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that I have constantly recommended it to others. There is nothing- so
conducive to satisfactory progress as the undertaking a definite task which
is likely to extend over some considerable time, and going through with
it resolutely. Effort put forth in a fragmentary way will always be more

How I Learned Shorthand.


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or less wasted : the methodical, persistent pursuit of a well marked out
course will never fail of success. I strongly recommend, then, every
beginner to choose some book likely to be interesting to himself and the
reader, and firmly resolve to write every syllable of it from dictation. It
may be slow and wearisome work at first, but every day, or at any rate
every week, will make a sensible difference, and a considerable increase
of speed will ultimately reward the patient toil.

I had been stimulated in my efforts by reading in the phonographic
publications that some diligent students and practitioners had been able
to accomplis'.i the marvelous feat of writing 120 words in a minute. I
hardly dared to hope that I should attain this extraordinary facility of
execution, but I resolved to do my best to approach it. The truth is, I
attained that speed long before I was conscious of the fact. I had not
tested my rate of writing, but took it for granted that I had not reached
the object of my ambition ; and when I was daily writing from dictation at
least 130 or 140 words a minute, I was laboring hard to accomplish 120.

26 Leaves from the Note-Book of T. A. Reed.

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How I discovered tTiat I had really achieved success in my exertions,
and how a field gradually opened itself to me for the application of
the newly acquired power, I may tell hereafter.

In a very early number of the Shorthand Magazine I narrated how in
my school -days I managed to acquire a knowledge of shorthand not
Phonography, which under this name was not then known to the world
but a modification of Lewis's system of stenography which then fell in my
way. I was about twelve years old, I think, when a peripatetic stenogra-
pher took up his abode for a few weeks or months in the town in which my
parents resided, and being desirous of acquiring what seemed to me, as it
has seemed to many, aver)* enviable accomplishment I took the orthodox
"six lessons" and with a little practice attained a certain amount of
proficiency in the art. A few years later, as I mentioned in my previous
communication, when occupied in a mercantile office (my first employment

after leaving school) Phonography was brought to my notice. I think I
did not say how, but I will do so here. At the school which I had just
left I learned from a younger brother who still continued his studies there,
that a new master had arrived who reckoned among 1 his scholastic ac-

?uisitions a knowledge of a new system of shorthand of surpassing merit,
t was not long before I paid him a visit, and after listening to his explana-
tion of the system, and seeing the ease with which he was able both to
write and read it, I resolved by his help to abandon my old method and
take up with the new. How I practised at every spare moment and how
I was rewarded by attaining a speed in writing which I never acquired
with the old system I have already recorded. What I have not stated,
however, and what I now desire to add is that the phonographic teacher
who first initiated me into the mysteries of Phonography was my old friend
and partner, Mr Woodward, as to whom I shall want here a rather long
parenthesis to say a few words in memoriam. My first acquaintance with
him was under the circumstances I have stated. He was a young man

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scarcely twenty years of age, and some three years my senior. He had
learned Phonography at a school I think in Dover, and was a swift though
not a very neat writer. He gave me a few lessons, and after I had made
a certain progress we used to meet occasionally for practice. About
a twelvemonth afterwards, being inspired with a warm desire to take
part in the then nascent movement for " phonographizing" the country
(I am not responsible for this verb) we both quitted our more prosaic avo-
cations, and embarked in the new enterprise with all the fervor and hope-
fulness of youth. Partly by himself and partly in conjunction with a friend
Mr Woodward lectured on and taught Phonography in different parts of
the country, and it was during one of these tours in the North that he in-
troduced the subject to Mr Robert Chambers of Edinburgh, who brought
it before the public in the widely-spread Journal that still bears his name.
Having pursued this career for a year or two he accepted a situation as
reporter in connection with a journal at Cheltenham, and was subse-
quently engaged in a similar capacity at Ipswich, where for twelve or

Early Recollections.

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thirteen years he reported for the Suffolk Chronicle, the proprietor of
which was an ardent phonographer. So efficiently did he discharge his
duties during these years that when at my invitation he came to join me in
my business in London some of the leading men of the town, with whom,
of course, he had often been brought in contact, presented him with a
handsome testimonial of their appreciation of his services. For some
fourteen years he was my partner and during the whole of that time we
worked together in entire accord. Ineverknewhim guilty of a dishonora-
ble action. Socially and professionally he acted with a due regard to the
interests of others, and I had the satisfaction of feeling that whatever
work he might be engaged in was safe in his hands. I write so soon after
his death [this was written in 1874] that I find it difficult to believe that he
is no longer associated with me in my profession. To all who know him,
as I did, intimately, his memory will be a pleasant one. As a newspaper
reporter he possessed very high qualifications; and he acquired a fair
reputation as a professional shorthand writer. It was, however, a labor
to him to take full notes for many hours together. Though he wrote a
remarkably clear and neat longhand his shorthand was large and some-

30 Leaves from the Note-Book of T. A. Reed.

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what " sprawling ;" and this I think was one reason for his finding a long
spell at note-taking laborious. I could not mention his name in connec-
tion with my early life without paying this feeble tribute to his memory.

