« AnteriorContinuar »
when we express our confidence that, stored with such valuable learning and information, and enriched with such advantages of method and composition, it will not only be resorted to as a direction to students, but will find its way, as a book of reference, into the hand of the enlightened physician. It is uo less a guide to youth, than a staff to age; and both descriptions of practitioners ve under great obligations to the author for this productive effort of talent, labour, and erudition.
Art. VIII. The • Nero Art of Memory, founded upon the
Principles taught by M. Gregor Von Feinaigle, illustrated by Engravings. 8vo. London, Sherwood. 1812. Dr. Ř. Grey's Memoria Technica,' or Method of artificial Vemory. To which is subjoined · Lowe's? Mnemonics, 9th Edit. 8vo. London. 1812. TWO years have elapsed since we first heard of Mr. Feinaigle's
lectures upon · Mnemonics and Methodics' in this country; but the treatise which professes to explain the principles of his art, bas but just appeared. There is a general disposition in the public to suspect some latent quackery even in the best parts of such systems; and it would be difficult to avert the scepticism of those, abo are impatient of means, as well as of effect. It has been frequently remarked that the characteristics of memory, are, susceptibility, readiness, and retention. The palpable inequality sith which these properties are meted out to different individuals, would encourage the hope that the deficient qualities may be materially supplied by the intervention of mechanical aid, founded upon philosophical principles. Those who have susceptible and ready memories, but whose minds are indisposed to habits of method and classification (so favourable to the retention of acquired knowledge) should impose upon themselves the adoption of philosophical arrangement. Those, on the other hand, whose minds are only inclined towards abstraction and arrangement, should not besitate to supply the want of a susceptible and ready memory, by those helps which ingenious men have invented for the purpose. No method of assisting the memory can be popular, unless its object be to direct and apply those faculties, whose exercise appears to be involved in every effort of memory; nor should we doubt that as the body may be trained to extraordinary feats of strength and agility by the pursuance of a system adapted to give free scope to the powers of muscular action, so the judicious direction of those mental faculties, by whose agency the mind is competent
to perform certain offices, cannot fail to give superior efficiency to its powers. The inost approved philosophy asserts the dependence of memory upon two leading principles, attention, and the association of ideas; it follows, therefore, that whatever tends to concentrate attention, and to command and direct associations, may very essentially contribute to its improrement.
Objects perceived by the eye are remembered more easily than by any other of our senses, in proportion as the impressions of sight are more rapid aud numerous. We comprehend the infinite variety of a prospect in a momentary glance, and the imagination can revive the picture; but a verbal description of it would be tedious, and the impression faint: on this principle geography is taught by maps, geometry by diagrams, and architecture by drawings. The most casual observation was suficient to prove the constant association of ideas with sensible objects, and the effect of these objects in recalling to the mind foriner ideas. This naturally suggested the hint of a topical memory, which should encourage an association of ideas with visible objects, arranged in order; and as these objects were at will summoned before the imagination, they would naturally bring with them the ideas with which they had been previously associated, and without confusion, as we shall presently demonstrate. We find in Quintilian the following minute account of the topical memory* in use among the ancients :
• They (the students of topical memory) become intimately acquainted with the arrangement of particular situations of considerable extent, for instance, of a spacious mansion divided into many apartments; every marked object contained in this building is attentively impressed upon their mind, that the memory may recur to the individual parts of it, without the smallest delay or hesitation.
' In the next place, whatever they have written, or reflected on, they connect with a casual association, by which they may be reminded of it. This association may either relate to universals, as for example, to navigation or war, or to particular words; for if they lose the train of their ideas, they are enabled to recover them, hy the prompted suggestion of one individual word, whether this be the type of navigation, as an anchor, or of war, as a particular weapon; they therefore arrange these objects of association in order, and assign the first place, or the first idea, which they wish to remember, to the portico, the second to the hall; then they go round the inner courts: nor do they only commit these associations progressively to the bed-rooms and antirooms, but even to their furniture. When they have performed the
Many interesting remarks on this subject occur in Cicero, who describes the application and advantages of this artificial mode of assisting the memory, with great nealness and perspicuiry.--Rhetor. lib. iii: 16.
type at once
able to convey in writing an adequate and practical explanation of
circuit, and are anxious to recollect the associations, they recur mene depen
cally to those places in order from the beginning, they regain every and the kasible type which they had entrusted to each particular spoi, and this tends to
suggests the idea connected with it.' ciations,
In considering this scheme of topical memory, we must advert
tain degree of volition, these associatious will not operate. If ons of We were unconsciously to revisit a scene, which had once been fanfinite
ular to us, but of which we only retained a general impression, atian
Te should probably pass by a number of objects, to which our be te
atention might be partially or even earnestly directed, without exhy is
yieucing the revival of any ideas; but it at last we discovered drav.
