« PreviousContinue »
duced a wealthy gentleman of New York, a former resident of the town, to give the money, himself selecting all the books. It is called the Philbrick-James Library. In his own school district he has annually appropriated a sum for a Fourth-of-July picnic, and has, when possible, been present himself.
We had thought to enjoy his wise counsel many years, and to do much to express our gratitude for his benefactions. He is to be laid at rest with his father and mother in the family burial ground on the old place, which he had just surrounded with a unique granite wall, in English style. Here we shall gladly, every summer, place upon his grave the old-fashioned flowers he so much loved.
LETTER OF JUSTIN H. SMITH.
Early in 1878 Mr. Philbrick was selected by the government to direct the National Exhibit of Education at the Universal Exposition, opening in Paris on April 1st of that year. The authorities were scantily informed of the need for such an exhibit, and of the magnitude of the undertaking; the decision was late, the appropriation meager, the educational public indifferent or disheartened. Had there not been in Mr. Philbrick full knowledge, prompt action, ample resources, and resolute enthusiasm, the enterprise must have proved a failure, Warmly and ably supported by General Eaton, the Commissioner of Education, he was able to sail the 20th of March with an abundance of choice material secured.
Arrived at Paris, full of enthusiasm, he found he had
not a foot of space, and was only one of half a hundred eager and disappointed applicants. The difficulty was met with characteristic patience, tact, and perseverance, and at last he was given a space of about 21 by 25 feet, in which to unfold his representative exhibit of the foremost educational country of the world.
In organizing and in conducting the department he was indefatigable and sagacious, always enthusiastic, cheerful, and philosophic, never losing sight of his constituents' interests, while continually in demand to confer with his colleagues of the Jury, attend social and official gatherings, deliver addresses at the Sorbonne and elsewhere, explain the exhibit to deputations of teachers, and meet his professional friends from Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Australia. At the close of the Exposition his collection was solicited by the French government, and, substantially a unit, was permanently established in the palace that contains Venus de Milo and masterpieces of Raphael, Murillo, Titian, and Rubens.
Mr. Philbrick brought back to America for his constituents 121 high awards, — more than any other country except France herself received, — and for himself the cross of the Legion of Honor, the gold palm of the Uni. versité de France, the Doctorate of Laws from the ancient University of St. Andrews, and, — the only reward he sought, — the respect and esteem of the most eminent educators in all the civilized countries of the globe.
To this work, as to all his professional duties, Mr. Philbrick was ardently devoted, and he gave it the most a man could give, — himself, -- for to its success he consciously sacrificed the continuance of his public career, and many of the hopes he had cherished for his declining years.
LETTER OF HON. JOHN W. DICKINSON.
Mr. John D. Philbrick was born in Deerfield, N. H., on the 27th of May, 1818, and died at Danvers, Mass., on the ad of February, 1886. Mr. Philbrick received his collegiate education at Dartmouth College, from which institution he graduated in 1842. While a student in college, he was noted for his industry and his persever. ance. He entered college for a purpose, and he never lost sight of it until it was fully accomplished. During his sophomore year he chose teaching for his life-work, and from that time he studied with reference to preparing himself for the duties of his chosen profession.
On graduating from college he came to Boston and entered at once upon his chosen work, beginning as assistant teacher in the Latin school in Roxbury. The same qualities of mind and heart exhibited themselves in his practical life as a teacher, that had distinguished him through the years of his college course as learner. He was industrious in preparing his daily tasks and persevering in the application of his methods of teaching and control.
His success as a teacher attracted attention, and in 1844 he was transferred from the Roxbury school to the English High School. In 1845 he was made master of the Mayhew School. Three years later he was appointed
to organize the Quincy School, the first of the present system of grammar schools of the city. In 1852 he was called from Boston to New Britain, Conn., to organize the State Normal School, established two years before in that town, for the training of teachers of the public schools. By an act of the Connecticut legislature, passed in 1849, the office of Superintendent of Common Schools and that of principal of the State Normal School were united. Mr. Philbrick accepted the twofold office, and did all in his power to perform well the responsible duties committed to his care. As principal of an important educational institution, and as superintendent of a system of schools, he did enough for Connecticut to eventually provide for her public schools better trained teachers, and for the teachers themselves a more generous support.
By invitation of the school committee of Boston, he came back to Massachusetts in 1857, and commenced what proved to be the great work of his life, — the reorganization and direction of the public schools of the city. Mr. Philbrick was superintendent of the public schools of Boston from 1857 to 1874, and again from 1876 to 1878, and when he resigned his office he left these schools the best organized and conducted public educa. tional institutions in this or any other country.
Mr. Philbrick performed some important educational service outside of his labors as superintendent of schools. He was for ten years a member of the State Board of Education, during which time he gave full sympathy and cordial support to the State Normal Schools, then in the infancy of their existence. He was appointed by the
government to represent our educational affairs at the Vienna Exhibition, in 1873, and again at the great Paris Exhibition in 1878, of which he made elaborate and able reports. He organized and superintended our own educational exhibit at Philadelphia, in 1876, and did his work with so much skill and good judgment, that the products of the Massachusetts public schools were judged to be of the highest excellence.
Mr. Philbrick has contributed much to our educational literature by his able public addresses, and by his valuable school reports, which have embodied his best thoughts on a great variety of educational topics. These reports will be read, I am sure, with increasing interest by all educators who have access to them, as the years go by.
And, finally, I find that Mr. Philbrick was a member of that association of gentlemen, who, interested in the professional applications of science, and in the practical and fine arts, began to form those ideas, which, after strug. gling for a long time for an opportunity to make a material expression of themselves, finally, on the eighth day of April, 1862, were organized into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, — an institution that introduced at once a new and most important element into our systems of education. From the day of the organization of this distinguished institution to the time of his death, I believe Mr. Philbrick was a member of its corporation and of its committee on instruction. He was an earnest and intelligent friend of the Institute, for he was deeply interested in its objects and its methods.