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Another classmate, Dr. J. Baxter Upham, writes : “Everything he did, was well and thoroughly done. He was a ready speaker and an excellent writer, a good scholar, one of the best in the division in which we were together. He was also noted for his honor, integrity, and straightforwardness. He would not stoop to do a low or mean thing. He also had pluck, boldness, and courage, though he was as gentle and kind as he was brave.”
His senior year in college was very much shortened by his prolonged absences for teaching. He left Dartmouth, as he records, early in November of his senior year, without leave or license, and did not return until the last day of the following May. On presenting his excuse to the president for this extended absence, he states that it was immediately accepted and no questions asked. What that excuse was we can readily infer: it was the necessity of earning his own way. Still under this pressure for funds, even now immediately upon his return to college, he was casting about for a location to teach after he should graduate.
It should be said here in explanation of the extreme pressure he felt for earning money, that he not only supported himself at school and college, but helped his sister to obtain a liberal education, and was so keenly sensitive to his filial obligations, that from time to time he provided his father with help upon the farm to compensate for his own necessary absence. Indeed, it was "the custom of the country” for boys to help, and not be helped ; and money was much more scarce, valuable, and hard to get than it is now.
His mind at this time, as the end of his college course was approaching, was filled with thoughts and plans for the future. His determination and confident expectation from the time he first went away to school up to the close of his senior year in college, had been to study and pursue the profession of the law; indeed, at this time he had already begun its earnest reading. Returning home from his senior fall, he makes this note on the eleventh of November, 1841:
“This evening I kindled a fire in the west room, filled my lamp, seated myself in grandfather's old arm-chair, and commenced in earnest the study of my profession, by reading the forty-fourth chapter of Gibbon's Rome, which treats of Roman jurisprudence.”
This study of the law he continued in the leisure hours from his teaching for several years after quitting college, reading all of the elementary and many of the advanced treatises on this science. But though better qualified than most applicants, he never sought admission to the Bar. He did not, however, give up the idea of following this profession, for which he had a strong inclination and many marked qualifications, but fully intended to pursue it, until he became master of the Quincy School, in 1847.
But to return to his outlook from college at the close of his course. His mind was full of projects; he had a strong inclination to go to Virginia, or some part of the South. He was offered the Yarmouth Academy on Cape Cod; he was invited to share the management of the Gymnasium, at Pembroke, by Mr. Kinsman. He considered the plan of starting a high school in his native
town. The thing that he most wanted to do was to continue his study of the law, and his plan for this was to enter the office of Franklin Pierce, at Concord, N. H.
Everything had to give way, however, to the pressing and immediate need for funds, and he chose the most promising opening in this respect. Through the friends he had made at Danvers, Mass., he was now offered a position as assistant in a private institution, the Roxbury, Mass., Latin School, which he at once accepted. It is curious to note that his ancestor, Governor Thomas Dudley, was one of the chief founders of this school in 1645. Following the matter up immediately, that the place might be secured beyond contingency, he left Dartmouth on the last day of June, having remained there in his senior summer just one month. His last year in college, therefore, consisted of an attendance there of about three months only. Under the rules, owing to these absences, he could not graduate with his class, but by making up the deficient studies, he was accorded an examination at the next Commencement, and given a diploma of the date of his class.
MR. PIILBRICK'S EARLY EXPERIENCE IN TEACHING.
On the principle that one learns by doing, a very important part of Mr. Philbrick's education came from the relation where he was teacher instead of pupil. As we have seen, during the course of his preparation for college, and while there, he taught seven winter district schools and one term at an academy. The primary object had in view was to get funds to pay for his own
schooling, but the secondary object attained was even more important. He was educating himself as well as instructing others, and unconsciously bending his mind in a direction which led to the final choice of his life pursuit.
He taught first in the intervals of his fragmentary attendance at the Academy for two or three successive winters, in the district schools of the vicinity of his home. In his residence at Pembroke Academy, he had become acquainted with several members of the family of Putnam, who came from Danvers, Mass. Led by this acquaintance, and hope of help from it in securing a position, he started out at the end of his freshman fall to look for a school in this town or its vicinity. He had no difficulty in obtaining one through these friends, and was engaged to teach in their own district.
This same school he taught for three successive winters. While here, he became acquainted with his fellow-teachers in Danvers and in the near vicinity, especially at Salem. He visited their schools and met them in social meetings, finding among them several superior men. In this old county in Massachusetts, he found a set of schools of much greater excellence than the country schools he had been accustomed to in New Hampshire. He was always very enthusiastic and devoted to whatever he was engaged in, and ambitious, as well, to excel in his work. His uniform and continuous success in managing and instructing inspired him with confidence in his ability, and these surroundings afforded every incitement for him to do his best. He observed and studied the methods in
the best schcols which he visited, and by himself striving to excel them, became much interested in the subject of education itself. Desiring to improve the schools of his native town, on his return to it, from these winter expeditions, he held meetings in the school-houses of the different districts, and lectured to the people on the subject of common school education, and the last winter of his college course, returned to Deerfield to take charge of the school in one of the largest districts, that he might exemplify the improvements in teaching, which he had learned in Massachusetts. At the close of his school there in February, 1842, he was invited by Mr. Kinsman, his old principal at Pembroke, to take the place of assistant in the new Gymnasium there, which Mr. Kinsman had started as a secession from the old academy. He accepted this position, remaining at Pembroke until the last of May, before returning again to college. He made so marked a success in this place, that two or three years later, upon the place of principal becoming vacant, he was invited by the trustees to occupy it, which offer, however, he was not able to accept.
This comprised the whole course of his teaching, while he was engaged in his own school and college studies. It had aroused his mind to the importance of this pursuit, and in becoming a teacher, he had learned the great lesson of how to become a student; and in his associations in Essex County, he found himself a part of a teaching fraternity, and of a social society, which in intelligence and cultivation, exceeded everything in his previous experience, and these influences left a deep impression upon him.