Open main menu

Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/145

This page needs to be proofread.

his mind with subtile speculations ; or if he, whose task is to reap and thresh, will not be contented without examining the evolution of the seed, and circulation of the sap, the writers whom either shall consult are very little to be blamed, though it should sometimes happen that they are read in vain.

��MEN complain of nothing more frequently than of deficient memory ; and, indeed, every one finds that many of the ideas which he desired to retain have slipped irretrievably away ; that the acquisitions of the mind are sometimes equally fugitive with the gifts of fortune; and that a short intermission of at- tention more certainly lessens knowledge than impairs an estate.

To assist this weakness of our nature, many methods have been proposed, all of which may be justly suspected of being ineffectual ; for no art of memory, however its effects have been boasted or admired, has been ever adopted into general use, nor have those who possessed it appeared to excel others in readi- ness of recollection or multiplicity of attain- ments.

There is another art of which all have felt the want, though Themistocles only confessed

�� �