Page images

English High School. On the organization of the Quincy School in 1848, and the appointment of Dr. Philbrick as its master, I soon learned the worth and value of his companionship. Owing to the proximity of the Quincy and Brimmer districts, we naturally had occasion to consult on matters pertaining to our respective schools, and thus we became quite intimate. Such was the harmony of our views on all educational subjects, that our hitherto casual meetings were changed to frequent interviews, that ripened into mutual and warm friendship, which contin. ued uninterrupted to the last.

I propose to speak briefly of Dr. Philbrick, as some of this association of masters knew him in years past in friendly and professional intercourse, calling up in pleasing reminiscences some characteristics familiar to those of us who were associated with him in social life and in educational work.

The social element in his character and his genial nature were such as to gather around him a host of friends; and the quiet but sterling integrity of the man created confidence in all who secured his friendship. Any one at all acquainted with our friend must have particularly noticed his calm demeanor, fortitude, and noble bearing under all circumstances, either of success or discouragement, in his professional life. Dr. Philbrick's character never shone brighter than when he was surrounded by difficulties and trials. Such firmness and dignity, such undisturbed peace of mind, such consciousness of no wrong-doing, - for his natural frankness forbade all duplicity, — and such manly and Christian resignation gave a peculiar loveliness to the man, and all his friends admired his noble bearing under all trials and oppositions.

Dr. Philbrick, after carefully and thoroughly investi. gating any subject, and becoming convinced what course, in his best judgment, was the proper and honest one to pursue, held fast and firmly to his convictions, and was decided and independent in action. He was emphatically practical and sound in all educational opinions. He was distinguished for completeness in mental endowments, and was so well stocked with good common sense that he could not brook or sustain any sensational or empirical notions in any department of his work; but he was never rude or offensive in his opposition to what he considered unsound and visionary theories. He labored constantly and aimed conscientiously to encourage and sustain all methods in discipline and teaching that would lead to thorough instruction and complete scholarship. He so heartily and truly desired substantial and definite results, that he totally ignored all shams and all desultory and uncertain methods. He was far more willing to submit peaceably to defeat, than ignobly to compromise, or substitute any system that would encourage superficial teaching and the fanciful schemes of modern agitators. In this particular he ranks pre-eminent for honesty and unflinching purpose in all undertakings. While some constantly cater for public approbation, and shift and turn to gain applause, he was ever truly and perseveringly committed to such methods as would conduce to practical and genuine results.

In his domestic, social, and public life we know his worth, as an affectionate husband, a faithful brother teacher, and more recently as a wise, conservative, and judicious superintendent and director of all school ad. ministrations; we well know how earnestly and independently he devoted himself to duty, and the deep interest he ever felt in all teachers and their profession; and how kindly and patiently he always listened to any suggestions and inquiries, and never in an authoritative manner forced his opinions on any one.

Dr. Philbrick will ever hold a high rank as a clear and vigorous interpreter of the best educational methods. He wrote from the amplest intellectual resources and from deliberate thought.

He had the rarest opportunities, both in this country and abroad, and by study and personal observation he became familiar with various systems in education, and learned to utilize philosophical deductions therefrom, so that he may justly be ranked among the foremost exponents of pedagogical science in the world.

His reports, lectures, and essays on various subjects of school interest and importance are prolific and thorough, and designate him as the highest authority in all questions of popular education. His series of school reports, as superintendent of the Boston schools, will ever be prized for the great amount of sound, practical information they contain, and as highly important contributions to school literature. His recent admirable circular of the Bureau of Education, Washington, D. C., entitled, “ City School Systems of the United States,” may justly be considered almost unrivalled, as the ablest and fullest document on educational matters, that has yet been issued from the American press; thorough, profound, and completely covering all the ground in educational investigation. The wide range of topics so ably considered and analyzed, and the rare power of observation brought to bear on all subjects of organization and methods of instruction, for city schools especially, give the entire report a remarkable interest, and assign the author a prominent place in educational science.

Dr. Philbrick expressed the hope, if health and strength permitted, to write the History of American Education. He was engaged at the time of his death on some important papers ; and it is to be hoped he has left complete additions to his already valuable publications. Says the poet Whittier, for many years the friend and neighbor of Dr. Philbrick, “He leaves a noble record, and his name will long be cherished as a wise and successful friend of learning, and as a worthy and upright citizen”; and his friend, General Eaton, recently United States Commissioner of Education, bears this testimony to his work : “An able, scholarly, and noble man, dear friend, great educator, full of knowledge, wise to plan and faithful to execute, his death is a calamity to sound learning the world over.” What higher eulogiums could be engraven on the monument of any man, than such praise, emanating from men ranking high in literary attainment and scholarship.

Dr. Philbrick always took a deep interest in this Association, believing in a full and free discussion of all

subjects pertaining to the best welfare of the schools. As a presiding officer, he presented his views with clearness and sincerity. He never in a dictatorial or offensive manner urged the adoption of any measure, but waited patiently till all became satisfied that his suggestions and recommendations would conduce to the best interests of the schools.

The important lesson to be drawn from such a life of upright and independent action as vitalized the whole being of Dr. Philbrick, should create an anxious desire, especially in teachers, to foster and develop those leading and prominent characteristics which gave a peculiar charm to his public and official life. His defence of truth and honest opinion was a marked feature in the career of this noble man, and this should be cherished and remembered of him, as it is the key-stone of all that is lofty in character, and the most fitting armor for the greatest in this world's arena; and it should be the con. stant aim of all to cultivate and unfold in their teaching that independence and conscientiousness which prepare the opening and receptive minds of the young for stations of influence and honor in life's career.

The name of the departed will still live in all its blessed influence, not only in the hearts of a multitude of friends, but also in most grateful recognition by all who can appreciate his noble work and the vast amount of good accomplished by him in his industrious life. Says Pericles, the Grecian statesman, “The earth is

" the sepulchre of illustrious men; nor is it the inscription on their monuments alone that shows their worth, but the

« PreviousContinue »