« PreviousContinue »
PRINTED FOR RICHARD PHILLIPS, No. 6, BRIDGE STREET,
(Price Fifteen Shillings half-bound.)
Printed by J. APLARD, Duke-street, West-Smithfield,
FEBRUARY 1, 1810.
As ng as those who write are ambitious of making Converts, and of giving their Opinion, a Maximum "Iatiuence and Celebrity, the most extenfively circulated Mifcellany will repay with the greatest at the **Curiosity of those who read either for Amusement or Indruaion."―JOHNSON.
For the Monthly Magazine.
On the URIGIN and PROGRESS of MNEMO-
and reviving ideas once impressed on the mind, is a faculty, whose fullness of vigour is rarely coeval with the formation of the human intellect. Man has therefore recourse to art, for supplying those resources, which are denied to him by nature. As to the readiest means of ecting this end, so indispensably requisite to the acquisition and retention of knowledge, the philosophers and rhetoricians of every age are found at variance: nor do they differ less widely, in pointing out the fittest mode of cultitating and improving the memory, than agriculturists differ as to the mode of cultivating and improving the same soil, Sonie contend for the natural aids of a, well-directed practice and constant exexcise: others scruple not to call in mic dicine to the assistance of the retentive faculty; and many insist upon the agency of impressions, derived from external cbjects, with which a certain association pt ideas is connected. In respect to the first of these methods, we find Quine tilian among its warmest supporters: ** If, (says he,) I should be asked in what Consists the real and greatest art for improving the memory, I would say, in labour and exercise; and that nothing is so efficacious as learning much by heart, thinking much, and this daily, if pos sible." These maxims are strongly enforced by various modern writers; and amongst those of our own country, by Beattie and Knox, who may be consulted with advantage, by such as feel an interest in this subject. The second me thod I have mentioned, as being founded
1 of VOL. 29."
on medicinal aids, I shall leave Horatius, Marsilios, Johnston, and their disciples, to explain for themselves.
We now come to a consideration of! the third method, which forms indeed the
or the chief object communich
tion; the Topical Memory, or Loci of the Ancients, known by the name of Mnëmonics, and a-kin to tlfe Ars Memora-1 tiva or Artificial Memory of the oderns. The principles on which this are? is grounded will be adverted to Heleafter; and its practice, at least' in 'the? present day, I shall abstain fridentata ing upon, as that has been so ably de-" veloped on a former occasion; 'I'Small' content myself, therefore, with a sammary notice of the origir and progress of this art among the ancients, previously to entering upon a wider field; the quack-' cries of its professors, and the patronage, conferred on them in the sixteenth century.
The most important of human discoveries owe their birth to accidental causes; and I know not, therefore, why chance should not be deemed o§ funtful) a mother of invention, as necessity. Simonides, the Cean, was indebted for the invention of Mnemonics" to a cásu. alty. We are told, that 'this mercenary poet being hired at a supper to eulogize the prowess of his patrol, Scopas," vic-1 tor in wrestling at the Olympic Games, he was suddenly called a vay fron table,) on being informed, that two youths on white horses were waiting for him at;
Si quis tamen unam maximamque a me artem Memorie quærat, exercitatio est et labor; multa ediscere, multa cogitare, et så fieri potest, quotidiè, potentissimum est. Inst. Orat. lib. xi. c. 2.
MONTHLY MAG. No. 194.
* Vide, vol. xxiv. p. 105; et sq. Monthly Magazine, signed COMMON SENSE.
