Page images
PDF
EPUB

ported as it was by a vast array of facts col- ness trip to New York, or a travel paper telllected, organized, and reasoned over for many ing about an imaginary visit to France and patient years. Not only that, but he made the people and things we saw. But far more many important contributions to science in valuable than the mere facts, even when other fields not related to evolution. He learned in this way, is learning how to make wrote a whole book, for example, on the hab- your way about in this great world of people its of the earthworm.

and thoughts and books and opportunities. What I want to emphasize just here, as Business men do not carry any more dethis chapter is devoted to the subject of our tails in their heads than are necessary for the memories and how to make the most of them, is that we must not make too much of them in the sense that we are to suppose that the mere act of memorizing is, by itself, of special importance. We find that great men, including those we call "geniuses," were like other people in this respect—some had wonderfully good memories, others had very poor ones; just as they differed in some being tall, some short; some light, some dark; some fat, and some lean. All of us are apt to remember best the things in which we are intensely interested, and in this, great men are like us; but like the rest of us, they differ in native retentiveness.

And yet to read what they write about them, you 'd think the memory systems that are constantly being advertised by the memory doctors," and as constantly being sold, were an absolute insurance of success. “De

;" Courtesy D. Appleton & Co. velop your memory, and the world is yours!”

HOW DARWIN SOLVED THE BOMB PUZZLE -such, in effect, is the claim. Now in the While, like many other thinkers of the philosophic first place, I don't need to remind you, I'm type, Darwin had a poor verbal memory, he was a sure, that there is no such thing as a separate

very close observer; and this, combined with the

reasoning powers he developed in connection with faculty of memory, only separate memories

his observations and his reading, made him the man stored in different compartments of the brain. As a consequence, men have good memories The interesting story he read in the inside of a for some things, poor memories for others.

volcanic bomb (shown in our picture) will give you

a good example of the workings of the scientific Napoleon, for example, could remember in- mind. These bombs are masses of lava, shot credible details about things that had to do whirling through the air from the mouth of the with his military operations, yet he never did volcano. Cooling, they assume shapes roughly learn to spell; as an instance, he constantly

resembling a sphere or a pear. Knowing this, wrote the name of Talleyrand, his great

suppose I ask you why the cells in the center are

largest (you see they are); why they decrease toward minister of foreign affairs, “Tayerand,” or the exterior of the bomb; why the bomb has that strip “Tailleran.”

of solid shell; and why this shell is overlaid on the And even yet I have n't told you the worst

outside by finely cellular lava. See how near you

can come to the answers before you read how Darwin thing about these artificial memory systems: worked them outremember he saw only what you this very loading of the mind with a lot of see in the picture. mere facts is bad in itself. “The mind,” said (1) The exterior cooled rapidly in the state we a great American educator, the late Dr. W.

now see it, and the cells are of their original size.

(2) The centrifugal force, caused by the whirling T. Harris, “can become so overloaded with

of the bomb, crowded the lava toward the surface and lumber that there is no room for a workshop.” so made the dense shell. (3) This same centriAll of us have more facts in our heads already fugal force, relieving the pressure from the center, than we make use of. The important thing

allowed the heated vapors to expand the cells, and so

made them much larger than they were originally. is to learn to use them, and the most valuable things we remember are those we acquire in particular part of the business they are conthe act of using those we already have cerned with. They have books and bookgeographical facts, for instance, that we learn keepers, and card-catalogues with brief notawhen we write a story of an imaginary busi- tions of correspondence with customers and

[graphic]

he was.

prospective customers—what are called “fol- waste any of it trying to remember things low-up” systems. A piece of carbon paper in just for the sake of the memory training. the typewriter remembers for them just what Engagements and telephone numbers and they wrote. Moreover, tending to one's things like that should be written down. business, whatever it may be, creates in the History information should be grouped brain a system-those little library files we around a few dates, and the great movements saw at headquarters—that takes care of the and facts for which they stand. In science, facts and plans relating to that business. get hold of the big principles. You ’ll not catch Father failing to get off one In spite of all I have been saying against of his business letters, as he did Mother's memory systems in general, there is one letter to the dressmaker; not because he memory system which I can't say too much would n't to anything in the world for her,- for. While this system costs a little someyou know that,-but because he is n't in the thing, it costs no more than what each of habit of taking letters out to post them. If

us have.

