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PHILIP PEARSALL was the youngest of the six children—three daughters followed by three sons—of Lant and Anna Carpenter. He was born at 2, Great George Street, * Bristol, November 4, 1819-the anniversary of the landing of William III. ; so his father wrote, “One thing is clear, that he is born a Whig; and if it were not for William Benjamin, we must have called him King William.” His first name was that of his eldest uncle; his second commemorated the friend by whom his father had been adopted. The Memoirs of Dr. Lant Carpenter, and the grateful tributes that have been paid to his
* The vignette is from a sketch taken when the house was occupied as a school for young ladies. “The wing” was added hy Dr. L. Carpenter in 1820, and soon after his death it was made a separate residence.
memory by friends and pupils, render any further delineation of his character superfluous. His mother's influence was less wide, but no less deep. She was the daughter of James and Bridget Penn, of Kidderminster, and niece of the Rev. T. Laugher, of Hackney; and she inherited from her maternal ancestors superior mental endowments, as well as strong religious feelings and principles. When Robert Hall called on her (1828), he spoke of her mother as “the most excellent woman he had ever known, and said it must be a blessing to be her child.” Mrs. Penn died September 25, 1800, and for the remainder of her life (more than half a century) Anna hallowed the anniversary, as the time when she was quickened to an earnest desire after holiness,
Philip was the only one of the family who was born at Bristol. The others were natives of Exeter, where Dr. Carpenter had resided from 1805 to 1817; and the sisters fondly remembered the early days, when they were in a smaller house, with fewer pupils, and had more intercourse with their father.
Philip had always a strong affection for his native city. When he was fifty, he wrote : All
appears unreal to me, except my boy's life in Bristol.” Of that life there is little to record, except some of the influences which moulded his character. As a minister he preferred the poor ; but the companions of his childhood were rich. The terms of his father's school were high, and the pupils, many of whom afterwards entered Parliament, were chiefly from affluent families; but though no expense was spared which health and comfort demanded, frugality and simplicity prevailed. Dr. Carpenter was a minister of the Lewin's Mead congregation : little of the wealth for which it was then noted had been bestowed on religious objects; but, greatly owing to his efforts, Sunday schools were established, school-rooms were built, and, in addition to the old endowed Charity Schools, with their quaint costumes, three new day schools were opened.
Faith was shown by works, and a spirit of life animated the congregation ; but, first, many difficulties had to be overcome, for his senior colleague and many of his friends opposed what they regarded
as his restlessness. His strength, overtaxed by his excessive exertions, at length entirely gave way. On June 11, 1826, he preached for the last time for two years. He subsequently resigned the ministry, which he did not resume till 1829. Change of scene was recommended for him; and he spent some time with friends, mostly in France. He suffered much from depression, and his recovery was very slow. At midsummer, 1827, the Rev. James Martineau, formerly his attached pupil,* who had just completed his college course, arranged to take the superintendence of his school for a year, before settling with a congregation.
It was then that Philip began his school-life : in a letter to his sister Mary (March, 1828) he writes : “I am now down in the monitor's book, and I say some of my lessons to Mr. Martineau, and I go on pretty well in the school-room.” As an infant he had been healthy ; but he soon became a very delicate child, needing great care. In the years when his mother was often laid by from illness, and only by great strength of resolution could undergo the strain upon her, from the additional duties and anxieties arising from Dr. Carpenter's illness, Mary, his eldest sister, was a mother to him," as she fondly recorded when she heard of his death. His sister Susan (Mrs. R. Gaskell) writes : “I trust I shall ever retain the remembrance of the love and pride with which his bright, innocent, transparent childhood filled me. In his long and trying illnesses, I never remember any restless impatience. Though not what is called a pretty child, the sweetness of his smile, his pretty dimples, and clear complexion made him very interesting to all who knew him. Frequently, when his mother and sisters were engaged in sewing, while one read aloud, he (unknown to them) would be quietly under the table, until some remark in the book aroused him, and he joined in the conversation which always accompanied the reading. He always was attractive to friends, and in parting was not satis
* Dr. Martineau contributed to the “ Memoir of Dr. L. Carpenter very striking and beautiful delineation of him as he remembered him at school.
fied with putting out one hand to shake : his loving nature made him put out both.” This loving nature was characteristic of him through life. His manner was warm, as well as his heart. He showed twice as much affection as most men, and made “ friends ” where others made“ acquaintances.”
