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Life and Letters. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
(1887)

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Life and Letters. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin Life and Letters. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
CHILDHOOD.CHILDHOOD.
My father's autobiographical recollections, given in the present chapter, were written for his children,—and written without any thought that they would ever be published. To many this may seem an impossibility; but those who knew my father will understand how it was not only possible, but natural. The autobiography bears the heading, 'Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character,' and end with the following note:—"Aug. 3, 1876. This sketch of my life was begun about May 28th at Hopedene (Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey.), and since then I have written for nearly an hour on most afternoons." It will easily be understood that, in a narrative of a personal and intimate kind written for his wife and children, passages should occur which must here be omitted; and I have not thought it necessary to indicate where such omissions are made. It has been found necessary to make a few corrections of obvious verbal slips, but the number of such alterations has been kept down to the minimum.—F.D.

A German Editor having written to me for an account of the development of my mind and character with some sketch of my autobiography, I have thought that the attempt would amuse me, and might possibly interest my children or their children. I know that it would have interested me greatly to have read even so short and dull a sketch of the mind of my grandfather, written by himself, and what he thought and did, and how he worked. I have attempted to write the following account of myself, as if I were a dead man in another world looking back at my own life. Nor have I found this difficult, for life is nearly over with me. I have taken no pains about my style of writing.

I was born at Shrewsbury on February 12th, 1809, and my earliest recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four years old, when we went to near Abergele for sea-bathing, and I recollect some events and places there with some little distinctness.

My mother died in July 1817, when I was a little over eight years old, and it is odd that I can remember hardly anything about her except her death-bed, her black velvet gown, and her curiously constructed work-table. In the spring of this same year I was sent to a day-school in Shrewsbury, where I stayed a year. I have been told that I was much slower in learning than my younger sister

Catherine, and I believe that I was in many ways a naughty boy.

By the time I went to this day-school (Kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of the

Unitarian Chapel in the High Street. Mrs. Darwin was a Unitarian and attended

Mr. Case's chapel, and my father as a little boy went there with his elder sisters.

But both he and his brother were christened and intended to belong to the

Church of England; and after his early boyhood he seems usually to have gone to church and not to Mr. Case's. It appears ("St. James' Gazette", Dec. 15, 1883) that a mural tablet has been erected to his memory in the chapel, which is now known as the 'Free Christian Church.') my taste for natural history, and more especially for collecting, was well developed. I tried to make out the names of plants (Rev. W.A. Leighton, who was a schoolfellow of my father's at Mr. Case's school, remembers his bringing a flower to school and saying that his mother had taught him how by looking at the inside of the blossom the name of the plant could be discovered. Mr. Leighton goes on, "This greatly roused my attention and curiosity, and I enquired of him repeatedly how this could be done?"—but his lesson was naturally enough not transmissible.—F.D.), and collected all sorts of things, shells, seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion for collecting which leads a man to be a systematic naturalist, a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in me, and was clearly innate, as none of my sisters or brother ever had this taste.

One little event during this year has fixed itself very firmly in my mind, and I hope that it has done so from my conscience having been afterwards sorely troubled by it; it is curious as showing that apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of plants! I told another little boy (I believe it was

Leighton, who afterwards became a well-known lichenologist and botanist), that

I could produce variously coloured polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids, which was of course a monstrous fable, and had never been tried by me. I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my father's trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit.

I must have been a very simple little fellow when I first went to the school. A boy of the name of Garnett took me into a cake shop one day, and bought some cakes for which he did not pay, as the shopman trusted him. When we came out I asked him why he did not pay for them, and he instantly answered, "Why, do you not know that my uncle left a great sum of money to the town on condition that every tradesman should give whatever was wanted without payment to any one who wore his old hat and moved it in a particular manner?" and he then showed me how it was moved. He then went into another shop where he was trusted, and asked for some small article, moving his hat in the proper manner, and of course obtained it without payment. When we came out he said, "Now if you like to go by yourself into that cake-shop (how well I remember its exact position) I will lend you my hat, and you can get whatever you like if you move the hat on your head properly." I gladly accepted the generous offer, and went in and asked for some cakes, moved the old hat and was walking out of the shop, when the shopman made a rush at me, so I dropped the cakes and ran for dear life, and was astonished by being greeted with shouts of laughter by my false friend Garnett.

I can say in my own favour that I was as a boy humane, but I owed this entirely to the instruction and example of my sisters. I doubt indeed whether humanity is a natural or innate quality. I was very fond of collecting eggs, but I never took more than a single egg out of a bird's nest, except on one single occasion, when I took all, not for their value, but from a sort of bravado.

I had a strong taste for angling, and would sit for any number of hours on the bank of a river or pond watching the float; when at Maer (The house of his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood.) I was told that I could kill the worms with salt and water, and from that day I never spitted a living worm, though at the expense probably of some loss of success.

Once as a very little boy whilst at the day school, or before that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power; but the beating could not have been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which

I feel sure, as the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.

I remember clearly only one other incident during this year whilst at Mr.

Case's daily school,—namely, the burial of a dragoon soldier; and it is surprising how clearly I can still see the horse with the man's empty boots and carbine suspended to the saddle, and the firing over the grave. This scene deeply stirred whatever poetic fancy there was in me.

In the summer of 1818 I went to Dr. Butler's great school in Shrewsbury, and remained there for seven years still Midsummer 1825, when I was sixteen years old. I boarded at this school, so that I had the great advantage of living the life of a true schoolboy; but as the distance was hardly more than a mile to my home, I very often ran there in the longer intervals between the callings over and before locking up at night. This, I think, was in many ways advantageous to me by keeping up home affections and interests. I remember in the early part of my school life that I often had to run very quickly to be in time, and from being a fleet runner was generally successful; but when in doubt I prayed earnestly to

God to help me, and I well remember that I attributed my success to the prayers and not to my quick running, and marvelled how generally I was aided.

I have heard my father and elder sister say that I had, as a very young boy, a strong taste for long solitary walks; but what I thought about I know not. I often became quite absorbed, and once, whilst returning to school on the summit of the old fortifications round Shrewsbury, which had been converted into a public foot-path with no parapet on one side, I walked off and fell to the ground, but the height was only seven or eight feet. Nevertheless the number of thoughts which passed through my mind during this very short, but sudden and wholly unexpected fall, was astonishing, and seem hardly compatible with what physiologists have, I believe, proved about each thought requiring quite an appreciable amount of time.

Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr.

Butler's school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught, except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank. During my whole life I have been singularly incapable of mastering any language. Especial attention was paid to verse-making, and this I could never do well. I had many friends, and got together a good collection of old verses, which by patching together, sometimes aided by other boys, I could work into any subject. Much attention was paid to learning by heart the lessons of the previous day; this I could effect with great facility, learning forty or fifty lines of Virgil or Homer, whilst I was in morning chapel; but this exercise was utterly useless, for every verse was forgotten in forty-eight hours. I was not idle, and with the exception of versification, generally worked conscientiously at my classics, not using cribs. The sole pleasure I ever received from such studies, was from some of the odes of Horace, which I admired greatly.

When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor low in it; and I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family." But my father, who was the kindest man I ever knew and whose memory I love with all my heart, must have been angry and somewhat unjust when he used such words.

Looking back as well as I can at my character during my school life, the only qualities which at this period promised well for the future, were, that I had strong and diversified tastes, much zeal for whatever interested me, and a keen pleasure in understanding any complex subject or thing. I was taught Euclid by a private tutor, and I distinctly remember the intense satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs gave me. I remember, with equal distinctness, the delight which my uncle gave me (the father of Francis Galton) by explaining the principle of the vernier of a barometer with respect to diversified tastes, independently of science, I was fond of reading various books, and I used to sit for hours reading the historical plays of Shakespeare, generally in an old window in the thick walls of the school. I read also other poetry, such as Thomson's

'Seasons,' and the recently published poems of Byron and Scott. I mention this because later in life I wholly lost, to my great regret, all pleasure from poetry of any kind, including Shakespeare. In connection with pleasure from poetry, I may add that in 1822 a vivid delight in scenery was first awakened in my mind, during a riding tour on the borders of Wales, and this has lasted longer than any other aesthetic pleasure.

