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The motion to reconsider was carried. Mr. Cooper, of Humboldt, offered the following substitute to the resolution last named:
Resolved, That School Trustees and Boards of Education, should have discretionary power to limit the age at which children shall be entitled to admission into the Public Schools under their charge to the period between six and twenty-one years ; provided, that nothing herein recommended is intended to change the basis on which State and County School Moneys are distributed.
After debate, the whole subject was indefinitely postponed.
Mr. Haskins, of Yuba, moved to reconsider the vote by which the Convention substituted “six to twenty-one years,” for “four to eighteen years,” in the resolution originally offered by bim providing for the basis on which the School Fund belonging to a district should be distributed, in case of the division of a district during a school year.
The vote was reconsidered, the amendment rejected, and the resolution, as originally offered, adopted.
Dr. Collins, of San Joaquin, proposed the following: Resolved, That the whole subject of the selection of Text-Books, together with the reports of sub-committees, be referred to a committee appointed by the President, consisting of one from each county, who shall report to a subsequent Convention, or to the State Board of Education, to be embodied in their next report to the Legislature.
Pending the discussion on the above resolution, a motion to adjourn was made.
SIXTH DA Y.
SATURDAY, June 1, 1861. The Institute was called to order at ten, A. M.
The President introduced the first Instructor of the day, Mr. Theodore Bradley, of Solano, who delivered an able and instructive address upon “ The End of Grammatical Study and the Proper Means to that End.”
After the conclusion of Mr. Bradley's address, the President introduced the second Instructor of the day, Mr. George W. Bunnell, of San Francisco, who delivered an
Address upon the Art of Memory. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN :-For the liberty I take in thus trespassing upon your time and attention, I can only find an excuse in the reflection that perhaps I may present to you in a new light a subject, “The Art of Memory,” which cannot but be of engrossing interest to every Teacher. For what, among the many and laborious tasks of the Teacher, is more irksome than the perpetual repetition and drill to which every pupil must be faithfully subjected before he can be sent forth from the many stamps of the mint of education, a bright and perfect coin, with every fact projecting sharp and salient from the tablet of the memory? And what obstructions are more insurmountable in the ever-ascending path of knowledge than those bristling files of dates and figures-terrible to the heart of every school boy-with which many a study besides that of history is encumbered? How very few persons can be found who have, as the saying is, the power, or faculty, of recollecting figures, every one within the sound of my voice is aware.
As a test of this fact, though one is scarcely needed, I will call upon any one present to rise, who is confident of the ability to give, for instance, the latitudes and longitudes of any twenty of the principal cities of the world. The one proposing to do this to have the privilege of choosing any cities he pleases.
Again, should I call upon you to give the year of the death and the age of each of as many illustrious men of the past, whose names are as shining lights and imperishable monuments along the vista of by-gone years; and should I add the one hundred and fifty dates which form a skeleton of ancient profane history; the one hundred and fifty-six figures indicating the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of the circle; the greatest elevations of the globe; the most important comparative velocities; a selection of the specific gravities of, say a hundred substances; the population of the most important cities of the world; an entire summary of a census of the United States; the numbers attached to the sixty-four squares of the chess-board, which the Knight will touch upon, as contained in the celebrated problem of Euler—which numbers, I venture to say, the mathematician himself could not for the life of him remember, although his feats of memory were prodigious and incredible; a selection of the most important, scientific, artistic, and other facts; the names of the monarchs of England from the earliest times-in all fiftysix-calling upon you to give the order of each, counting from the beginning of the first dynasty; the date of his accession to the throne, and the number of years of his reign; tables of the constellations, comprising the number of stars in each ; of the decrease of the degrees of longitude, and of temperature according to the altitude; and, leaping from things mundane to the starry heavens, should I, in all seriousness, request you to give the mean distances of the planets from the sun, their diameters, volumes, degrees of light and heat; the diameters of, and their inclinations to, their orbits; years required to go to each, annual revolutions, velocities, surface in square miles, possible population, and other innumerable facts in regard to them, which I might mention, almost ad libitum—should I, I repeat, call upon you to answer these questions without explaining myself, and on your refusal, perhaps, tell you that it is in the power of each and all of you to master a system, and that too, with but little labor, that would enable you to carry all this mass of information, and much more, with you to the grave, I am afraid I should be laughed at-perhaps pitied, for my apparent folly. But, ladies and gentlemen, I assure you this is all within your reach.
