Page images
PDF
EPUB

trade has on the morals or happi- create the habits of a skilful penness of those who follow it? and se man. This skill, it is obvious to recondly, what share the personal cha- mark, comprehends two things, leracter of actors has, in producing gibility and swiftness. the effects that flow from theatrical It may seem superfluous to dwell exhibitions ?

upon the importance of legibility, Plays are performed to numerous No argument seems necessary to auditories, under a roof, at certain prove, that one of the most essential hours of the day, for a stated price qualities of good writing is, that it to each auditor, and with certain may easily be read; and yet, noappendages and decorations. None thing is more rare than to find writof these circumstances are to be ing that possesses this quality, even overlooked in a candid discussion of in a small degree. The power of this subject, because they accompa- comparing and inferring, in the hue ny every dramatic performance, man mind, is so great, and this pow. and because none of them are neu. er, in relation to written characters, tral or indifferent with regard to is so much improved by exercise, the effects produced by this species that most penmen place an excesof amusement on the morals and sive and unreasonable confidence in happiness of mankind.

it, and neglect almost every rule by To examine all these points with which writing is made easily and suitable accuracy ; to furnish an im- accurately legible. partial mind with just conceptions of This negligence arises from the the usefulness or hurtfulness of these desire of expedition. In transcribestablishments; to enable him to ing our own words, or those of others, judge whether it be his duty to dis- the movements of the hand are necountenance or encourage them ; cessarily much more tardy than and to apprize him of the means those of the imagination or the tongue. most suitable to that end which shall Having thoughts and words in posappear to be the best, would be con- session, we are impatient of thai di. ferring no small benefit on mankind. latory progress which the hand is

obliged to make in rendering them permanent and visible. Thus we hasten to the end, at the cost of ele

gance and perspicuity, and omit, or For the Literary Magazine. distort, syllables and letters, so that

none but those accustomed to our REMARKS ON SHORT-HAND pen, or those versed in the business

of decyphering, can make out our

meaning; and he, indeed, must tranSHORT-HAND has grown con- scend his fellows by a wonderous dissiderably into use of late years. In tance, whose characters not only can some schools in Great Britain it has be read, but read with absolute faci. been adopted as a part of ordinary lity. education, and the authors of schemes How far may these excellencies of short-hand writing are never tir. be attained ? In what degree may ed of dwelling on its excellencies swift penmanship be united with le. and advantages. It may, therefore, gible, is a question which every stube worth while to reflect a moment dent should be at great pains to deupon the possibility and limits of this cide. There are many whose sole accomplishment.

trade is penmanship, and many more Penmanship is an art of the high- whose professions require the very est value, and, in the instruction of frequent use of it. To such, it is not youth, the utmost stress should be easy to overrate the importance of laid upon it. No pains should be this inquiry. spared, at an age when the muscles But few questions are harder to are pliant and the joints fexible, to decide than this. We see, in nun

E.

WRITING.

berless instances, the astonishing merchants, lawyers, and authors ha. swiftness and accuracy to which the bitually employ. Still, however, it movements of the hand and fingers was somewhat indis:inct, and could can be brought. In managing the not be read so easily as the printed bow of a violin, or touching the keys page. This copy was finished in a of a harpsichord, the quickness and very little less than ten minutes, and exactness of motions are such as to was executed in what I will call a wear, to an unpractised observer, current hand. (Festinatè.) the appearance of something pre The second copy was extremely ternatural. There are limits, no regular and fair. All words were doubt, to our powers in all these re. separate, and all the letters complete spects; but these limits are scarce- and distinct, and no one could wish ly definable, and certain it is, that no to peruse characters more legible. length of practice, though every hour This second copy was finished in a bring us 'nearer, will ever, in the little less than twenty minutes, and longest life, enable us to reach these was done in what may be called a: limits.

deliberate hand. (Lentè.) In discussing this subject with a Allowances must always be made friend of mine, who has been long for casual intermissions and diver. used to the pen, he proposed to re- sions of the eye and hand, both in duce the question, in some degree, reading and writing, but these allowto the test of experiment, and to try, ances cannot be computed in genenot what is possible for one, by long ral. Every reader must calculate practice, to do, but what' he or 1, them for himself

. Meanwhile I state, by fully or intensely exerting the with all its circumstances, what has moderate skill which each possessed, actually been done. All cannot do was already qualified to do. this ; but all, with slight efforts, may

Our first experiment was to as- do this; and many there undoubted. certain the time in which a given ly are who can effect much more quantity of words could be read. For than this. Now what are the inferwhich end we took, as a book to ences ? which most readers have access, the It appears that what may be hasDublin edition of Gibbon's History. tily, but silently read in one minute, A full page, that is, a page without will require a period ten times lonnotes, was found to contain 43 lipes, ger to write it hastily, and twenty and, on an average, 390 words, and times longer to write it at leisure, 650 syllables.

