This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers. Paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading.
Despite the strong vein of sentiment, or even sentimentality, running through this article, Samuel is broadly aware of developments in the understanding of the role of the brain. His objective is sentimental and his measured rhythm and rhetoric are reminiscent of the nineteenth-century pulpit, but some of his usage is relatively up-to-date. For example, memory of past love is not stored in the heart, and this is significant in an age when mental processes have relatively recently been located in the brain. We need not criticise him for not telling us where he locates the 'mnemonic storehouse', but welcome the modern, almost scientific language in which he recognises a 'process of mental storage', and a process of recall, to describe which he uses something approaching technological imagery: 'the scenes and actions of departed years have passed in dioramic order through the cells of memory'. He soon, however, lets sentimentality rule again, and cannot save himself from manifest falsehood: 'Memory is a convenient faculty, and does not, as a rule, hamper itself with the unpleasant past.'
The passage 'Yes, it the brightness is … are smiled at on the morrow' is placed in quotation marks, and may or may not be a quotation. —— David Skilton
emory, broadly speaking, is a marvellous mystery of nature, and not even the cleverest scientists are able, definitely, to say of what it really consists. That we have what is called memory we all know: that there are many people who can remember well, while others remember badly we are also aware, but what is the actual process of mental storage has never yet been accurately propounded.
Wonderful feats of memory are on record, and it is told of some men that they could read a whole column of a London daily paper through once, and then repeat it correctly. I have never yet come across such a man, and in spite of the belief of other people I decline to accept the feat as a fact. Actors frequently are compelled to study their parts very rapidly, but I never yet met one who would undertake to 'collar' a column of newspaper type at one reading. I have had some considerable experience of mnemonics and my own opinion is that the memory can be trained and by practice improved, but I should doubt it going so far as to perform such a feat.
Of aids to memory there are [sic] no end, but I do not think them of much value, as I imagine all they teach could be acquired by constant use of the memory. Those aids are mostly diagrammatic and require the student to think of one thing for the purpose of remembering another. It is told of a professor of the art of mnemonics, that after he had lectured on the advantages of his system, and proved that once you learned it you could not forget anything, he had to send a small boy to the lecture hall after he departed to say that he had forgotten his umbrella. Verb Sap. [word to the wise]
A form of memory that is at least annoying is the 'convenient' memory. Its possessor has a happy, or unhappy, knack of forgetting things he desires to ignore. It is no use telling him how to improve his memory, he will conveniently forget what you tell him, and when you lend him an umbrella on a wet night, you may be certain that if it rains the following day he will forget to return it. In youth there is no phrase more familiar to the ears than 'Oh, I forgot.' It is a curious phrase, and may be generally traced to two causes, the first of which is a desire not to do a particular action, and the second an absolute lapse of memory. In either case the consequences are usually unpleasant for all parties concerned. It is a common cry that husbands are lacking in mnemonic power in reference to domestic commissions, and 'Oh, I forgot all about it' is a common sentence, in the castle of domesticity.
Without memory a large percentage of life would be a blank, and much happiness would be lost to thinking men and women. To forget sometimes is a negative pleasure, to remember is often a perfect Elysium of silent joy. Memory is a convenient faculty, and does not, as a rule, hamper itself with the unpleasant past, but only gathers into its fold those things which have been part and parcel of the happiest periods of departed time. 'Yes, it the brightness [is] not the darkness, that we see when we look back. The sunshine casts no shadows on the past. The road that we have traversed stretches very far behind us. We do not see the sharp stones. We dwell but on the roses by the wayside, and strong briars that stung us are, to our distant eyes, but gentle tendrils waving in the wind. God be thanked that it is so — that the ever-lengthening chain of memory has only pleasant links, and that the bitterness and sorrow of to-day are smiled at on the morrow.'
Who is there that has not at some period of life enjoyed the luxury of an hour with memory, when childhood and youth have come back with all the reality of their pre-existence, and when the scenes and actions of departed years have passed in dioramic order through the cells of memory. Every pleasure of the past has its secret hiding-place in the mnemonic storehouse, whence it creeps slily out at unexpected minutes to remind, us of its presence, and to bid us remember, perchance when life seems sad, that we have tasted its sweets as well as its bitters.
To some people the saddest memories are a pleasure, for even if thoughts of departed loved ones are tinged with grief, they are ever surrounded by the remembrances of the happiness we shared with them ere the old reaper gathered them into his fold and rowed them solemnly across the silent river. This is why God's Acre is tended with such care, and why the last resting places of the departed dear ones are strewn with the floral emblems of purity and love.
Ballroom memories. p>
Youth is full of sentimental memories, and even the jilted maidens store up in the book and volume of their brains memories of the honied words so fondly spoken by their deceitful lovers.
True-hearted lovers live largely on the delights of memory. What girl who has been wooed has not a well-filled treasure-house of memories? Each word, each action during the happy days of love-making are religiously preserved, and when circumstances prevent the usual evening meeting memory comes to the rescue, and the lovers Iive over their last meeting; and, aided by the spur of memory, weave fond thoughts of love within their minds, which help to strengthen their affection and bring them solace for the disappointment resulting from their being temporarily parted.
Even the old folks are tinged with the fever of love memories, and many a tale of departed pleasure is recounted by Darby and Joan as they sit round the fire in the autumn of life, and dream of the days that will never return.
Links to Related Material
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Last modified 20 April 2022