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Lindsay Gordon Lucas

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By HALLAM HAWKSWORTH

CHAPTER II IN THE WONDERLANDS OF MEMORY

PARDON me, but may I ask you a question? Which shoe did you put on first this morning —the right or the left? You can’t remember. I thought not. And now what will you say if I tell you that I know which shoe you put on first this morning? It was the same shoe you put on first the day before, and the day before that, and for many days previous; the same shoe you have been putting on first for a year or years, probably. The reason I feel so sure about it is that we all fall into the habit of doing these every-day things in a certain way—a certain 1, 2, 3, order; so much so, that if you change your waistcoat, in dressing for a party, for example, it's ten to one you’ll wind your watch, particularly if your mind is occupied with the good time you expect to have. And these two common little incidents of our daily lives are as good examples as you could want of two of the most striking things about these memories of ours: the fact that we 've all of us a great many more brains than we carry in our heads, and that these little brains know one of the greatest laws of mind and memory—the Law of Association, the law that helps us catch our trains of thought, the locals, the slow freights, and the “Twentieth Century Limiteds.” About all this, and some secrets of the memories and memory systems of great men, this and the following chapter will tell. We'll also find out why it is that Father can carry in his head cost prices, selling prices, amount of stock on hand, what each of his men on the road is doing, all the hundreds of details of his business that he cares to remember. (And yet did n’t he fail to mail Mother's letter to the dressmaker about that new party-gown of yours this very morning?)

I. STORING THE BRAIN's TREASURE-HOUSES

THE great philosopher Kant calls memory the most wonderful of all the faculties. “It is,” says another famous philosopher of the mind, John Locke, “the storehouse of our ideas; for the narrow mind of man not being capable of having many ideas under view

and in contemplation at once, it was necessary to have a repository to lay up those ideas which at another time it might make use of.” It would be impossible to imagine yourself building a brick house without a certain number of bricks, would n’t it? And if it was to be much of a house, you ’d have to have a big lot of bricks—thousands of them. Or if you were a sculptor and wanted to carve a statue, you’d not only have to have marble, but a mind-picture of what the statue was going to look like, or at least what you wanted it to look like when you got it done. ‘For such things, and all the wonderful creations of the human mind since the world began, the memory-chambers of the brain have not only furnished the material, but, to a considerable extent, the plans. Shakspere's borrowing of plots and working them over is only an example of how great men work in all lines. “The greatest creators,” says Emerson, “are the greatest borrowers.” Yet great as is the importance of the memory in the operations of the mind, this importance may be exaggerated. School education used to consist largely in memorizing what books said about things and what other people thought about them, instead of training the pupil to do some thinking of his own. As a result, it often happened that mere words were memorized that had little or no meaning to the boy and girl who recited them to the teacher and so got the marks and passed on to higher classes, where they did the same thing over again. But we 'll see that it is n’t these mere memorizers who afterward made marks in the big world outside the school. Darwin, for example, said of his memory: My memory is extensive, yet hazy. It suffices to make me cautious by telling me that I have observed or read something opposed to the conclusion which I am drawing, or, on the other hand, in favor of it; and after a time I can generally recollect where to search for my author. So poor, in one sense, is my memory, that I have never

been able to remember, for more than a few days, a single date or line of poetry.

And yet nothing in the whole history of science, of men's views of the world of nature, ever produced so profound a change as Darwin's book “The Origin of Species”—his announcement of the law of evolution, sup

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