Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 “to labor and to wait.” There are those present to whom his words were the silver lining to their cloud of dis. appointment.

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 wrong. headed 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 returned from Europe with the reputation of a leader and

a an authority in educational affairs.

Mr. Philbrick was fortunate in his domestic relations his devoted wife was a hearty co-worker in his plans. She was an ideal companion in her hospitality to his friends, and in her sympathy with his aspirations. His domestic life was congenial to his heart and stimulating to his ambition.

Mr. Philbrick was not blessed with children, but he gave his life to educate the children of others. He took the children of Boston in his arms and blessed them. Let us, above all men, speak his name with loyalty to his memory, with gratitude for his great service, with reverence and admiration for his character, and affectionate remembrance of his friendship.

Let us ask that a noble schoolhouse be named for him who did so much for Boston schools.

[ocr errors]

ADDRESS OF ROBERT SWAN.

Mr. Superintendent and Brethren :

It was not my privilege to enjoy intimate personal relations with Dr. Philbrick, but it was my privilege to be the master of a school during the whole time of his administration of the office of superintendent; and I can certify without bias to the manner in which his duties were performed.

My first knowledge of Mr. Philbrick was at the time of his appointment as writing-master of the Mayhew School, forty years ago. The schools were then on the old system, so called, each with a grammar and a writing master, the scholars alternating, morning and afternoon. My brother, William D. Swan, was master in the Grammar Department, and, consequently, I was fully informed in regard to the enthusiasm and ability with which Mr. Philbrick discharged the duties of his position. There were two large halls, in each of which there were four teachers and two hundred boys, the master at one end of the room, an usher at the other, with two female teachers between them, who retired with half a class at a time to recitation rooms. What a school of experience for a young master!

His success here pointed to him, emphatically, as the man to take charge of the new Quincy school, the building for which was then in progress of erection, and he was transferred to this position, leaving the Mayhew with Mr. Swan as sole master, and inaugurating the Quincy with single classrooms, on the new system with a single head.

There is no need of reciting the story of his great success in the new school. The two schools were so conducted that the old system, though strenuously supported by its advocates, was abandoned, and the new order became general, and is in vogue at the present time.

The next step in progress in the school system was the permission from the legislature for the city to appoint a superintendent of schools, and Mr. Philbrick was a prominent candidate for the place. Mr. Bishop, who had been, for some time previous, superintendent of the Providence schools, was chosen, and Mr. Philbrick soon after resigned his mastership in Boston to take charge of a normal school in Connecticut. The gentleman opposite has spoken of the good fortune that always attended Mr. Philbrick, and we can now appreciate how fortunate he was in not succeeding in his first application for the position of superintendent, for the experience in Connecticut was absolutely necessary to properly prepare him for his great work, which he afterward so successfully matured, of perfecting a school system for Boston.

Mr. Bishop soon resigned, and Mr. Philbrick was then appointed without opposition. When he commenced his duties, the Grammar and Primary School committees were entirely separate organizations, the Primary Commit. tee being chosen by the Grammar Board from names sent in to them by individuals who were willing to serve in that capacity. Each primary schoolroom contained all the classes of the primary grade. The law was changed, bringing all the schools under one Board, and, later, the schools were organized in groups of six classes, each class in a separate room. Then came the placing of the primary schools under the supervision of the masters of the districts, thus making a systematic grading from the child's entering the schools, at five years of age, till the graduation from the grammar school at fifteen. The magnitude of this improvement, in accomplishing which Mr. Philbrick was the leading, directing spirit, those listening to me can fully appreciate.

Mr. Philbrick's influence was powerful in advancing the status of the teacher's calling in the estimation of the public, and in thus increasing their compensation. The salaries in many instances are now double what were

« PreviousContinue »