This article demonstrates that Charles Wesley's use of shorthand over many years carries biographical as well as textual significance. Surveying his acquaintance with the poet and stenographer John Byrom (1692–1763), it explores aspects of the wider ‘textual community’ of Byrom's system, which embraced several others in early Methodist circles. It considers how the Wesley brothers first became acquainted with this ‘universal English shorthand’, explores its diverse applications, and considers Charles Wesley's involvement in moves toward promulgating it by subscription publication, pointing to dimensions such as the aesthetic and linguistic, which might partly explain early Methodists' esteem for it.

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