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These questions Mr. Sowersby proceeds to illustrate at great length; but we prefer Mr. Shandy's illustration as quite as useful, and far more pleasant.
“ The verbs auxiliary we are concerned in here, continued my father, are, am, was ; have, had ; do, did; make, made ; suffer ; shall, should ; will, would ; can, could; owe, ought ; used, or it is wont. Aud these, varied with tenses present, past, and future-conjugated with the verb see—or with these questions added to them—Is it? Was it? Will it be? Would it be? May it be?—And these again put negatively, Is it not? Was it not? Ought it nut?-or affirmatively, It is; it was ; it ought to be ;-or chronologically, Has it been always ? Lately? How long ago!-or hypothetically, if it was ; If it was not, what would follow? If the French should beat the English -if the sun go out of the zodiac."
“ Didst thou ever see a white bear?' cried my father-turning round to Trim, who stood at the back of his chair. •No, an' please your honour,' replied the corporal. • But thou could'st discourse about one, Trim,' said my father, in case of need?' • How is it possible,' quoth my uncle Toby, if the corporal never saw one ? T'is the fact I waot,' replied my father and the possibility of it as follows:
“¢ A white bear! Very well. Have I ever seen one ? Might I ever have seen oue? Am I ever to see one ? Ought I ever to have seen one? Or can I ever see one ??
“« Would I had seen a white bear-for how can I imagine it.'
“If I should see a white bear, what should I say? If I should Bever see a wbite bear, what then ?'
“• If I never have, can, must, or shall see a white bear alive, have I ever seen the skin of one ? Did I ever see one painted—described ! Have I never dreamed of one ?"
“ • Did my father, mother, uncle, aunt, brothers, or sisters, ever see a white bear? What would they give? How would they have behaved ? How would the white bear have behaved ? Is he wild? tame ? terrible? rough? smooth ?
“ Is the white bear worth seeing? Is there no sin in it? Is it bet ter than a black ope?? ”
But it is more than time that we should introduce the learned professor's system to our readers. Suppose yourself, then, in any square room that you are acquainted with. Suppose the floor divided, by two lines parallel to the two ends, and two lines parallel to the two sides, into nine compartments. Suppose every one of the walls similarly divided. "Ascend (in imagination) into the room above, and do just the same there. This being done, place 1 in the left hand compartment of the top line of the floor of the bottom room; proceed to the right with 2 and 3; to Vol. IV. New Series.
the next line with 4, 5, 6, and so on. The floor will contain the nine first figures. Place 10 on the ceiling, just over the middle compartment of the left-hand wall, and proceed (just as on the floor) to fill that wall with the figures down to 19 inclusive. Place 20 on the ceiling, over the middle compartment of the next wall to the right, and so on till all the walls of the lower room are filled. Place 50 in the middle of the ceiling of the lower room. Proceed to the upper room, and, in a similar manner, fill all the compartments with the figures up to 100.
“ The learner should now exercise himself in finding the situation of the different numbers in the two rooms. Where, for example, are 29, 47, 35, 21, 62, 82, 99, etc. The room must be first ascertained; as to this there can be no difficulty, for as 50 is the lesser number in the first room, all the numbers exceeding 50, and as far as 100, will be found in the second room.
“ Having found the room, the lest hand figure will denote the wall, and the right hand figure will show the place, thus, 29 is in the first room, second wall, and ninth place; 47, fourth wall, seventh place ; by cutting off the left hand figure, the numerical order of the wall is given, and the remaining figure acquaints us with the place." P. 252.
The next thing to be done is to place symbols in all these compartments. Thus, in the lower room, i is “the tower of Babel;" 2 "Swan;" 3 "Mountain," and so on through all the hundred compartments. Of these symbols, in their proper order, the author has favoured us with two grand plates." And before the pupil can hope for any advantage from the system, he must bave all these symbols fixed in his mind, so as to be able to say what place, of what wall, of what room, any symbol occupies, and, vice versa, what symbol occupies any place of any wall of either room.
Now, we confess that hardly any subsequent excellence in the system could reconcile us to this beginning. In order that the learner may be spared the labour of committing to memory a few unconnected dates, he is to get off by heart, at the very outset, a hundred unconnected symbols; he is to be able to tell what picture M. Feinaigle has put in 47 or 89, and again, in what compartment M. Feinaigle has placed Vesuvius or the сар
of liberty. This is as monstrous, as if a man, to save himself the fatigue of walking from London to Leeds, should walk to York, and thence take coach to Leeds; or, to spare the time of going a mile for a loaf of bread, should sit down and grind the corn for making it.
Indeed, we remember a fable of an old man, who, on his deathbed, called his sons around him, and told them that, somewhere in his estate, there was hidden, a foot beneath the surface of the ground, a treasure which would amply repay the trouble of seeking it. The old man is no sooner committed to the earth than the sons set about ploughing up the whole estate; no treasure, however, is to be found; and the sons at length find out that their trouble is to be repaid by the cultivation which they have thus unwittingly given to their ground. Now, in looking over this book, we have once or twice found the suspicion creeping into our minds, that the professor, with this fable in his eye, was cajoling us all the while, and that the benefit which he intended to the memory was not in the system, but in the practice which the learner has in getting off by rote a hundred hieroglyphics. For ourselves, however, we should certainly choose a more pleasant subject wherewith to exercise our memories.