The system by which these wonders may be accomplished was invented by a French Astronomer and scholar, by name Frances Fauvel Gouraud. What, perhaps, more than any thing, induced him to attempt the perfection of a system of artificial memory, was his own constitutional inability to recollect dates, or figures. Indeed, he says of himself, that his memory of figures was so defective that he had never been able, when a boy at school, to remember even the date of his own birth, an epoch a hundred times learned by him and as often forgotten. This we may well credit, though extraordinary-setting aside the corroborative fact that many instances of this kind have been observed—when we recollect that many are able to remember facts and words with ease who are totally powerless to permanently store up in the mind dates and figures. The system was only carried out to its
present extent, after years of study and experiment. He took for his basis the system of Aimé Paris, who founded his work upon the system of Feinaigle, who had for his predecessor the learned theologian, Dr. Grey, Rector of Hinton, in Northamptonshire, England. And, to go yet further back into the misty past, Cicero, in his “De Oratore," and Quintilian, give the honor of the first invention for assisting the memory to Simonides, a lyric poet of Cos, who flourished about the sixty-first Olympiad, and whose death is dated at the year 467 B. C.
It may not be uninteresting to briefly glance at a list of some of those notables, who are said to have possessed great powers of memory. The first authenticated specimen of prodigious power of memory may be observed in the case of good father Adam, as we learn from Genesis, chap. II, verses 19th and 20th, as follows:
“And the Lord God, having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them,” etc. “And Adam called all the beasts by their names, and all the fowls of the air, and all the cattle of the field,” etc.
Without considering how Adam obtained a knowledge of those names, we must admit that his memory must have been titanic indeed, to have gone through the whole catalogue of appellations, and not created irremediable confusion. Pliny says that Cyrus knew by heart the names of all the officers and soldiers of his armies—and they were not a mere handful.
The Emperor Otho is related to have owed, in a great measure, his accession to the Empire of the world to his great power of retaining names. He had learned the names of all the soldiers of his army when he was their companion as a simple officer, and he used to call every one by his proper name. The soldiery, flattered at what they considered a mark of sympathy from Otho, persuaded themselves that if ever elevated to the supreme power, such an Emperor could not forget in the distribution of his imperial favors any one of those whose names he remembered so well. In consequence of this seemingly wise reflection, as soon as Otho raised the standard of rebellion against Galba, they all declared in his favor, and opened to him the path of universal sovereignty, by helping him to overthrow his competitor for the throne. But it appears that Otho had not a memory very tenacious, for we learn that three months afterwards his soldiers perceiving, doubtless, that he was beginning to forget them, abandoned him to his fate—when Vitellius, in his turn, attempted to tear from his grasp that scepter which uinety-five days before he had himself snatched from the hand of Galba.
But if memory gained a throne for Otho, however short his reign may have been, this single example would be sufficient to prove-a thing certainly unnecessary betore an audience of Teachers that a good memory is not a thing to be disdained, and that we ought not to neglect any opportunity that may present itself to strengthen, improve, and enrich, this precious intellectual faculty in which such a number of people are deficient. Would the time permit, I could mention perhaps fifty individuals who have been spoken of in history as the possessors of remarkable memories. Among them are those who were distinguished by a power of remembering isolated words; some, languages; others, who had niemories for calculation, as Wallis, Buxton, Colburn, and Euler; others, prose, as Portius Latro, the orator Hortensius, the Emperor Adrian, Justus Lepsius, Bourbon, and many more.
How insignificant is the number representing those whom we know to have been possessed of remarkable memories, when compared with that which denotes the millions of human beings that have lived and died since the world began.
I have had prepared a manuscript containing the problem of the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of the circle, carried out to one hundred and fifty-four places of decimals; a table of one hundred and forty-four historical dates ; a selection of some of the greatest elevations of the globe; the latitudes and longitudes of seventy-two of the principal cities ; a selection of comparative velocities; the deaths and ages of great men; and a selection of the dates of scientific and other important discoveries. If it is agreeable to you, I will put this selection into the hands of a committee of ten, and request them to propound to me any questions contained therein, in any order they, or you, may wish, that I may practically illustrate to you in a very small degree-owing to the short time which has elapsed since I first became acquainted with the method—the power of the system which has enabled me by about twelve hours of study, at intervals during the last three weeks, to fix in my memory the figures above referred to.
A committee of ten having been appointed by the chair, ques. tions, taken at random from the mass of facts above mentioned, were propounded to the lecturer, who answered them instantaneously, without making a single error. The audience having been fully satisfied of the speaker's ability to give any date, or figures, contained in the list in the hands of the committee, he proceeded to briefly explain the fundamental principles of the system as follows:
I must preface my explanation of the principles of the art of memory by reminding you that I can, in the limited time allotted me, do no more than give a mere outline of the basis of the system. Nor can I hope, therefore, to make all present perfect adepts in the science; but merely to give you as strong proof of its extreme simplicity as that I have presented of its power. The consonant sounds of the language are made by an ingenious classification to represent the ten Arabic characters of the decimal notation. In this way we are enabled to represent figures by words, which connected, as I shall presently illustrate, with the events of which the dates are to be memorised, are ten thousand times more easily remembered than the figures themselves, and which remain daguerreotyped upon the memory with wonderful permanency.
