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sessed by all men in a very remarkable degree in their early years, and is, indeed, necessary to enable them to acquire the use of language; but unless it be carefully cultivated afterwards by constant exercise, it gradually decays as we advance to maturity. The plan of education which is followed in this country, however imperfect in many respects, falls in happily with this arrangement of nature, and stores the mind richly, even in infancy, with intellectual treasures, which are to remain with it through life. The rules of grammar which comprehend systems more or less perfect of the principles of the dead languages, take a permanent hold of the memory, when the understanding is yet unable to comprehend their import; and the classical remains of antiquity which, at the time we acquire them, do little more than furnish a gratification to the ear, supply us with inexhaustible sources of the most refined enjoyment; and, as our various powers gradually unfold themselves, are poured forth without effort from the memory, to delight the imagination, and to improve the heart. It cannot be doubted, that a great variety of other articles of useful knowledge, particularly with respect to geographical and chronological details, might be communicated with advantage to children in the form of memorial lines. It is only in childhood that such details can be learned with facility; and if they were once acquired, and rendered perfectly familiar to the mind, our riper years would be spared much of that painful and uninteresting labour, which is perpetually distracting our intellectual powers from those more important exertions, for which, in their mature state, they seem to be destined.
This tendency of literary habits in general, and more particularly of philosophical pursuits, to exercise the thoughts about words, can scarcely fail to have some effect in weakening the powers of recollection and conception with respect to sensible objects; and, in fact, I believe it will be found, that whatever advantage the philosopher may possess over men of little education, in stating general propositions and general reasonings, he is commonly inferior to them in point of minuteness and accuracy, when he attempts to describe any object which he has seen, or any event which he has witnessed, sụpposing the curiosity of both, in such cases, to be interested in an equal degree. I acknowledge, indeed, that the undivided attention, which men unaccustomed to reflection are able to give to the objects of their perceptions, is, in part, the cause of the liveliness and correctness of their conceptions.
With this diversity in the intellectual habits of cultivated and of uncultivated minds, there is another variety of memory which seems to have some connexion. In recognising visible objects, the memory of one man proceeds on the general appearance, that of another attaches itself to some minute and distinguishing marks. A peasant knows the various kinds of trees from their general habits; a botanist, from those characteristical circumstances on which his classification proceeds. The last kind of memory is, I think, most common among literary men, and arises from their habit of recollecting by means of words. It is evidently much easier to express by a description, a number of botanical marks, than the general habit of a tree; and the same remark is applicable to other cases of a similar nature. But to whatever cause we ascribe it, there can be no doubt of the fact, that many individuals are to be found, and chiefly among men of letters, who, although they have no memory for the general appearances of objects, are yet able to retain, with correctness, an immense number of technical discriminations.1
* [The following facts, which throw considerable light on some of the observations in the text on the varieties of memory, are copied from the excellent Survey of Peebles-shire by the Reverend Charles Findlater.
" About the beginning, or towards the middle of July, the lambs, intended for holding stock, are weaned; when they receive the artificial marks to distinguish to whom they belong, which are the farmer's initials stamped upon their nose with a hot iron, provincially designed the bin; and also marks cut into
the ears with a kuife, designed lug-mark. Head-mark, or, in other words, the characteristic of individuality stamped by the hand of nature upon every individual of her numerous progeny, (and which we learn so readily to discern in all those species with which we are most familiarly conversant,) is, however, esteemed by every sheep-farmer as the most certain and unequivocal mark of the identity of a sheep: it is a mark with which no coincidence can take place (as in artificial ones) through either accident or purpose."
Each of these kinds of memory has its peculiar advantages and inconveniencies, which the dread of being tedious induces me to leave to the investigation of my readers.
SECT. III. —CONTINUATION OF THE SAME SUBJECT.
MISCELLANEOUS FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS.
Among the extraordinary exertions of memory recorded in history, it is worthy of observation, that many of them (more especially of those which are handed down to us froin ancient times) relate to acquisitions of the most trifling nature; or at least to acquisitions which, in the present age, would be understood to reflect but little credit on the capacity of those who should consider the possession of them as a subject of vanity. In judging, however, of such particulars, when they occur in the lives of eminent men, due allowances ought always to be made for the essential differences between the political institutions of the old world, and those of modern Europe. Thus, when we are told of Themistocles, that he could call by their names all the citizens of Athens, (whose number was 20,000 ;)
The sequel of this passage is equally capricious flourishes of the pen by interesting, and, in my opinion, does which inexperienced scribes attempt to great credit to the sagacity of the writer give additional authenticity to their as a philosophical observer.
