About the author
Marius D'Assigny (1643–1717), in addition to The Art of Memory (1697) and a handbook on oratorical exercises, Rhetorica Anglorum (1699), his legacy rests on a translation of Gautruche's mythography, Poetical Histories and of Drelincourt's Ars moriendi (going through twenty-seven editions), Christian's Defence against the Fears of Death.
About the text
This volume is an epitome of the chief works previously written on memory. Dedicated ‘to the young students of both universities’, it argues that memory is vital to all manner of professional pursuits. A succinct assessment of the memory arts concludes this nine-chapter user's guide for the appreciation, care, exercise and optimal use of one's memory (see Figure 0.2).
The arts of memory
Much like his compendium of classical myths, Poetical Histories (in its eighth edition by 1701), this text draws together the highlights of earlier authors for the general reader. Although he does not mention his continental sources by name, D'Assigny is indebted to the systems discussed by Romberch and Rosselli, and the last part of the excerpt follows Fulwood, Willis and Herdson quite closely. As a result, this treatise is the most reliable and cogent survey in English of what was deemed useful in the memory arts at the end of the seventeenth century.
Marius D'Assigny, The Art of Memory (London, 1697), G1v–H1v.
The Art of Memory
Artificial memory, says the Philosopher, Est dispositio imaginaria in mente rerum sensibilium, super quas Memoria naturalis reflexa, per eas admonetur ut memoratorum facilius distinctiusque; recordari valeat: It is an imaginary disposition in our mind of sensible things, upon which when our memory reflects, by them it is admonished and assisted to remember more easily and distinctly things that are to be minded. And, as Cicero speaks, Constat ex locis veluti ex cera aut tabella, et imaginibus veluti figuris literarum; that it consists in places and images, etc. Now some prescribe the imagination of a fair and regular building, divided into many rooms and galleries; with differing colors and distinct pillars, which the party must fancy to stand before him as so many repositories where he is to place the things or ideas which he designs to remember, ordering them according to their several circumstances and qualifications, for the better assistance of memory.