The system I am speaking of, of Mother would only give him an envelop to course, is “Mother Nature's Memory Sysmail, just an empty one, addressed to herself, tem.” All we have to give in return for the every day for a week or ten days, Father use of it is the free loan of our five senses. would get so he would never fail to mail the As we saw when we went through the “Palreal letters when they came along. But you aces of the Mind," all its wonderful treasures see, it would n't pay. It would be too much in the Art Gallery, the Auditorium, and the like burning a house to roast a pig, as the rest, were acquired in exchange for use by the Chinaman did in Lamb's funny story. And brain of the five senses of touch, taste, sight, it's a good deal that way with artificial mem- smell, and hearing. Obviously then, the ory systems. They train you to remember a thing to do to improve our memory habits, lot of miscellaneous things that you would n't as well as increase these treasures of the brain, want to use once in a thousand times, in order is to cultivate the senses by exercising them; that you may remember some one thing you by observing closely things worth seeing, and really require. The attending-to-your-daily- by forming the habit of always listening carebusiness memory system remembers for you fully to things worth hearing. the things you habitually need, and you don't One of the greatest benefits of nature study have to take any time off to learn it. Just is that it not only stores our minds with tend to your business, that 's all!

things which it is most interesting to know, Lawyers don't attempt to remember the and that form the basis and beginning of so endless court decisions that are constantly many of the sciences in which men specialize, being ground out in the mills of the law. but it trains the senses; for example, in getThey keep posted on the general trend of ting to know the various trees by their leaves these decisions, but whenever they want the and fruit and comparative anatomy; the details, they look them up by means of the birds by their notes as well as by their color excellent indexes of the law reports. More- and form; the various types of clouds, the over, the mind has a way of seizing on things color, form, and odor of flowers, and the of special interest, so that when, among the habits of animals. And what is more, the decisions in the reports, the lawyer comes on cultivation of the memory in this way is a case bearing on one of his own, the main closely related to the cultivation of the greatfacts and principles involved lodge in his est thing of all, the thinking habit, the abilmemory.

ity to think, say, and do things that will be This habit of the mind, by which new of value and interest to the world. We can thoughts, arguments, ideas, and so on, seem think of things and combine things, put two to hunt out and "snuggle in” with their rela- and two together, and so create new ideas, tives in the brain,-birds of a feather flock- only in proportion as we can vividly conceive ing together,-is called the Law of Apper- these things in our minds; and if these memception. It is so important that it was given ories are the images of things we have seen, that big name to hold it down. One curious as most of our memories are, our vividness of thing about this law is that it shows that conception will depend upon closeness of people often think they think things that observation. they don't really think at all! And because Some people can best remember a word, a it's a bad habit to get into, I am going to name, or a fact if they see it in writing or in say more about it in some future chapter. print; these are said to be “visual-minded."

Life is too busy and precious a thing to Others can remember best if they themselves

[ocr errors]

write it down; these are the "motor-minded." adult in the strength and plasticity of its Others remember best what they hear, and brain, its readiness to record impressions, but so will get more when being read or talked to the adult has a much greater power of conthan when they read to themselves; these centrating attention; of "drawing a bead" are the people of auditory or ear memory. on a thing, as Daniel Boone used to do on a

While I have just classified people as vis- bear, and so, like Daniel, they “get the bear.” ual-minded, motor-minded, and so forth, I Paying attention is not only the first great only did so so that you might distinguish principle in memory, but it is pretty much the these various ways of remembering in order whole thing. You pay attention, and nature to use them. The fact is that most people does the rest. Of this fact you will see are not wholly of the auditory, visual, or notable examples when we come to the matmotor-minded type. We all have ears, eyes, ter of remembering people's names, as we and fingers, and are helped by using them-- shall in a few moments. Sir William Hamilby. hearing a thing, seeing a description or ton, one of the distinguished explorers of the picture of it, and by writing about it; and land of the mind, says the habit of paying above all, by making experiments with re- attention is, “the eye of the mind." It is to gard to it; or if it is a thing to be constructed, the mind, he says, what the microscope and as in manual training, actually producing it. the telescope are to the bodily eye and “con

Because sight plays such a prominent part stitutes the better half of our intellectual in most of our impressions of the great pag- power.” eant of life, the visualizing habit is of cor- The trouble is that during school-days responding importance. There is much sig- much of a child's attention in learning is apt nificance in the expression "I see," meaning, to be of the push-cart variety; that is, it is “I understand”; and so with many other forced from behind, and not pulled from in popular phrases which were first coined when front by his interest in the thing to be learned. the world was younger and there were fewer Yet the push-cart type of attention is n't trashy books and no newspapers and people the real thing at all. Listen! Carlyle is took a more spontaneous interest in their speaking: mental operations than we do to-day, when