where we had been, and retraced our steps with anxious curiose the
; those objects which in the first instance had not awakened any : effect
; would inevitably arouse our dormant associations, when the
tid was exerting a particular act of volition. We were induced I der
to remark this property, with the view of anticipating an objec-
an of thought, of itself awakens the ideas belonging to that fusion,
train, and this without confusion or mistake. It is from this
so in the second case; in fact, if the two ar-
l'e bave long been disposed to think that it would be impos-
, tends to contirm our opinion. If we at-
the fol ong the
ately acsiderable ny apart
tively in individual
d on, they minded of sample, to
eparate, and equally
ne train of
apted suç navigation
, -refore arirst place
co, the se
- do they
- and antiormed the
ibes the ap , with greti circuit
calling to the mind certain past trains of ideas, by varied associations of sight succeeding each other iu preconcerted order, and of employing consonants as the type of numerals. The first method is to divide an apartment into fifty ideal squares: any four sided room is fitted for the purpose, and the more applicable as it approaches to the form of a square. In arranging these squares, it will be necessary to place yourself in one uniform position; for instance, with your back towards the window: you then conceive the floor to be divided into nine squares. No. 1, being the square on the floor in the left hand corner opposiłe to you, No. 10 is placed upon the cieling above the wall on your left hand, and No. 11, 12, 13, up to 19, are placed in threes upon the left or first wall, in the same manner as the numbers from 1 to 9 were arranged upon the floor. No. 20, or the twentieth square, is placed above the second wall, or the wall immediately before you, and from 21 to 29 on that wall. The same process is pursued on the two remaining walls, viz. the third wall on your right, and the fourth wall behind you. No. 50 is placed in the centre of the cieling. When the precise positions of these ideal squares are imprinted on the mind, which will not require many minutes, it will be easy to ascertain the facility of associating the ideas of objects with given proportions of space, of which the order and position are intimately familiar to the mind; and here the imagination is called into action, and whatever object you wish to associate with each of the squares in succession, you have only to create a picture in your mind of that object in the particular square to which your attention is directed.
We shall now endeavour to explain the nature and application of certain hieroglyphics, a part of this system the most analogous in principle to the topical memory of the ancients. It is this part which appears most ridiculous to those who are ignorant of the method, and which is in fact the most ingenious portion of it, the most susceptible of extended application, and the basis of all the details connected with it. Two rooms are divided each into fifty compartments, in the manner which we have detailed. The first room contains bieroglyphics from one to fifty, the second from fifty to one hundred. These hieroglyphics, which might be more correctly called pictures of numbers, consist of the representation of certain animate or inanimate objects, the outlines of which are intended to bear a resemblance to the number of the square in which they are placed. The principle of this resemblance arises from the facility given to recollection, by the number exciting the idea of the picture, and the picture that of the number. Nothing can appear more absurd than one of these prints of hieroglyphics
engraved in the order in which they are to be associated on the walls. They may, however, in a very short time be committed to memory, and the mind turns as it were to the scite of each, with intuitive readiness. There is no necessity that a person should be in the room where these hieroglyphics are supposed to be arranged, ar indeed, after some time, that he should mentally recur to any particular room, as the absolute order, number and subject of them would be spontaueously suggested to him. We shall now give kome idea of their application. I a person succeeded in repeating one hundred unconnected words in regular succession, upon their being once read to him, it would be considered as an extraordinary effort of memory; and if indeed it was an effort of natural memory, deservedly. Any person however who was conversant with the hieroglyphics, would be able to repeat them with very little effort of memory, and with almost a moral certainty of success; nay, more, after having repeated them, if he was asked wbich was the eighty-fifth word that had been given him, he would immediately repeat it, or any of the other numbers, in the most complicated order. From the description given of the hieroglyphics, it will appear evident that every person acquainted with them will have one hundred places, or Torol,' in recognised and familiar order : supposing the two first words of the series to be chair, and imagination, he would at once associate the word chair' with the tower of Babel, which picture belongs to No. 1, from the supposed resemblance of a lofty insulated building to the figure 1. He might make this association by imagining that he saw a chair upon it; or in any
other mauner, borever incongruous; he would then discard from his mind that sociation, and proceed to No. 2, the hieroglyphic to which is a was
, from the resemblance of that bird to the figure 2; he would then associate the word “ imagination' with this picture, which might be done in various manuers, by supposing that he saw a wan in imagination; or by associating some sensible object with the swan, which he might conventionally consider as the type of imagination: having finished that association, he would discard it from his mind, and proceed with the rest, till the hundred words uere quartered in succession upon each hieroglyphic. Having concluded, his mind would not be the least on the stretch, there would be no necessity of keeping the links of the chain together, as in an effort of natural memory; he has the talisman for uniting them together at will. If required to repeat the words, he summons to his mind the first hieroglyphic, and the instant that it is presented to him the idea of a chair is suggested: he then recurs to No.2, and the word imagination is also suggested to him. If called upon to mention the forty-second word, he recurs to the fortyFOL. 18. NO. XVII.