Page:Millicent Fawcett - Some Eminent Women.djvu/24

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school for boys in Bristol, and Mary and her sister were educated in it. They were among the best of their father's pupils, one of whom, the Rev. James Martineau, has left a record of the great impression Mary's learning made upon him. She was indeed very proficient in many branches of knowledge. Her education included Latin, Greek, mathematics, and natural history; and the exactness which her father and the nature of her studies demanded of her, formed a most invaluable training for her after career. For many years the acquisition of knowledge, for its own sake, was the chief joy of her life; but a time came when it ceased to satisfy her. She was rudely awakened from the delightful dreams of a student's life by a severe visitation of cholera at Bristol in 1832. From this period, and indeed from a special day—that set apart as a fast-day in consequence of the cholera—dates a solemn dedication of herself to the service of her fellow-creatures. She wrote in her journal 31st March 1832, what her resolution was, and concluded: "These things I have written to be a witness against me, if ever I should forget what ought to be the object of all my active exertions in life." These solemn self-dedications are seldom or never spoken of by those who make them. Records of them are found sometimes in journals long after the hand that has written them is cold. But, either written or unwritten, they are probably the rule rather than the exception on the part of those who devote themselves to the good of others. The world has recently learned that this was the case with Lord Shaftesbury. There is a time when the knight-errant consciously enrols himself a member of the noble band of warriors against wrong and oppression, and takes upon himself his baptismal vow—manfully to fight against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant to his life's end.

It must be remembered that when Mary Carpenter first began to exert herself for the benefit of neglected children, there were no reformatory or industrial schools, except those which had been established by the voluntary efforts of