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LETTER OF A. A. MINER, D.D.
I am glad to pay my humble tribute to the memory of our late distinguished fellow-citizen, John D. Philbrick, LL.D., in view of his high personal character, and of his valuable services in the cause of education.
When I became a member of the Board of Education, in 1869, he had already rendered some years of service in that body. His large experience in various positions in the educational field eminently qualified him to promote, by his counsels, the most important interests of the Commonwealth. As a teacher in the public schools in early life, and in the higher schools in later years; as superintendent of the public schools of Boston, which were in no small measure transformed during his administration, and very largely through his influence ; and as Commissioner of the International Exhibition at Vienna, in 1873, affording him rare opportunities for becoming widely acquainted with institutions and methods of instruction both at home and abroad, — he became possessed of such treasures of knowledge as made his services in the Board of Education of especial value.
One of the most marked departures from the customary course of common school studies, during the term of Dr. Philbrick's membership of the board, was the introduc. tion, into the schools, of elementary instruction in industrial drawing. In response to a petition from some of our foremost citizens, seconded by the Board of Education, the legislature, in 1870, passed an act introducing industrial drawing into the school curriculum in cities and
towns containing more than ten thousand inhabitants. But brief experience under the law made it apparent that special preparation of teachers for this work was necessary to give definiteness of aim and adaptation of methods to the end in view.
Out of this discovery, among other instrumentalities, grew the State Normal Art School. In 1873 an appropriation of $9,000 was made for that purpose, and rooms, entirely inadequate, in the two upper stories, – one being the attic, — of 33 Pemberton Square, an ordinary dwell- . ing-house, were assigned for the school. Out of this very humble beginning has grown an institution which is both an honor to Massachusetts and a blessing to the whole country. Appreciating this honor and usefulness, the State, in 1885, unconditionally set apart a piece of land at the corner of Newbury and Exeter streets, worth from $50,000 to $60,000, for the site of a suitable building for the school, and appropriated $85,000 for the erection of the building itself, which has already been put under contract.
The beginnings of this enterprise, now so full of use. fulness and promise, were not secured without much thought, study, and argument, repeated year after year, by the Board of Education, in all the earlier of which labors Dr. Philbrick bore a conspicuous part. The school was opened in the autumn of 1873. During the first year of its history he held the responsible position of chairman of its board of visitors, and would doubtless have been continued in that office had not his membership of the Board of Education terminated. All who
have been associated with Dr. Philbrick in these various labors, I feel warranted in saying, hold his memory in very high esteem.
LETTER OF O. B. CHENEY, D.D.
I had the pleasure of Mr. Philbrick's acquaintance for nearly forty-eight years.
We first met at Hanover, N. H., as students of Dartmouth College. Several things served to make our acquaintance speedy, and to intensify it from that day until the closing days of his life.
His father, the late Rev. Peter Philbrick, of Deerfield, N. H., and my father, as well as Mr. Philbrick and my. self, were members of the same religious people, –a denomination about that time becoming interested in establishing several institutions of learning, such as academies or seminaries.
It is not for me to say anything about John D. Philbrick's great work in bringing up the public schools of Boston to their present high standard, - a standard that makes them, I am safe in saying, a model for the world to pattern after. Neither am I called upon to speak of his labors in foreign lands in behalf of the cause of education. Others among his many friends who know what he has done for this cause at home and abroad (for he yet speaketh) will do justice to him in this respect.
It is for me, in few words, to speak of his interest in the work of founding the school over which I have had the honor to preside from the beginning. It is over thirty-one years since the work of founding this college was begun, and, whatever part I have had in establishing and managing it, I have always had Mr. Philbrick at my right hand as a friend and adviser. He took pride in the fact that the religious people with whom his honored father was during his life connected, are laying the foundations of a college yet to rank among the first in the country. It should be said that this college had his heart, his purse, and his vote. He was a trustee for ten years, from 1873 to 1883.
All who knew Mr. Philbrick know, without my telling them, that he did not believe in having honorary members of college boards of trustees, and as the state of his health forbade his presence longer at our commencement exercises, he sent me his resignation as a trustee. How reluctant the board was to accept it may be known from the fact that it was laid upon the table and not accepted until a year after, at his persistent request.
He received his high degree from this college in 1872. The record in our last Triennial is as follows: JohannesDudley Philbrick, Curator, Dart. 1842 et Mr., Superintentor Bostoniae Scholarum, LL.D.; Univ. Sancti Andreae apud Scotos, LL.D., 1878; Officier de l'Instruction Publique, France, 1878; Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, 1878.
The number of men who have done more than John D. Philbrick to make the world better is small. How sad that a life such as his was, so true, so pure, so noble, so unselfish, — could not have been longer! Yes, it must be that he is a living, happy man still. I have not a doubt of it, for, if I doubted it, I should be of all men most miserable.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
LETTER OF HIRAM ORCUTT, LL.D.
John Dudley Philbrick, a classmate in the same section, occupying the same line of seats in the classroom, and a room only two doors distant, I knew him well; and having chosen the same profession, I continued my acquaintance with him to the end. Many kind, appreciative and tender words have already been spoken of him since his departure. I beg to add my tribute of respect and affection; for I knew him only to honor, admire, and love him.
It has been said that Mr. Philbrick was not a natural leader in scholarship.” That he was a thorough and successful scholar, his record will show. That he was “ not brilliant,” in the sense this word is generally understood, may be accounted for by recalling two facts; viz., his preparation for college was limited (only fourteen months time was allowed him), and his aim was not to gain the class leadership and the valedictory, but to acquire a broader and more practical culture. Hence, while many a valedictorian has passed off the stage to be forgotten, Mr. Philbrick came to the front in his profession, and not only became a "leader of men,” but “ of all the men of the present generation who have devoted their lives to education, he was the foremost." This fact, it seems