SIR R. BADEN-POWELL'S REMINISCENCES.* IN vain Sir R. Baden-Powell, in
the preface to these reminis-
cences, tells us that there is nothing very romantic or very exciting about them, and that to some extent they show him to have been just the "ordinary silly young ass" who enjoyed senseless ragging and thought very little. For India, with which most of the reminiscences are concerned, is always romantic, and pig-sticking and tiger-shooting are always exciting. As for not thinking very much, even the "silly young asses" among General Baden-Powell's readers will be able to
see before they have read many pages that he who became the creator of the Boy Scouts was thinking a good deal more than he supposed. Through many of the incidents and anecdotes there is transparent the ingenuity, the unconventionality, the power to move anywhere out of a groove, and the love of character, whether in a man or an animal, which are, we suppose, the chief dharacteristios of Sir Robert Baden-PowelL
The man who invented the means of making the schooling of character romantic to boys may be trusted to be incapable of writing a diary which is really unromantic. The illustrations are nearly all sketches done on the spot, and they have a combination of charm and vigour.
Early in his career in India Sir Robert Baden-Powell would have got into trouble through his passion for drawing carica- tures if his head-instructor bad been a man of a less sympa- thetic humour. A series of caricatures of the great man found their way to his house by mistake. The artist "got off with a wigging," but he did not learn the meas.ire of the head-instructor's generous restraint till later :- "When I was leaving Luoknow a year or two later I went to pay my farewell call on him as in duty bound. He invited me into his sanctum and there produced a portfolio of, as it seemed to me, all the scraps and sketches I had over-drawn. He explained that the orderly whose duty it was to sweep up the lecture-room had orders always to save any pictures and to bring them to him for his collection. Although people had laughed at my carica- tures no one laughed more heartily than the General himself, but he warned me that caricaturing was not always a safe game to play, and, acting on his advice, I have seldom indulged in it since."
The stories of that well-remembered soldier, Sir Baker Russell, are delightful. Here is one:- " On one occasion we were inspected by a General whose life had been passed at infantry work. Sir Baker hoped, in making the regiment march past, to impress him by its steadiness. Therefore when it came to our galloping by in a succession of squadrons he meant us to go at a steady canter, each squadron in rigid forma- tion. So he turned to his trumpeter and cried: Sound the canter.' Well, there is no trumpet call laid down for the canter, and the trumpeter therefore sounded the next best to it, which was the gallop. We in the regiment, anxious to make a good show, pressed forward at once at a sharp gallop. The Colonel, seeing this from his post alongside the General, shouted to his trumpeter, Sound the canter ! ' The trumpeter again sounded the gallop. Hearing the gallop repeated we imagined that it meant we were not going fast enough, and therefore we just let ourselves go, and by the time we reached the saluting point opposite the General and Sir Baker, the whole regiment was a rushing tornado of men and horses in a whirl of dust, and we dashed past in a dense, confused mob. The Colonel, however, was not at a loss, and turned to the General with a well-assumed smile, and puffing out his chest, said: There, sir I You never saw a regiment gallop past like that before, That is something like.' The General, being completely ignorant on the subject, took his cue from the Colonel and said : 'No, that is splendid; I never saw anything so good in my life,' and reported upon it accordingly."
Sir Baker Russell was a martinet for one part of the day and radiated kindness for the rest of the day. He used to say of himself that he was a devil before noon and an angel after- wards. It was from him that Sir Robert Baden-Powell took certain hints, afterwards to be greatly developed, in the management of men. Sir Baker Russell, for instance, would send his men to an appointed exercise ground individually and not in a mass. They had to take their own time, picking out their own line of country and so on without help from any officer, and they were judged by the simple test whether they arrived in time or not. It was as much an offence to arrive too soon as too late. This was the genesis of General Baden. Powell's practice in South Africa after the Boer War of sending his men on long rides in couples or alone. If a man was specially stupid, he was always sent alone in order to develop his self-reliance and resource. When Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was
• Indian Nonorior : Recollection,' 5/Soldiering, Sport, &a. By Lieut.-General Sir Hobert Baden-Powell, K.C.B. With 24 Illustrations in Colour and 100 is Blaek-aud-White by the Author. Louden: Herbert Jenkins. D2e. 61. net.)
