Robert Stephenson Smyth
Koos de la Rey
Lady Sarah Wilson
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Robert Stephenson Smyth
His Life | Baden-Powell: The Man | Last Message to the Scouts | Fact File
Baden Powell fame comes from two totally differently accomplishments. While he
serving in the British Army during the Boer War (1899-1902), he led the defense of
Mafikeng for 217 day's against a greatly outnumbered 1,200 Boers. He became a hero.
In 1907 when Baden-Powell learned that his text book 'Aids to scouting' (1899) was being
used for training boys in woodcraft, Baden-Powel established a boys' camp.
This led to the
scouting movement, the Boy's Scouts, and he published the manual 'Scouting for Boys'
(1908). In 1910, Baden-Powel and his sister Agnes Baden-Powel (1858-1945) founded the Girl
Guides. In the beginning of 1912 this movement became known as the Girl Guides in the
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born on Feb. 22,
1857, in London. He was educated at Charterhouse, a public school for boys. After joining
the Army, he served in India and Afghanistan. In 1884-85 he became noted for his use of
observation balloons in warfare in Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and the Sudan. From 1900 to
1903 he recruited and trained the South African constabulary. He served later as the
Army's inspector general of cavalry and as commanding general of the Northumberland
(England) Territorial Division. From 1910 he devoted his time to the growing Boy Scout
movement. He was made a baronet in 1922 and a baron in 1929. His publications included
`Cavalry Instruction' (1895), `The Matabele Campaign' (1896), `Sport in War' (1900), and
`Sketches in Mafeking and East Africa' (1907). He died in Kenya on Jan. 8, 1941.
Baden-Powell: The Man
Baden-Powel's alert, slightly build, figure and surprisingly strong voice
familiar to many.
The characteristic that struck people first was his sense for fun. First as a boy and the
later as a officer Robert was always ready for fun. As an old Sergeant said "On
Parade he was On Parade, but off Parade e,
he was up to all kinds of
devilment." Even in his return from South Africa after the Relief of Mafikeng he
could not resist the temptation to play a joke on the passengers.
The other characteristic that was soon apparent to anyone was that he could do many
different things, and do it well. This didn't mean that he was a Jack of all trades. He was
a master of his own profession- soldering - and particularly everything that is covered in
the word scouting. He preferred to things for himself and look after himself
he was. He had remarkable skill as an artist especially sketching people and animals in
action. Another art form he liked was modeling.
He was humanly glad when people were interested in what he was doing, as he
was interested in what others were doing. This was part of his charm. If you explained
something to him, he would act as if this was the only subject he was interested in,
although he could maybe do it better than yourself. He never stopped learning and liked to
visit a factory to see how things were made and in his later years he took up
cine-photography and produced some delightful films.
His sports as a soldier were polo and pig sticking. In both he was an expert.
attraction to this sports was the horsemanship needed and of course in pig sticking
risks. You may expected that such a fine horseman would enjoy hunting but as he one
said: "I could never bring myself to shoot an elephant. I would as soon blow up the
Tower of London as shoot him." Although he did an amount of big-game hunting he did
not like to kill wild animals. He would rather sit at a pool and watch the animals drink
water and sketch them. His main sport became fishing. One of his friends writes:
"I think his chief joy in fishing was that it took him away from the ordinary
business of life more effectively than anything else, particularly when the formalities
too often connected with sport were bypassed. He was always entranced with the beauty of
river life, especially in the Highlands in the autumn, with its gorgeous coloring.
Even the Boy Scouts had to give place to science and philosophy when the day's work
was finished on the river. I don't think he was ever so supremely happy as he was when
wading deep and waiting for that electrical thrill of taking fish."
His interest was mainly outdoors and it was the kind of life he preferred. His house
itself was a museum of treasures and momentous, but it was also a house of laughter and
Baden-Powell's Last Message to Scouts
The following message was found among B.-P.'s papers after his death.
If you have ever seen the play Peter Pan you will remember how the pirate chief was
always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possibly when the time came for
him to die he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me,
and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and
I want to send you a parting word of good-bye.
Remember, it is the last you will ever hear from me, so think it over.
I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have as happy
a life too.
I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy
life. Happiness doesn't come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your
career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and
strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so can enjoy life when you are a
Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things
God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the
best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.
But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other
people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn
comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time
but have done your best. "Be Prepared" in this way, to live happy and to die
happy - stick to your Scout promise always - even after you have ceased to be a boy - and
God help you to do it.