13 NOVEMBER 1909, Page 16


[TO THE EDITOR Or SrECTATOR."] Six,—I should like to take advantage of your columns to make a few remarks concerning the Boy Scout movement, which you have of late in several articles so ably appreciated, and which promises to develop into such an important branch in the training of boys. The experience I have had of the movement has so far been confined to boys of the working class—slum boys in many cases—in one of the most thickly populated industrial districts of Manchester. Here the genius of the scheme is especially illustrated, and I would strongly urge the importance of adopting it in all similar localities. Boys in such districts, although they may be quite able to bear the expense, contrary to what many good people think, will seldom on their own initiative take advantage of the cheap excursions to the country of which the railway companies give so many opportunities, but rather prefer to spend their money on seeing some football match or a show at one of the second-class music-halls. In lack of either excitement, they " mouch" round the brightly lighted streets of the city. Now, however, those who enrol them- selves respond readily to the discipline, save up their pence to buy article by article of the uniform, and hail any suggestion to get out in the country or to one of the suburban parks to practise their craft. In this last respect might not our municipal authorities relax some of their restrictions to Scouts in uniform as to trespassing in the woods and the making of fires, &c., as it is only in such places and by such means that the boys can gain experience in pioneer work ? Besides the good that accrues to the boys' health in thus getting out of the city on all possible occasions, they are quite keen, and readily absorb any simple lessons or informa- tion as to the habits of animals and birds ; they will also learn to recognise trees and rocks, and pick out at night many of the stars. Given suitable Scoutmasters or leaders, the educa- tional possibilities of the scheme are almost illimitable, and the moral scope quite as great. Boys inspired with such esprit de corps as the whole order imbues are easily receptive of all that is manly in religion, and if suitably taught and exemplified, the religion of Christ, apart from particular creeds, is perfect manliness. Scoutmasters, or those in authority of the patrols, cannot, however, be too keenly on the alert to keep the boys free from any " gallery " play, which there is danger of creeping into the movement, fostered by outsiders. I recently saw advertised on a playbill of a local music-hall that twenty Boy Scouts would give a turn. Such cheap advertisements, and the "coupon " game which certain of the craft papers are promoting, cannot, I think, be too strongly discouraged. We do not want to manufacture bravoes any more than prigs, but simple, manly boys, with some knowledge of the laws of health and exercise, and of their country and Empire, its natural and political conditions, with the love of helping others, and, above all, with the strength of character which the religion of their Saviour gives. With your advocacy of Sir Percy FitzPatrick's suggestion that the movement might find a practical vent in furnishing settlers for Rhodesia and other Colonies I am in fall agree- ment, and think the idea commends itself as being an especially happy one as a means whereby city boys can be induced to accept the training for such a purpose. Just one further remark. There are also Girl Scouts. Might not plain, wholesome cooking be made a sine qud non in this branch of the movement, as such cooking is becoming a lost art amongst the poorer classes, who, to the detriment of the

race and the development of dyspepsia, nowadays prefer to obtain their meals from the fried-fish shop, &c., rather than trouble to prepare good meals P—Apologising for the length of this letter, which my interest in the movement alone