Thy very attention, does it not mean an attenour mental warehouses are often so over

tio, a stretching to? Fancy that act of the mind loaded with lumber that we are pinched for which all were conscious of, which none had yet room in our workshops.

named, when this new poet felt bound and driven And speaking not of this lumber, but of

to name it. His new, glowing metaphor was the brain, it is to be noted that it is n't the

found adoptable, intelligible, and remains our

name for it to this day. people who have the best natural memories that remember best. Owing to the unusual The “new poet” Carlyle refers to, of course, strength of their nerve tissues, there are was n't anybody in particular; he was simply people who can remember, without an effort, one of those imaginary “first men" who, names, dates, prices, telephone numbers-all looking in on the Little People of the Mind, sorts of miscellaneous things, but who are watched them at their work. You can see unequal to the higher efforts of the mind and that Carlyle feels deeply what a fine thing it are not interested in things of that sort. The is for us that we have this faculty of reaching world of literature and art lies behind closed out and taking things in. And the beauty doors, as far as they are concerned. When about it is that the more attention we pay it comes to remembering things worth keep- out, the more we have left; for nature eviing, the educated get on much more rapidly dently regards it as a loan, and it all comes than the uneducated.

back with big interest. Another thing. Children, it is popularly assumed, have better memories than grown

II. MAKING PEOPLE STICK TO THEIR NAMES people, but this is not true. Careful experiments made with children themselves show EVERY one who has been introduced to many this. Children, it is true, remember without people and who has n't?—knows how hard effort more than adults do, but if both are it is to make them stick to their names. set the same thing to memorize,--something The names come off, as it were, in our memthe children as well as the adults can under- ory-files. There are the pictures of our new stand, of course,-the result is that the adult friends, as natural as life, but, for the life of will memorize first and retain the longest. us, we can't find their labels--the names that Not but that the child has the better of the belong on these pictures. Yet no little thing you can do will give so much pleasure to membering that “gee,” in horse-language, some one you have recently met as to call him means “turn to the right”; this idea conpromptly by name the next time you meet trasted with “low,” which is a direction him! And looked at from a worldly stand- neither to the right nor the left, helps in repoint, no investment compares in earnings membering it. Rather ridiculous? Yes, but with this name-remembering habit. It 's a as the memory expert who taught me the large part of the merchant's stock in trade, trick said, “The more ridiculous the associaand in the equipment of his salesmen; and tion, the better it fixes in the mind things if it hasn't sent many a man to Congress, it that have no logical relation”-such as peohas put him a long way on the road. It was ple and their names. But this sort of assosaid of Henry Clay that he could be intro

ciation gets the mind into bad habits and duced to a hundred people at an evening merely serves a temporary purpose. In my reception, and a year afterward, on meeting case, I resorted to the memory trick only any of them, he could at once call them because I had failed to pay proper attention by name. James G. Blaine had the same to the name at the time of introduction—the faculty; and most public men acquire it. precious moment of the first impression. So Cæsar, it is said, knew the names of all the I had to do the next best thing. veterans in his devoted Tenth Legion of the Such devices are useful in emergencies, Gallic Wars; and I 'll warrant you that was but should be used only in emergencies. one great secret of his calm assurance when The simple way, and the one that fixes a he said to the rest of his soldiers (who were name most firmly, is to pay close attention in a panic at the thought of their first hand- the first time you hear it; and in case of an to-hand fight with the blond giants of Ario- introduction, look your new friend squarely vistus) that they were at liberty to remain in the face, instead of shifting the eyes, as in behind while he alone, with the Tenth Legion, our natural shyness at meeting strangers we would march on. The fact that he remem- are so apt to do. The name and face are bered them as individuals and called them then duly entered in the “memory books” by name must have been one of the strongest together and will come back together when reasons for their attachment to him.

wanted. But you must "catch the name.” Napoleon also had a remarkable memory (How descriptive and significant some of of this sort, and had the reputation of know- these common phrases are!) And you must ing thousands of his veterans by name; al- not only catch the name, but hold it; you though here, as in so many other things, he must n't “fumble.” Repeat it a few times was up to his tricks. For, according to to yourself. If you have an opportunity for Bourrienne, at one time his private secretary, conversation, address your new friend by name he would say to one of his aides:

occasionally, as: “So you keep your back num"Ascertain from the colonel of such a regiment

bers of St. NICHOLAS, Mr. Williams? I'm whether he has any man who served in Italy or always looking up things for our history and Egypt, and learn his name and what he did and other research work at school.” Or, “How do bring me the information." On the day of the

you like the new serial story, Mr. Williams?review, Napoleon, the man having been pointed out to him, would approach, address him by name,