Early in my school days a boy had a copy of the 'Wonders of the World,' which I often read, and disputed with other boys about the veracity of some of the statements; and I believe that this book first gave me a wish to travel in remote countries, which was ultimately fulfilled by the voyage of the "Beagle".

In the latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of shooting; I do not believe that any one could have shown more zeal for the most holy cause than I did for shooting birds. How well I remember killing my first snipe, and my excitement was so great that I had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the trembling of my hands. This taste long continued, and I became a very good shot. When at Cambridge I used to practise throwing up my gun to my shoulder before a looking-glass to see that I threw it up straight. Another and better plan was to get a friend to wave about a lighted candle, and then to fire at it with a cap on the nipple, and if the aim was accurate the little puff of air would blow out the candle. The explosion of the cap caused a sharp crack, and I was told that the tutor of the college remarked, "What an extraordinary thing it is, Mr. Darwin seems to spend hours in cracking a horse-whip in his room, for I often hear the crack when I pass under his windows."

I had many friends amongst the schoolboys, whom I loved dearly, and I think that my disposition was then very affectionate.

With respect to science, I continued collecting minerals with much zeal, but quite unscientifically—all that I cared about was a new-named mineral, and I hardly attempted to classify them. I must have observed insects with some little care, for when ten years old (1819) I went for three weeks to Plas Edwards on the sea-coast in Wales, I was very much interested and surprised at seeing a large black and scarlet Hemipterous insect, many moths (Zygaena), and a Cicindela which are not found in Shropshire. I almost made up my mind to begin collecting all the insects which I could find dead, for on consulting my sister I concluded that it was not right to kill insects for the sake of making a collection.

From reading White's 'Selborne,' I took much pleasure in watching the habits of birds, and even made notes on the subject. In my simplicity I remember wondering why every gentleman did not become an ornithologist.

Towards the close of my school life, my brother worked hard at chemistry, and made a fair laboratory with proper apparatus in the tool-house in the garden, and

I was allowed to aid him as a servant in most of his experiments. He made all the gases and many compounds, and I read with great care several books on chemistry, such as Henry and Parkes' 'Chemical Catechism.' The subject interested me greatly, and we often used to go on working till rather late at night.

This was the best part of my education at school, for it showed me practically the meaning of experimental science. The fact that we worked at chemistry somehow got known at school, and as it was an unprecedented fact, I was nicknamed "Gas." I was also once publicly rebuked by the head-master, Dr.

Butler, for thus wasting my time on such useless subjects; and he called me very unjustly a "poco curante," and as I did not understand what he meant, it seemed to me a fearful reproach.

As I was doing no good at school, my father wisely took me away at a rather earlier age than usual, and sent me (Oct. 1825) to Edinburgh University with my brother, where I stayed for two years or sessions. My brother was completing his medical studies, though I do not believe he ever really intended to practise, and I was sent there to commence them. But soon after this period I became convinced from various small circumstances that my father would leave me property enough to subsist on with some comfort, though I never imagined that I should be so rich a man as I am; but my belief was sufficient to check any strenuous efforts to learn medicine.

The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by lectures, and these were intolerably dull, with the exception of those on chemistry by Hope; but to my mind there are no advantages and many disadvantages in lectures compared with reading. Dr. Duncan's lectures on Materia Medica at 8 o'clock on a winter's morning are something fearful to remember. Dr.—— made his lectures on human anatomy as dull as he was himself, and the subject disgusted me. It has proved one of the greatest evils in my life that I was not urged to practise dissection, for I should soon have got over my disgust; and the practice would have been invaluable for all my future work. This has been an irremediable evil, as well as my incapacity to draw. I also attended regularly the clinical wards in the hospital. Some of the cases distressed me a good deal, and I still have vivid pictures before me of some of them; but I was not so foolish as to allow this to lessen my attendance. I cannot understand why this part of my medical course did not interest me in a greater degree; for during the summer before coming to

Edinburgh I began attending some of the poor people, chiefly children and women in Shrewsbury: I wrote down as full an account as I could of the case with all the symptoms, and read them aloud to my father, who suggested further inquiries and advised me what medicines to give, which I made up myself. At one time I had at least a dozen patients, and I felt a keen interest in the work. My father, who was by far the best judge of character whom I ever knew, declared that I should make a successful physician,—meaning by this one who would get many patients. He maintained that the chief element of success was exciting confidence; but what he saw in me which convinced him that I should create confidence I know not. I also attended on two occasions the operating theatre in the hospital at Edinburgh, and saw two very bad operations, one on a child, but I rushed away before they were completed. Nor did I ever attend again, for hardly any inducement would have been strong enough to make me do so; this being long before the blessed days of chloroform. The two cases fairly haunted me for many a long year.

My brother stayed only one year at the University, so that during the second year I was left to my own resources; and this was an advantage, for I became well acquainted with several young men fond of natural science. One of these was Ainsworth, who afterwards published his travels in Assyria; he was a

Wernerian geologist, and knew a little about many subjects. Dr. Coldstream was a very different young man, prim, formal, highly religious, and most kindhearted; he afterwards published some good zoological articles. A third young man was Hardie, who would, I think, have made a good botanist, but died early in India. Lastly, Dr. Grant, my senior by several years, but how I became acquainted with him I cannot remember; he published some first-rate zoological papers, but after coming to London as Professor in University College, he did nothing more in science, a fact which has always been inexplicable to me. I knew him well; he was dry and formal in manner, with much enthusiasm beneath this outer crust. He one day, when we were walking together, burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution. I listened in silent astonishment, and as far as I can judge without any effect on my mind. I had previously read the 'Zoonomia' of my grandfather, in which similar views are maintained, but without producing any effect on me. Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under a different form in my 'Origin of Species.' At this time I admired greatly the 'Zoonomia;' but on reading it a second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much disappointed; the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given.

Drs. Grant and Coldstream attended much to marine Zoology, and I often accompanied the former to collect animals in the tidal pools, which I dissected as well as I could. I also became friends with some of the Newhaven fishermen, and sometimes accompanied them when they trawled for oysters, and thus got many specimens. But from not having had any regular practice in dissection, and from possessing only a wretched microscope, my attempts were very poor.

Nevertheless I made one interesting little discovery, and read, about the beginning of the year 1826, a short paper on the subject before the Plinian

Society. This was that the so-called ova of Flustra had the power of independent movement by means of cilia, and were in fact larvae. In another short paper I showed that the little globular bodies which had been supposed to be the young state of Fucus loreus were the egg-cases of the wormlike Pontobdella muricata.

The Plinian Society was encouraged and, I believe, founded by Professor

Jameson: it consisted of students and met in an underground room in the

University for the sake of reading papers on natural science and discussing them.

I used regularly to attend, and the meetings had a good effect on me in stimulating my zeal and giving me new congenial acquaintances. One evening a poor young man got up, and after stammering for a prodigious length of time, blushing crimson, he at last slowly got out the words, "Mr. President, I have forgotten what I was going to say." The poor fellow looked quite overwhelmed, and all the members were so surprised that no one could think of a word to say to cover his confusion. The papers which were read to our little society were not printed, so that I had not the satisfaction of seeing my paper in print; but I believe Dr. Grant noticed my small discovery in his excellent memoir on Flustra.

I was also a member of the Royal Medical Society, and attended pretty regularly; but as the subjects were exclusively medical, I did not much care about them. Much rubbish was talked there, but there were some good speakers, of whom the best was the present Sir J. Kay-Shuttleworth. Dr. Grant took me occasionally to the meetings of the Wernerian Society, where various papers on natural history were read, discussed, and afterwards published in the

'Transactions.' I heard Audubon deliver there some interesting discourses on the habits of N. American birds, sneering somewhat unjustly at Waterton. By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.

