The Training of a Secretary:
An Ancient Profession
Secretary In Literature
Universality Of The Vocation
Other Duties As May Be Assigned By The Board Of Directors
Taking The Minutes
Preservation Of The Minutes
Minutes, Meetings And Manners
Read More Articles About: The Training of a Secretary
Secretary In Literature
( Originally Published 1922 )
Passing down the ages and over many famous secretaries for the present, we find Shakspere's record of the office in " King Henry VIII " where Cardinal Wolsey had four of them, Sir Henry Guildford, Sir Thomas Lovell, Sir Anthony Denny and Sir Nicholas Vaux and the King himself had Gardiner, bishop of Winchester. Winchester! As a matter of remark, literary persons will remember that Isaak Walton and Jane Austen are buried in Winchester cathedral; and those who are fond of sports, that the noble game of cricket had its birth-place and early home in that beautiful city.
No one ever longed for secretarial help as did Dogberry, the First Officer of the watch in " Much Ado About Nothing." Everyone knows the delicious bit of comedy in Act IV, Scene 2, where Conrade and Borachio are brought before Dogberry, Verges, the Sexton and the Watch, in prison, for examination, when Dogberry commences the proceedings with the question
" Is our whole dissembly appeared? " And Verges says,
" O ! a stool and cushion for the sexton ", who is to be the secretary of the meeting.
And finally, after a silly examination and delightful play on the wrong meanings of words, Conrade remarks to Dogberry.
" Away ! You are an ass ; you are an ass."
Dogberry. " Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years?—O, that he (the secretary) were here to write me down an ass !—but, masters, remember that I am an ass ; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.—No, thou villian, thou are full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and, which is more, an officer; and, which is more, a houshholder; and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any in Messina; and one that knows the law, go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that had losses; and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O, that I had been writ down an ass! "
What could be more entertaining and humorous, or more probably accurate than the record made by the secretary of the Pick-wick Club, of the speech of its immortal president in the opening chapter of " Pick-wick Papers ".
What an efficient secretary he must have been to be able to record it without the aid of shorthand. According to Charles Dick-ens the Pickwick Club was founded in 1827. Isaac Pitman, afterwards Sir Isaac Pitman, did not begin to develop his system of short-hand publicly until 1837.
Mr. Pickwick observed (says the secretary) that fame was dear to the heart of every man. Poetic fame was dear to the heart of his friend Snodgrass; the fame of conquest was equally dear to his friend Tupman; and the desire of earning fame in the sports of the field, the air, and the water, was uppermost in the breast of his friend Winkle. He (Mr. Pickwick) would not deny that he was influenced by human passions, and human feelings ( cheers )possibly by human weakness—(loud cries of "No ") ; but this he would say, that if ever the fire of self-importance broke out in his bosom, the desire to benefit the human race in preference effectually quenched it. The praise of mankind was his Swing; philanthropy was his insurance office. (Vehement cheering.) He had felt some pride—he acknowledged it freely, and let his enemies make the most of it —he had felt some pride when he presented his Tittlebatian Theory to the world; it might be celebrated or it might not. (A cry of "It is," and great cheering.) He would take the assertion of that honorable Pickwickian whose voice he had just heard—it was celebrated; but if the fame of that treatise were to extend to the furthest confines of the known world, the pride with which he should reflect on the authorship of that production would be as nothing compared with the pride with which he looked around him, on this, the proudest moment of his existence. (Cheers.) He was a humble individual. (No, no.) Still he could not but feel that they had selected him for a service of great honor, and of some danger. Travelling was in a troubled state, and the minds of coachmen were unsettled. Let them look abroad, and contemplate the scenes which were enacting around them. Stage coaches were upsetting in all directions, horses were bolting, boats were overturning, and boilers were bursting. (Cheers—a voice "No ".) No ! (Cheers.) Let that honorable Pickwickian who cried " No " so loudly come forward and deny it, if he could. (Cheers.) Who was. it that cried "No?" (Enthusiastic cheering.) Was it some vain and disappointed man—he would not say haberdasher—(loud cheers) who, jealous of the praise which had been—perhaps undeservedly—bestowed on his (Mr. Pickwick's) researches, and smarting under the censure which had been heaped upon his own feeble attempts at rivalry, now took this vile and calumnious mode of
" Mr. Blotton (of Aldgate) rose to order. Did the honorable Pickwickian allude to him? (Cries of " Order," " Chair," " Yes," " No," " Go on," "Leave off," &c.)
" Mr. Pickwick would not put up to be put down by clamor. He had alluded to the honor-able gentleman. (Great excitement.)
"Mr. Blotton would only say then, that he repelled the hon. gent's. false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt. (Great cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. (Immense confusion, and loud cries of "Chair," and "Order.")
" Mr. A. Snodgrass rose to order. He threw himself upon the chair. (Hear.) He wished to know whether this disgraceful contest between two members of that club should be allowed to continue. (Hear, hear.)
" The Chairman was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would withdraw the expression he had just made use of.
" Mr. Blotton, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite sure he would not.
The Chairman felt it his imperative duty to demand of the honorable gentleman, whether he had used the expression which had just escaped him in a common sense.
" Mr. Blotton had no hesitation in saying that he had not he had used the word in its Pickwickian sense. (Hear, hear.) He was bound to acknowledge that, personally, he entertained the highest regard and esteem for the honorable gentle-man; he had merely considered him a humbug in a Pickwickian point of view. (Hear, hear.)
" Mr. Pickwick felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full explanation of his honorable friend. He begged it to be at once understood, that his own observations had been merely intended to bear a Pickwickian construction. (Cheers.) "
Other examples will be given as we proceed.
Indolent persons should' carefully avoid the secretarial vocation. At the age of twenty-five, James Logan, Irish gentleman and linguist, was prevailed upon by William Penn to accompany him to America as secretary. He came to Pennsylvania in 1699, "to hide himself from the cares of life" and "with the wish not to leave large possessions to his posterity". In time he had charge of Penn's business, he became Secretary of the Province, President of the Council and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. As President of the Council he acted as Governor of the Province from 1736 to 1738. He was eminent in learning and a power in the community.
He ,collected an extensive and valuable library of the classics, the foundation of what is now known as the Loganian Library. He wrote several books and translated " Cicero on Old Age ".
His hair retained its youthful color, his eyes were undimmed by age, he was uniformly cheerful, and when he died at seventy-seven, he left a large fortune; from which we shall make three deductions.
I. That a person of secretarial temperament is usually happy.
II. His work is wholesome and agreeable.
III. It may be lucrative or lead to wealth.