BADEN-POWELL, Sir Robert, 1st Baron, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Baden-Powell gets his marching orders

BADEN-POWELL, Sir Robert, 1st Baron (1857-1941). Founder of the Boy Scout movement.
Early Autograph Letter Signed to 'My dear Williams', 2 pages 8vo with integral blank, 8 St George's Place, Hyde Park Corner, 5 July 1899. Announcing his departure for South Africa the following Saturday.
'I was so sorry to miss you today and very much regret that I am lunching out tomorrow (Thursday).
 I have got my orders for S. Africa - sailing on Saturday next - so am very jubilant. ...'
The reference to sailing on Saturday (which was probably what happened) is at variance with Baden-Powell's well-known account in Lessons from the Varsity of Life, as recounted by Tim Jeal [Baden-Powell, 1989, pages 205-206].
'On 3 July Baden-Powell lunched at his London club, the Naval and Military. Major George Gough, Lord Wolseley's A.D.C., came across from another table and said: '"I thought you were in India. I have just cabled for you to come home as the Commander-in-Chief wants to see you." With such coolness as I could command I said: "Well, here I am"; and after lunch we went down together to the War Office and I was once more shown into Lord Wolseley's room. He had a knack of trying to spring surprises on you and was all the better pleased if you were not bowled out by them ... On this occasion he said: "I want you to go to South Africa." With the air of a well trained butler I said "Yes, Sir." "Well, can you go on Saturday next?" (This was Monday.) "No, Sir." "Why not?". Knowing well the sailings of the South African steamers, I replied: "There's no ship on Saturday, but I can go on Friday."'

[No: 22517]


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