Mr. Leonard Horner also took me once to a meeting of the Royal Society of

Edinburgh, where I saw Sir Walter Scott in the chair as President, and he apologised to the meeting as not feeling fitted for such a position. I looked at him and at the whole scene with some awe and reverence, and I think it was owing to this visit during my youth, and to my having attended the Royal

Medical Society, that I felt the honour of being elected a few years ago an honorary member of both these Societies, more than any other similar honour. If

I had been told at that time that I should one day have been thus honoured, I declare that I should have thought it as ridiculous and improbable, as if I had been told that I should be elected King of England.

During my second year at Edinburgh I attended ——'s lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology, or in any way to study the science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a philosophical treatment of the subject; for an old Mr. Cotton in Shropshire, who knew a good deal about rocks, had pointed out to me two or three years previously a well-known large erratic boulder in the town of Shrewsbury, called the "bell-stone"; he told me that there was no rock of the same kind nearer than

Cumberland or Scotland, and he solemnly assured me that the world would come to an end before any one would be able to explain how this stone came where it now lay. This produced a deep impression on me, and I meditated over this wonderful stone. So that I felt the keenest delight when I first read of the action of icebergs in transporting boulders, and I gloried in the progress of

Geology. Equally striking is the fact that I, though now only sixty-seven years old, heard the Professor, in a field lecture at Salisbury Craigs, discoursing on a trapdyke, with amygdaloidal margins and the strata indurated on each side, with volcanic rocks all around us, say that it was a fissure filled with sediment from above, adding with a sneer that there were men who maintained that it had been injected from beneath in a molten condition. When I think of this lecture, I do not wonder that I determined never to attend to Geology.

From attending ——'s lectures, I became acquainted with the curator of the museum, Mr. Macgillivray, who afterwards published a large and excellent book on the birds of Scotland. I had much interesting natural-history talk with him, and he was very kind to me. He gave me some rare shells, for I at that time collected marine mollusca, but with no great zeal.

My summer vacations during these two years were wholly given up to amusements, though I always had some book in hand, which I read with interest.

During the summer of 1826 I took a long walking tour with two friends with knapsacks on our backs through North wales. We walked thirty miles most days, including one day the ascent of Snowdon. I also went with my sister a riding tour in North Wales, a servant with saddle-bags carrying our clothes. The autumns were devoted to shooting chiefly at Mr. Owen's, at Woodhouse, and at my Uncle

Jos's (Josiah Wedgwood, the son of the founder of the Etruria Works.) at Maer.

My zeal was so great that I used to place my shooting-boots open by my bedside when I went to bed, so as not to lose half a minute in putting them on in the morning; and on one occasion I reached a distant part of the Maer estate, on the

20th of August for black-game shooting, before I could see: I then toiled on with the game-keeper the whole day through thick heath and young Scotch firs.

I kept an exact record of every bird which I shot throughout the whole season.

One day when shooting at Woodhouse with Captain Owen, the eldest son, and

Major Hill, his cousin, afterwards Lord Berwick, both of whom I liked very much, I thought myself shamefully used, for every time after I had fired and thought that I had killed a bird, one of the two acted as if loading his gun, and cried out, "You must not count that bird, for I fired at the same time," and the gamekeeper, perceiving the joke, backed them up. After some hours they told me the joke, but it was no joke to me, for I had shot a large number of birds, but did not know how many, and could not add them to my list, which I used to do by making a knot in a piece of string tied to a button-hole. This my wicked friends had perceived.

How I did enjoy shooting! But I think that I must have been half-consciously ashamed of my zeal, for I tried to persuade myself that shooting was almost an intellectual employment; it required so much skill to judge where to find most game and to hunt the dogs well.

One of my autumnal visits to Maer in 1827 was memorable from meeting there Sir J. Mackintosh, who was the best converser I ever listened to. I heard afterwards with a glow of pride that he had said, "There is something in that young man that interests me." This must have been chiefly due to his perceiving that I listened with much interest to everything which he said, for I was as ignorant as a pig about his subjects of history, politics, and moral philosophy. To hear of praise from an eminent person, though no doubt apt or certain to excite vanity, is, I think, good for a young man, as it helps to keep him in the right course.

My visits to Maer during these two or three succeeding years were quite delightful, independently of the autumnal shooting. Life there was perfectly free; the country was very pleasant for walking or riding; and in the evening there was much very agreeable conversation, not so personal as it generally is in large family parties, together with music. In the summer the whole family used often to sit on the steps of the old portico, with the flower-garden in front, and with the steep wooded bank opposite the house reflected in the lake, with here and there a fish rising or a water-bird paddling about. Nothing has left a more vivid picture on my mind than these evenings at Maer. I was also attached to and greatly revered my Uncle Jos; he was silent and reserved, so as to be a rather awful man; but he sometimes talked openly with me. He was the very type of an upright man, with the clearest judgment. I do not believe that any power on earth could have made him swerve an inch from what he considered the right course. I used to apply to him in my mind the well-known ode of Horace, now forgotten by me, in which the words "nec vultus tyranni, etc.," come in.

(Justum et tenacem propositi virum

Non civium ardor prava jubentium

Non vultus instantis tyranni

Mente quatit solida.)




My father's autobiographical recollections, given in the present chapter, were written for his children,—and written without any thought that they would ever be published. To many this may seem an impossibility; but those who knew my father will understand how it was not only possible, but natural. The autobiography bears the heading, 'Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character,' and end with the following note:—"Aug. 3, 1876. This sketch of my life was begun about May 28th at Hopedene (Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey.), and since then I have written for nearly an hour on most afternoons." It will easily be understood that, in a narrative of a personal and intimate kind written for his wife and children, passages should occur which must here be omitted; and I have not thought it necessary to indicate where such omissions are made. It has been found necessary to make a few corrections of obvious verbal slips, but the number of such alterations has been kept down to the minimum.—F.D.

A German Editor having written to me for an account of the development of my mind and character with some sketch of my autobiography, I have thought that the attempt would amuse me, and might possibly interest my children or their children. I know that it would have interested me greatly to have read even so short and dull a sketch of the mind of my grandfather, written by himself, and what he thought and did, and how he worked. I have attempted to write the following account of myself, as if I were a dead man in another world looking back at my own life. Nor have I found this difficult, for life is nearly over with me. I have taken no pains about my style of writing.

I was born at Shrewsbury on February 12th, 1809, and my earliest recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four years old, when we went to near Abergele for sea-bathing, and I recollect some events and places there with some little distinctness.

My mother died in July 1817, when I was a little over eight years old, and it is odd that I can remember hardly anything about her except her death-bed, her black velvet gown, and her curiously constructed work-table. In the spring of this same year I was sent to a day-school in Shrewsbury, where I stayed a year. I have been told that I was much slower in learning than my younger sister

Catherine, and I believe that I was in many ways a naughty boy.

By the time I went to this day-school (Kept by Rev. G. Case, minister of the

Unitarian Chapel in the High Street. Mrs. Darwin was a Unitarian and attended

Mr. Case's chapel, and my father as a little boy went there with his elder sisters.

But both he and his brother were christened and intended to belong to the

Church of England; and after his early boyhood he seems usually to have gone to church and not to Mr. Case's. It appears ("St. James' Gazette", Dec. 15, 1883) that a mural tablet has been erected to his memory in the chapel, which is now known as the 'Free Christian Church.') my taste for natural history, and more especially for collecting, was well developed. I tried to make out the names of plants (Rev. W.A. Leighton, who was a schoolfellow of my father's at Mr. Case's school, remembers his bringing a flower to school and saying that his mother had taught him how by looking at the inside of the blossom the name of the plant could be discovered. Mr. Leighton goes on, "This greatly roused my attention and curiosity, and I enquired of him repeatedly how this could be done?"—but his lesson was naturally enough not transmissible.—F.D.), and collected all sorts of things, shells, seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion for collecting which leads a man to be a systematic naturalist, a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in me, and was clearly innate, as none of my sisters or brother ever had this taste.