But seriously; before the disciple of M. Feinaigle spends a fortnight or a month in learning the places of these pictures, in attaining a facility in putting the “guitar-player,” and the direction-post," and “ the pack-horse” into their proper compartments ; we would advise him
to ponder a little with himself on the advantage he is to gain from this prodigious waste of time and trouble. Is it useful knowledge he is thus laying up in his memory? Undoubtedly not. Is it, then, the means of acquiring useful knowledge ? No. What is it, then? Merely the means to certain means, whereby useful knowledge is to be attained; the tool, whereby certain instruments are to be made for the performance of some necessary work. We say it is not useful knowledge that the learner is thus acquiring; for certainly nobody would go to say that it can be itself of any real use to me to know that M. Feinaigle has stuck “a fleet" in the middle of the floor, and justice" in the middle of the ceiling of his upper room. But we say, further, that it is not even the immediate means to useful knowledge. For what is to be got by it? Chiefly, a knowledge of dates, and latitudes, and longitudes. But these things are of themselves only the means of acquiring knowledge. History, or the chronology of facts, it is of the utmost importance to be acquainted with; and in order that we may be able to arrange facts in their proper sequency, it has been found necessary to refer each to some known period, by their absolute situation in which their relative situation to one another is known. Thus the chronology of dates becomes useful. For instance, Thucydides thus dates the first beginnings of the Peloponnesian war;="in the fifteenth year of the thirty years' truce, in the fifty-second year of the priesthood of Chrysis at Argi, in the ephoralty of Enesias at Sparta, in the arconship of Pythodorus at Athens, in the sixth month after the battle at Potidæa.'* Now, it was necessary, or, at least, it might have been necessary, for the reader to be apprized of these cotemporaneous circumstances; but what a laborious thing would it be, especially for any modern historian, to date every important event thus! Accordingly, it is enough for us to be told that the Peloponnesian war broke out 431 years B. C. Not that in itself it is of any use for us to know this;---no, but that if we should want to know who was ephor at Sparta, or archon at Athens, when it broke out, we may put together the two dates of 431 B. C. and find out that Ænesias or Pythodorus was. If a person were perfectly acquainted with the chronology of facts, the chronology of dates would to him be of no use. And, from the very principle of association, the former is often more easily remembered than the latter. In tracing the secondary causes which led to the rapid diffusion of Luther's principles, it surely is more easy to remember that Constantinople had some time before been taken by the Turks, that the literati had in consequence fled thence, and taken refuge in Italy, where the family of the Medici were ready to patronize all learned men; that a spirit of inquiry, and thinking, and reading, was thus spread abroad upon the continent, which was prodigiously helped forward by the recent invention of printing; surely, we say, the metrory much more easily takes hold of this concatenated series of events, than of the several duties of the invention of printing, of the taking of Constantinople, and the era of the reformation.
* Thucyd. lib. 2. ad init.
Again; another principal use to which the system of M. Feinaigle is to be applied, is the storing up of latitudes and longitudes in the memory. These, too, are mere arbitrary inventions of our own, expressly tending to something beyond themselves. If a man knew the relative position of all the places on the globe, he would have no use for meridians of longitude, and parallels of latitude. The latitude of Moscow, or the latitude of Edinburgh of wbat use are the knowledge of these to me in themselves? But by comparing them, I find that Edinburgh has a greater north latitude than Moscow, and by comparing the accounts of a winter at Moscow, with the comparatively mild one that our neighbours enjoy on the other side of the Tweed, I conclude that coldness of climate does not depend solely on distance from the equator. Here is a piece of useful knowledge. What we contend for is, that M. Feinaigle's system is nothing but the means to the means of acquiring knowledge. Dates and longitudes will as often be recalled by, as they will recall, facts and situations. And for those few general ones which must be continually in the mind, as way-marks in history and geography, we think that they may be secured more safely, and with far less trouble, than by the method of the learned professor.
But we forget that all this while we are leaving our young disciple in a room full of hieroglyphics of which he knows not the meaning or the use. We will suppose that they, and their respective situations, are safely laid up in the memory. There is, however, still something else to be stored there; the literal signs which M. Feinaigle adopts for the numerical characters, thus :
These signs the reader may think arbitrary; but the professor has his associations in them—such as they are. For instance:
“ The figure 7, with a slight curvature, may be made to resemble a crooked stick, and as we shall remember this stick the better if something be hung upon it, a cage shall be suspended there. In the word cage we obtain the consonants c and g; k also is added to the number, for c is more frequently pronounced hard (ka) than it is soft (se ;) 4, being a guttural and a crooked letter, shall go along with the cage and the stick. For the figure 7 there are, then, c, k, g, and 7."
At length, then, the reader is initiated; let us proceed to apply the system. The author begins with chronology-a chronological list of the kings of England. And this is his
method, as he himself explains it:
“ William the Conqueror. A word must be now made from William, the first half will is taken, and to this is added low, by which willow is obtained; this enables us to remember William. The willow is fixed upon the Tower of Babel, our first symbol ; we have then William I., but another circumstance remains; he was the conqueror; we hang some laurel, the reward of valour, and the crown of conquest, upon the willow tree. The date is yet wanting; we say the laurel is dead; in the word dead, d, d for 66; the 1,000 being understood, through the whole series." P. 265, 266.
The reader may take one or two more of these pleasant pictures.
“ Henry V. Diogenes has five hens in his lantern; they are very noisy and troublesome-(rout 'em.) P. 267.
" Henry VII. Robinson Crusoe is seen to shoot seven hens in a (rebellion.)
“Edward VI. We have here the vaulter, or rider; ove man is a sufficient weight for a horse; but onr horse mast carry seven. There