When his father resumed the ministry, prudence required that he should relinquish the boys' school, and in 1829 Mrs. Carpenter and her daughters commenced a school for girls. Considerable alterations were made in the house, and Philip and his brothers resided in “ the wing.” For some little time he was taught by his father ; but in January, 1833, he joined his brother Russell at the Bristol College, a proprietary institution founded in 1831 to supply the want of a superior dayschool in Bristol. (The rami School, which is now efficient, had sunk to nothing, under the management of the old corporation.) The college occupied a large house, since taken down to give place to the Jews' Synagogue, opposite to the Red Lodge in Park Row, then the residence of the eminent Dr. Prichard, whose sons were among the first students. The celebrated geologist, Dean Conybeare, was the Visitor; the Principal was Dr. Jerrard, subsequently a Fellow and Examiner of the University of London, to which this college was one of the first to be affiliated.' Philip was a very painstaking scholar, and was much liked both by his teachers and class-fellows. It was an advantage to him to be associated with youths of various Denominations, and to have the stimulus of numbers. The lectures were chiefly confined to classics and mathematics; but these lessons formed only part of his education.
In later life he described himself as a “born teacher, a naturalist by chance.” His father had shown an early love of science, and the elements of it were part of the regular instruction of his school, which he illustrated with a large and costly collection of apparatus ; but, unless the structure of the human frame be an exception (to teach which he had a skeleton and various anatomical preparations), he had paid comparatively little attention to natural history. In 1823, however, the Bristol Institution was opened, in the management cf which
he took an influential part; various courses of lectures were delivered by eminent men, which his family and pupils regularly attended, and a very valuable museum was formed, peculiarly rich in fossils and shells. The first curator was Mr. Miller, a scientific naturalist, chiefly known by his work on the Crinoidea ; he was succeeded in 1831 by Mr. S. Stutchbury, a very zealous and able zoologist. Among the lecturers was Mr. Samuel Worsley, who devoted the proceeds of his course on geology (nearly £100) to the benefit of the Institution. He and his brothers had been pupils of Dr. Carpenter's, and it was at school that an accident led to his gradual loss of sight. He bravely resolved to make the most of his opportunities, and before he became blind had studied geology at Edinburgh ; subsequently he gave special attention to fossils and shells, which he could distinguish by the touch. The families at the Fort, where he resided, and at Great George Street were very intimate, and it was a great enjoyment to Philip to visit there, and afterwards at Arno's Vale, * to study conchology, and to clean the fossils which they had gone together to collect † from the quarrymen of Dundry and Keynsham. In January, 1832, Philip wrote for his sister Mary, I then visiting at the Fort, a report of the committee (probably himself alone !) for the arrangement of the cabinet, signed “P. P. Carpenter, chairboy,” in which he mentions “that the arduous task of setting
* The house at the Fort is now the Children's Hospital, and that at Arno's Vale was taken down when the grounds were converted into the Bristol cemetery
† Part of this valuable collection was subsequently bought by the School of Mines, Jermyn Street, and part by the Natural History Society of Philadelphia.
I His sister at this time heard him his Greek lessons, and in a letter to their aunt, Mrs. Fisher (authoress of “The Legend of the Puritans," and other poems), she wrote, November 26, 1832: “Philip is such a merryhearted fellow, and he takes so much pleasure in arranging his shells. To be sure, this taste of his does show itself rather mal-à-propos sometimes. He persists in translating Xitw (tunic) chiton (the same word), an ugly little shell like a woodlouse (the chitons afterwards became Philip's chief study : see the concluding chapter]; and when he read in Homer of Achilles weeping on the sea-shore, he said, “What a pity it is that Achilles was not fond of conchology: he would have had such a nice opportunity of gathering shells while he was in dudgeon with Agamemnon !