One little event during this year has fixed itself very firmly in my mind, and I hope that it has done so from my conscience having been afterwards sorely troubled by it; it is curious as showing that apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of plants! I told another little boy (I believe it was

Leighton, who afterwards became a well-known lichenologist and botanist), that

I could produce variously coloured polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids, which was of course a monstrous fable, and had never been tried by me. I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my father's trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit.

I must have been a very simple little fellow when I first went to the school. A boy of the name of Garnett took me into a cake shop one day, and bought some cakes for which he did not pay, as the shopman trusted him. When we came out I asked him why he did not pay for them, and he instantly answered, "Why, do you not know that my uncle left a great sum of money to the town on condition that every tradesman should give whatever was wanted without payment to any one who wore his old hat and moved it in a particular manner?" and he then showed me how it was moved. He then went into another shop where he was trusted, and asked for some small article, moving his hat in the proper manner, and of course obtained it without payment. When we came out he said, "Now if you like to go by yourself into that cake-shop (how well I remember its exact position) I will lend you my hat, and you can get whatever you like if you move the hat on your head properly." I gladly accepted the generous offer, and went in and asked for some cakes, moved the old hat and was walking out of the shop, when the shopman made a rush at me, so I dropped the cakes and ran for dear life, and was astonished by being greeted with shouts of laughter by my false friend Garnett.

I can say in my own favour that I was as a boy humane, but I owed this entirely to the instruction and example of my sisters. I doubt indeed whether humanity is a natural or innate quality. I was very fond of collecting eggs, but I never took more than a single egg out of a bird's nest, except on one single occasion, when I took all, not for their value, but from a sort of bravado.

I had a strong taste for angling, and would sit for any number of hours on the bank of a river or pond watching the float; when at Maer (The house of his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood.) I was told that I could kill the worms with salt and water, and from that day I never spitted a living worm, though at the expense probably of some loss of success.

Once as a very little boy whilst at the day school, or before that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power; but the beating could not have been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which

I feel sure, as the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.

I remember clearly only one other incident during this year whilst at Mr.

Case's daily school,—namely, the burial of a dragoon soldier; and it is surprising how clearly I can still see the horse with the man's empty boots and carbine suspended to the saddle, and the firing over the grave. This scene deeply stirred whatever poetic fancy there was in me.

In the summer of 1818 I went to Dr. Butler's great school in Shrewsbury, and remained there for seven years still Midsummer 1825, when I was sixteen years old. I boarded at this school, so that I had the great advantage of living the life of a true schoolboy; but as the distance was hardly more than a mile to my home, I very often ran there in the longer intervals between the callings over and before locking up at night. This, I think, was in many ways advantageous to me by keeping up home affections and interests. I remember in the early part of my school life that I often had to run very quickly to be in time, and from being a fleet runner was generally successful; but when in doubt I prayed earnestly to

God to help me, and I well remember that I attributed my success to the prayers and not to my quick running, and marvelled how generally I was aided.

I have heard my father and elder sister say that I had, as a very young boy, a strong taste for long solitary walks; but what I thought about I know not. I often became quite absorbed, and once, whilst returning to school on the summit of the old fortifications round Shrewsbury, which had been converted into a public foot-path with no parapet on one side, I walked off and fell to the ground, but the height was only seven or eight feet. Nevertheless the number of thoughts which passed through my mind during this very short, but sudden and wholly unexpected fall, was astonishing, and seem hardly compatible with what physiologists have, I believe, proved about each thought requiring quite an appreciable amount of time.

Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr.

Butler's school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught, except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank. During my whole life I have been singularly incapable of mastering any language. Especial attention was paid to verse-making, and this I could never do well. I had many friends, and got together a good collection of old verses, which by patching together, sometimes aided by other boys, I could work into any subject. Much attention was paid to learning by heart the lessons of the previous day; this I could effect with great facility, learning forty or fifty lines of Virgil or Homer, whilst I was in morning chapel; but this exercise was utterly useless, for every verse was forgotten in forty-eight hours. I was not idle, and with the exception of versification, generally worked conscientiously at my classics, not using cribs. The sole pleasure I ever received from such studies, was from some of the odes of Horace, which I admired greatly.

When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor low in it; and I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once said to me, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family." But my father, who was the kindest man I ever knew and whose memory I love with all my heart, must have been angry and somewhat unjust when he used such words.

Looking back as well as I can at my character during my school life, the only qualities which at this period promised well for the future, were, that I had strong and diversified tastes, much zeal for whatever interested me, and a keen pleasure in understanding any complex subject or thing. I was taught Euclid by a private tutor, and I distinctly remember the intense satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs gave me. I remember, with equal distinctness, the delight which my uncle gave me (the father of Francis Galton) by explaining the principle of the vernier of a barometer with respect to diversified tastes, independently of science, I was fond of reading various books, and I used to sit for hours reading the historical plays of Shakespeare, generally in an old window in the thick walls of the school. I read also other poetry, such as Thomson's

'Seasons,' and the recently published poems of Byron and Scott. I mention this because later in life I wholly lost, to my great regret, all pleasure from poetry of any kind, including Shakespeare. In connection with pleasure from poetry, I may add that in 1822 a vivid delight in scenery was first awakened in my mind, during a riding tour on the borders of Wales, and this has lasted longer than any other aesthetic pleasure.

Early in my school days a boy had a copy of the 'Wonders of the World,' which I often read, and disputed with other boys about the veracity of some of the statements; and I believe that this book first gave me a wish to travel in remote countries, which was ultimately fulfilled by the voyage of the "Beagle".

In the latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of shooting; I do not believe that any one could have shown more zeal for the most holy cause than I did for shooting birds. How well I remember killing my first snipe, and my excitement was so great that I had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the trembling of my hands. This taste long continued, and I became a very good shot. When at Cambridge I used to practise throwing up my gun to my shoulder before a looking-glass to see that I threw it up straight. Another and better plan was to get a friend to wave about a lighted candle, and then to fire at it with a cap on the nipple, and if the aim was accurate the little puff of air would blow out the candle. The explosion of the cap caused a sharp crack, and I was told that the tutor of the college remarked, "What an extraordinary thing it is, Mr. Darwin seems to spend hours in cracking a horse-whip in his room, for I often hear the crack when I pass under his windows."

I had many friends amongst the schoolboys, whom I loved dearly, and I think that my disposition was then very affectionate.

With respect to science, I continued collecting minerals with much zeal, but quite unscientifically—all that I cared about was a new-named mineral, and I hardly attempted to classify them. I must have observed insects with some little care, for when ten years old (1819) I went for three weeks to Plas Edwards on the sea-coast in Wales, I was very much interested and surprised at seeing a large black and scarlet Hemipterous insect, many moths (Zygaena), and a Cicindela which are not found in Shropshire. I almost made up my mind to begin collecting all the insects which I could find dead, for on consulting my sister I concluded that it was not right to kill insects for the sake of making a collection.

From reading White's 'Selborne,' I took much pleasure in watching the habits of birds, and even made notes on the subject. In my simplicity I remember wondering why every gentleman did not become an ornithologist.

Towards the close of my school life, my brother worked hard at chemistry, and made a fair laboratory with proper apparatus in the tool-house in the garden, and

I was allowed to aid him as a servant in most of his experiments. He made all the gases and many compounds, and I read with great care several books on chemistry, such as Henry and Parkes' 'Chemical Catechism.' The subject interested me greatly, and we often used to go on working till rather late at night.

This was the best part of my education at school, for it showed me practically the meaning of experimental science. The fact that we worked at chemistry somehow got known at school, and as it was an unprecedented fact, I was nicknamed "Gas." I was also once publicly rebuked by the head-master, Dr.

Butler, for thus wasting my time on such useless subjects; and he called me very unjustly a "poco curante," and as I did not understand what he meant, it seemed to me a fearful reproach.