A rapid articulation appears to This page we found could be read exceed the current pen by threeby the eye, without moving the lips, fourths ; and the deliberate articu. and with the utmost swiftness con- lation exceeds the pen in haste onsistent with the comprehension of its ly by one half, and the pen at leimeaning, in one minute.

sure by three

fourths. It was then read aloud, with a dis Till this experiment was made, I tinct but very rapid articulation, in had been far from thinking the pen two minutes and a half.

so dispatchful a tool. I had no preIt was then read deliberately and vious conception that what was proemphatically, with the due intervals perly spoken or read in twenty miand pauses, in five minutes. nutes, could be adequately transcrib

We trien proceeded to compare ed in forty. the eye and the tongue with the Before extraordinary modes of abpen My friend took paper and breviating writing be sought, we transcribed the page which had just should investigate the powers of the been read, first, in his swiftest hand, methods already in use : and it is far and next, with deliberation and ex more wise to carry known modes to actness. The first copy was far from higher perfection, than to invent new being illegible. It was much better ones. than the hand which thousands of An obvious method of contraction

[ocr errors]

consists in omission. For the sake ping scheme, between reading and of speed, we may omit letters, sylla- writing, would not much vary from bles, or words. It is manifest that a that already stated. word may be easily read, notwith The end of short-hand is to enastanding the omission of some of its ble the writer to keep pace with the letters or syllables, and that senten- reader or speaker, or, at least, to ces may be intelligible, in which one approach more nearly to the speed or more words are omitted. It is of utterance than is done by the difficult to say to what extent these common methods. In what degree various kinds of omission may be is this practicable? carried without producing difficulty Our written characters are far or obscurity. But certainly every more complex than is necessary to hour's practice will lessen the diffi- the purposes of writing. Not one of culty which at first existed.

our letters is the single modification The bones and sinews of every of a line, yet all our alphabet might language, but especially of our's, are be exhibited by distinct and single its consonants. Suppose our scheme modifications of the line. Few of our of writing should entirely drop the alphabetical characters represent use of vowels; or, at least, in all elementary sounds, and none of them the cases in which, as observation are elementary lines. and experience may teach us, the By adopting more simple characdisuse of them will not occasion am- ters, we might surely greatly expebiguity.

dite the business of writing. I will We have been told that an Eng- not mention the use of arbitrary lish student, who had occasion to forms, by which, indeed, we may make numerous memorandums and carry abbreviation to an inconceivacopies for his own use, and to main- ble extent, but I should adhere meretain an exclusive but voluminous ly to the use of characters different correspondence, adopted the vow- from the English ones. el-dropping scheme to very great Most stenographical schemes deadvantage ; but, to judge of this, it note the vowels merely by the relawill be requisite to consider the pro- tive position of a single dot, so that, portion of vowels and consonants in to exhibit any vowel, a mere touch the English language.

of the pen is necessary, such as at Without stopping to explain the present is placed above the vowel i. grounds on which I build my infer- The benefits to dispatch of this ences, it will be sufficient to observe, mode are manifest. that our consonants are double the But how shall we measure the adnumber of our vowels, two conso- vantages of the simple, over the nants to one vowel being found to be complex alphabet ? Suppose the eye the usual distribution. If we take as easily peruses, and the hand as away one third of our characters, we readily delineates the new letter as shall lessen the toil of penmanship the old one (and this faculty will inby one third, and the speech or re- evitably flow from practice): how hearsal of ten minutes, may then be many simple forms may be traced recorded, not in twenty minutes, but in the time requisite to trace the in fourteen.

single English letter? In truth, however, the deduction The simple forms are, in this reof one third of our letters is not a spect, equal to each other ; but the diminution of the quantity of writ- complex, having different degrees ing by one third, our consonants be- of complexity, are, of course, uning doubly or trebly more complicat. equal to each other. ed than our vowels. By dropping According to the foregoing expevowels, therefore, we should not les- riments, it appears that we can rasen the actual quantity of writing by pidly articulate 650 syllables in two more than a fifth ; the proportions, minutes and an half, which is four therefore, even on the vowel-drop- syllables in a second." A syllable ge

nerally contains three characters. last excess than into the former, and Can any stenographical hand trace thus facilitate the task of the shorttwelve distinct characters in a se. hand writer. cond? I am afraid it is impossible. · From all these observations, it

It has likewise appeared that, by appears that there is a mode of writhe current hand, one syllable, or ting by which the common utterance three characters, will demand at of men can be equalled in speed, a least a second. To be equal to the truth which few persons are able to speed of rapid utterance, stenogra- understand and believe. They are, phy then must be four times as ra. indeer, far from gathering it from pid as the current hand, a dispro- the practice or the precepts of shortportion that cannot be conceived hand writers, for there is seldom practicable without the abundant use any one among them who attempts of arbitrary signs.

