« PreviousContinue »
and, though the distance between our homes denied me the close personal fellowship enjoyed by his New England associates, I am sure that few of them think of his death with a deeper sense of personal bereavement. I have not only admired Dr. Philbrick for many years, but I have increasingly esteemed his wisdom, and leaned upon him for counsel and guidance. Few American educators have spoken or written fewer unripe views on education than he. He was blessed with that poise and catholicity of mind that enabled him to look on all sides of a complex truth, and especially a truth to be embodied in methods of teaching. If he were less enthusiastic than some others, it was because he saw more clearly their limitations. His apparent conservatism was the poise of deep insight and wide knowledge. He held firmly to the good that had been tested, while he sought for and welcomed better things.
His reports as superintendent of the Boston schools, so admirable in contents, spirit, and diction, and his more recent papers on current school questions, will be consulted a few years hence as the wisest contributions of these days. His comprehensive papers on "City School Systems," published in 1885 by the Bureau of Education, and on "School Reports," submitted to the Council last summer, embody wise experience, patient research, and profound wisdom. But I must leave a fitting recognition of Dr. Philbrick's great services in the cause of education to others. My heart calls me back to a simpler tribute of obligation and love.
When I assumed the principalship of a Cleveland
school many years ago, I was so fortunate as to take a "peep" into a Boston school, through the keen eyes of the lamented Cyrus Knowlton of Cincinnati. The school thus seen became an inspiring ideal, and greatly contributed to my success as a teacher. Years afterward I learned it was Mr. Philbrick's school that had been so vividly pictured to me, and so for a third of a century I have been his debtor. There now lies before me a precious letter from his stricken home, informing me that Dr. Philbrick wrote his name the last time to attest his friendship for me, and that my name was among the last words which he uttered. Thus the debt of long ago and this last touching honor span all the years between with inspiration and benediction!
A prince among American educators has fallen! Peace to his ashes, and consolation and blessings to the afflicted widow !
LETTER OF WM. T. HARRIS, LL. D.
I feel keenly the grief that comes to teachers and friends of education, at the announcement of Dr. Philbrick's death. There is an inner circle of personal friends who knew him and loved him and honored him, for both personal and professional reasons. There is an outer circle who knew him and respected him as a veteran authority in matters pertaining to education, and this circle includes the entire profession devoted to teaching and the management of schools, in every civilized country in the world. I would fain lay claim to belong to the inner circle, although I have never been officially con
nected with him. I knew him many years as a laborer in the same field of Indeed, my first acquaintance with him dated back to 1852, when I met him at an educational institute. I watched with eager interest his career as superintendent of the State system of Connecticut and subsequently of the schools of Boston.
His annual reports were luminous with insight into the relations of practical methods to the history of pedagogy. He was a city set upon a hill. He never wrote a paragraph without considering the relation of its doctrine to the theory and practice of the world. The effect of his writings, therefore, was a broadening one. Teachers learned from him to look at their work from an elevation, and to take in its perspective.
I have often noted his generosity toward his contemporaries. He seemed to take especial pleasure in crediting others with any good points that he could detect in their methods or theories. In this respect his influence was specially inspiring to young men ambitious to excel in their profession. I should lay great emphasis on this grand feature of his character as it appeared from a distance. I have no doubt that the memories of those who worked near him can supply innumerable examples of the manifestation of this noble trait.
There comes into my mind, as eminently fitting on the occasion of the death of a great teacher, the words from the prophet Daniel, quoted in the epitaph of Fichte on his tomb in Berlin: "The teachers shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
LETTER OF JOHN G. WHITTIER.
I am glad to hear that the Journal of Education will issue a memorial number devoted to my honored friend, Dr. Philbrick, of this town. I had known of his educational work for many years, but had never the pleasure of his personal acquaintance until he took up his resi dence in my neighborhood. I found him a busy student, deeply interested in the cause to which his life had been devoted, but at the same time a genial, unpretending gentleman, and a very pleasant addition to our social circle.
The last time I saw him, some two months ago, he was suffering from partial blindness, but seemed in his usual good spirits. He was specially interested in the educational progress of Europe, and in the female colleges established recently in France. He warmly commended Wellesley College and its young and able president, and expressed great satisfaction at the auspicious opening of the Bryn Mawr College, in Philadelphia. He was deeply impressed with the imperative necessity of the education of all the people of the United States, irrespective of color or nationality, as the only sure safeguard of liberty and progress, regarding the ballot in the hands of ignorance a cause for serious apprehension of national dangers. A good and true man, who served his generation faithfully and successfully, he deserves to be held in grateful remembrance.
LETTER OF GEN. JOHN EATON, LL.D.
Your plan is most fit. But it would be easier to write a volume than "a word" exactly descriptive of Dr. Philbrick, or of my memories of him.
I first heard of him when I was fitting for college under Dr. Orcutt, his classmate. In my earliest knowledge of educators I read of Mr. Philbrick as a "Boston. teacher," then as in Connecticut; and soon, again, as in Boston, and at the head of the city schools.
In returning East from my year's work in Ohio, I was accustomed to see for myself all I could of schools and
leading teachers and educators. On my first return through Boston I learned much, through Nathan Bishop, of his first experience as superintendent in Providence and Boston. On my next visit I met Mr. Philbrick, and his strong characteristics impressed me deeply. In my mind were definite questions, some theoretical, others practical. In his answers there was no assumption of superiority, no brag, no ex cathedra announcements. was a master, strong, on the alert, but judicial, and employing the scientific methods for working out the great problems before him. He quoted what had been. tried here and there, and failed or succeeded, and stated what he was trying, giving me most valuable facts and suggestions specially available for my study and practice. His mind had before it most abundant information and theories, but I specially felt his power to hold all in abeyance until their adoption in administration was clearly expedient.
I have been a debtor to Dr. Philbrick in education from the first. How many teachers obtained their first hints from him! From this experience of mine I readily saw later, when I referred foreign educators to him, how they were sure to report the great benefit they gained from a visit to him,