As I was doing no good at school, my father wisely took me away at a rather earlier age than usual, and sent me (Oct. 1825) to Edinburgh University with my brother, where I stayed for two years or sessions. My brother was completing his medical studies, though I do not believe he ever really intended to practise, and I was sent there to commence them. But soon after this period I became convinced from various small circumstances that my father would leave me property enough to subsist on with some comfort, though I never imagined that I should be so rich a man as I am; but my belief was sufficient to check any strenuous efforts to learn medicine.

The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by lectures, and these were intolerably dull, with the exception of those on chemistry by Hope; but to my mind there are no advantages and many disadvantages in lectures compared with reading. Dr. Duncan's lectures on Materia Medica at 8 o'clock on a winter's morning are something fearful to remember. Dr.—— made his lectures on human anatomy as dull as he was himself, and the subject disgusted me. It has proved one of the greatest evils in my life that I was not urged to practise dissection, for I should soon have got over my disgust; and the practice would have been invaluable for all my future work. This has been an irremediable evil, as well as my incapacity to draw. I also attended regularly the clinical wards in the hospital. Some of the cases distressed me a good deal, and I still have vivid pictures before me of some of them; but I was not so foolish as to allow this to lessen my attendance. I cannot understand why this part of my medical course did not interest me in a greater degree; for during the summer before coming to

Edinburgh I began attending some of the poor people, chiefly children and women in Shrewsbury: I wrote down as full an account as I could of the case with all the symptoms, and read them aloud to my father, who suggested further inquiries and advised me what medicines to give, which I made up myself. At one time I had at least a dozen patients, and I felt a keen interest in the work. My father, who was by far the best judge of character whom I ever knew, declared that I should make a successful physician,—meaning by this one who would get many patients. He maintained that the chief element of success was exciting confidence; but what he saw in me which convinced him that I should create confidence I know not. I also attended on two occasions the operating theatre in the hospital at Edinburgh, and saw two very bad operations, one on a child, but I rushed away before they were completed. Nor did I ever attend again, for hardly any inducement would have been strong enough to make me do so; this being long before the blessed days of chloroform. The two cases fairly haunted me for many a long year.

My brother stayed only one year at the University, so that during the second year I was left to my own resources; and this was an advantage, for I became well acquainted with several young men fond of natural science. One of these was Ainsworth, who afterwards published his travels in Assyria; he was a

Wernerian geologist, and knew a little about many subjects. Dr. Coldstream was a very different young man, prim, formal, highly religious, and most kindhearted; he afterwards published some good zoological articles. A third young man was Hardie, who would, I think, have made a good botanist, but died early in India. Lastly, Dr. Grant, my senior by several years, but how I became acquainted with him I cannot remember; he published some first-rate zoological papers, but after coming to London as Professor in University College, he did nothing more in science, a fact which has always been inexplicable to me. I knew him well; he was dry and formal in manner, with much enthusiasm beneath this outer crust. He one day, when we were walking together, burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution. I listened in silent astonishment, and as far as I can judge without any effect on my mind. I had previously read the 'Zoonomia' of my grandfather, in which similar views are maintained, but without producing any effect on me. Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under a different form in my 'Origin of Species.' At this time I admired greatly the 'Zoonomia;' but on reading it a second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much disappointed; the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given.

Drs. Grant and Coldstream attended much to marine Zoology, and I often accompanied the former to collect animals in the tidal pools, which I dissected as well as I could. I also became friends with some of the Newhaven fishermen, and sometimes accompanied them when they trawled for oysters, and thus got many specimens. But from not having had any regular practice in dissection, and from possessing only a wretched microscope, my attempts were very poor.

Nevertheless I made one interesting little discovery, and read, about the beginning of the year 1826, a short paper on the subject before the Plinian

Society. This was that the so-called ova of Flustra had the power of independent movement by means of cilia, and were in fact larvae. In another short paper I showed that the little globular bodies which had been supposed to be the young state of Fucus loreus were the egg-cases of the wormlike Pontobdella muricata.

The Plinian Society was encouraged and, I believe, founded by Professor

Jameson: it consisted of students and met in an underground room in the

University for the sake of reading papers on natural science and discussing them.

I used regularly to attend, and the meetings had a good effect on me in stimulating my zeal and giving me new congenial acquaintances. One evening a poor young man got up, and after stammering for a prodigious length of time, blushing crimson, he at last slowly got out the words, "Mr. President, I have forgotten what I was going to say." The poor fellow looked quite overwhelmed, and all the members were so surprised that no one could think of a word to say to cover his confusion. The papers which were read to our little society were not printed, so that I had not the satisfaction of seeing my paper in print; but I believe Dr. Grant noticed my small discovery in his excellent memoir on Flustra.

I was also a member of the Royal Medical Society, and attended pretty regularly; but as the subjects were exclusively medical, I did not much care about them. Much rubbish was talked there, but there were some good speakers, of whom the best was the present Sir J. Kay-Shuttleworth. Dr. Grant took me occasionally to the meetings of the Wernerian Society, where various papers on natural history were read, discussed, and afterwards published in the

'Transactions.' I heard Audubon deliver there some interesting discourses on the habits of N. American birds, sneering somewhat unjustly at Waterton. By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.

Mr. Leonard Horner also took me once to a meeting of the Royal Society of

Edinburgh, where I saw Sir Walter Scott in the chair as President, and he apologised to the meeting as not feeling fitted for such a position. I looked at him and at the whole scene with some awe and reverence, and I think it was owing to this visit during my youth, and to my having attended the Royal

Medical Society, that I felt the honour of being elected a few years ago an honorary member of both these Societies, more than any other similar honour. If

I had been told at that time that I should one day have been thus honoured, I declare that I should have thought it as ridiculous and improbable, as if I had been told that I should be elected King of England.

During my second year at Edinburgh I attended ——'s lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology, or in any way to study the science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a philosophical treatment of the subject; for an old Mr. Cotton in Shropshire, who knew a good deal about rocks, had pointed out to me two or three years previously a well-known large erratic boulder in the town of Shrewsbury, called the "bell-stone"; he told me that there was no rock of the same kind nearer than

Cumberland or Scotland, and he solemnly assured me that the world would come to an end before any one would be able to explain how this stone came where it now lay. This produced a deep impression on me, and I meditated over this wonderful stone. So that I felt the keenest delight when I first read of the action of icebergs in transporting boulders, and I gloried in the progress of

Geology. Equally striking is the fact that I, though now only sixty-seven years old, heard the Professor, in a field lecture at Salisbury Craigs, discoursing on a trapdyke, with amygdaloidal margins and the strata indurated on each side, with volcanic rocks all around us, say that it was a fissure filled with sediment from above, adding with a sneer that there were men who maintained that it had been injected from beneath in a molten condition. When I think of this lecture, I do not wonder that I determined never to attend to Geology.

From attending ——'s lectures, I became acquainted with the curator of the museum, Mr. Macgillivray, who afterwards published a large and excellent book on the birds of Scotland. I had much interesting natural-history talk with him, and he was very kind to me. He gave me some rare shells, for I at that time collected marine mollusca, but with no great zeal.

My summer vacations during these two years were wholly given up to amusements, though I always had some book in hand, which I read with interest.

During the summer of 1826 I took a long walking tour with two friends with knapsacks on our backs through North wales. We walked thirty miles most days, including one day the ascent of Snowdon. I also went with my sister a riding tour in North Wales, a servant with saddle-bags carrying our clothes. The autumns were devoted to shooting chiefly at Mr. Owen's, at Woodhouse, and at my Uncle

Jos's (Josiah Wedgwood, the son of the founder of the Etruria Works.) at Maer.

My zeal was so great that I used to place my shooting-boots open by my bedside when I went to bed, so as not to lose half a minute in putting them on in the morning; and on one occasion I reached a distant part of the Maer estate, on the

20th of August for black-game shooting, before I could see: I then toiled on with the game-keeper the whole day through thick heath and young Scotch firs.

I kept an exact record of every bird which I shot throughout the whole season.