in South Africa he once saw a lonely mounted policeman riding across the veld, He asked General Baden-Powell what the man could be doing. The General replied that he was probably a stupid man developing his intelligence—and on inquiry this turned out to be so. But to return to Sir Baker Russell. This old Mutiny soldier had a quick-tempered habit of "riding down delinquents"; in other words, of charging at an officer or man who had displeased him on parade :—
"On one occasion I remember well his suddenly going for my comrade, 'Ding' MacDougel, at full gallop. When he was within a yard of that unfortunate officer, MacDougal jammed one spur into his horse and made it leap to one side, which resulted in the Colonel missing him completely and charging into the ranks behind him. Here ho knocked over a man, Corporal Bower, and his horse, heavily shaking up the poor unfortunate rider. In a moment the Colonel was off his horse, supporting the Corporal across his knee and saying: ' My poor, dear man, I am sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you.' Feeling rather pleased that his charge had not been altogether without success, he had lost his rage and, turning round (I can see him now), he shook his fist good-humouredly at MacDougal, saying: ' Ding, you devil, why did you get out of the way ? ' "
The German Emperor once asked General Baden-Povrell's opinion of the German lance. The General replied that, in his opinion, it was rather too long for practical use. It was much longer than the longest lance used for pig-sticking in India. The Emperor explained that a very long lance gave confidence to the user. " Every inch you put on to a man's lance you give him two feet of self-esteem." But the German Emperor posed General Baden-Powell with a much more difficult question :— " The German Emperor once pointed out to me on a big parade of his troops how he placed the infantry in the front line and the cavalry, artillery, engineers, and other corps in the second line. He gave the place of honour to the infantry in order to emphasize the fact that they are the arm to win the battles, while all others are the servants of the infantry to help them in their aim. But, he said : ` You in England are not practical. You give the place of honour on the right of the line to the artillery, next come the cavalry, then the engineers, and after them the infantry. Why is this P' I was a little nonplussed myself for an answer, because I fully agreed with His Majesty that the infantry are the important arm, so I made a shot at an answer, the first that came into my head, and said : 'I expect, sir, that we do it alphabetically in England.' This reply fortunately exactly met the case in his estimation, and he:chuckled over it for a considerable time afterwards."
We wonder whether the Emperor would not be inclined now to pub the artillery in the place of honour.
Sir Robert Baden-Powell writes as a polo-player with the genuine zest of one who has played as a poor man and has picked up ponies cheaply and trained them himself. As an example of the almost human interest the ponies take in the game, he describes how once when he was gradually forging ahead in a race for the ball his opponent's pony caught him by the arm with its teeth and dragged him from his saddle. Then there is an anecdote of Mr. Winston Churchill, on the great evening when the polo teams which have played in the inter-regimental tournament dine together. On this occasion there had already been far too many after-dinner speeches :—
When all was over and a sigh of relief was going round, there suddenly sprang to his feet one of the members of the 4th Hussars' team, who said : Now, gentlemen, you would probably like to hear me address you on the subject of polo !' It was Mr. Winston Churchill. Naturally there were cries of : ' No, we don't I Sit down I ' and so on, but disregarding all their objections, with a genial smile he proceeded to discourse on the subject, and before long all opposition dropped as his honied words flowed upon their ears, and in a short time he was hard at it expounding the beauties and the possibilities of this wonderful game. He proceeded to show how it was not merely the finest game in the world but the most noble and soul-inspiring contest in the whole universe, and having made his point he wound up with a peroration which brought us all cheering to our foot. When the cheering and applause had died down one in authority arose and gave voice to the feelings of all when he said Well, that is enough of Winston for this evening,' and the orator was taken in hand by some lusty subalterns and placed underneath an overturned sofa upon which two of the heaviest were then seated, with orders not to allow him out for the rest of the evening. But very soon afterwards he appeared emerging from beneath the angle of the arm of the sofa, explaining: ' It is no use sitting upon me, for I'm india- rubber."
Some of the "silly ass" practical jokes described are as mad and violent as any in Lever's stories. We cannot quote these, but will end with two passages which seem to us highly
characteristic of the author. In the first we hail the scout rather than the zoologist:—
"Let me here say what is the difference between a panther and a leopard. It is a frequent topic for argument between people
who fancy themselves in natural history. My version, and it is quite good enough for all ordinary purposes, especially as it auto- matically guides you in sticking to the point with which you began your argument, is this : the two animals are one and the same generically, but the panther living at ease in the plains grows fat and big, while the leopard living a hard life in the mountains and crags remains thin and active. The memorica technics for remembering this is that the panther, being fat and big, pants ; while the leopard, skipping about the crags, leaps from rock to rock."
Finally, we have only to say that the author's practical tribute of respect to the elephant, related in the following lines, will not surprise any one who reads his stories of the discrimination and hoary good sense of elephants :— " I could never bring myself to shoot an elephant. I have been among them in the wilds and have had to do with them tamed ; love to watch them, and I like to use them, but my respect for them is far too great to allow me to shoot them. It strikes me as an impertinence to put an end to a wise old creature a hundred and fifty years old and of such massive proportions. Ho is a link with prehistoric times, and I would as soon blow up the 'rower of London as shoot him. I have been glad to find myself supported in this idea by that splendid young sportsman and explorer, the late Boyd Alexander."