+ So Anacreon, Callimachus, and others," designate him, from the ardour with which, he proctituted the Muses for lucre: nor could the Romans brand the works of a fellow-poet with a more opprobrious epithet, than si monidis Cantilena. To this charge, al. leged against Simonides even in his own times, Simonides more artfully than wittily pleaded: "I bd rather leave wherewithal for my enemies to prey upon when I am dead, than become a burden to my friends in my life-time."
the gates. During his absence, the chamber in which Scopas and his guests were carousing, fell in, and in its fall they were crushed to death. The relation on this art, the subject of Cicero's tions of these unfortunate revellers, anxi- panegyric and discussion throughout a ous to honour them with funereal ob whole chapter of his masterly treatise on sequies, were unable to recognize their Oratory." Yet Cicero's conviction of persons in the mangled and disfigured its utility did not prevent Quinctilian's corpses, which lay strewed around, tiil assertion of its inefficiency, a short time Simonides overcame this dilemma, by afterwards; for we find the latter sumremembering the distinct places each ming up his thoughts upon it, in these had occupied at table; and thus pointing vehement terms:-"Wherefore, both out each individual to those who sought Carneades, and the Scepsius Metrodorus, his remains.* This event suggested (of whom I have just spoken,) who, as to his mind the practicability of making Cicero says, had used this exercise, may external impressious subservient to the keep this method to themselves: we will strengthening of memory, by selecting pass over to a more simple subject." places and images, as so many reposito Fabius, the historian, also ridicules this ries and symbols of ideas. Hence, he art in his XIth book. Mnemonics, was led to propound a method of asso- however, still continued in great repute; ciating the ideas of things to be retained and Cicero, strengthening precept by in the memory, with the ideas of objects example, boasted that they were the conveyed to the mind by that acutest. basis of his excellent memory. It is said, of our senses-the sight; and already their practice was cultivated with suc impressed upon it in a regular series. cess, by others of no less repute; amongst The invention of this method, stamped, whom, Crassus, Julius Cæsar, and him as the Father of the Mucmpic Art. Seneca, are particularly noticed. Cicero, tells us, that when Simonides, offered to instruct Themistocles in his, method, his offer was rejected in these memorable words: Al! (replied the hero,) rather teach me the art of forgetting; for I often remember what I would not, aud cannot forget what I would,”
This art appears to have lain dormant in after-ages, till that luminary of science, Raimond Lulle, thought fit to bring it once more into notice among the learned; and wooed it with such diligence, that it has ever since been called, Lulle's Art. I shall not detain your readers, by entering into an analysis of Lulle's method, which is amply detailed by Morhof, and in. Gray's Memoria Technica.
From this time, Mnemonics became a favourite pursuit with the Greeks; and being brought to perfection by Scepsius Metrodorus.I was in great vogue among their ocators. They are said to have made use of the statues, paintings, ornaments, and other external circumstauces, of the places where they harangued, for reviving, in progressive or der, the topics and matter of their orations, which they had already appropriated to each circunstance. In the list of those who prided themselves on having perfected their memory by ar
This story is handed down to us, both by Cicero and Phaedrus, in his fables.
tificial means, are enumerated Metrodorus, Hippias, and Theodectes.
The Romans bestowed no less atten
This system of Simonides, is founded on that theory of emblems, which Bacon so justly characterizes: "Emblema verò deducit intellectuale ad sensibile: sensibile autem semper fortius percutit memoriam, Atque in ea faciliùs imprimitur, quam intellectuale." Emblem reduceth conceits intellectual to images sensible, which always strike the memory more forcibly, and are therefore the more easily imprinted, than intellectual conceits-BACON's Augm. Scientian. Lib. vi. cap. 2. Plinii His. Nat. lib, viii. c, 21,
Mnemonics had not yet attained the meridian of their greatness: this epoch was reserved for the sixteenth century; and I question much, whether any art
De Oratore, lib. i. sect. 86, 87.
Quare et Carneades et Scepsius (de quo modo dixi) Metrodorus, quos Cicero dicit, usos hac exercitatione, sibi habeant sua: nos. simpliciora tradamus. 'Liste Orat. ut supra. Dr. Beattie, also says, in conclusion of his remarks on Artificial Memory, "I cannot but think with Quinctilian, that the Art was too complex, and that Memory may be im proved by easier methods." Diss. Mor. and C. chap. ii. sect. 3. Lord Bacon held a similar opinion, as well as Morhof, in whose
Polyhistor Literar." (lib. i. cap. v. de Arte Lulliana, and cap. vi. De Memoriae Subsidiis,) is preserved an elaborate account of the writers on this subject.
