"'Tis a pity that so much we learn we lose."
In determining how much a man really knows, his memory is the supreme test. It is the utility test, because no knowledge is useful, no learning has any practical applied value unless it can be remembered. It represents available knowledge. It is cash on hand. It is a dependable asset in the present for every-day needs and at the same time gilt-edge collateral security for the future —an ability which can be cashed in the open markets of the world at one hundred cents on the dollar, any time, anywhere. The difference between a trained memory and an untrained memory is just the difference between a mind equipped with a filing cabinet and a mind equipped with a waste-paper basket; both may contain the same amount of information, but you can find it in the filing cabinet when you need it. You are no stronger mentally than your memory.
An old saying comes to mind: " It is not what you eat, but what you digest, that makes you strong. It is not what you earn but what you save that makes you rich—it is not what you 'learn, but what you remember, that makes you wise." The things a man has forgotten are of no present value to him. His net, quick assets are the things he remembers, and can recollect at will.
A good joke was played on an old official of the English foreign office when he retired from the service. His colleagues, who had a sense of humor placed a card in the shape of a funeral tablet upon the mantelpiece of his old room, bearing these words:
"In memory of X—who departed this official life on the 30th of March, 1873. Scrupulous in the avoidance of every duty, he gracefully escaped the obligations of this transitory life. Regarding virtue as a thing beyond price, he was careful not to degrade it by practice. His mind was a storehouse of knowledge, of which he had lost the key. Pax Nobis."
The English official is not the only one who has lost that key—the magic key that we call memory. Unfortunately, many lose it before they retire from service.