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person must have remarked, in studying the elements of geometry, how much his recollection of the theorems was aided, by the diagrams which are connect. ed with them: and I have little doubt, that the dif. ficulty which students commonly find to remember the propositions of the fifth book of Euclid, arises chiefly from this, that the magnitudes to which they relate, are represented by straight lines, which do not make so strong an impression on the memory, as the figures which illustrate the propositions in the other five books.

This advantage, which the objects of sight naturally have over those of hearing, in the distinctness and the permanence of the impressions which they make on the memory, continues, and even increases, through life, in the case of the bulk of mankind; because their minds, being but little addicted to general and abstract disquisition, are habitually occupied, either with the immediate perception of such objects, or with speculations in which the conception of them is more or less involved; which speculations, so far as they relate to individual things and individual events, may be carried on with little or no affiftance from language.

The case is different with the philosopher, whose habits of abstraction and generalisation lay him continually under a necessity of employing words as an inftrument of thought. Such habits co-operating with that inattention, which he is apt to contract to things external, must have an obvious tendency to weaken the original powers of recollection and conception with respect to visible objects ; and, at the fame time, to strengthen the power of retaining propositions and reasonings expressed in language. The common system of education, too, by exercising the memory so much in the acquisition of grammar rules, and of passages from the antient authors, contributes greatly, in the case of men of letters, to cultivate a capacity for retaining words.

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It is furprising, of what a degree of culture, our power of retaining a succession, even of insignificant sounds, is susceptible. Instances sometimes occur, of men who are easily able to commit to memory, a long poem, composed in a language of which they are wholly ignorant ; arid I have, myself, known more than one instance, of an individual, who after having forgotten completely the classical studies of his childhood, was yet able to repeat, with fluency, long paffiges froin Homer and Virgil, without annexing an idea to the words that he uttered.

This susceptibility of memory with respect to words, is poflefled 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 con, ftant exercise, it gradually decays as we advance to maturity. The plan of education which is followed in this country, however iinperfect in many respects, fals 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 grad. ually 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 knowl. edge, 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 labor, 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 phylosophical 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 philofopher may poffefs over men of little education, in ftating general propofitions 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 witneffed ; supposing 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 fome connection. In recognizing 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 meni, and arises from their habit of recollecting by means

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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. whatever cause we afcribe 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.

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.


Of the improvement of Memory.-- Analysis of the Princi

ples on which the Culture of Memory depends.

THE improvement of which the mind is fusceptible by culture, is more remarkable, perhaps, in the case of Memory, than in that of any other of our faculties. The fact has been often taken notice of in general terms; but I am doubtful if the particular mode in which culture operates on this part of our conftitution, has been yet examined by philosophers with the attention which it deserves.

Of one fort of culture, indeed, of which Memory is susceptible in a very striking degree, no explanation can be given ; I mean the improvement which the original faculty acquires by mere exercise ; or in other words, the tendency which practice has to increase our natural facility of association. This effect of practice upon the memory, seems to be an ultimate law of our nature, or rather, to be a particular in{tance of that general law, that all our powers, both

of body and mind, may be strengthened, by apply. ing them to their proper purposes.

Besides, however, the improvement which Mem. ory admits of, in consequence of the effects of exercise on the original faculty, it may be greatly aided in its operations, by those expedients which reason and experience suggest for employing it to the best advantage. These expedients furnish a curious fubject of philosophical examination : perhaps, too, the inquiry may not be altogether without use; for, although our principal resources for assisting the memory be suggested by nature, yet it is reasonable to think, that in this, as in similar cafes, by following out systematically the hints which she suggests to us, a farther preparation may be made for our intellect. ual improvement.

Every person must have remarked, in entering upon any new fpecies of study, the difficulty of trealuring up in the memory its elementary principles; and the growing facility which he acquires in this refpect, as his knowledge becomes more extensive. By analising the different causes which concur in producing this facility, we may, perhaps, be led to fome conclusions which may admit of a practical application.

1. In every science, the ideas about which it is peculiarly conversant, are connected together by some particular associating principle; in one science, for example, by affociations founded on the relation of cause and effect; in another, by associations founded on the necefsary relations of mathematical truths ; in a third, on associations founded on contiguity in place or time. Hence one cause of the gradual improvement of memory with respect to the familiar objects of our knowledge'; for whatever be the prevailing affociating principle among the ideas about which we are habitually occupied, it must ne.

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