Page images

nected with him. I knew him many years as a laborer in the same field of work. 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."


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.


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. He

[ocr errors]

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,

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 American 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 Exhibition 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. How many 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!

« PreviousContinue »