Young Knights of the Empire

by Sir Robert Baden-Powell



_When he gets an order, he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow_, hang-dog _sort of way.

Scouts never grouse at hardships nor whine at each other, nor_ swear _when put out, but go on whistling and smiling. When you just miss a train, or someone treads on your favourite corn--not that Scouts should have such things as corns--or in any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right.

The punishment for swearing or using bad language is for each offence, a_ mug of _cold water to be poured down the offender's _sleeve by the other Scouts. It was the punishment invented by the old British scout, Captain John Smith, three hundred years ago_.

When I was encamped with my troop of Scouts at Humshaugh, Northumberland, a gentleman living in the neighbourhood invited us to come and visit the castle in which he lived. It was a beautiful old tower left much in the state in which it was when it formed one of the Border defences against Scotland. On the top was the fighting platform from which the archers fired their bolts and arrows, and the gunners fired their culverins. On the storey below were the rooms in which the family lived, and below these again were the guardrooms of the men-at-arms. On the ground-floor was the cattle stable into which the herds were driven for security when the enemy were around. The portcullis which closed the gateway was still in existence, hauled up and down by means of ropes over pulleys of which the levers were worked on the floor above.

In later and more peaceful times, that is in the reign of James I, a house was built on to the tower to give more room to the inhabitants.

In the hall of this house was a noble fireplace above which there was an elaborate overmantel of carved oak illustrating the seven Christian virtues. There were little statues representing Fortitude, Benevolence, Faith, etc., etc., all the qualities which a good Christian should possess and carry into practice. But I felt, after looking at them all, that there was still one virtue missing, and I suggested to the boys that you might carry out all these seven good qualities of a Christian without doing it to the best effect. You might carry it out as an order to be kind, to be helpful, to be chivalrous, and so on, but if you only did it because it was an order, and therefore did it grumpily, half its value was lost.

The important point is that when you know what is the right thing to do, you should jump to it and do it cheerily with a smile. Therefore I thought that we Scouts might add one more to these seven Christian virtues--namely Cheerfulness,

Then there is another good reason for being cheerful.

Have you ever noticed as you walk along the street how very few people look really happy? They are going along often with downcast eyes, and nearly always with dejected, serious countenances; if one comes along who looks at you smilingly it is a great relief, and makes you feel a bit happier yourself. And _there_ is a reason why a Scout should go about with a smile on, because it makes other people happy. You may not always feel cheerful yourself, but you should not show this, as it will make other people feel glum, too. If you make yourself look cheerful, you will gradually find that you are becoming brighter.

If you are troubled or anxious, or in pain, force yourself to smile. It will be difficult at first; still, force yourself to do it, and you will find to your surprise that your trouble is not so great as you thought it was.

I have known men in action getting very anxious when great danger overshadowed them. But if one began to laugh and to talk cheerily, or to whistle, the cloud passed by and everybody bucked up and was ready to face the situation.

That is what makes our men so formidable in the war just now. In spite of heavy losses, in spite of overwhelming attacks against them, they have always kept up their spirits and therefore their pluck. It has often been the secret of their being able to hold their own, and it will be the secret of their coming out victorious in the end.

Remember this--and I have found it come true in hundreds of different kinds of cases:

"A difficulty ceases to be a difficulty directly you smile at it and tackle it."

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During one of my visits to Birmingham, I saw a Rally of the local Scouts. One thing that struck me about them, besides their good work, was their cheerfulness. The outside of their programme had printed upon it portraits of eight of their smartest Scouts, and each one of these has a big grin on.

Well, that is what I like to see; fellows who can work, and work cheerily. It is just what our men are doing at the Front.

I saw a letter the other day from an officer describing how the men lived a miserable existence crouching in the trenches, always wet and cold and muddy, being shot at and shelled all the time, but they welcomed the shells as if they were friends, giving them the nicknames of Jack Johnsons, Black Marias, Woolly Bears, etc. He says of the men:

"If I were asked what struck me most, I would say that it was the marvellous cheerfulness of the men living in such awful circumstances. Every one to a man seemed happy. They are always ready for a joke, and they see fun in everything."

And that is why we shall succeed in this war, because our men see the bright side of it, and take things cheerfully and hopefully, even in the worst circumstances. It is also the way to succeed in peace time when doing work or suffering hardships or disappointments.

* * * * *


[Illustration: KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE DOG.]

One bit of advice I gave to the Birmingham Scouts was that, if ever you run a race with a dog, keep your eye on the dog, and don't look about at other things. I myself was an example of "how not to do it," for I had had a race with my dog--I was running in shorts--and he saw me looking round and promptly ran between my legs and threw me over. So I had to go to Birmingham on two sticks with a bandaged knee.

But what is true of a dog race is true of any other competition in life. When you start out to do a thing, keep your attention fixed on what you are doing, and do not let it wander off to other things, otherwise you may come a cropper.

It is a bit of a handicap to go about inspecting Scouts with one leg out of action, but still I was only carrying out the example of other Scouts.