One day when shooting at Woodhouse with Captain Owen, the eldest son, and

Major Hill, his cousin, afterwards Lord Berwick, both of whom I liked very much, I thought myself shamefully used, for every time after I had fired and thought that I had killed a bird, one of the two acted as if loading his gun, and cried out, "You must not count that bird, for I fired at the same time," and the gamekeeper, perceiving the joke, backed them up. After some hours they told me the joke, but it was no joke to me, for I had shot a large number of birds, but did not know how many, and could not add them to my list, which I used to do by making a knot in a piece of string tied to a button-hole. This my wicked friends had perceived.

How I did enjoy shooting! But I think that I must have been half-consciously ashamed of my zeal, for I tried to persuade myself that shooting was almost an intellectual employment; it required so much skill to judge where to find most game and to hunt the dogs well.

One of my autumnal visits to Maer in 1827 was memorable from meeting there Sir J. Mackintosh, who was the best converser I ever listened to. I heard afterwards with a glow of pride that he had said, "There is something in that young man that interests me." This must have been chiefly due to his perceiving that I listened with much interest to everything which he said, for I was as ignorant as a pig about his subjects of history, politics, and moral philosophy. To hear of praise from an eminent person, though no doubt apt or certain to excite vanity, is, I think, good for a young man, as it helps to keep him in the right course.

My visits to Maer during these two or three succeeding years were quite delightful, independently of the autumnal shooting. Life there was perfectly free; the country was very pleasant for walking or riding; and in the evening there was much very agreeable conversation, not so personal as it generally is in large family parties, together with music. In the summer the whole family used often to sit on the steps of the old portico, with the flower-garden in front, and with the steep wooded bank opposite the house reflected in the lake, with here and there a fish rising or a water-bird paddling about. Nothing has left a more vivid picture on my mind than these evenings at Maer. I was also attached to and greatly revered my Uncle Jos; he was silent and reserved, so as to be a rather awful man; but he sometimes talked openly with me. He was the very type of an upright man, with the clearest judgment. I do not believe that any power on earth could have made him swerve an inch from what he considered the right course. I used to apply to him in my mind the well-known ode of Horace, now forgotten by me, in which the words "nec vultus tyranni, etc.," come in.

(Justum et tenacem propositi virum

Non civium ardor prava jubentium

Non vultus instantis tyranni

Mente quatit solida.)




  • agree: To agree is to say “yes” or to think the same way.
  • angry: When someone is angry, they may want to speak loudly or fight.
  • cruel: When someone is cruel, they do bad things to hurt others.
  • hunt: To hunt is to look for or search for an animal to kill.
  • lot: A lot means a large number or amount of people, animals, things, etc.
  • promise: To promise is to say you will do something for sure.
  • well: You use well to say that something was done in a good way.
  • create: To create means to make something new.
  • evil: Evil describes something or someone bad or cruel, not good.
  • experiment: An experiment is a test that you do to see what will happen.
  • kill: To kill someone or something is to make them die.
  • laboratory: A laboratory is a room where a scientist works.
  • laugh: Laugh is the sound made when someone is happy or a funny thing occurs
  • loud: If a sound is loud, it is strong and very easy to hear.
  • shout: To shout is to say something loudly.
  • worse: If something is worse, it is of poorer quality than another thing.
  • among: If you are among certain things, they are all around you.
  • ever: Ever means at any time.
  • several: Several is more than two but not many.
  • suppose: To suppose is to guess.
  • view: To view is to look at something.
  • expect: If you expect something to happen, you believe it will happen.
  • habit: A habit is a thing that you do often.
  • instruct: To instruct is to teach.
  • none: None means not any of someone or something.
  • patient: If a person is patient, they don’t become angry or upset easily.
  • spread: To spread is to move quickly to more places.
  • belong: If something belongs to you, you own it.
  • continue: To continue something is to keep doing it.
  • field: A field is a big area of land.
  • judgment: Judgment is the ability to form opinions or decisions.
  • rare: If something is rare, you do not see it very often.
  • reside: To reside means to live somewhere permanently or for a long time.
  • since: Since is used to talk about a past event still happening now.
  • advantage: An advantage is something that helps you.
  • cause: To cause is to make something happen.
  • dead: To be dead is to not be alive.
  • distance: The distance between two things is how far it is between them.
  • follow: To follow means to go behind someone and go where they go.
  • pet: A pet is an animal that lives with people.
  • reach: To reach means to arrive at a place.
  • return: To return is to go back to a place.
  • wise: To be wise is to use experience and intelligence to make good choices.
  • allow: To allow something to happen means to let it happen.
  • condition: The condition of someone or something is the state that they are in.
  • lay: To lay means to put or place in a horizontal or flat position.
  • sense: To sense something is to know about it without being told.
  • sudden: When something is sudden, it happens very quickly.
  • accept: To accept something that is offered is to take it.
  • attend: To attend something is to go to it.
  • encourage: To encourage someone is to make them want to do something.
  • necessary: If something is necessary, you must do it.
  • require: To require something is to say that it is necessary.
  • single: If something is single, then there is only one.
  • success: Success is doing something well that you choose to do.
  • discover: To discover something is to find it for the first time.
  • fix: To fix something is to make it work.
  • frank: If you are frank, you are being very honest.
  • pleasant: If something is pleasant, you enjoy it.
  • rock: A rock is a hard thing in the dirt.
  • step: To step is to walk.
  • still: Still is used when you say that a situation keeps going on.
  • taste: A taste is the flavor something makes in your mouth.
  • throw: To throw something is to use your hand to make it go through the air.
  • wave: A wave is a line of water that moves higher than the rest of the water.
  • certain: If you are certain about something, you know it is true.
  • effect: An effect is a change made by something else.
  • far: If something is far, it is not close.
  • remain: To remain somewhere is to stay there.
  • rest: To rest is to stop being active while the body gets back its strength.
  • site: A site is a place.
  • trouble: Trouble is a problem ora difficulty.
  • collect: To collect things is to group them together all in one place.
  • conversation: A conversation is a talk between people.
  • either: Either is used with or to say there are two or more possibilities.
  • ground: The ground is the top part of the Earth that we walk on.
  • prepare: To prepare is to get ready for something.
  • spend: To spend is to use time doing something or being somewhere.
  • wake: To wake is to not be sleeping anymore.
  • article: An article is a story in a newspaper or magazine.
  • compare: To compare means to say how two things are the same and different.
  • judge: To judge something is to say if it is good or bad.
  • quality: The quality of something is how good it is.
  • thin: If someone or something is thin, they are not fat.
  • cell: A cell is a small room where a person is locked in.
  • correct: To be correct is to be right.
  • equal: To be equal is to be the same.
  • hole: A hole is an opening in something.