manuscripts. I remember a case of Something very similar to what Mr. suspected forgery which fell under the Findlater has here remarked with re- cognizance of one of our courts of law, spect to the faculty acquired by the in which a reference was made of a shepherd of recognising the individuals doubtful signature; first, to a set of of his flock by head-mark, is observable engravers and writing masters, and in all men of business who have occa- afterwards to the principal clerks in sion to direct their attention habitually the different banking-houses of Edinto the specific differences which mark burgh. The former (I was told) after the hand-writing of their various cor- a minute comparison of the signature respondents. In this case, too, as well in question, with other undoubted subas in the other, the general effect or scriptions of the alleged writer, procharac!er which the object presents to a nounced it to be genuine. The latter, practised eye, is a much more infallible without a moment's hesitation, asserted criterion of identity than a precise re- the contrary. I do not recollect the issue semblance in a few prominent details ; of the law-suit; but I have no doubt
-a resemblance, for instance, in the which of these two opinions was entitled form of particular letters, or in those to most weight in point of evidence.]
and of Cyrus, that he knew the name of every soldier in his army, it ought to be recollected, that, contemptible as these acquisitions might now appear in men equally elevated by their rank, they were probably not altogether useless to the general of an ancient army, or to the chief of an ancient republic. The different state of manners prior to the invention of printing, and, in particular, the state of manners in ancient Greece and Rome, rendered the cultivation of memory an object of far greater importance to those who were destined for public life, than it is under any of our modern governments; and, accordingly, extraordinary endowments of this sort form a far more prominent feature in the characters of their illustrious writers and statesmen than they do in modern biography. Examples of this must immediately crowd on the recollection of every person at all conversant with the classics.
The facts with respect to memory, which I have chiefly in my eye at present, may be divided into two classes, according as they relate to occasional exertions of memory on particular subjects, or to the general mass of acquired information treasured
up in the mind. Of the first kind are the intellectual feats ascribed to Cyneas, and to Hortensius. The former (we are told) when he came to Rome as ambassador from King Pyrrhus, saluted on the day after his arrival all the senators and persons of the equestrian order by their names; the latter, after sitting a whole day at a public sale, gave an account from memory in the evening of all the things sold, with the prices and the names of the purchasers; which account was found on examination to agree in every particular with what had been taken in writing by a notary. Nor will these anecdotes appear incredible, when compared with what Muretus himself saw at Padua, of a young Corsican, who, without stop or hesitation, recited thirty-six thousand names in the same order in which
[This story of Cyrus is mentioned subject, only says that Cyrus rememby Pliny, by Quintilian, and by other bered the names of Latin authors; but it is veryajustly re- tains who served under him; Tär up marked by Muretus, that Xenophon, autor jyquórwv.- Variarum Lectionum, from whom alone these writers could lib. iii. cap. 1.] derive any authentic information on the
officers or cap
he had heard them, and afterwards beginning at the last, proceeded in a contrary order to the first.?
To the same class of facts belong (although they indicate also the strength of still higher faculties) those efforts which some individuals are able to make by mere force of attention and memory in the way of arithmetical computation. We are told by the celebrated Dr. Wallis of Oxford, that “ he himself could, in the dark, perform arithmetical operations, as multiplication, division, and extraction of roots to forty decimal places; particularly, that, in February 1671, he proposed to himself, by night in bed, (at the request of a foreigner,) a number of fifty-three places, and found its square root to twenty-seven places, and that without ever writing down the number, he dictated the result from memory twenty days afterwards.” None of the facts, with respect to memory, which
, I have met with in ancient authors, conveys to me so high an idea of the wonders which may be effected by a patient and steady concentration of our mental powers.?
Another example of intellectual vigour, not inferior to what Dr. Wallis has recorded of himself, occurred in a still more illustrious mathematician of the eighteenth century, the late Mr. Euler. The following particulars on this subject are extracted from his Eloge, read before the Academy of Sciences at Paris, by M. de Condorcet; and, considering the unquestionable authenticity of the statement, they may be justly regarded as an important document in the History of the Human Mind. For the sake of some of my readers, it may be proper for me to premise, that this great man had the misfortune to lose his sight almost entirely at an early period of his very long life.
“ A few years afterwards, Euler was overtaken by the calamity which he foresaw and dreaded, but happily for himself and for the sciences, he was still able to distinguish large characters traced on a slate with chalk. His sons and his pupils copied his calculations, and wrote, as he dictated, his scientific
1 [Variarum Lectionum, lib. iii. cap. 1.] * (Lowthorp's Abridgment of the Philosophical Transactions, vol. iii. p. 661.]