This autumn, the Dickens Decoders started to transcribe Notebook D – one of the notebooks that Arthur Stone kept from his lessons learning shorthand with Charles Dickens, now in the collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Notebook D is a real mystery because there are very few clues here as to what might be inside. Nonetheless, thanks to the insight and tenacity of the Decoders, we have a near complete solution! In both cases, Arthur appears to have been transcribing Brachygraphy shorthand from dictation from a source text: Sydney Smith’s ‘Spring Guns and Man Traps’ (an essay about the inhumane treatment of poachers) and ‘On the Beautiful’. This is not the first time we’ve encountered Sydney Smith; in fact, the very first Dickens Code transcription came from another of Smith’s lectures ‘On the Conduct of the Understanding’. Could Smith’s lectures be the source of other exercises in Notebook D? We’ll have to keep transcribing to find out…
Many thanks to everyone who took part in this challenge! You can download the solutions below, which note some interesting divergences in Stone’s shorthand from the text of Smith’s essay.
Download a transcript
The same transcript is provided in .docx and .pdf for your convenience.