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He did not put affairs out of joint. He administered city schools, but he studied profoundly the general principles of education, and saw how part fitted part and threw light upon the whole. Again and again I met foreign educators, after Dr. Philbrick's visit to Vienna, who could hardly find language strong enough to express their high opinion of him. Among them a most eminent inspector of normal schools in Belgium, who had taken the great step to call to his aid a lady as an assistant inspector, declared himself fully confirmed in his view by Dr. Philbrick's approval, and that he prized what he learned from Dr. Philbrick about education more than all else that he gained at Vienna.
Dr. Philbrick's representation of education at Paris, in 1878, was of the greatest possible service. He could do justice to any part of it. He won for us the confidence and respect of all inquirers, however humble or renowned. He and his exhibit, though small, were sought by the most eminent students of education. His great ability and attainments, his industry and devotion, his skill and aptness to teach, all served him well, and none who came went away unenlightened. He became a favorite Amer. ican guest at distinguished gatherings. The honors conferred by the French and the “Doctor of Laws,” by the Scotch University, and the remembrances which flowed in till the day of his death, were most deserved.
The French Commissioner to the New Orleans Exhi. bition made a special pilgrimage to Asylum Station, and could not restrain his lamentations when he learned that the Doctor was in New Hampshire, whither he could not
go before the sailing of the vessel on which he had engaged passage.
The great benefits derived from him and his work by the Japanese are well known, and have been often acknowledged. Bishop Frazer, until his death, was the Doctor's admiring correspondent. Dr. Philbrick's marvelous power of seeing a situation in education, and meeting it, enabled him to give most timely counsel to those dealing with difficulties, old or new. state and city systems has he helped! He was quick to discover and recognize good work wherever done.
He set a high value upon associations for the promotion of education, as will be recognized by his frequent sacrifices to attend meetings and take part in them. His inspiring a great body of Eastern teachers to attend the National Association at Chicago will not be forgotten, and illustrates his ideas and activity. What an impulse they left behind them, and how much they learned and enjoyed !
He specially aided in educational journalism as editor, writer, and adviser. Who that saw him at Saratoga, , nearly blind, and led about by his devoted wife, can forget him, or his masterly paper, or his wise and delightful conversation! Even after his retirement to his country home, no great movement in education escaped him, whether affecting the entire country, or a state, or city, or institution, and he had the courage of his convictions; he stood by his colors. His works will remain to honor him and instruct coming generations. What a set of city reports is that which he made of the Boston schools ! Every one is a study. When has there appeared so much wisdom in a single pedagogical paper as in the circular prepared by him for the Bureau of Education, and published by it!
His life covered a most marked period in the progress of education, in which he was a most effective actor, and in which his name will ever be associated. He gathered the richest fruit for his chosen profession to the last. Teachers everywhere may well honor him and emulate his virtues.
LETTER OF JOHN S. CLARK.
I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Philbrick very well for the last twenty years of his life, and of one feature of his work I may, perhaps, be permitted to speak with exceptional knowledge. Among the prominent educators of the country he was the first to perceive the value of art education in general education, as well as the first to take active steps toward its promotion. I think it is generally conceded that the movement for the study of drawing in public schools, which, within the last fifteen years, has extended over the whole country, had its begin. ning in Boston in 1870. How important a movement this has been, and what a development it has given to education in many directions, is well known to all observers of public schools for the last ten years. I do not think I do injustice to the many gentlemen who took a deep interest in starting the movement in Massachusetts, when I say that the leading spirit in the movement was Dr. Philbrick. He was at that time superintendent of the public schools of Boston, and a member of the State Board of Education. My intimate acquaintance with him began about this time, and, above all others, he seemed to have clear ideas in regard to how the work should be begun in the schools, and how it should be developed. In my various consultations with him he surprised me, not only by the thoroughness of his observation in regard to what had been done abroad, but also by his clear comprehension of what was necessary to be done here before any success could be expected.
While his official reports at this time bear evidence of his earnest conviction in regard to the importance of drawing and art education generally, they give little indication of the very earnest personal efforts he was making in every direction to promote the undertaking, both in the city and in the state. To Dr. Philbrick more than to any other one person are we indebted for our Massa. chusetts Normal Art School. The necessity for such an institution became apparent to him at the outset of the movement, and his experience as an educator enabled him to see, with perhaps greater clearness than others, its necessity in order to carry on the work throughout the state. It was through his instrumentality, mainly, that Mr. Walter Smith was induced to come to Boston in 1872, and in the early years of Mr. Smith's labors he had Dr. Philbrick's earnest support.
The art movement in education, which he did so much to inaugurate, engaged his deepest attention to the last. The closing years of his official life in Boston showed in. creased interest in the subject; and since his retirement at Danvers he has evinced the liveliest interest in the spread of drawing throughout the country, and I have been in the habit of consulting him frequently in regard to various educational points that have arisen in my own work. I always found him full to repletion of wise counsel; and I never left him without feeling myself his debtor to an extent that could not be paid. His presence at the National Association at Saratoga was especially memorable by reason of his visit to the Art Exhibition. In the excellent work there exhibited from the schools of Worcester, St. Louis, Chicago, and Quincy, he took the greatest delight. He was able to see the development that had taken place within the last few years in the study of form and drawing, and, as he expressed himself, “ It was the realization of what he could only hope for fifteen years ago.” As I knew the deep interest he took in this particular line of educational work, I was greatly pleased that his partially dimmed eyes were gladdened by a sight so full of promise to the future of public edu. cation before they were closed forever.
There are so many who will pay fitting tribute to Dr. Philbrick's eminent public services that I have felt like speaking only on that feature in his work with which I was intimately acquainted. He was a leader and a pioneer in the art movement in education which is now going so successfully over the country; and in all stages of its progress his labor and his counsel have been invaluable.
Fully cognizant of his efforts in behalf of this feature in education, and his faith in its future development, it gives me great pleasure to add this tribute to his memory.