There was Rob. Miller, a Scout at Whitby, who, when he lost a leg through a German shell, was quite cheery, and wrote to me that he felt it an honour to be the first Scout wounded whilst on duty, and that he meant to go on scouting notwithstanding the loss of a leg.

Another Scout who lost his eye through a Toby Tenderfoot fooling with a gun wrote to say that he could go scouting just as well with one eye as with two. That is the spirit of the scouts.

In addition to these, I had a fine example in a namesake of mine, Major H. G. Powell, out at the Front. He had left the Army some ten years ago, but when the war broke out he went back to his old regiment. In advancing to an attack he sprained his ankle badly. However, he got a stick and a chair from a neighbouring cottage, and continued to hobble along at the head of his men, sitting down whenever there was a halt and directing their operations from the chair. He went on doing this until he himself was hit and badly wounded, and he was able to be carried safely back still sitting in his chair.

[Illustration: A CHEERY OLD SCOUT.]

* * * * *


I suppose none of you Scouts who read this are cheerful, happy fellows! [I don't think!] But if you should happen to want to live to be 100 years old, here is the way to do it--written by one who has done it:

"_Be cheery, and work hard!_"

That is what Mrs. Rebecca Clark, of High Road, Wood Green, said a few days before she died, and she was 110 years old, so she ought to know.

I think that most Scouts are doing exactly what she recommends--so in A.D. 2010 there will be 200,000 old fellows of over 100 years of age, skipping about in bare knees and worn-out hats, singing: "Boys, Be Prepared!"

* * * * *


Mrs. Scoresby Routledge, a well-known lady explorer, wrote to me once to say that while travelling in the Pacific she came across Scouts in all sorts of unexpected places.

After giving them a good character, she added that the only bad thing about Scouts was that they whistled.

She pointed out that a great many people already suffer from the noises in the streets of our towns, especially people who are ill and weak. Even small, harmless noises "get on their nerves," and keep them from resting. And whistling is one of these dreaded noises.

I hope Scouts, in going about the streets, will think of this, and tone down their whistling, as a good turn to people who may possibly be disturbed by it.

At the same time, I need not remind you that it is good to whistle and smile in a difficulty, when otherwise you might break out into curses, or into a cry of pain or of panic, or take to your fists (or your heels), according to what might be happening to you.

I have known fellows whistle in very bad times in action, and their whistling has not only kept them calm themselves, but has also made those around them feel calm and cheery, too.

* * * * *


At Timgad in Algeria there are some interesting ruins, among them being those of the theatre and the baths.

The theatre is a huge open-air one of horse-shoe shape with stone seats rising like steps above each other, and with a row of private boxes at the top.

The stage is a handsome one built of stone with fine marble pillars, and a back wall--for the Romans did not make use of painted scenery as we do--and behind the stage are the dressing-rooms for the actors.

The theatre itself was big enough to seat 3400 spectators, which is more than most theatres in London could do, and as Timgad was merely a country town of no very great size it shows that the Romans were as fond of theatrical plays as the English are of cinematograph shows to-day.

They were equally fond of bathing, and in this one town alone there were twelve public baths. They were what we call Turkish baths, that is, there were bathrooms of several grades of heat to be gone through--one tepid, the next warm, the next one very hot, and then cooler and cold, and the Romans were fond of taking these baths every day.

This is too much of a good thing, as it is apt to weaken a man. The Romans, as you know, were in the end driven out of their Empire, because they allowed themselves to become weak in mind and in body by too much laziness in theatre-going and continual hot baths.

One inhabitant had inscribed on a stone in Timgad what he thought to be the best form of happiness. He wrote:

"_To hunt, to bathe, and to laugh--that's the way to live_."

And there is a good deal in what he says, for in hunting you have to use much woodcraft and hard exercise, and keeping clean and being cheery is all part of the Scout's life.

But he has forgotten to mention one very important thing towards making your life a happy one, and I expect that any Scout could tell me at once what that point is--couldn't you?

He has left out the happiness which you get from doing a good turn. If he had slightly altered his sentence, and had put it this way:

"_To scout, to bathe, to do a good turn, and to smile--that is the way to live and be happy_," he would have said the truth, and he would have exactly described what every Boy Scout does.

* * * * *


This is one of the Scout mottoes.

Every Scout knows that when you examine footmarks on the ground, you should generally do so facing the sun, have them between you and the light, and you will see them all the better.

But that is not the meaning of this text; it has a second and bigger meaning.

It means that when there is any sunshine or brightness possible, look out for it when you are in trouble or misfortune, and make the most of it.

If you feel inclined to grumble at your lot because you have damaged your leg and can't play in a game of football, think of other poor cripples who never can play at all.

However down on your luck you may be, remember there is a bright lining to every cloud. There is some brightness somewhere, if only you look out for it and don't turn your back on it.

When things are looking their worst, and everybody is depressed, make up your mind that you, at any rate, will be hopeful.

Try to see where there is hope.

