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In issuing a publication, a writer must consult the wants of the book-buying public, as much as the state of the Art on which he writes. No author has a right to publish a book that he in his enthusiasm may think is in advance of the age, and then complain if he is not patronized. If a writer chooses to publish on any subject, he does so at his own risk, and by the decision of the public he must abide. I never had much respect for those beseeching, craving-your-attention sort of scribblers, who state very blandly in their Prefaces, that they have spent so much time, and so much money, in writing a book, all for the entertainment of the dear public, and consequently they consider that public under obligations to patronize them. Book-making is a kind of mercantile transaction. If a work has merit, the public will most undoubtedly find it out, and buy it, because they believe it to be worth the money it costs. If a publication fail of success, then it is, to a great extent, destitute of merit, or the author has not consulted the wants of the public. In either case he has no right to complain of neglect. This appears to be an author's position before the public.
This work is on the subject of Mnemotechny, or the Art of aiding and improving the Memory. If the book is unworthy of attention, it is owing to one of the following rear sons, viz. : the subject is not worthy of a publication, or 1 have not done the subject justice. There is considerable prejudice against what is termed “ Artificial Memory." Writers and critics seem to think that Mormotechnic authors wish to make an Artificial Memory, independent of the natu. ral memory. The idea seems to me most preposterous. My aim has been to aid and assist the mind in acquiring knowledge, and to improve and strengthen the natural memory. Mnemotechny, rightly considered, comprises all those aids to the natural mind that go by the name of association, combination and comparison. When a person wishes to remember a name that is difficult to retain in the mind, he naturally seeks some fanciful association or other, perhaps compares the name to something that sounds like it, and thus will recall it when required. This is Mnemotechny; though it is only the commencement of the beginning. Let us draw a comparison. We meet two persons, one who understands Mnemotechny, as it is treated in the following pages, and the other unacquainted with the Art. We give the latter a hundred names of persons, places or things, and request him to commit them to memory in the order they are written. Or we give him as many Astronomical facts, Latitudes and Longitudes of places, or Events from History, with their dates. He sets himself to work, and by several hours' hard labor he conquers the task, and a task it has been to him. The former takes the same lesson, and in one fifth part of the time, to say the least, he fixes it permanently in his mind. Is not this of some utility ? Is it not more? Is it not a pleasure? Some writer-C. C. Colton, I believe-says, “HE WHO SHORTENS THE ROAD TO KNOWLEDGE, LENGTHENS LIFE.” He certainly lengthens our enjoyment of it, which amounts to the same thing. Now, the object of EDUCATION is two-fold. The mind must be disciplined so that it can originate, create, and act according to circumstances; and, a certain amount of knowledge must be laid up; the MEMORY must be stored with the treasures of His. tory, of Science and Literature, as a material for thought and mental action. I am not such an enthusiast on the sub. ject of Mnemotechny, as to believe that every thing in education depends on the Memory. A person possessing a good memory alone, can not be well educated. On the other hand, unless the Memory is disciplined, and fed with knowledge, no person can be educated at all.
The ground that I have taken in this publication, is, in the main, original. The rules and formulas are all original, though the figure-alphabet `is the same as that used by some other writers.
Many seem to think that Mnemotechny is only applicable to Dates of History. It might as well be said that mathematics is only useful in computing the interest of money. Mnemotechny is a great help in Historical studies. It is certainly just as applicable to a large number of other subjects. It is useful, more or less, in retaining the prominent ideas in reading, and in committing to memory, Prose, Poetry and Languages, though these are not the most prominent fields of Mnemotechny.
The following pages have been compiled and written, to assist those who are “seekers after knowledge.” One large edition has been sold, and the demand is constantly increasing. The additions and improvements in the present edition, have been so material as to make it appear like a different work, and the publication is made under the confident expectation that it will meet the approbation of the candid and judicious.
New York, January 8. 1848.
This work is commended to your kind attention. Mnemotechny is no longer an experiment. It has taken a stand among the Arts and Sciences. The first edition of this book has been successfully introduced, and used as a text-book, in a large number of Seminaries of learning. It has been seen that those Professors and Teachers who have introduced Mnemotechny as an aid to the scholar in different branches of study, have been most successful in cultivating the youthful mind. A large number of subjects that are taught to the young, can be learned in one fourth the time by Mnemotechny, that they can by the usual methods of study. At examinations and exhibitions in schools, parents and guardians readily see the advantages that youth derive from the study of this Art. It makes the student a more ready and correct thinker, and calls his attention to subjects that he would not otherwise learn. It relieves the Instructor of a large amount of labor, in endeavoring to instill into the mind of the scholar some of the most difficult branches taught in our Institutions of learning, and gives an agreeable variety to the daily scholastic exercises.
Teachers, without the aid of a course of lectures on the subject, can readily qualify themselves for instructing scholars in Mnemotechny, by an examination of the following pages. By putting the volume into the hands of scholars as a text-book, and requiring them to get a lesson in it daily, it will be learned through in a single session, and qualify them for applying the Art to many subjects not found here. The Instructor will thus become perfectly familiar with the Art without being obliged to devote a day's study to the subject. The first tables in the book will be found the easiest to learn at the commencement of the study, though it is expected that Teachers will consult their own convenience in having the subjects learned in the order they are laid down, or