  • owe: To owe is to have to pay or give back something received from another.
  • position: A position is the way something is placed.
  • raise: To raise something is to lift it up.
  • spot: A spot is a place where something happens.
  • whole: Whole means all of something.
  • exam: An exam is a test.
  • example: An example of something is a thing that is typical of it.
  • poet: A poet is a person who writes poems.
  • print: To print something is to put it onto paper.
  • scene: A scene is one part of a book or movie.
  • excite: To excite someone means to make them happy and interested.
  • fear: Fear is the feeling of being afraid.
  • length: The length of something is how long it is from one end to the other.
  • observe: To observe something is to watch it.
  • race: A race is a contest to see who is the fastest.
  • wonder: To wonder is to ask yourself questions or have a need to know.
  • ancient: If something is ancient, it is very old.
  • board: A board is a flat piece of wood.
  • gentleman: A gentleman is a nice man.
  • pound: To pound something is to hit it many times with a lot of force.
  • publish: To publish a book is to get it printed and ready to sell.
  • beat: To beat someone means to do better than they do.
  • determine: To determine means to choose or make a decision.
  • else: If you talk about something else, you talk about something different.
  • fair: Fair describes treating someone in a way that is reasonable or right.
  • flow: To flow is to move easily and continuously in one direction.
  • season: A season is a time of the year: spring, summer, fall or winter.
  • whether: You use whether when you must choose between two things.
  • depend: To depend on someone or something is to need them.
  • empty: If something is empty, it does not have anything in it.
  • exact: If something is exact, it is just the right amount.
  • gather: To gather is to collect several things usually from different places.
  • indicate: To indicate means to show, point or make something clear.
  • item: An item is a thing that you buy or sell.
  • offer: To offer is to present someone with something.
  • property: Property is something that someone owns.
  • tool: A tool is something that helps you do a task.
  • treat: To treat is to act in a certain way toward someone.
  • doubt: Doubt is a feeling of not being sure.
  • glad: If you are glad, you are happy.
  • mention: To mention something is to talk about it.
  • wood: Wood is the thing that trees are made of.
  • advise: To advise someone is to tell them what to do.
  • bit: A bit is a small amount of something.
  • consider: To consider something means to think about it.
  • extra: If something is extra, it is more than what is needed.
  • lie: To lie is to say or write something untrue to deceive someone.
  • real: If something is real, it actually exists.
  • reflect: To reflect is when a surface sends back light, heat, sound or an image.
  • serve: To serve someone is to give them food or drinks.
  • war: A war is a big fight between two groups of people.
  • worth: If something is worth an amount of money, it costs that amount.
  • appear: To appear is to seem.
  • effort: Effort is hard work or an attempt to do something.
  • excellent: When something is excellent, it is very good.
  • later: Later means after the present, expected, or usual time.
  • leave: To leave means to go away from someone or something.
  • operation: An operation is when a doctor replaces or removes something in the body.
  • pain: Pain is the feeling that you have when you are hurt.
  • though: Though is used when the second idea makes the first seem surprising.
  • various: If something is various, there are many types of it.
  • comfort: To comfort someone means to make them feel better.
  • deliver: To deliver something is to take it from one place to another.
  • earn: To earn means to get money for the work you do.
  • occur: To occur means to happen.
  • opposite: If A is the opposite of B, A is completely different from B.
  • receive: To receive something is to get it.
  • course: A course is a class in school.
  • lower: To lower something is to make it go down.
  • member: A member is a person who is part of a group.
  • mental: If something is mental, it has to do with your mind.
  • poem: A poem is a short kind of writing.
  • shoot: To shoot is to fire something like a bullet at someone or something.
  • complex: If something is complex, it has many small parts. It is hard to understand.
  • event: An event is something that happens, especially something important.
  • exercise: To exercise is to run or play sports so that you can be healthy.
  • fit: If something fits, it is small enough orthe right size to go there.
  • lack: If there is a lack of something, there is not enough of it.
  • passage: A passage is a long area with walls that goes from one place to another.
  • probable: If something is probable, it is likely to happen.
  • public: If something is public, it is meant for everyone to use.
  • term: A term is a word for something.
  • instance: An instance is an example of something.
  • medicine: Medicine is something you take to feel better or treat an illness.
  • period: A period is an amount of time when something happens.
  • produce: To produce something is to make or grow it.
  • regular: If something is regular, it happens often and in equal amounts of time.
  • attention: Attention is the notice, thought, or consideration of someone.
  • drop: To drop is to fall or allow something to fall.
  • further: Further is used to say something is from a distance or time.
  • imply: To imply something is to suggest it without saying it.
  • maintain: To maintain means to make something stay the same.
  • neither: You use neither to connect two negative statements.
  • prove: To prove something is to show that it is true.
  • ride: To ride something is to travel on it. You can ride an animal, a bike, etc.
  • society: Society is people and the way that they live.
  • standard: A standard is what people consider normal or good.
  • suggest: To suggest something means to give an idea or plan about it.
  • coast: The coast is the land by an ocean.
  • deal: A deal is an agreement that you have with another person.
  • false: If something is false, it is not correct.
  • imagine: To imagine something is to think of it in your mind.
  • quite: Quite is used to say that something is complete or very much.
  • rather: Rather is used when you want to do one thing but not the other.
  • tour: A tour is a short trip in which you see many sights.
  • value: If something has value, it is worth a lot of money.
  • list: A list is a record of information printed with an item on each line.
  • notice: To notice something is to see it for the first time.
  • own: To own something means to have it. That thing belongs to you.
  • rush: To rush is to go somewhere or do something very quickly.
  • gain: If you gain something, you get more of it.
  • mean: Mean describes someone who is unkind or cruel.
  • progress: Progress is the act of getting closer to doing or finishing something.
  • respect: Respect is a good opinion of someone because they are good.
  • rich: If you are rich, you have a lot of money.
  • skill: A skill is the knowledge and ability that allows you to do something well.
  • somehow: Somehow means in a way or by some means which is not known.
  • vote: To vote is to officially choose between two or more things.
  • above: If something is above, it is at a higher level than something else.
  • amount: An amount is how much there is of something.
  • belief: A belief is a strong feeling that something is correct or true.
  • common: If something is common, it happens often or there is much of it.
  • different: Different describes someone or something that is not the same as others.
  • independent: If something is independent, it is not controlled by something else.
  • inside: Inside means the inner part, space or side of something.
  • master: A master is a person who is very good at something.
  • memory: A memory is something you remember.
  • proper: If something is proper, it is right.
  • section: A section is a part of something larger.

