I MUST now go back to 1914, and tell something of the work of the Scouts and Guides of those days.
When War was declared I went and saw Lord Kitchener and offered my services in any capacity whatsoever.
However, he expressed his firm belief in the potentiality of the Boy Scouts behind the scenes in replacing men required at the front; and as the doctors would not pass me fit for service he urged me to organise them for the many purposes for which they could be employed.
The moment fortunately was just ripe for such adventure. Six years old, the Scout movement had now got on to a firm foundation of decentralised administration all over the Empire and was strong in numbers with a capable lot of officers. On the other hand most of these, and of the senior boys, joined up in the forces directly War was declared (ten thousand of them never came back).
But we carried on with the next best, and these, with responsibility thrust upon them, played up well.
Knowing something of the German plans from my previous Intelligence investigations, my first step was to get all bridges, railway culverts, telegraph and cable lines, waterworks, etc., guarded by posses of Scouts, thereby to counter any attempts by nearly 100,000 domiciled Germans from interfering with our communications. You may remember that I had fathomed that they meant to break in on us, if possible, on a Bank Holiday, and to cause confusion by cutting telegraph and telephone lines.
The boys mobilised at once in their respective localities and took up their guarding duties with the greatest keenness and continued them till they could be released some days later by Territorial troops.
The Sea Scouts made their memorable mobilisation when the Admiralty recalled the Coastguards to service afloat.
We were asked to replace them with Sea Scouts. This was done effectively within a very few hours, and the coastguard service was thus taken over by Boy Scouts, under a few Naval P.0s., from John 0' Groat's to the Lands End.
We got great kudos for our remarkably prompt mobilisation-but there was a reason for it.
For weeks previously we had been planning to hold a big Sea Scout camp and regatta in the Isle of Wight on August Bank Holiday. The holiday came; the Scouts were assembled in their hundreds organised in units of six, with camp equipment, etc. At that moment there came the call to service.
It was almost on a par with Admiral Sir Harry Rawson's celebrated mobilisation of the Indian Ocean Fleet when the Sultan of Zanzibar broke out into war against Britain and his fleet (one ship) fired a shot or two at a British man-of-war and was promptly sunk. Within forty-eight hours a whole British fleet was assembled on the scene, the ships coming in from various directions. This being before the days of wireless such rapid mobilisation caused considerable comment, not to say anxiety, on the part of other nations. The Admiral told me he was eagerly questioned as to the secret of his concentration. He declined to give it away at the time, but he confessed to me that some months previously the various ships scattered about the Indian area had agreed to meet on a certain date at Zanzibar to play off a cricket tournament-it was bad luck for the Sultan that he had chosen that same date for his outbreak.
So the Boy Scouts took up their position in the early days of the War along the whole of the East and South coasts, and carried out their watching duties by day and night till long after the Armistice, when the Naval Ratings returned to their shore duties.
Thus, although our training is entirely non-military and aimed at peace, our Motto "Be Prepared" found the Scouts and Guides able to adapt themselves at once to the national needs of the time. They provided messengers and orderlies in uniform for the many Government Offices and the War Office, as well as, locally, for hospitals, municipal and police headquarters, etc.
They also provided and manned several Recreation Clubs and Ambulances at the front in France.
This they did with a spirit of loyal enthusiasm which was not merely the enthusiasm of a moment, but one which kept their work up to a high standard all through to the very end of that terrible and wearing period of the Great War.
WHEN one has passed the 75th milestone and has got to that stage of life when you think twice before deciding whether it is now worth while to order a new evening coat, it is allowable for one to look back along the road one has travelled.
Your natural inclination is to preach and to warn other travellers of snags in the path, but isn't it better to signal to them some of the joys by the way which they might otherwise miss?
The great thing that strikes you on looking back is how quickly you have come-how very brief is the span of life on this earth. The warning that one would give, therefore, is that it is well not to fritter it away on things
that don't count in the end; nor on the other hand is it good to take life too seriously as some seem to do. Make it a happy life while you have it. That is where success is .possible to every man.
Varied are the ideas of what constitutes "success," e.g. money, position, power, achievement, honours, and the like. But these are not open to every man-nor do they bring what is real success, namely, happiness.
Happiness is open to all, since, when you boil it down, it merely consists of contentment with what you have got and doing what you can for other people.
As Sir Henry Newbolt sums it up: "The real test of success is whether a life has been a happy one and a happy giving one."
I believe that the Devil Worshippers of the East hold the belief that for 6ooo years the Devil will rule the world and that Christ will rule for a similar period. Just now the Devil is having his reign, and the Devil is best described by the term " Selfulness," or lack of wide and sympathetic outlook.
This can be seen in every individual, class, sect, or nation, to-day.
Individually we all of us stick in our respective ruts, be they the Army, or Club life, or sport, or other line.
Similarly we see only our own social class.
Education has no wider outlook than making scholars.
Religion has no wider outlook than making churchmen.
Nationalism has no wider outlook than the self-determination of its own country.