If there is no opportunity for conversation and say: "Oh! So you are here! You are a brave for a while, and you are introduced to several fellow. I saw you at Aboukir. How is your old people in succession, run back over the father?

names of the people to whom you have alHow Cæsar remembered the names of his ready been introduced. If you go out much, men, or how Napoleon remembered so many, or if, in later years, in your business or social as he certainly did, it is doubtful if either of life, you meet many people, you will find you them could have told, although both were will acquire the faculty of taking in a new great practical psychologists, as all men who name in one little room of your brain while succeed in dealing with other men must be; a “recitation" in previous names is going on that is, they understood human nature. The in another! You will also become more selfreason they probably could n't have told is possessed when introduced, and this is a that there is so little to tell-provided you great help. But to recall the names of a lot remember in Nature's way. If you employ of people to whom you are introduced in an artificial memory system, there is a great rapid succession is one of the most difficult deal to tell. For example, if a man's name feats of memory. When you can do it, you happened to be “Gielow,"--I met a man once can feel you 're about ready to graduate from by that name,—you can fix it in mind by re- the "memory school."

In my natural ability to let people's faces We agreed that this was a method open to come loose from their names I yield to no any one, and consisted in the simple act of man; but having felt keenly the embarrass- paying attention; of being careful to "catch” ment of the thing, I resolved to see what and hold names until they become fixed in could be done about it. I succeeded in the “auditory area” of the brain, and, along patching up the leak in this section of my with the names, the conversations of the memory compartments so well that I came owners. to be regarded among my many friends in the Here I would like to point out to you how school world as quite a phenomenon.

you can use my experience with the history The first time I did it was in a history class in your school work. Of course, you al

[graphic][graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THREE TYPES OF MEMORY--NAPOLEON, DARWIN, AND DORÉ Napoleon never could remember the proper pronunciation of French words, nor could he spell correctly; he always wrote the name of his minister of foreign affairs, Tayerand," or "Tailleran, for example. And yet "he stored up in his memory,says Masson, "each of the units which formed his armies; man by man, squadron by squadron, battery by battery, he reckoned his soldiers; he followed them along the roads of Europe; knew all their resting-places and their halts.

Doré, whose wonderful illustrations are known to every one, had such a marvelous memory for form that he seldom made any sketches from nature. After merely glancing at a face or a building or a scene, he could reproduce it months or even years afterward almost with ihe accuracy of a photograph. When asked why he did not make preliminary sketches, as artists are accustomed to do, he replied, laughing, "Oh, I have plenty of collodion in my brain!(How he put this collodion in his brain we shall see in the article which deals with the mind of the artist.)

"My memory,says Darwin, in his autobiography, is extensive, but hazy. After a time I can generally recollect where to search.

[ocr errors]

class, where I tried to fix in my mind the ready know the names of all your classmates; name of each of about twenty pupils who re- but nothing would be more valuable in the cited, running back over them from time to way of memory training than for you to time as the recitation proceeded, like a boy summarize in your mind, as a recitation prosaying his “piece” to himself. This was at a ceeds, what each one says on the lesson topsmall college in one of the western States. ics. From time to time, during the recitation, When the recitation was over, in conversa- run over this summary; then, after the recition with the professor, I told him how inter- tation is over, try to recall the whole of it. ested I had been, and commented briefly on Not that any of the boys or girls are apt to what each of the students had said, naming make any profound or memorable observathem.

tions; but that is n't the point. The thing is “What a remarkable memory you have to learn to remember what people say when for names!” said he. Whereat I was as proud you want to. The habit will be invaluable in as the proverbial boy in his proverbial red- after life; and in school, too, of course. topped boots.

Think how it will help you when examination “No doubt I have,” said I, with proper day comes, and, quite as important, when modesty, “but I had n't when I came into you take part in what may be made one of this room. I never succeeded in remember- the most valuable things in school life, the ing a series of names like that before in my debates. You know what a big difference life.” And I told him just how I had done it. there is between one of those “cut and dried”

« PreviousContinue »