This essay examines Charles Dickens's apprenticeship to political shorthand in order to reconsider the relationship between parliamentary representation and print culture. Shorthand was a crucial part of the ecosystem of news publication, but it was profoundly incompatible with print. It was at once a technology for breaching parliamentary privilege and a means of fostering secrecy through cryptography. We must examine the toggling between speech and writing, handwriting and print, that resulted from this paradox in order to understand the dense political history of Victorian writing.