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In his domestic, social, and public life we know his worth, as an affectionate husband, a faithful brother teacher, and more recently as a wise, conservative, and judicious superintendent and director of all school administrations; we well know how earnestly and independently he devoted himself to duty, and the deep interest he ever felt in all teachers and their profession; and how kindly and patiently he always listened to any suggestions and inquiries, and never in an authoritative manner forced his opinions on any one.
Dr. Philbrick will ever hold a high rank as a clear and vigorous interpreter of the best educational methods. He wrote from the amplest intellectual resources and from deliberate thought. He had the rarest opportunities, both in this country and abroad, and by study and personal observation he became familiar with various systems in education, and learned to utilize philosophical deductions therefrom, so that he may justly be ranked among the foremost exponents of pedagogical science in the world.
His reports, lectures, and essays on various subjects of school interest and importance are prolific and thorough, and designate him as the highest authority in all questions of popular education. His series of school reports, as superintendent of the Boston schools, will ever be prized for the great amount of sound, practical information they contain, and as highly important contributions to school literature. His recent admirable circular of the Bureau of Education, Washington, D. C., entitled, “City School Systems of the United States,"
may justly be considered almost unrivalled, as the ablest and fullest document on educational matters, that has yet been issued from the American press; thorough, profound, and completely covering all the ground in educational investigation. The wide range of topics so ably considered and analyzed, and the rare power of observation brought to bear on all subjects of organization and methods of instruction, for city schools especially, give the entire report a remarkable interest, and assign the author a prominent place in educational science.
Dr. Philbrick expressed the hope, if health and strength permitted, to write the History of American Education. He was engaged at the time of his death on some important papers ; and it is to be hoped he has left complete additions to his already valuable publications. Says the poet Whittier, for many years the friend and neighbor of Dr. Philbrick, “He leaves a noble record, and his name will long be cherished as a wise and successful friend of learning, and as a worthy and upright citizen”; and his friend, General Eaton, recently United States Commissioner of Education, bears this testimony to his work : “An able, scholarly, and noble man, dear friend, great educator, full of knowledge, wise to plan and faithful to execute, his death is a calamity to sound learning the world over.” What higher eulogiums could be engraven on the monument of any man, than such praise, emanating from men ranking high in literary attainment and scholarship.
Dr. Philbrick always took a deep interest in this Association, believing in a full and free discussion of all
subjects pertaining to the best welfare of the schools. As a presiding officer, he presented his views with clearness and sincerity. He never in a dictatorial or offensive manner urged the adoption of any measure, but waited patiently till all became satisfied that his suggestions and recommendations would conduce to the best interests of the schools.
The important lesson to be drawn from such a life of upright and independent action as vitalized the whole being of Dr. Philbrick, should create an anxious desire, especially in teachers, to foster and develop those leading and prominent characteristics which gave a peculiar charm to his public and official life. His defence of truth and honest opinion was a marked feature in the career of this noble man, and this should be cherished and remembered of him, as it is the key-stone of all that is lofty in character, and the most fitting armor for the greatest in this world's arena; and it should be the constant aim of all to cultivate and unfold in their teaching that independence and conscientiousness which prepare the opening and receptive minds of the young for stations of influence and honor in life's career.
The name of the departed will still live in all its blessed influence, not only in the hearts of a multitude of friends, but also in most grateful recognition by all who can appreciate his noble work and the vast amount of good accomplished by him in his industrious life.
Says Pericles, the Grecian statesman, “The earth is the sepulchre of illustrious men; nor is it the inscription on their monuments alone that shows their worth, but the
unwritten memorial of them in remembrance.” So we, my brethren, may never stand by the grave, or read the epitaph of him we all so mourn, but we shall often recall his many virtues and dwell with satisfaction and profit on the noble record of a life so active, so useful, and so honorable.
At the close of these addresses the following resolutions, offered by a committee appointed at the previous meeting of the Association, consisting of C. Goodwin Clark, W. E. Eaton, James F. Blackinton, Elbridge Smith, and Granville B. Putnam, were unanimously adopted, and the meeting adjourned :
The masters of the public schools of Boston hereby express their sense of personal bereavement at the great loss they and the cause of education have sustained in the death of John D. Philbrick, who for twenty years was superintendent of the public schools of this city.
He was great as an organizer and masterly in execution. To his devotion, wisdom, enthusiasm, and wise conservatism, the excellence of our schools to-day is, in large measure, due,
His forty-five reports to the school committee are valuable contributions to education. They are notable for sound judgment, wise suggestions, and statesman-like sagacity. They have given an educational reputation to Boston at home and in foreign countries.
We lament the loss of a noble man and a sincere friend, whose wise counsel was always at our command, whose kindly sympathy encouraged and strengthened us in trouble, whose enthusiasm was contagious, whose cheerfulness was perennial, whose patience was unwearied, and whose charity extended to all, even to those who could not understand his motives or appreciate his labors.
While we bow in submission to the will of an all-wise and loving Father, we confess our disappointment that his life was not prolonged to serve still further the cause which he loved, and for which freedom from public duties had furnished the opportunity, and his ripened wisdom had so eminently fitted him.
May his elevated character, his devotion to the cause of popular education, and his love for those who labor in it be to us an example and an inspiration.
THE SCHOOLMASTERS' CLUB.
The Schoolmasters' Club is a social and professional club, composed of teachers, superintendents, editors of educational journals, and other school men of New England, who dine together several times each year, and discuss educational questions. Dr. Philbrick was one of the original members of the New England Pedagogical Society, from which the Schoolmasters' Club sprang. He had always retained his membership in the club, — indeed had been made an honorary member.
At a meeting of this club, held Feb. 20, 1887, addresses were made as follows, in support of resolutions read by Larkin Dunton :
ADDRESS OF JAMES F. BLACKINTON.
Among those who have taken a prominent part in educational affairs in our day, the name of John D. Philbrick stands in the foremost rank. During his career in this city, some of us, members of this Asso. ciation, were witnesses of his course from the beginning, from his position as assistant teacher to his crowning