And now to return to myself. Reading one day in the little Phonetic
Journal, then published I believe monthly, a glowing account of Mr
Joseph Pitman's doings at Birmingham, where he was lecturing and form-
ing large classes, together with an invitation to any young man of fair
ability and energy to join him in his work, I put myself in communication
with that gentleman ; and the result was that I arranged to leave my situa-
tion as junior clerk in a shipping office and assist him in his enterprise.
I was only seventeen when I left home for this purpose. I entered heartily
into the work of teaching, and after a few weeks ventured on givingpublic
expositions of the system. My first experiences in this way were not a
little painful. Naturally retiring and bashful, I found it no easy task
to face a public audience of several hundred persons. I well remember
the tremor that came over me on the first occasion of this kind, and the

Early Recollections. 3 1

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choking sensation that accompanied it. I could not recognise my own
voice as I read from the manuscript I had prepared, not having sufficient
confidence to attempt an extemporaneous address. With practice much
of this feeling, of course, wore off, and at length I was able to lecture to
large and crowded audiences without much difficulty. Looking back upon
the past I am often amused, not to say amazed, at the notion of a stripling
like myself assuming so public a position. In truth it seems absurd
enough, but I cannot say that I regret it. My audiences were not very
critical and my task was not difficult. To pull to pieces the English al-

Ehabet, to fall foul of the common spelling and show its absurdity, was no
iborious effort, or one requiring much scholarship ; and to expound the
principles and the details of Phonography was a very simple matter tc
one who had thoroughly mastered them. Part of my time was occupied
in writing for practice from dictation. Shortly after joining Mr Joseph
Pitman 1 nindr the discovery, which was, of course, an agreeable one,
that I had attained a facility in writing which was rather unusual in those

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days. I had practised diligently before leaving home, but I had never
tested my speed ; and when this was done by Mr Pitman and some of his
friends they congratulated me on my proficiency. To write 120 or 130
words a minute was then accounted as little short of a feat, and as I often
exceeded this rate of speed I was regarded as a young prodigy. The truth
is, at that early perioiin the history of Phonography very few of its students
had devoted themselves to its practice with sufficient assiduity to be able to
follow a fluent speaker verbatim. It was my good fortune to be one of the
earliest to acquire this facility, and to this cause I attribute in a great degree
the circumstance that my name has been so often associated with the sys-
tem. After staying a month or two with Mr Joseph Pitman, to get a little
insight into his modes of teaching and lecturing, I embarked on a like ven-
ture on my own account, first in conjunct ion with my old friend Mr Withers
(who is still patiently carrying on the work of propagandism in the North),
and subsequently by myself. During this period I delivered many lectures
and taught many hundred pupils, both privately and in class. At the con-
clusion of each lecture I was accustomed to give practical illustrations of

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the value of the system for reporting purposes by writing from dictation.
A book or newspaper was provided by one among the audience, and as
a passage was read I took it down in Phonography and afterwards re-read
it, generally to the boundless delight of those present. Nor were these
experiments confined to English. Passages slowly dictated in any foreign
language were written and reproduced in the same way. I took down
Hebrew. Greek, Latin, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Polish,
Hungarian, Arabic, Hindustani, Chinese, various African dialects, and
many others, and rarely failed to render the words to the entire satisfac-
tion and often to the great surprise of those who dictatet! them. I was
blest with a rather quick ear for spoken sounds, and this enabled me to
use the phonographic symbols with advantage. I made no effort to write
the words quickly, but only to render them accurately, and some know-
ledge of one or two languages assisted me materially in this part of my
work. On one occasion after thus writing and reading a passage in
Welsh the gentleman who read it said I had reproduced it quite correctly :
" And now, ' said he, " will you be good enough to read it in English ? "


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The roar of laughter that greeted his innocent request I shall never forget.
It was during the time when I was engaged in this work of lecturing
and teaching that 1 first employed my pun in the work of actual reporting.
It was in Bolton. Dr (afterwards Sir Johni Howring then represented the
town in Parliament, and it was announced that on a given day he would
address his constituents at a public meeting and give an account of his
stewardship. His speech was to be delivered on the eve of the day of
publication of the Bolton newspapers, and the editor of one of them ap- j
plied to me to assist in reporting it. He proposed that I should take the
farst (juarter-of-an-hour or twenty minutes, his own reporters taking the
remainder, so that the printers might be speedilv supplied with " copy."
I assented to his proposal and promised to hand him the manuscript by a
given hour. 1 was a little nervous in undertaking this duty, but not more
so than was natural under the circumstances. I had a seat on the plat-
form with the other reporters and could therefore bear well ; and as Dr
Howring was not rapid in his utterance, no special difficulty presented it-

Early Recollections.

