When I was four years and a half old I went to the sea, and stayed there some weeks. I remember many things, but with the exception of the maidservants (and these are not individualised) I recollect none of my family who were there. I remember either myself or Catherine being naughty, and being shut up in a room and trying to break the windows. I have an obscure picture of a house before my eyes, and of a neighbouring small shop, where the owner gave me one fig, but which to my great joy turned out to be two: this fig was given me that the man might kiss the maidservant. I remember a common walk to a kind of well, on the road to which was a cottage shaded with damascene (Chapter I./2. Damson is derived from Damascene; the fruit was formerly known as a "Damask Prune.") trees, inhabited by an old man, called a hermit, with white hair, who used to give us damascenes. I know not whether the damascenes, or the reverence and indistinct fear for this old man produced the greatest effect on my memory. I remember when going there crossing in the carriage a broad ford, and fear and astonishment of white foaming water has made a vivid impression. I think memory of events commences abruptly; that is, I remember these earliest things quite as clearly as others very much later in life, which were equally impressed on me. 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.
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