Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/99

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85
JOHN BYROM

Weston was a mere empiric, and, moreover, a vulgar person who talked broad Scotch. Byrom, therefore, retorted only by some humorous remarks, and apparently made peace with his humble rival. He served as umpire at a contest between Weston and another pretender to the art, and laid down the law with the lofty superiority of a fellow of the Royal Society. When invited to take notes at a famous law-case in those days he doubts his own ability and even recommends a trial of Weston. His own shorthand was too good, he seems to imply, to be exposed to the vulgar test of mere speed of writing. Experts, in fact, say that its defects in this respect led to its being superseded in the next generation. Meanwhile, however, Byrom not only believed himself, but collected a body of believers. They formed a shorthand society; they had periodical meetings, and addressed each other as 'brothers in shorthand.' Byrom was greeted as Grand Master, and pro nounced a solemn oration at their first gathering. Its preparation during two or three previous weeks is noted in his journal. He takes the highest possible tone. He humorously traces back his art to the remotest antiquity; he intimates that Plato probably used shorthand to take down the conver-