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have been habitually exercised in childhood in get, ting by heart grammar rules,) have an extraordina. ry facility in acquiring and retaining the most bar. barous and the most infignificant verses ; which another person would find as difficult to remember, as the geographical and chronological details of which it is the object of this art to relieve the memory. Allowing, therefore, the general utility of the art, no one method, perhaps is entitled, to an exclusive preference ; as one contrivance may be bett luited to the faculties of one person, and a very

different one to those of another.

One important objection applies to all of them, that they accustom the mind to associate ideas by accidental aud arbitrary connexions; and, therefore, how much foever they may contribute in the course of conversation, to an oftentatious display of acquired knowledge, they are, perhaps, of little real fervice to us, when we are seriously engaged in the pursuit of truth. I own, too, I am very doubtful with respect to the utility of a great part of that information which they are commonly employed to imprest on the memory, and on which the generality of learned men are disposed to value themselves. It certainly is of no use, but in so far as it is subservi. ent to the gratification of their vanity; and the acquisition of it consumes a great deal of time and attention, which might have been employed in extending the boundaries of human knowledge. To those, however, who are of a different opinion, such contrivances as Mr. Grey's inay be extremely useful : and to all men they may be of service, in fixing in the memory those infulated and uninteresting particulars, which it is either necessary for them to be acquainted with, from their situation; or which cuftom has rendered, in the common opinion, essential branches of a liberal education. I would, in particu. lar, recommend this author's method of recollecting dates, by substituting letters for the numeral

cy. phers; and forming these letters into words, and the words into verses. I have found it, at least in my own case, the most effectual of all such contrivan. ces of which I have had experience,

SECTION VII.

Continuation of the fame Subject.- Importance of making

a proper Selection among the Objects of our Knowledge, in order to derive Advantage from the Acquistions of Memory.

THE cultivation of Memory, with all the helps that we can derive to it from art, will be of little use to us unless we make a proper selection of the particulars to be remembered. Such a selection is necessary to enable us to profit by reading ; and still more so, to enable us to profit by observation, to which every man is indebted for by far the most valuable part of his knowledge.

When we first enter on any new literary pursuit, we commonly find our efforts of attention painful and unsatistaĉtory. We have no discrimination in our curiosity, and by grasping at every thing, we fail in making those moderate acquisitions which are suited to our limited faculties. As our knowledge extends, we learn to know what particulars are likely to be of use to us; and acquire a habit of directing our examination to these, without distracting the attention with others. It is partly owing to a limilar circumstance, that most readers complain of a defect of memory, when they first enter on the study of history. They cannot separate important from trifling facts, and find themselves unable to retain any thing, from their anxiety to secure the whole,

In order to give a proper direction to our atten

tion in the course of our studies, it is useful, before engaging in particular pursuits, to acquire as familiar an acquaintance as poflible with the great outlines of the different branches of science ; with the most important conclusions which have hitherto been formed in them, and with the most important desiderata which remain to be supplied. In the case too of those parts of knowledge, which are not yet ripe for the formation of philosophical systems, it may be of use to study the various hypothetical theories which have been proposed for connecting together and arranging the phenomena. By such general views alone we can prevent ourselves from being loft, amidst a labyrinth of particulars, or can engage in a course of extensive and various reading, with an enlightened and discriminating attention. While they withdraw our notice from barren and insulated facts, they direct it to such as tend to illustrate principles which have either been already established, or which, from having that degree of connection among themselves, which is necessary to give plausibility to a hypothetical theory, are likely to furnith, in time, the materials of a juster system.

Some of the followers of Lord Bacon have, I think, been led, in their zeal for the method of in. duction, to censure hypothetical theories with too great a degree of severity. Such theories have certainly been frequently of use, in putting philosophers upon the road of discovery. Indeed, it has probably been in this way, that most discoveries have been made ; for although a knowledge of facts must be prior to the formation of a just theory, yet a hypothetical theory is generally our best guide to the knowledge of useful facts. If a man, without forming to himself any conjecture concerning the unknown laws of nature, were to set himself merely to accumulate facts at random, he might, perhaps, ftum. ble upon some important discovery ; but by far the

greater part of his labors would be wholly useless. Every philosophical inquirer, before he begins a set of experiments, has some general principle in his view, which he suspects to be a law of nature :* and although his conjectures may be often wrong, yet they serve to give his inquiries a particular direction, and to bring under his eye a number of facts which have a certain relation to each other. It has been often remarked, that the attempts to discover the philosopher's stone, and the quadrature of the circle, have led to many useful discoveries in chemistry and mathematics. And they have plainly done so, merely by limiiting the field of observation and inquiry, and checking that indiscriminate and defultory attention which is so natural to an indolent inind. A hypothetical theory, however erroneous, may answer a similar purpose. “ Prudens interrogatio," (says Lord Bacon,) “ est dimidium scientiæ. Vaga Is enim experientia et fe tantum fequens mera palpa" tio eft, et hoinines potius ftupefacit quam infor“mat” What, indeed, are Newton's queries, but so many hypotheses which are proposed as subjects of examination to philosophers ? And did not even the great doctrine of gravitation take its first rise from a fortunate conjecture ?

While, therefore, we maintain with the followers of Bacon, that no theory is to be admitted as proved, any farther than it is supported by facts, we should, at the same time, acknowledge our obligations to those writers who hazard their conjectures to the world with modesty and diffidence. And it may not be improper to add, that men of a systematizing

** Recte siquidem Plato, “ Qui aliquid quærit, id ipsum, quod “ quærit, generali quadam notione comprehendit: aliter, qui fieri s potest, ut illud, cum fuerit inventum, agnoscat?" Idcirco quo

amplior et certior fuerit anticipatio nostra ; eo magis directa et < compendiosa erit investigatio.”

De Aug. Scient. lib v. cap. 8.

turn are not now so useless as formerly; for we are already poffefsed of a great stock of facts; and there is scarcely any theory fo bad as not to bring together a number of particulars which have a certain de. gree of relation or analogy to each other.

The foregoing remarks are applicable to all our various studies, whether they are conducted in the way of reading, or of observation. From neither of these two fources of information can we hope to derive much advantage, unless we have some general principles to direct our attention to proper objects.

With respect to observation, fome farther cautions may be ufeful ; for in guarding against an indiscriminate accumulation of particulars, it is possible to fail into the opposite extremne, and to acquire a habit of inattention to the phenomena which present themselves to our senses. The former is the error of men of little education ; the latter is more common a. mong men of retirement and study.

One of the chief effects of a liberal education, is to enable us to withdraw our attention from the present objects of the perceptions, and to dwell at pleasure on the past, the abfent, or the future. But when we are led to carry these efforts to an excefs, either from a warm and romantic imagination, or from an anxious and fanguine temper, it is easy to fee that the power of observation is likely to be weakened, and habits of inattention to be contracted. The fame effect may be produced by too early an indulgence in philosophical pursuits, before the mind has been prepared for the study of general truths by exercising its faculties among particular objects, and particular occurrences. In this way, it contracts an aversion to the examination of details, from the pleasure which it has experienced in the contemplation or in the discovery of general principles. Both of these turns of thought, however, presuppose a certain degree of obfervation ; for the materials of

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