The connection between the sounds and the letters is shown in the following table:
SA TA N MAY R E L ISH COFFEE-PIE.
X-K, S, (7,0,) or K, Sh, (7,6,) A, E, I, O, U, and W, H, Y, have no numerical value.
The only thing necessary to be learned, in order to commence the application of the system, is the above table, so philosophical in its arrangement, that, once learned, it can never be forgotten. One should acquire, as an initial step, the faculty of reading the sounds as figures, and vice versa.
Let us now consider the method of adapting the system to the memorization of dates. For an example, I will take the date of the invention of letters by the Egyptian Memnon, which is said to have occurred in the year 1821, B. C.
First-We select the most appropriate word containing the consonant sounds required to stand for the figures of the date. Among others we find the words divine idea [containing the consonants D (1), V (8), N (2), D (1).]
Secondly,The mnemotechnic words are to be connected with the event; thus, the Invention of Letters by the Egyptian Memnon, may justly be considered a “Divine Idea.”
* And c hard, before a, o, u, as in cap, cup, cot; also, ch hard, as in charaeter.
For the date of the passage of the Red Sea we may adopt the formula: At the passage of the Red Sea the armies of Pharaoh met their death in a “Watery Bed.” [T (1), R (4), B (9) D (1).]
Time will not allow me to give more of these examples, many of which (as Gouraud justly remarks) seem to indicate that the figures have been adapted to the words, not the words to the dates.
I have been able to give but a very cursory illustration of the principles which underlie this science (for it may be called such), yet you must all agree as to its simplicity.
I now propose to ask your attention a short time longer, that I may state how this system of mnemotechny, or art of memory, may be adapted to the use of the children in our schools. It is plain that it would be an easy task for children, with minds sufficiently matured to pursue with success the study of grammar, to acquire, from the black-board, in progressive lessons, a thorough knowledge of the simple principles upon which the whole system depends. After these have been fully learned, the formula, composed by the Teacher for the dates of the history they may use, should be dictated to them, and the connection between the event and the mnemotechnic word carefully explained, for it is necessary that this connection should be perfectly comprehended by the learner, so that when the date is called for, the essential word may instantaneously occur to the mind. What I mean by "explaining the connection," I will illustrate. Troy, as Virgil tells us, was destroyed by a sacking conflagration. The houses were chiefly of wood, and the destroying flames undoubtedly very hot. So that we can safely say that, the destruction of Troy was completed by the raging flames of a
Hot Wood Fire.
1 1 8 4 This last phrase, as you will see by referring to the table, would represent, upon its analysis, T, D, F, R, 1184; and certainly it will be difficult for you to think of Troy without thinking also of these mnemotechnic words.
It may be readily perceived that the study of historical dates by this method, instead of being a hateful task to the student, will become a delightful amusement and a pleasing interruption of the monotony of school labor.
It was Gouraud's intention to publish a volume containing the dates of United States history arranged according to his plan ; but I believe his death prevented the accomplishment of his purpose. It would then be necessary for the Teacher to compose the formula, and give them to the class to be copied and learned.
M. Gouraud, by an extension of the principles which I have partly explained, has brought it within the reach of every Astronomer to carry in his mind a complete vocabulary of his science, containing facts that, before the advent of Gouraud, the wildest imagination would not have conceived the idea of memorizing; within the reach of every student to have always with him a full encyclopedia of the dates of facts which he has learned, and which, were it not for the dates, would be a confused sea of mixed information, upbearing upon its turbulent surface a few figures, like rari nantes in gurgite vasto, uncertain of their existence, and liable at any moment to sink for ever into the abyss beneath them; within the reach of every Schoolmaster, beleaguered by a regiment of rigid examiners, to overwhelm the attacking parties with stubborn files of unbending figures; and last, but not least, within the reach of every poor boy, with even a limited amount of brains, who cannot, perhaps, attend school long after he is tall enough to pass goods over a counter, to put to shame many a person of greater intellectual pretensions, who acquired his historical knowledge by hum-drum and mechanical repetition.
This great genius who has killed, by one brilliant effort of his intellect, that monstrum, horrendum, ingens, informe, of the student of history, or the statistician-figures and dates-well deserves to be ranked as one of the great educational minds of the age. In this era of Free Schools and Free Libraries, which bring a good education within the reach of every one, when the man who can discover any better method