  • agree: To agree is to say “yes” or to think the same way.
  • angry: When someone is angry, they may want to speak loudly or fight.
  • cruel: When someone is cruel, they do bad things to hurt others.
  • hunt: To hunt is to look for or search for an animal to kill.
  • lot: A lot means a large number or amount of people, animals, things, etc.
  • promise: To promise is to say you will do something for sure.
  • well: You use well to say that something was done in a good way.
  • create: To create means to make something new.
  • evil: Evil describes something or someone bad or cruel, not good.
  • experiment: An experiment is a test that you do to see what will happen.
  • kill: To kill someone or something is to make them die.
  • laboratory: A laboratory is a room where a scientist works.
  • laugh: Laugh is the sound made when someone is happy or a funny thing occurs
  • loud: If a sound is loud, it is strong and very easy to hear.
  • shout: To shout is to say something loudly.
  • worse: If something is worse, it is of poorer quality than another thing.
  • among: If you are among certain things, they are all around you.
  • ever: Ever means at any time.
  • several: Several is more than two but not many.
  • suppose: To suppose is to guess.
  • view: To view is to look at something.
  • expect: If you expect something to happen, you believe it will happen.
  • habit: A habit is a thing that you do often.
  • instruct: To instruct is to teach.
  • none: None means not any of someone or something.
  • patient: If a person is patient, they don’t become angry or upset easily.
  • spread: To spread is to move quickly to more places.
  • belong: If something belongs to you, you own it.
  • continue: To continue something is to keep doing it.
  • field: A field is a big area of land.
  • judgment: Judgment is the ability to form opinions or decisions.
  • rare: If something is rare, you do not see it very often.
  • reside: To reside means to live somewhere permanently or for a long time.
  • since: Since is used to talk about a past event still happening now.
  • advantage: An advantage is something that helps you.
  • cause: To cause is to make something happen.
  • dead: To be dead is to not be alive.
  • distance: The distance between two things is how far it is between them.
  • follow: To follow means to go behind someone and go where they go.
  • pet: A pet is an animal that lives with people.
  • reach: To reach means to arrive at a place.
  • return: To return is to go back to a place.
  • wise: To be wise is to use experience and intelligence to make good choices.
  • allow: To allow something to happen means to let it happen.
  • condition: The condition of someone or something is the state that they are in.
  • lay: To lay means to put or place in a horizontal or flat position.
  • sense: To sense something is to know about it without being told.
  • sudden: When something is sudden, it happens very quickly.
  • accept: To accept something that is offered is to take it.
  • attend: To attend something is to go to it.
  • encourage: To encourage someone is to make them want to do something.
  • necessary: If something is necessary, you must do it.
  • require: To require something is to say that it is necessary.
  • single: If something is single, then there is only one.
  • success: Success is doing something well that you choose to do.
  • discover: To discover something is to find it for the first time.
  • fix: To fix something is to make it work.
  • frank: If you are frank, you are being very honest.
  • pleasant: If something is pleasant, you enjoy it.
  • rock: A rock is a hard thing in the dirt.
  • step: To step is to walk.
  • still: Still is used when you say that a situation keeps going on.
  • taste: A taste is the flavor something makes in your mouth.
  • throw: To throw something is to use your hand to make it go through the air.
  • wave: A wave is a line of water that moves higher than the rest of the water.
  • certain: If you are certain about something, you know it is true.
  • effect: An effect is a change made by something else.
  • far: If something is far, it is not close.
  • remain: To remain somewhere is to stay there.
  • rest: To rest is to stop being active while the body gets back its strength.
  • site: A site is a place.
  • trouble: Trouble is a problem ora difficulty.
  • collect: To collect things is to group them together all in one place.
  • conversation: A conversation is a talk between people.
  • either: Either is used with or to say there are two or more possibilities.
  • ground: The ground is the top part of the Earth that we walk on.
  • prepare: To prepare is to get ready for something.
  • spend: To spend is to use time doing something or being somewhere.
  • wake: To wake is to not be sleeping anymore.
  • article: An article is a story in a newspaper or magazine.
  • compare: To compare means to say how two things are the same and different.
  • judge: To judge something is to say if it is good or bad.
  • quality: The quality of something is how good it is.
  • thin: If someone or something is thin, they are not fat.
  • cell: A cell is a small room where a person is locked in.
  • correct: To be correct is to be right.
  • equal: To be equal is to be the same.
  • hole: A hole is an opening in something.
  • owe: To owe is to have to pay or give back something received from another.
  • position: A position is the way something is placed.
  • raise: To raise something is to lift it up.
  • spot: A spot is a place where something happens.
  • whole: Whole means all of something.
  • exam: An exam is a test.
  • example: An example of something is a thing that is typical of it.
  • poet: A poet is a person who writes poems.
  • print: To print something is to put it onto paper.
  • scene: A scene is one part of a book or movie.
  • excite: To excite someone means to make them happy and interested.
  • fear: Fear is the feeling of being afraid.
  • length: The length of something is how long it is from one end to the other.
  • observe: To observe something is to watch it.
  • race: A race is a contest to see who is the fastest.
  • wonder: To wonder is to ask yourself questions or have a need to know.
  • ancient: If something is ancient, it is very old.
  • board: A board is a flat piece of wood.
  • gentleman: A gentleman is a nice man.
  • pound: To pound something is to hit it many times with a lot of force.
  • publish: To publish a book is to get it printed and ready to sell.
  • beat: To beat someone means to do better than they do.
  • determine: To determine means to choose or make a decision.
  • else: If you talk about something else, you talk about something different.
  • fair: Fair describes treating someone in a way that is reasonable or right.
  • flow: To flow is to move easily and continuously in one direction.
  • season: A season is a time of the year: spring, summer, fall or winter.
  • whether: You use whether when you must choose between two things.
  • depend: To depend on someone or something is to need them.
  • empty: If something is empty, it does not have anything in it.
  • exact: If something is exact, it is just the right amount.
  • gather: To gather is to collect several things usually from different places.
  • indicate: To indicate means to show, point or make something clear.
  • item: An item is a thing that you buy or sell.
  • offer: To offer is to present someone with something.
  • property: Property is something that someone owns.
  • tool: A tool is something that helps you do a task.
  • treat: To treat is to act in a certain way toward someone.
  • doubt: Doubt is a feeling of not being sure.
  • glad: If you are glad, you are happy.
  • mention: To mention something is to talk about it.
  • wood: Wood is the thing that trees are made of.
  • advise: To advise someone is to tell them what to do.
  • bit: A bit is a small amount of something.
  • consider: To consider something means to think about it.
  • extra: If something is extra, it is more than what is needed.
  • lie: To lie is to say or write something untrue to deceive someone.
  • real: If something is real, it actually exists.
  • reflect: To reflect is when a surface sends back light, heat, sound or an image.
  • serve: To serve someone is to give them food or drinks.
  • war: A war is a big fight between two groups of people.
  • worth: If something is worth an amount of money, it costs that amount.
  • appear: To appear is to seem.
  • effort: Effort is hard work or an attempt to do something.
  • excellent: When something is excellent, it is very good.
  • later: Later means after the present, expected, or usual time.
  • leave: To leave means to go away from someone or something.
  • operation: An operation is when a doctor replaces or removes something in the body.
  • pain: Pain is the feeling that you have when you are hurt.
  • though: Though is used when the second idea makes the first seem surprising.
  • various: If something is various, there are many types of it.
  • comfort: To comfort someone means to make them feel better.
  • deliver: To deliver something is to take it from one place to another.
  • earn: To earn means to get money for the work you do.
  • occur: To occur means to happen.
  • opposite: If A is the opposite of B, A is completely different from B.
  • receive: To receive something is to get it.
  • course: A course is a class in school.
  • lower: To lower something is to make it go down.
  • member: A member is a person who is part of a group.
  • mental: If something is mental, it has to do with your mind.
  • poem: A poem is a short kind of writing.
  • shoot: To shoot is to fire something like a bullet at someone or something.
  • complex: If something is complex, it has many small parts. It is hard to understand.
  • event: An event is something that happens, especially something important.
  • exercise: To exercise is to run or play sports so that you can be healthy.
  • fit: If something fits, it is small enough orthe right size to go there.
  • lack: If there is a lack of something, there is not enough of it.
  • passage: A passage is a long area with walls that goes from one place to another.
  • probable: If something is probable, it is likely to happen.
  • public: If something is public, it is meant for everyone to use.
  • term: A term is a word for something.
  • instance: An instance is an example of something.
  • medicine: Medicine is something you take to feel better or treat an illness.
  • period: A period is an amount of time when something happens.
  • produce: To produce something is to make or grow it.
  • regular: If something is regular, it happens often and in equal amounts of time.
  • attention: Attention is the notice, thought, or consideration of someone.
  • drop: To drop is to fall or allow something to fall.
  • further: Further is used to say something is from a distance or time.
  • imply: To imply something is to suggest it without saying it.
  • maintain: To maintain means to make something stay the same.
  • neither: You use neither to connect two negative statements.
  • prove: To prove something is to show that it is true.
  • ride: To ride something is to travel on it. You can ride an animal, a bike, etc.
  • society: Society is people and the way that they live.
  • standard: A standard is what people consider normal or good.
  • suggest: To suggest something means to give an idea or plan about it.
  • coast: The coast is the land by an ocean.
  • deal: A deal is an agreement that you have with another person.
  • false: If something is false, it is not correct.
  • imagine: To imagine something is to think of it in your mind.
  • quite: Quite is used to say that something is complete or very much.
  • rather: Rather is used when you want to do one thing but not the other.
  • tour: A tour is a short trip in which you see many sights.
  • value: If something has value, it is worth a lot of money.
  • list: A list is a record of information printed with an item on each line.
  • notice: To notice something is to see it for the first time.
  • own: To own something means to have it. That thing belongs to you.
  • rush: To rush is to go somewhere or do something very quickly.
  • gain: If you gain something, you get more of it.
  • mean: Mean describes someone who is unkind or cruel.
  • progress: Progress is the act of getting closer to doing or finishing something.
  • respect: Respect is a good opinion of someone because they are good.
  • rich: If you are rich, you have a lot of money.
  • skill: A skill is the knowledge and ability that allows you to do something well.
  • somehow: Somehow means in a way or by some means which is not known.
  • vote: To vote is to officially choose between two or more things.
  • above: If something is above, it is at a higher level than something else.
  • amount: An amount is how much there is of something.
  • belief: A belief is a strong feeling that something is correct or true.
  • common: If something is common, it happens often or there is much of it.
  • different: Different describes someone or something that is not the same as others.
  • independent: If something is independent, it is not controlled by something else.
  • inside: Inside means the inner part, space or side of something.
  • master: A master is a person who is very good at something.
  • memory: A memory is something you remember.
  • proper: If something is proper, it is right.
  • section: A section is a part of something larger.

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