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  1. Oh wow, how intriguing! I had no idea it was the same shorthand that Samuel Pepys used in his famous diary. It doesn't appear to be as free-flowing as Gregg. I'd be curious to know how wide-spread the method went. I'll have to look into this some more. Thank you!

  2. I tracked down a copy of "A Tutor to Tachygraphy, or, Short-writing (1642) & Tachygraphy (1647)" by Thomas Shelton (a reprint from 1970 by the Augustan Reprint Society). At the end of it, there is a copy of Pepys' account of the famous London fire, written in tachygraphy that's quite interested to look at (though I can't read it, of course). It definitely doesn't look as free-flowing as Gregg shorthand. Lots of pen lifts, I'd say.

    Here's a quote from the preface, written by Will Matthews, that I found quite interesting: "Nowadays, shorthand is a humble art indeed; even secretaries tend to scorn it. But in Restoration days, it was the delight of intellectuals of the highest calibre. The new Royal Society was soon to devote a fair amount of time to it; some of the Society's most brilliant members, Wilkins, Hartlibb, Hooke, and others, were to adopt it for their universal languages; scholars as eminent as Tillotson, Newton, Holder and Locke used it for a variety of purposes. Indeed, how high was its reputation among men of learning is evident from the fact that a Latin edition of Shelton's method was published in 1660. . . .

    In general, the system is easy to learn, simple to write, and clear to the reader. It cannot be written as fast as Ptiman's or Gregg's, however. In its day it was used for reporting sermons, speeches, and parliamentary debates, and it is a reasonable deduction that a tachygrapher in good practice could have written it at least a hundred words per minute. That might not be quite enough to warrant the claim of the high-flying Cambridge poet who in verses prefixed to the early editions of Tachygraphy averred that the system enabled men to write as fast as they spoke: some men speak much faster; some speak rather slower. Some modern stenographers are said to be able to write at 350 words per minute, and the real marvel in this is where they find men or women able to speak so incredibly fast. The much more moderate speed of Shelton is good enough for most occasions, and certainly for the occasions of Samuel Pepys, who in his great diary at least seems to have composed very slowly indeed; one piece of evidence suggests about twelve words per minute."

  3. I recently was able to get a copy of Thomas Shelton's manual from 1645 called, "Tachygraphy. The most exact and compendious method of short and swift writing, that hath ever been published by any." I just uploading it online here if you are interested.


    1. Yes, the system has a bunch of confusing aspects. I try to keep consonants after "a" directly above the previous consonant. After "e" I keep the consonants above the previous letters, and I shift it to the right to differentiate from "a". For "i", write the consonants directly to the right of the previous letters. The vowel "o" is shifted to the right like "e", but it is below the previous letters instead. Finally, "u" is below the previous letters. Make sure to join adjacent consonants and disjoin for vowel spaces.

  4. Thanks for posting this Sam. I had seen a little of this system from Wikipedia entries, but had not been successful in finding a good reference. It may be that someday a wider variety of people will see the same utility in shorthand that Jefferson, Newton, Locke, etc. saw. I think Gregg still has a lot to offer in comparison to it's distinguished ancestor. It may be that the luminaries that used Shelton's system would have chosen Gregg had it been available.

    I've recently started marking long vowels using Gregg's seldom used scheme. It slows the writing down but speeds the reading up. An important consideration for the notetaking functions as used by the illustrious men of yesteryear.

    1. I completely agree with you, Howard. Gregg is by far the superior system. The brief forms and other rules of Tachygraphy are poorly thought out compared to Gregg's system. I am merely interested in this system for historical reasons. My college major is physics, so I was curious to learn about the system Sir Isaac Newton used. Back during his time, shorthand was apparently widely used by scholars. Perhaps, as you said, we could have a resurgence of people using shorthand if it advocated well. I think the main group of people who would be interested are students like me who want to take notes with ease.

  5. Sam, My undergraduate degree is in physics. Reed class of '83. I've been working as a health physicist for the last 25 years. I've had the same curiosity you had about Newton's notes. It would be interesting to see some manuscripts.

    On the advocacy – I have a YouTube series on Gregg for notetaking. Hopefully it will help people who want to develop skills along those lines. You can find it by googling my name and shorthand.

    1. Oh, neat! I've watched some of your videos before, and I didn't realize when commenting that those are your videos. I had a hunch you were a physicist when the example you gave of an acronym in your introduction video was LASER 😉 I appreciate your videos. It is nice seeing the Gregg strokes live versus the static type in the texts. Right now I am working towards learning the Anniversary edition.

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