Remember St. Paul said that God was the "God of Hope." Hope gives you pluck and comfort at a bad time, and your hopefulness will comfort others round you and nerve them to stick it out.

* * * * *


Lord Roberts died the best death that could have been hoped for him. He died in the field, within the sound of the guns, doing his duty for his Country even at the age eighty-two.

It was very many years ago that I first got to know him. It was at Simla, in India. I had just joined the Army, and was enjoying myself in all the glory of my new uniform at a ball. I had gone to the refreshment-room to get something for my partner, but I could not make the native waiter understand what I wanted, as I had not at that time learnt any Hindustani.

A very small but very polite officer alongside me kindly explained to the servant what I wanted. Then he said to me that if I wanted to enjoy India I ought to learn the language as soon as possible. I should get much more fun out of the country if I could talk to the natives. And he asked me my name and where I was staying.

After thanking him, I thought no more about the matter till next day, when there arrived at my house a native teacher of Languages, who said that Sir Frederick Roberts had sent him to give me some lessons!

Thus, like everybody else, I began my acquaintance with him by heartily liking him. He had gone out of his way to do a kindness to a young officer of whom he knew nothing. But that was just like him--it was his way.

I need not tell you about his early career in the Army. Probably every Scout knows how, in the Mutiny in India in 1858, Lieutenant Roberts won the Victoria Cross. He had charged with the cavalry, and had followed the flying mutineers, when he saw one of them attacking a loyal native cavalryman.

Roberts at once dashed to his rescue and cut down the Sepoy. As he did so, he saw two more Sepoys making off with a regimental flag; so he pushed on after them, although single-handed and alone. He seized the Standard and cut down the man who held it. The other man aimed his rifle at him, close against him, and pulled the trigger but the gun failed to go off, and the man turned and fled for his life.

In 1880 Lord Roberts made his famous march in Afghanistan, from Kabul to relieve Kandahar, which was besieged by the Afghans. He took ten thousand men and marched the 320 miles in twenty-two days, which was a splendid performance in that difficult, mountainous desert. He arrived in time to relieve Kandahar and to inflict a very heavy defeat on the Afghans. For his splendid victory here he received the title of Lord Roberts "of Kandahar."

In 1900 he was Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the Boer war in South Africa. Here again he displayed his self-sacrifice and determination.

His winning of the Victoria Cross had showed that, though a very small man--he was very nearly rejected from the Army because he was so small--he had great pluck. And he also had a great heart.

His pluck and self-control were perhaps better proved by his bracing himself up to send men to their death in battle when he loved them and would gladly have saved them if duty and the good of the Country were not at stake. And it was in South Africa that he met with the sorrow of his life, when his only son was killed in trying to save the guns at the battle of Colenso.

For his gallantry on this occasion young Roberts was awarded the Victoria Cross, although he was dead. It is seldom that the Victoria Cross has been won by both father and son.

In South Africa Lord Roberts again did me a kind act by riding out many miles to meet me on my coming into Pretoria after the siege of Mafeking.

On his return to England after that war, Lord Roberts became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army.

When the Boy Scout movement began, he took the greatest interest in it, because he was always fond, of boys and knew how useful to the Country they might be if only they were trained to it.

So he came on the Council of the Scouts' Headquarters, and he reviewed the Scouts at a big Empire Day parade in Hyde Park.

When I went to stay with him, he talked of little else but the Scouts; and the Scouts at Ascot, who were raised and organised by his daughter, Lady Aileen Roberts, miss their great friend.

The Ascot Scouts formed part of the Guard of Honour which escorted his body through that place on its way to burial in London. At St. Paul's Cathedral I was glad to see also a Guard of Honour of Scouts, who had come to pay their last respects to our national hero.

Lord Roberts was a splendid example for any boy to follow, because he rose from small beginnings to the highest position in the Army and, what is more, to the highest position in the admiration and affection of all his fellow-subjects of the King, whether they were white or coloured. And he did it all by his own merit, though he was not extraordinarily brilliant or clever as a lad.

How did he manage it?

I think it was largely because he was a true Scout in every sense of the word. The things which brought him success were:

His pluck in facing every kind of difficulty or danger with cheery hopefulness.

His eagerness to work hard and to do his duty regardless of whether it was what he liked or wanted to do. His honesty and straightforwardness, which made everybody trust and believe in him.

His humility, by which he put himself on equal terms with everybody; he had no kind of "swank" or pride, in spite of his brilliant successes.

His kind-heartedness and thoughtfulness for others, especially those at the bottom of the ladder. And that was one of the secrets of his success--those working under his orders worked like slaves for him because they loved him.

His simple faith in God, which led him true and straight through every difficulty.

Well, when you come to look into it, you will see that by doing these things in his daily life Lord Roberts was exactly carrying out the Scout Law. It is what you as a Scout are already aiming to do.

So, now that you have his great example before you, all you have to do is to go ahead and stick to it, with all the greater determination that you will make yourself, like Lord Roberts, a cheery, brave fellow and a valuable man for your Country.

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