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self in regard to speed. Having taken my appointed " turn," I was
"relieved" by another reporter; but I nevertheless continued to take
notes till the speech was ended ; for what reason I do not know perhaps
as a matter of practice. My transcript was confined to the first part of
the address according to arrangement, and it was duly deposited with the
editor at the appointed hour. It so happened that just as my "slips"
were left at the office, Dr Bowring himself called to see the editor; and
the manuscript was accordingly placed in his hands to revise before being
handed over to the printers. The Doctor expressed the highest satisfac-
tion with the report so far as it went and a hope that the remainder was
coming from the same source. The editor explained the nature of the
arrangement that had been made, but added that I had taken notes of the
entire speech. At Dr Bowring's suggestion he called upon me and in-
quired it I could supply a complete transcript of the address. I replied in
the affirmative, and in a few hours the work was accomplished. Before I
had finished it I had another application from the other Bolton paper to
supply a reportfor its columns, and I agreed to do so ; I had not, however,

Leaves from the Note-Book of T. A. Reed.

the trouble of writing out a second copy, but arranged with the editor of
the first paper for the delivery of an early " proof" to his rival ; so that
both journals had the same report. Under these encouraging circum-
stances I did my first piece of professional reporting ; and now, after the
lapse of more than a quarter of a century, I look back upon it with much
the same feeling of interest as that with which a barrister recalls the cir-
cumstances attending his first brief, or a surgeon brings to mind his first

My next professional reporting engagement soon followed, and I was
not 18 when I undertook it. It was in Hury, in Lancashire, where I was
lecturing and conducting phonographic classes, records of which may be
found in the early numbers of the Fhonotypic Journal, as it was then
called. Another lecturer was in the town at the same time (a Mrs Martin
if I remember rightly), a secularist of a very advanced type; and I was
engaged by a local solicitor to take notes of one or two of her addresses
with a view to a prosecution of the lady for blasphemy. My notes were
duly transcribed, and a copy of them was sent to London for counsel's

Early Recollections.


opinion as^to whether a prosecution couldbe sustained. The opinion was
that it could not, and the matter dropped. The lectures were attended
by crowded audiences, largely composed of operatives, and a good deal of
public excitement was occasioned by their delivery, so much indeed that
it was thought desirable, atone of the meetings I had to attend, to provide
me with an escort. There was no reporters' table, and I sat on a front
form between two policemen in plain clothes, who were told off to look
after me and see 'hat I was not molested. Political as well as religious
excitement ran high, and both these topics were very freely handled by the
lecturer, whose supporters, it was thought, might resent any attempt to
interfere with her liberty of speech, and do their best to prevent any com-
plete record being made of her utterances.

Another of my early professional engagements was in connection with
the ami-o!Hi law agitation, which was then almost at its height. The oc-
casion was a ] ub! : c dinner, at which several distinguished persons, inclu-
ding I, <>i<! M : \vards Earl of Carlisle, delivered addresses.
I the principal speeches were assigned to me, and my report, which


38 Leaves from the Nate-Book of T. A. Reed.

was written out tbe same night, gave great satisfaction. It appeared in
the Bradford Observer of the following day.

Work of this sort occasionally fell in my way during the three years in
which I was engaged in the spread of Phonography in various parts of the
kingdom. It was always welcome, as it gave me useful practice, and
brought a few extra guineas to a not very abundant exchequer. It was
chiefly in connection with provincial newspapers. They were not then so
well provided with skilled reporters as they are now; and the editors were
sometimes glad of my services at some important meeting of which they
desired to obtain a full report. One of these occasions, which I well re-
member, was a public meeting in Norwich at which the well known Con-
gregationalist missionary, AVilliam Knibb, delivered a speech that excited
a great deal of interest. The Norfolk Ne-j.'s, now a well-established and
prosperous newspaper, had just sprung into existence, which it was strug-
gling to maintain. It was started as a nonconformist organ, and on the
appearance of Mr Knibb in Norwich the proprietors were anxious to
publish as full a report as possible of his speech. I was teaching Phono-
graphy in Norwich at the time, in connection with Mr Joseph Pitman,

Early Recollections.


