Page images



The Boston Masters' Association is composed of all the principals of the Normal, Latin, High, and Grammar Schools, employed in the city of Boston. This Association meets once a month, at the call of the superintendent of schools, for the discussion of educational questions, and for conference in regard to the management of the schools. These meetings are held at the rooms of the school committee, and are followed by a dinner at Parker's.

Here it was that the Boston masters were brought into the most intimate relations with Dr. Philbrick. Here, more than anywhere else, that they learned to appreciate his wisdom, his power in practical affairs, his patience, his thorough appreciation of good work and honest endeavor, and his constant effort to dignify the office of the teacher and make it honorable and desirable. Here, too, it was that the simple honesty of his nature most showed itself, and that warm-hearted generosity which gave due credit to all his co-workers in the cause of education. Here were cemented those bonds of personal friendship which united superintendent and teachers into a band of faithful friends working for the common good

of the schools.

Here, in short, he learned to respect and love the Boston masters, and here they learned to regard him as the ideal superintendent.

The March meeting of this Association was given up to a commemoration of the work and character of Dr. Philbrick. Among the addresses that evening were the following :


Mr. Superintendent and Brother Masters:

In offering these resolutions for the committee, I wish to add a few personal words of appreciation of the character and characteristics of our beloved and lamented friend.

My acquaintance with Mr. Philbrick began in New Britain, Conn., in the winter of 1852. I had charge of the grammar department of the model school connected with the Normal School, when he was appointed to the principalship, and the following year I became a student of the Normal School, and came daily under his teaching and influence. It has been my good fortune since that time to be on terms of friendship, to go to him for advice, and, for the last twenty-five years, to co-operate with him to do the best thing for the schools of Boston.

His deep personal interest in the students of New Britain attached them to him. He set before them a high ideal, and inspired them with needed confidence. His enthusiasm was contagious, and aroused in them a zeal for improvement and for the doing of worthy work for a

noble calling. No matter how short the interview, they left him with enlarged views and nobler aspirations. He was like a charged "Leyden jar"; whatever teacher came in contact with him received a spark, and he was an unimpressible dullard who was not improved by


I called on him once during a serious illness, when visitors were a hindrance; but his interest in the work in New Haven, where Prof. Moses True Brown and myself had been sent to do pioneer work in reorganizing the school system of that city, was unabated, and his faithful wife had to check him for exceeding his strength in cheering and counseling us.

Mr. Philbrick had common sense in an uncommon degree, which men call wisdom. He was a needed and appreciated counselor in educational affairs. His growth in wisdom was continuous and symmetrical, like the growth of a tree, and as we who have been long associated with him have grown in years and experience, we have not outgrown his judgment, but have appreciated it more and more. His consecration to education was complete. In him was illustrated the saying of the Great Teacher, "If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light."

It is human for ignorance and inexperience to speak lightly and perhaps disparagingly of our official superiors, whom we do not know or cannot appreciate. I have heard such remarks regarding Mr. Philbrick, and it has been interesting to note the changed opinions of such when placed in responsible positions. "I did not

appreciate Mr. Philbrick until I came to this responsibility," has been the usual remark.


Mr. Philbrick had a cheerful theory for earnest, ambitious young men; it was that whatever happened was for the best, and that the lesson they were to learn was labor and to wait." There are those present to whom his words were the silver lining to their cloud of disappointment.

It has been said by one who knew him most intimately, that he "idealized his friends." I think the charge is true, and am sure that he often embarrassed them by his opinion of what they were capable of doing, and his earnestness to have them do it. What a tribute to his generous heart that he "idealized his friends" and thought them capable of doing things beyond their own estimate! How many of us think more highly of our friends than we ought to think? Yes, there was nothing disparaging in Mr. Philbrick's nature. He saw the best in every school, in every teacher, in every school official; he saw merit from afar.

His charity was Christ-like. "They know not what they do," was his feeling toward ignorant and wrongheaded officials, for whom he never seemed to entertain bitterness or ill-nature, though they would have overturned the slow progress of years, and illustrated the saying of Goethe, "There is nothing so terrible as active ignorance."

I once called on Mr. Philbrick at his office, and he told me that he had just written a letter of sympathy to a member of the school committee, then in his last illness,

who, for a quarter of a century, had opposed all his recommendations, disparaged his labors, and seemed to delight in keeping things as they were. I said, "How could you do it?" He replied, with tenderness, "I couldn't help it; I never laid up anything against him. He never understood me."

Mr. Philbrick was fortunate in his time of coming to Boston. There was a great work to be done in harmonizing and systematizing the educational work, and in reconstructing the primary schools in accordance with modern ideas and methods; work that once done wisely needs not to be done again. How patiently, persistently, and wisely he labored, with no assistant, not even a clerk, you, senior Masters, well know, and with what success all well-informed educators also know. This leavening of the schools was accomplished without the authority to appoint or remove a single teacher. It was like the genial influence of the sun on the vegetable world.

He was fortunate in his last visit to Europe, after his work in Boston was done, and his able reports had been read abroad, and given reputation to the Boston schools.

The congress of educators from the chief countries of Europe, after such an acquaintance as long service on important juries and committees afforded, paid him honor and deference. His genial spirit and courtly manners, united with wide knowledge and wisdom in counsel, won the affection and esteem of his associates. Educational men traveling in Europe afterwards found Mr. Philbrick the most honored educational man in America.

As highest summits are first seen from afar, he

« PreviousContinue »