Christianity or broad-minded love-practice does not as yet prevail in this world.
In the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movement we ate making the attempt to oust selfulness by inculcating in the young a wider vision and mutual goodwill and service.
We don't pretend that Scouting will do the trick, but since it has caught on with such an extraordinary rapidity as a brotherhood in so many different countries, irrespective of class, creed or race, one may hope that at any rate it is a definite step in the desired direction.
Looking back on my own life, I have in my time bumped up against a stupendous lot of good luck. I have for instance, had the luck to live in the most interesting evolutionary epoch in the world's history, with its rapid development of motor-cars, aeroplanes, wireless, Tutankhamen, the Great War and World convulsion, and so on.
Then, too, I have met with a remarkable amount of kindness everywhere, not only from friends but from strangers as well. Also, I have had the luck to live two distinct lives-one as a soldier and a bachelor, the second as a pacifist and paterfamilias; both having the common attribute of Scouting, and both .intensely happy.
That doesn't mean that I have not had difficulties and trials to face, but these have been the salt that savoured the feast.
For these I have found that a smile and a stick will carry you through all right, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is the smile that does the trick.
(When next you are worried or angry, force yourself to turn up the corners of your mouth and smile-and you will find the value of this tip.)
" Softly, softly, catchee monkey," is the West African rendering of a very valuable precept. An awful lot of men fail through lack of patient persistence.
I have been master of no attainment but I have been Jack of many, and have thus enjoyed every variety of the good things that the world has to offer.
Have you ever thought of it, that the duration of the grown-up life of a man of seventy amounts to 291,000 waking hours?
Most men sleep for eight hours when seven are sufficient.
The man who sleeps for seven hours gains an additional three years and over, of waking life.
I have found it a good plan to give oneself, in imagination, three years still to live. You then feel that you have got to get things done within that time, whether they are making big dreams come true, or winning happiness. Time must not be frittered away.
Young men, of course, don't want to be guided by old back numbers, but at the same time I know that in my own case I gained a lot by studying the characters of the chiefs under whom I served from time to time.
Lord Wolseley, for instance, said: "Use your common sense rather than book instructions."
Sir Baker Russell gave responsibility and trusted his officers. Also gifted with quick intuition he made quick decisions and, whether right or wrong, carried them through with a bang; while Sir Henry Smyth, exactly the opposite, took meticulous care to think things out on the right line, even to using the exact words, so he never made a mistake.
Cecil Rhodes, on the other hand, had very wide vision but was apt to overlook details.
Lord Roberts was one who used that powerful lever, the human touch, and Lord Plumer ever played the game for his side without regard to any personal thought.
Sir Bindon Blood, with all his experience, was always ready to learn.
Sir Frederick Carrington wheezed an infectious laugh to shatter every difficulty when it cropped up.
Such study of living characters helped me and will be found helpful by those who like to carry it out.
I have often urged my young friends, when faced with an adversary, to "play polo" with him; i.e., not to go at him bald-headed but to ride side by side with him and gradually edge him off your track. Never lose your temper with him. If you are in the right there is no need to, if you are in the wrong you can't afford to.
In a difficult situation one never-failing guide is to ask yourself: "What would Christ have done?" Then do it-as nearly as you can.
Possibly the best suggestion in condensed form, as to how to live, was given by my old Headmaster, Dr. Haig Brown, in 1904, when he wrote his Recipe for Old Age.
A diet moderate and spare, Freedom from base financial care, Abundant work and little leisure, A love of duty more than pleasure, An even and contented mind In charity with all mankind, Some thoughts too sacred for display In the broad light of common day, A peaceful home, a loving wife, Children, who are a crown of life; These lengthen out the years of man Beyond the Psalmist's narrow span.
Looking back over my own "narrow span," two bright spots among many which at once instinctively spring to mind are:
In Life Number I the rough time among good companions on the sun-baked veldt in the Matabele campaign; and in Life Number 2, a little warm hand dragging me down till her two arms can reach round my neck, when with a soft moist kiss she whispers: "Just one more good-night story, Daddy."
I write this sitting in my garden at the close of a perfect day in late September, with the ruddy afterglow of sunset giving a new tone to the lights and shadows across the woodlands stretched below, and a violet haze upon the distant heights where I have wandered.
There is the scent of roses in the air-and sweetbriar. A rook caws sleepily in the elms nearby in answer to the distant crooning of a dove. A bee hums drowsily by, hiveward bound. All is peace in the home at dusk, ere night closes down,
She sits by me, in the silence of comradeship, who has shared some of the toil of the afternoon-and the joy of it. It is good to laze, honestly half-tired, and to look back and feel that though one has had one's day it has, in spite of one's limitations, not been an idle one, that one has enjoyed it to the full, and that one is lucky in being rich through having few wants and fewer regrets.
Through an upper window comes the laughing chatter of the young folk going to bed.
To-morrow their day will come.
May it be as happy a one as mine has been, God bless them!
As for meit will be my bed-time soon. And so
"Sleep after toyle, port after