to keep pace with speaking, or who If we will try the experiment, we has practised sufficiently to confer shall ascertain this matter clearly, on him the power, or who is not and shall find that a stenographical negligent and prone to rely upon his sign can be traced in the time that a memory. syllable can be uttered; consequent. The great source of improvement ly, to keep pace with speech, either in this art is the doctrine of arbithe three characters of which every trary signs. It would be impossible syllable, on an average, consists, to talk intelligibly on this subject, must be represented by one new, but without exemplifying figures ; byt simple character, or one only of the it is not necessary, since, in proporthree must be retained, and the tion to the use of arbitrary signs, other two be inferred from the con- must we reinstate the vowels and text. But one of every three is a omitted characters; and refinements, vowel, and may prudently be drop- the adoption of which is consistent ped ; the difference, therefore, from with the just use of time, can do no a third rises to an half, and, conse. more than make an active pen keep quently, it appears that the abvocal pace with a deliberate speaker. stenography is only twice as rapid as the current hand, and that rapid speech is, in like manner, only twice as rapid as the abvocal stenography.

But though stenography appears For the Literary Magazine. thus unequal to rapid speech, it follows that it is equal to deliberate ON THE USE OF ALMANACS. speaking, since, according to experiment, we find that the hasty utte THERE are few subjects in which rer is twice as rapid as the leisurely. a man may find more room for spe

The deliberate and hasty utterers, culation than an almanac. I lately if their utterance be distinct, differ experienced the truth of this remark not in the time employed in enounce' in a very forcible manner. Traveling a syllable, but merely in the in- ling some time ago in the wilds of tervals admitted between their syl- New Jersey, I was overtaken by a lables, words, and sentences. For storm, and obliged to seek shelter stenography to keep pace with any in the hovel of a fisherman. Look. just elocution, the pen must take ad. ing about for something to employ vantage of the pauses of the tongue; my thoughts and beguile the hour, and must, therefore, be unceasingly I spied, hanging by a piece of packbuy ; but this unceasing activity is thread from a nail, an almanac. I sufficient for the end.

took it down, opened it, and turned The deliberate speaker is a being over the pages in search of some ipmidway retween the precipitate, on formation or amusement. The rethe one band, and the dilatory on the ceipts for curing several diseases other; but men oftener fall into the in men and horses, the moral pre

cepts, and the quotations from Joe southing, apogee, Sirius, and ArcMiller scattered through it, were turus, and Bull's eye, and Crab's all read with much gravity and de- foot ? What did the almanac maker liberation. At length I closed the mean by giving us all that? book, and turning to the good woman I can't tell, not I. I looks for who sat near me, and who was busy nothing but the day of the month, in darning a worsted stocking, Pray, and the times that the sun rises. said I, what use do you make of this Here I thought proper to put an thing?

end to the dialogue. I could not help Why, said she, with a good deal reflecting on the abundance of useof hesitation, why-I don't know- less and unintelligible learning which it's an almanac.

an almanac contains. There is True, said I, and what use do you scarcely a family, however ignorant find for an almanac ?

and indigent, without one copy hang· Why, she answered with an airing constantly in sight, and yet there of increased perplexity, we look at is no production which fewer underit now and then to-to-to tell us stand. The sense it contains is not the day of the month.

only abstruse and remote from vulAnd what need have you to disco- gar apprehension, but it is exhibited ver the day of the month ?

in the most scientific and concise Why I don't know, I am sure. form. Figures, initials, symbolical One likes to know what day of characters, and half-words every the month it is sometimes. One where abound. must pay one's rent quarter day, A stranger who should meet, in and one doesn't know when it comes every hovel, with a book, in which round without an olminic.

the relative positions of the planets, That said I, happens four times the diurnal progress of the sun in a year; so that once in three months the zodiac, the lunar and solar you have occasion to look into this eclipses, the wanderings of Sirius, book : but there is much besides the Arcturus, and the Pleiades; of Ocdays of the week and month. I see, culus, Tauri, and Spica-Virginis continued I, taking up the book were described in a way the most again and showing her the page, I technical imaginable, would be apt see there are eight columns. One to regard us as a very astronomical of these shows the day of the week; and learned nation. That the vobut here the letter G occurs on lume should be bought annually by every Sunday; what does that every family, should be considered mean?

as an indispensable piece of houseLord love your soul, cried she, hold furniture, be so placed as to be how should I know?

always at hand, are facts that would The next space is filled with va- make his inference extremely plausrious particulars. First there are ible. He would be not a little surthe names of saints. I suppose Nic prised to discover, that the book is cholas, and Stephen, and Matthias, bought for the sake of that which and Sylvester, and Benedict, and the memory and skill of children Swithen, are saints: what use do would suffice to find out, of that you make of them?

which costs the compiler nothing Why none, to be sure. What are more than the survey of a former these folks to me?

almanac, and a few strokes of his Here are likewise sundry hard pen ; and that these celebrated comwords : such as Quinquagesima, putations, these mystic symbols, this Epiphany, Ascension : what do adjustment of certain days to certhey mean?

tain holy names, are neither attendLa ! suz, don't ask me.

ed to nor understood, by one in ten And what are these uncouth cha- thousand. racters, squares, and circles, and The eye roves over them, but the crosses; and the words, elongation, question, what do they mean? never

« PreviousContinue »