|SKETCH OF DR. W. B. CARPENTER.|
THE long and busy scientific life of Dr. Carpenter, the wide extent and multifarious character of his researches, in which he was always a leader and always advanced knowledge, the catholicity of his views, the active interest he exhibited in every concern of life, his lovable personal qualities, and the painful circumstances of his death, have all contributed to invest the history of his career with an unusual degree of interest.
His life, as he observed to a friend less than a month before his death, was one of hard work. He was for years actively engaged in the drudgery of teaching; he was always preparing and compiling valuable manuals; he was an energetic writer for, and editor of, periodical publications; and, we may add, he spent much time in the direct service of the public and of public institutions. A sketch of his life and work down to 1872 was given in the first volume of "The Popular Science Monthly." But he has held so high a place, and has done so much that is valuable since then, and as that biography is probably not now accessible to a great many of our readers, no apology need be offered for reviewing the principal features of Dr. Carpenter's career, and adding, with the account of his later work, such new information as is afforded by the reminiscences which are always brought out by the death of a man who has played an important part.
William Benjamin Carpenter was born in Exeter, England, October 29, 1813. His father, the Rev. Dr. Lant Carpenter, was an eminent Unitarian minister, and a writer on theological subjects, who removed to Bristol in 1817. Hence the son's earlier life became so identified with that city that some of his biographers have said that he was born there. The whole family are characterized by ability. Dr. Carpenter's sister. Miss Mary Carpenter, who died a few years ago, was an eminent philanthropist, whose work in relation to the treatment of prisoners, and to questions affecting the well-being of the women of India, entitle her, as Dr. Ray Lankester happily says, to be remembered by future generations with no less gratitude than her brother. His sons are men of mark in the Unitarian ministry, in literature, and in science.
He received his earlier instruction in the school established by his father at Bristol, studying the classics and the principles of physical science, with a preference of taste for the latter class of studies. He intended to become a civil engineer, but, no suitable opening appearing in that profession, he entered upon the study of medicine, in 1828, with Mr. J. B. Estlin, a brother-in-law of Dr. Pritchard, the ethnologist, in connection with which he attended the lectures at the Bristol Medical School. In the winter of 1832 he visited the West Indies in company with Dr. Estlin, who went on a voyage for his health, to re-