, or a Gales; still, most persons may find it pleasant and convenient, to write two, three, or four times as fast as they are enabled to, by the common method. And such degrees of facility may be easly obtained, in the course of a few hours or days.
With these introductory remarks, this edition is submitted to the American public, By their humble servant,
MARCUS T. C. GOULD.
Philadelphia, Nov. 1831.