Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

any one will

tle loose notes, as the Sibyls leaves, I never fail of finding matter of consolation from some favourable prognostick in my past experience.”' (Ibid., p. 652.)

“ Memory is a faculty of wonderful use, and without which the judgment can very hardly perform its office : for my part I have none at all : what

propose to me, he must do it by parcels, for to answer a speech consisting of several heads, I am not able. I could not receive a commission by word of mouth, without a note-book : and when I have a speech of consequence to make, if it be long, I am reduc'd to the miserable necessity of getting it word for word what I am to say by heart ; I should otherwise have neither fashion nor assurance, being in fear that my memory would play me a slippery trick. But this way is no less difficult to me than the other. I must have three hours to learn three verses. And besides, in a work of a man's own, the liberty and authority of altering the order, of changing a word, incessantly

, varying the matter, makes it harder to stick in the memory of the author. The more I mistrust it, the worse it is, it serves me best by chance, I must negligently sollicit it, for I press it, 'tis astonish'd, and after it once begins to stagger, the more I sound it, the more it is perplex'd ; it serves ine at its own hour, not at mine. And the same defect I find in my memory, I find also in several other parts. I fy command, obligation and constraint. That which I can otherwise naturally and easily do : if I impose it upon

myself by an express and strict injunction, I cannot do it. Being once in a place where it is look'd upon as the greatest discourtesie imaginable not to pledge those who drink to you, though I had there all liberty allowed me, I try'd to play the good fellow, out of respect to the ladies that were there, according to the custom of the country ; but there was sport enough, for this threatning and preparation, that I was to force myself contrary to my custom and inclination, did so stop my throat, that I could not swallow one drop ; and was depriv’d of drinking so much as to my meat. I found myself gorg’d, and my thirst quench'd by so much drink as my imagination had swallow'd. This effect is most manifest in such as have the most vehement and powerful imagination : but it is natural notwithstanding, and there is no one that does not in some measure find it. They offer'd an excellent archer, condemn’d to dye, to save his life, if he would shew some notable proof of his art, but he refused to try, fearing least the too great contention of his will would make him shoot wide, and that instead of saving his life, he should also lose the reputation he had got of being a good marks-man. A man that thinks of something else, will not fail to take over and over again the same number and measure of steps, even to an inch, in the place where he walks : but if he makes it his business to measure and count thum, he will find that what he did by nature and accident, he cannot so exactly do by design. My library, which is of the best sort of country libraries, is situated in a corner of

my house ; if anything comes into my head that I have a mind to look on or to write ; lest I should forget it in but going cross the court, I am fain to commit it to the memory of some other. If I venture in speaking to digress never so little from my subject, I am infallibly lost, which is the reason that I keep myself in discourse strictly close. I am forc’d to call the men that serve me either by the names of their offices, or their country ; for names are very hard for me to remember. I can tell indeed that there are three syllables, that it has a harsh sound, and that it begins or ends with such a letter, but that's all : and if I should live long, I do not think but I should forget my own name, as some others have done. Messela Corvinus, was two years without any trace of memory, which is also said of Georgius Trapezuntius. For my own interest, I often meditate what a kind of life theirs was, and if, without this faculty, I should have enough left to support me with any manner of ease, and prying narrowly into it, I fear that this privation, if absolute, destroys all the other functions of the soul.

Plenus rimarum sum, hac atque illac perfluo.

Ter. Eun. act. 1. fc. 2. “ I'm full of chinks, and leak out every way.' It has befall’n me more than once to forget the word I had three hours before given or receiv'd, and to forget where I had hid my purse,

whatever Cicero is pleas’d to say : I help myself to

more.

lose what I have a particular care to lock safe up, • Memoria certe non modo philosophiam, sed omnis vitæ usum, omnesque artes, una maxime continet.'-Cicero. The memory is the receptacle and sheath of all science ;' and therefore mine being so treacherous, if I know little, I cannot much complain ; I know in general the names of the arts, and of what they treat, but nothing

I turn over books, I do not study them ; what I retain I do not know to be anothers, and is only what my judgment has made its advantage of ; discourses and imaginations in which it has been instructed. The author, place, words, and other circumstances, I immediately forget, and am so excellent at forgetting, that I no less forget my own writings and compositions than the rest. I am very often quoted to myself, and am not aware of it ; and whoever should enquire of me where I had the verses and examples that I have here huddled together, would puzzle me to tell him, and yet I have not borrow'd them but from famous and known authors, not satisfying myself that they were rich ; if I moreover had them not from rich and honourable hands, where there is a concurrence of authority as well It is no great wonder if my

book run the same fortune that other books do, and if my memory lose what I have writ as well as what I have read, and what I give, as well as what I receive. Beside the defect of memory, I have others which very much contribute to my ignorance ; I have a slow and heavy wit, the least cloud stops its progress, so that, for example, I

as reason.

a

[ocr errors]

never propos’d to it any never so easie a riddle that it could find out. There is not the least idle subtility, that will not gravel me. In games, where wit is requir'd, as chess, draughts, and the like, I understand no more but the motions of the men, without being capable of anything of design. I have a slow and perplex'd apprehension, but what it once apprehends, it apprehends well, for the time it retains it.(Ibid., pp. 404406.)

170.“ But the objection which is commonest, and which most intimately concerns us here, is, that the knowledge communicated by the subordinate Colleges and verified by this University is worthless, shallow, and superficial. The course of the University of Calcutta is sometimes said to be in fault, and it is alleged, to use a term at once expressive and fashionable, that it encourages 'cramming. Now there are some things in our Calcutta course, of which I do not altogether approve.

But it was settled after long discussion, shortly after I became ViceChancellor, and it would be absurd to be per. petually changing that which of all things ought to be fixed and permanent, on account of small defects which are, after all, disputable. I wish, however, to say something of the whole class of objections implied in that one word 'cramming. If there is anything in them, you know, I suppose, that they have a far wider application than their application to this University. They are constantly urged against the numerous competitive systems which are growing up in Eng

6

a

« AnteriorContinuar »