Gaspar Scioppius, speaking of this Doctor illuminatus, terms him, with jus tice, lutulentum et ineptum scriptorem, sed portentosi acuminis."-Comment. de Styla Hist
self as commissioned by Schenkel, to instruct the whole world.
has ever been the subject of a more tedious and obstinate controversy; or has been brought forward under more illustrious auspices, with greater solemnity, or a more bare-faced impudence. These will be sufficiently manifest in the account I shall now render of the Mne monistic Duumvirate of Lambert Schenkel, and his haud indignus' plenipotentiary, Martin Sommer.
Lambert or Lamprecht Schenkel, born at Bois-le-Due, in 1547, was the son of an apothecary and philologist. He went through his academical course at Lyons and Cologne, and afterwards became a teacher of rhetoric, prosody, and gymnastics, at Paris, Antwerp, Malines, and Rouen; not forgetting, as the custom of the age required, to claim his title to scholarship, by writing Latin verses. From these, however, he acquired no celebrity proportionate to that which was reared on his discoveries in the Mnemonic Art. The more effectually to propagate these discoveries, he travelled through the Netherlands, Germany, and France; where his method was inspected by the great, and transmitted from one university to another. Applause followed every where at his heels. Princes and nobles, ecclesiastics and laymen, alike took soundings of his depth; and Schenkel brought himself through every ordeal, to the astonishment
"A lawyer, (says he,) who has a hundred causes and more to conduct, by the assistance of my Mnemonics, may stamp them so strongly on his memory, that he will know in what wise to answer each client, in any order, and at any hour, with as much precision as if he had but just perused his brief. And in pleading, he will not only have the evidence and reasonings of his own party, at his fingers' ends, but (mirabile dictu!) all the grounds and refutations of his antagonist also! Let a man go into a library, and read one book after another, yet shall he be able to write down every sentence of what he has read, many days after at home. The proficient in this science can dictate matters of the most opposite, nature, to ten, or thirty writers, alter.. nately. After four weeks' exercise, he will be able to class twenty-five thousand disarranged portraits within the saying of a paternoster:-aye, and he will do this ten times a day, without extraordi nary exertion, and with more precision than another, who is ignorant of the art, can do it in a whole year! He will no longer stand in need of a library for referring to. This course of study may be completed in nine days”—(perhaps in the same way that foreign languages are now-a-days taught in twelve lessons!)—
and admiration of his judges. The rec" and an hour's practice daily, will be suf tor of the Sorbonne, at Paris, having ficient: but, when the rules are once previously made trial of his merits, per- acquired, they require but half an hour's mitted him to teach his science at that exercise daily. Every pupil, who has university; and Marillon, Maitre des afterwards well-grounded complaints to Requêts, having done the same, gave allege, shall not only have the premium him an exclusive privilege for practising paid in the first instance, returned to Mnemonics throughout the French do him, but an addition will be made to it. minions. His auditors were, however, The professor of this art, makes but a prohibited from communicating this art short stay in every place. When called to others, under a severe penalty. As upon, he will submit proofs, adduce his time now became too precious to testimonials from the most eminent admit of his making circuits, he dele- characters, and surprise the ignorant, gated this branch of his patent to the after four or six lessons, (observe!) with licentiate Martin Sommer, and invested the most incredible displays." Here him with a regular diploma, as his ple- follow testimonials from the most celenipotentiary for circulating his art, under brated universities. Nine alone are procertain stipulations, through Germany, duced from learned men at Leipzig, and France, Italy, Spain, and the neighbour- precede others from Marburg, and ing countries. Sommer now first pub- Frankfort on the Oder." lished a Latin treatise on this subject, which he dispersed in every place he vissed, under the title of "Brevis Delineatio de utilitatibus et effectibus admirabilibus Artis Memoriæ." (Venet. 1619, 12, 24 pp.) In this he celebrates the rare feats of his master, and announces him
At the same time was published, "Gazypholium Artis Memoriæ, illustra tum per Lambertum Schenkelium de Strasb. 1619" but this is far outdone by the preceding treatise of Sommer. The student, destitute of oral instruction, will gather about as much of Mnemonics