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more pains than they have been at hitherto, to afcertain the various effects which are produced on the memory by disease and old age. Thefe effects are widely diverfified in different cafes. In fome it would feem that the memory is impaired, in confequence of a diminution of the power of attention; in others, that the power of recollection is disturbed, in confequence of a derangement of that part of the conftitution on which the affociation of ideas depends. The decay of memory, which is the common effect of age, feems to arife from the former of these causes. It is probable, that, as we advance in years, the capacity of attention is weakened by fome phyfical change in the conftitution; but it is alfo reasonable to think, that it loses its vigor partly from the effect which the decay of our fenfibility, and the extinction of our paffions, have, in diminishing the intereft which we feel in the common occurrences of life. That no derangement takes place, in ordinary cafes, in that part of the conftitution on which the affociation of ideas depends, appears from the diftinct and circumftantial recollection which old men retain of the tranfactions of their youth.* In fome diseases, this part of the conftitution is evidently affected. A ftroke of the palfy has been known, (while it did not deftroy the power of fpeech,) to render the patient incapable of recollecting the names

* Swift somewhere expresses his surprise, that old men should remember their anecdotes so distinctly, and should, notwithstanding, have so little memory as to tell the same story twice in the course of the same conversation; and a similar remark is made by Montaigne, in one of his Essays: "Surtout les Vieillards sont "dangereux, à qui la souvenance des choses passées demeure, et "ont perdu la souvenance de leurs redites."

Liv. i. chap. ix. (Des Menteurs.)

The fact seems to be, that all their old ideas remain in the mind, connected as formerly by the different associating principles; but that the power of attention to new ideas and new occurrences is impaired.

of the most familiar objects. What is still more remarkable, the name of an object has been known to fuggeft the idea of it as formerly, although the fight of the object ceased to fuggeft the name.

In fo far as this decay of memory which old age brings along with it, is a neceflary confequence of a phyfical changein the conftitution, or a neceffary confequence of a diminution of sensibility, it is the part of a wife man to fubmit cheerfully to the lot of his nature. But it is not unreafonable to think, that fomething may be done by our own efforts, to ob viate the inconveniences which commonly refult from it. If individuals, who, in the early part of life, have weak memories, are sometimes able to remedy this defect, by a greater attention to arrangement in their tranfactions, and to claffification among their ideas, than is neceffary to the bulk of mankind, might it not be poffible, in the fame way, to ward off, at least to a certain degree, the encroachments which time makes on this faculty? The few old men who continue in the active fcenes of life to the last moment, it has been often remarked, complain, in general, much lefs of a want of recollection, than their cotemporaries. This is undoubtedly owing partly to the effect which the purfuits of business must neceffarily have, in keeping alive the power of attention. But it is probably owing alfo to new habits of arrangement, which the mind gradually and infenfibly forms, from the experience of its growing infirmities. The apparent revival of mem. ory in old men, after a temporary decline, (which is a cafe that happens not unfrequently,) feems to favor this fuppofition.

One old man, I have, myfelf, had the good fortune to know, who, after a long, an active, and an honorable life, having begun to feel fome of the ufual effects of advanced years, has been able to find refources in his own fagacity, against most of the in

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conveniences with which they are commonly attended; and who, by watching his gradual decline with the cool eye of an indifferent obferver, and employing his ingenuity to retard its progrefs, has converted even the infirmities of age into a fource of philofophical amusement.


Of the Varieties of Memory in different Individuals.

IT is generally fuppofed, that, of all our faculties, Memory is that which nature has beftowed in the moft unequal degrees on different individuals; and it is far from being impoffible that this opinion may be well founded. If, however, we confider, that there is scarcely any man who has not memory fufficient to learn the use of language, and to learn to recognize, at the first glance, the appearances of an infinite number of familiar objects; befides acquiring fuch an acquaintance with the laws of nature, and the ordinary course of human affairs, as is neceffary for directing his conduct in life; we shall be fatisfied that the original disparities among men, in this refpect, are by no means fo immenfe as they feem to be at firft view; and that much is to be afcribed to different habits of attention, and to a difference of selection among the various objects and events presented to their curiofity.

As the great purpose to which this faculty is fubfervient, is to enable us to collect, and to retain, for the future regulation of our conduct, the refults of our past experience; it is evident that the degree of perfection which it attains in the cafe of different perfons, muft vary; firft, with the facility of making the original acquifition; fec

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ondly, with the permanence of the acquifition; and thirdly, with the quickness or readiness with which the individual is able, on particular occafions, to apply it to ufe. The qualities, therefore, of a good memory are, in the firft place, to be fufceptible; fecondly, to be retentive; and thirdly, to be ready.

It is but rarely that these three qualities are united in the fame perfon. We often, indeed, meet with a memory which is at once fufceptible and ready; but I doubt much, if fuch memories be commonly very retentive: for, fufceptibility and readinefs are both connected with a facility of affociating ideas, according to their more obvious relations whereas retentivenefs, or tenacioufnefs of memory, depends principally on what is feldom united with this facility, a difpofition to fyftem and to philofophical arrangement. Thefe obfervations it will be neceffary to illuftrate more particularly.


I have already remarked, in treating of a different fubject, that the bulk of mankind. being but little accustomed to reflect and to generalize, affociate their ideas chiefly according to their more obvious relations; thofe, for example, of refemblance and of analogy; and above all, according to the cafual relations arifing from contiguity in time and place: whereas, in the mind of a philofopher, ideas are commonly affociated according to thofe relations which are brought to light in confequence of particular efforts of attention; fuch as the relations of Caufe and Effect, or of Premifes and Conclufion. This difference in the modes of affociation of these two claffes of men, is the foundation of fome very ftriking diverfities between them in refpect of intellectual character.

In the first place, in confequence of the nature of the relations which connect ideas together in the mind of the philofopher, it must neceflarily happen,

that when he has occafion to apply to use his acquired knowledge, time and reflection will be requifite to enable him to recollect it. In the cafe of thofe, on the other hand, who have not been accuf tomed to scientific purfuits; as their ideas are connected together according to the moft obvious relations; when any one idea of a class is prefented to the mind, it is immediately followed by the others, which fucceed each other fpontaneoufly according to the laws of affociation. In managing, therefore, the little details of fome fubaltern employment, in which all that is acquired, is a knowledge of forms, and a difpofition to observe them, the want of a fyf tematical genius is an important advantage; because this want renders the mind peculiarly fufceptible of habits, and allows the train of its ideas to accommodate itself perfectly to the daily and hourly occurrences of its fituation. But if, in this refpect, men of no general principles have an advantage over the philofopher, they fall greatly below him in another point of view; inafiuch as all the information which they poffefs, muft neceffarily be limited by their own proper experience; whereas the philofopher, who is accustomed to refer every thing to general principles, is not only enabled, by means of these, to arrange the facts which experience has taught him, but by reafoning from his principles fynthetically, has it often in his power to determine facts a priori, which he has no opportunity of ascertaining by observation.

It follows farther, from the foregoing principles, that the intellectual defects of the philofopher, are of a much more corrigible nature, than thofe of the mere man of detail. If the former is thrown by ac cident into a fcene of bufinefs, more time will perhaps be neceffary to qualify him for it, than would be requifite for the generality of mankind; but time and experience will infallibly, fooner or later, fa

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