Some very early recollections are connected with fear at Parkfield and with poor Betty Harvey. I remember with horror her story of people being pushed into the canal by the towing rope, by going the wrong side of the horse. I had the greatest horror of this story--keen instinct against death. Some other recollections are those of vanity--namely, thinking that people were admiring me, in one instance for perseverance and another for boldness in climbing a low tree, and what is odder, a consciousness, as if instinctive, that I was vain, and contempt of myself. My supposed admirer was old Peter Haile the bricklayer, and the tree the mountain ash on the lawn. All my recollections seem to be connected most closely with myself; now Catherine (Catherine Darwin) seems to recollect scenes where others were the chief actors. When my mother died I was 8 1/2 years old, and [Catherine] one year less, yet she remembers all particulars and events of each day whilst I scarcely recollect anything (and so with very many other cases) except being sent for, the memory of going into her room, my father meeting me--crying afterwards. I recollect my mother's gown and scarcely anything of her appearance, except one or two walks with her. I have no distinct remembrance of any conversation, and those only of a very trivial nature. I remember her saying "if she did ask me to do something," which I said she had, "it was solely for my good."
Catherine remembers my mother crying, when she heard of my grandmother's death. Also when at Parkfield how Aunt Sarah and Aunt Kitty used to receive her. Susan, like me, only remembers affairs personal. It is sufficiently odd this [difference] in subjects remembered. Catherine says she does not remember the impression made upon her by external things, as scenery, but for things which she reads she has an excellent memory, i.e., for ideas. Now her sympathy being ideal, it is part of her character, and shows how easily her kind of memory was stamped, a vivid thought is repeated, a vivid impression forgotten.
I remember obscurely the illumination after the battle of Waterloo, and the Militia exercising about that period, in the field opposite our house.
At 8 1/2 years old I went to Mr. Case's School. (Chapter I/3. A day- school at Shrewsbury kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of the Unitarian Chapel ("Life and Letters," Volume I., page 27 et seq.)) I remember how very much I was afraid of meeting the dogs in Barker Street, and how at school I could not get up my courage to fight. I was very timid by nature. I remember I took great delight at school in fishing for newts in the quarry pool. I had thus young formed a strong taste for collecting, chiefly seals, franks, etc., but also pebbles and minerals--one which was given me by some boy decided this taste. I believe shortly after this, or before, I had smattered in botany, and certainly when at Mr. Case's School I was very fond of gardening, and invented some great falsehoods about being able to colour crocuses as I liked. (Chapter I./4. The story is given in the "Life and Letters," I., page 28, the details being slightly different.) At this time I felt very strong friendship for some boys. It was soon after I began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in front of the hall door--it was my earliest and only geological aspiration at that time. I was in those days a very great story-teller--for the pure pleasure of exciting attention and surprise. I stole fruit and hid it for these same motives, and injured trees by barking them for similar ends. I scarcely ever went out walking without saying I had seen a pheasant or some strange bird (natural history taste); these lies, when not detected, I presume, excited my attention, as I recollect them vividly, not connected with shame, though some I do, but as something which by having produced a great effect on my mind, gave pleasure like a tragedy.