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and was applied to to take the report. I willingly accepted the engage-
ment ; and I had reason to know that the report, which occupied about
four columns, was regarded as creditable to myself and to the newspaper.
The speech was reproduced from the Norfolk A'ews in some of the London
newspapers, and was, after Air Knibb's death, published in his biography
as the best specimen of his public oratory. He was a rather rapid speaker
but his style was not otherwise difficult. About the same time (this was
in 1845) I find from my diary my recollection is a complete blank on the
subject that I reported some speeches for the same paper at a greai
Maynpoth meeting, and that a part of the report was set up from " phono-
graphic copy." I do not know whether this means that the original notes
were sent to the printers, or that the transcript was made in Phonography
probably the latter. Some of the compositors had learned Phonograpnv
in our classes, but I think they could hardly have been sufficiently advancec
to set up from notes written, as they necessarily would be, in a brief re-
porting stvle.

Before leaving these early days, 1843-6, I may be forgiven for saying
that I think the lectures delivered and the classes conducted by Mr Josepl

4 o

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Pitman and myself during those years contributed not a little to the favor-
able reception of Phonography by the public. Our lectures were often
crowded: I have seen large halls literally crammed with intelligent
audiences desiring- to know something of the new method of writing ; and
entering with evident interest into the onslaught we nightly made on Eng-
lish orthography, and into our advocacy of the phonetic principle. Our
classes were often numbered by hundreds, and in some cases the interest
excited among our pupils almost amounted to enthusiasm. How many of
the thousands whom we taught continued the practice of the system I can-
not even guess. It is vory certain that many of them, from indolence and
other causes, abandoned it altogether; but not a few became staunch
phonographers, and to this day I occasionally meet with middle-aged or
elderly people who remind me of the days when, perhaps in some distant
northern town, they joined our classes, and who, even if they have ceased
to make any practical use of the system, still retain their interest in it,
and value the training which its study and practice involved. The seed
sown, I have no doubt, sometimes fell on barren soil ; but I know that it
often fructified and produced a plentiful harvest. We had the advantage

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of a comparatively novel subject ; and if our zeal in the advocacy of the
new method did now and then outrun discretion, I suppose that is a phen-
omenon which has accompanied every propagandist effort that the world
has ever witnessed.

In 1846 Mr Joseph Pitman, for considerations of health and other
reasons, gave up his public work in connection with Phonography, which
indeed was often of a very trying and arduous character ; and after con-
tinuing it a few months by myself I resolved on following his example, and
seeking a more certain and less peripatetic occupation.

I soon found that my old friends of the Norfolk News had not forgotten
me ; for as soon as they knew that I was bent on associating myself with
the press, they offered me the post of reporter on that journal, which I at
once accepted, and, in the summer of 1846, entered upon my duties, 'they
\vrri' by no rfieans arduous, but occasionally involved a good deal of night-
work. The heaviest part of my labors was at public meetings, which the
Nevis often reported at great length, and I had to do them single-handed.

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Most newspaper offices of any importance now employ several reporters,
and when a long report is required it is usual to divide the labor ; in those
days a single reporter often found himself with his note-book full of short-
hand notes to be transcribed for the next week's paper; and if the pub-
lishing day was close at hand his work extended far into the night, and
even beyond the early morning hours. It was not an unusual occurrence
for me to sit down at ten o'clock at night to transcribe the notes of an
evening meeting, and to continue without interruption till eight or nine the
next morning. This was fatiguing work, and it generally put me hors Je
combat for the greater part of the following day. I have known reporters
who could sit up several nights in succession, with scarcely any interval
of sleep ; but only an iron constitution is capable of such a strain, and I
never attempted it. Some of the hardest work I had during my tenure of
office was in connection with a general election that took place at that
time. Several meetings were held daily, and special editions of the paper
were published in anticipation of the regular weekly issue: and having
little or no assistance I ne<"d hardly say that the work was very laborious.

Early Recollections.
A_ )


But at other times the labor was very light. For weeks together the

siderable length. Held, as they generally were, in the country, and some-
times at a considerable distance, and there being at that time very little

44 Leaves from the Note-Book of T. A. Reed.

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startled by a runaway horse which I met on the road, and which dashed
past me at a furious pace, trailing something- at its heels. A little further
on I saw by the light of my lamp an overturned butcher's cart on one side
of the road, and a gig in a similar condition on the other. The latter had
been driven by the reporters of two other local papers, who had left shortly
before I did ; 'being unprovided with a lamp, they had come into collision
with the butcher, and a general "spill" was the result. The horse at-
tached to the gig broke its traces, and bolted. The two reporters were,
when I arrived, standing in the middle of the road sadly contemplating
the disjecta membra of the unfortunate vehicles. One of them came on
with me ; the other remained behind, and went in search of the fugitive
horse, which he found, at six o'clock in the morning, careering about in a

I remained in Norwich a year and a half, and have many pleasant recol-
lections, professional and personal, of this my first regular engagement in
connection with the press. Among the prominent public characters with

Early Recollections,


whom I was occasionally brought into contact was the Bishop of the dio-

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