Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Quick, Robert Hebert

QUICK, ROBERT HEBERT (1831−1891), schoolmaster and educational writer, was born in London on 20 Sept. 1831, being the eldest son of James Carthew Quick, a city merchant of some eminence. He was Bent to school at Harrow, but soon removed on account of delicate health, and proceeded from a private tutor's to Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in the mathematical tripos of 1854. He was ordained in 1855, and worked with his lifelong friend, the Rev. J. Llewelyn Davies, as an unpaid curate, first at St. Mark's, Whitechapel, and afterwards in Marylebone. A residence in Germany first turned his thoughts to teaching, and, on his return to England in 1858, he accepted a mastership in Lancaster grammar school. Thence he passed in rapid succession to Guildford grammar school, Hurstpierpoint, and Cranley, where, under Dr. Merriman, he gave valuable help in the organisation of the first successful public school for the middle classes. In 1870 he was appointed by Dr. Butler to an assistant-mastership at Harrow, which he held for four years. For the next few years he was head of a preparatory school, first in London and then at Guildford. In 1881 he was appointed by the university of Cambridge to give the first course of lectures on the history of education under the newly formed syndicate for the training of teachers. In 1883 he was presented by the master and fellows of Trinity College to the vicarage of Sedbergh, Yorkshire, which living he resigned in 1807. His remaining years were passed in retirement at Redhill, though to the last he continued to contribute to professional papers, to lecture, and to maintain an active correspondence with the leaders of education on the continent and in America. While on a visit to Professor (afterwards Sir John Robert) Seeley [q. v.] at Cambridge, he was suddenly struck with spinal apoplexy, and died, after a few days of painless illness, on 9 March 1891. In 1876 he married Bertha, daughter of General Chase Parr of the Bombay army.

The work by which Quick will live is his ‘Essays on Educational Reformers’ (1st edit. 1868). He, first of modern English writers, succeeded in making a book on education readable and at the same time sober and rational; and the secret of his success was that he criticised past theories and methods by the light of living experience. Several pirated editions were published in America, but it was not till 1890 that a second and enlarged English edition was published, the preparation of which was the main work of his last years. Besides numerous pedagogical papers and pamphlets, dealing mainly with the training of teachers and methods of teaching, he edited Locke's ‘Thoughts concerning Education’ (1880), and reprinted with introduction Mulcaster's ‘Positions’ (1888). His article on Froebel in the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’ (9th edit.) was published separately.

[Journal of Education, April 1891, with Memoirs, by J. Llewellyn Davies, H. M. Butler, Professor Seeley, and others; unpublished diaries and notebooks.]

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