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Lecture by General Baden-Powell at Exeter 1907

The Western Times (Exeter, England), Wednesday, December 11, 1907:


Lecture by General Baden-Powell at Exeter

General Baden-Powell, the hero of Mafeking, delivered a lecture last night at the Royal Public Rooms, Exeter, under the auspices of the Young Men’s Christian Association, on “Boy Scouts.”
There was a crowded and influential attendance, which included the Mayor (Mr. H. Gadd), the Sheriff (Mr. Henry Wippell), Major-General Kekewich (the hero of Kimberley), and others.
The Mayor, in introducing General Baden-Powell, said the obligation which he felt at that distinguished officer coming to deliver a lecture at Exeter was enhanced by the fact that he had offered to come. His name was a household word, and they must all admire the splendid record which the General had made during the South African War — (cheers). In those times of strife they admired him for his skill, ability, tactfulness, and resourcefulness, but that night they admired him as a leader of men and boys — (cheers).
Major-General Baden-Powell, who was loudly cheered, and who wore the placid smile with which he is invariably associated in his pictures, then proceeded with his lecture. He expressed surprise at the absence of ladies, which, he supposed, arose from a certain vagueness of ideas as to what he was going to talk about. He really, however, intended to speak to the young men of the city, because he wanted them to carry out a little fad of his, and that was scouting among boys. He would have to explain what he meant by scouting, because it was not perhaps,  exactly the kind of scouting that they had in their minds. He appealed to them because he believed that any Briton who had any “salt in their eyes” was willing to do good to his country if he thought  it needed it, and in the second place if he thought he could do any good — (hear, hear). But he found many who said the country was going on all right, and others who said what could they do. He assured them it was possible for each one of them to come in and do something, and was a very interesting and charming occupation, and one on which they would have to spend very little money and time. Briefly, he meant by scouting, good citizenship, because all the attributes which made good scouts made good citizens. A good scout, like a good citizen, was an observant fellow, with all his wits about him,  and using his wits for the work he was engaged in; loyal to his employer — whether King or country, or a commercial employer — and serving him to the best of his ability, without thinking of himself, or his comfort or safety — (applause). In short, he was to think of others before he thought of himself, and that was good citizenship in a nutshell — (hear,  hear). His idea was that each of them get hold of half a dozen boys, and teach them the kind of scouting of which he was going to speak to them. They had something like 270,000 boys who were looked after by the Y.M.C.A., the Church Lads’ Brigades, and similar organisations, but that was nothing compared  with the two millions in the schools of the country, who were instructed in book knowledge and mathematics, but for whom nothing was done for their further education in the direction of giving them  character and making men of them. That was were their chance lay in doing good among the rising generation — (applause). The scheme he was about to propound, appealed, he thought, not only to young men of the Y.M.C.A., but to many others. He thought they ought to catch boys just as they caught fish. They did not fish with the kind of food they (the anglers) liked, such as beef steaks or mutton chops — (laughter) — but they used a worm or fly — something that the fish liked — (laughter). When they fished for the boy they must put a bait that was attractive to him. ” Say, for instance,” continued the General, “come and be a scout my lad, and he is ready, and he will find that in the work of the scout there is good citizenship,” — (renewed laughter, and applause). The only way to maintain the British Empire was to preserve it, and the only way to preserve it was for all who belonged to it to be good citizens. The cause of the fall of great empires of old  had been bad citizenship, and they had to see that they did not fall into the same error — (hear, hear). He warned his hearers against the tendency of modern football to encourage the same spirit that obtained among the degenerate sons of Rome, who hired gladiators to play their games rather than take part in them themselves. Their Navy was well looked after, but their mercantile marine was largely manned by foreigners. Important questions were whether they were going to fail in citizenship, and how it was to be cured. To do good work they must lay good foundations for their new and extended structures before destroying the old — (applause), — and that was to be done by good citizenship, which meant good government for the future — (hear, hear).
After giving an interesting explanation of the position of affairs at Mafeking during the war, General Baden-Powell observed that General Kekewich was present with them that night, and, no doubt, he would, on some future occasion, tell them all about Kimberley.

By means of excellent lantern slides, the General forcibly illustarted his subject, and in conclusion referred to the scheme which he advocated, the object of which was to help in making the rising generation of whatever class or creed into good citizens at home or for the Colonies. He also explained the reasons for the scheme, and the methods by which it was to be brought into successful operation.

A vote of thanks to the distinguished lecturer was heartily accorded at the close of the proceedings.