dhc about academia notes stuff

Shorthand, he wrote

In the December 1893 issue of The Shorthand Review, a diligent reader reported his discovery, while examining the historic monuments of Westminster Abbey, of a monument erected in the memory of a “competent stenographer.” In the north cloister of the Abbey, the anonymous reader of the Review found a “quaint tablet”, bearing a funerary inscription dedicated to William Laurence, who died in December 28, 1621, at age 29 —a tender age even for a stenographer:

With diligence and trvst most exemplary
Did William Laurence serve as Prebendary
And for his paines now past before not lost
Gain’d this remembrance at his master’s costs.
O read these lines again; you seldome find
A Servant faithfvl and a master kind.
Shorthand he wrote; his flowre in prime did fade,
And hasty Dead Short-Hand of him hath made.
Well covld he nu’bers, and well mesur’d Land;
Thus doth he now that drov’ed whereon you stand,
Wherein he lyes so geometricall;
Art maketh some, but thus will Nature all.

Let’s ignore, for a moment, that this is the oldest use of the word “shorthand” on record for a lost art that until then was known as tachygraphy, or the likelihood that the term arose out of the need to fit this somber joke in a verse at the expense of a young prebend beloved by his master. The image is striking, and I personally find it deeply saddening: Death as a dutiful secretary, abridging lives so save paper.

Colophon CC BY-SA 2019