Numberwords

IN the year 1648 Stanislaus Mink von Wenusheim wrote a work entitled Relatio Novissima ex Pamasso de Arte Meminiscentiae,1 in the course of which he expounded what he described as "the most fertile secret." This "secret" consisted in substituting letters for numbers and then making words and sentences from the letters.

He appears to have been the first mnemotechnist to employ this plan in Europe, and his method was quickly taken up and improved by the famous G. W. Leibnitz, who also called it a secret—"A secret how numbers, especially those of chronology, etc., can be conveyed to the memory so as never to be forgotten."2

Dr. Richard Grey was the first to expound the idea in English, in his Memoria Technica, published in 1730. It cannot be said that Dr. Grey's number letters were very satisfactory, for it was possible to make from them only uncouth words, whereas for the benefit of mind and memory we require words naming familiar objects or ideas.

In Dr. Grey's system 1 could be represented by either a or b, 2 by either d or e, 3 by either i or t—I need not mention the rest of the equivalents. To remember (to take only one example) that the Inquisition was first erected against the Albigenses in the year 1222, he formed the compound word, "Inquisded"—the first part to represent the Inquisition, and the "ded" to represent the number 222, the thousand being ignored as not being likely to be forgotten.

Gregor von Feinaigle (1812) improved upon that clumsy system by giving number-values only to consonants, and

1 "Parnassus" was the name of a periodical, published at Marburg.

From a MS. in the Library of Hanover.

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