« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
it became necessary to make some use of it, and the construction of a concreted swimming bath was decided on and carried out during the winter of 1897. A great deal of excavation was involved, and a large number of boys were kept at work on shore. Never before had there been a healthier, happier season.
The bath when finished was generally recognized as being a splendid piece of work and a marvel of cheapness, owing to the fact that no outside labour was employed. A taste for building once acquired is not easily satisfied, and we were before long looking round for another job. Manual instruction was just then coming into fashion in elementary schools, and soon we had small wood and metal workshops erected, and these formed the nucleus
of a school of handicrafts which grew under the hands of the youthful builders until at the present time it can accommodate 200 boys at one time. Our plan is that one half of boys attend ordinary school work on board the Mars, whilst the other half on land get their training in the workshops. Thus there is a daily change of scene and work which is beneficial in every way, and particularly in making all the boys expert boatmen. The tides in the Tay are very strong, and at certain stormy periods the passage between the Vars and the shore is attended by considerable risk. That accidents are rare is due to the consummate skill of the officers and the smartness of the crews. Agile as monkeys, the boys appear to the ordinary observer to take no care of themselves whatever, and one would not have it otherwise. The lessons of self-sacrifice and mutual confidence are perhaps learnt better
in a boat than anywhere else, and it seems natural to the possessor of these virtues to go promptly to the assistance of others in distress. Cases of rescue by the boats of the lars are so common that they hardly cause comment, and nothing delights the crew so much as being called out in stormy weather.
No one familiar with seafaring life can doubt the educational value of boating. Few will deny that in the present War the small craft sailor has been the salvation of the country. We are likely to hear less in the future of training sailors on shore. It is said that before hostilities broke out a large proportion of our sailors could not pull
Doubtless that has now been put right, and we may well hope that British seamen in the future will be expert boatmen also.
Let us watch the shore party landing from the ship. They come up from the pier at the double--no “creeping like snail unwillingly to school.” They go to their duties with an alacrity which is only equalled by their reluctance to leave off. No time is lost in getting to work. Here is a class of beginners. Each boy with his drawing before him is doing simple exercises in wood. None of the class look up when we enter or betray the slightest curiosity, so absorbed are they in what they have in the making. Probably there is no teacher present, but that makes no difference. If the boys want assistance or advice their neighbours are only too glad to give it, but no boy would dream of letting another do his work for him.
We next visit the turning and toy-making departments, both manned by advanced pupils, and giving full scope for individual skill and originality. We have no steam or other power in our shops. Speed is the last thing desired-festina lente is our motto. We want to cultivate the pride which is the reward of every man who can say of his work " alone I did it "-who puts something of himself into every job he completes. We have no wish to make a profit on our work. Most of our productions are sold at cost price. Toys are given away to children's hospitals, and every boy is permitted and encouraged to take a specimen of his handicraft with him when he goes on holiday. Our expenses are not heavy. A great deal of wood is given to us by neighbouring lairds in return for services rendered by the boys, such as clearing ground for planting-a most instructive and healthy recreation for which there will be abundant opportunity after the War, when afforestation comes into fashion, and every landowner who has nothing else to do will be “aye sticking in a tree."
In one corner of the workshops is a party making crates for the
despatch of vegetables to the Fleet in northern waters. About 5 cwt. of vegetables are collected by the Mars boys and sent away by rail
Is there any
Our boys are greatly interested in inlaid woodwork. market for this inlaid work? This is a question constantly asked, and the answer is, or should be, No! The material is practically of no
! value, and the same may be said of the finished article; yet the latter during its manufacture has inculcated so many great lessons that it might more appropriately be put into the fire than soiled by any ignoble
It is an interesting sight to watch a boy with his laboriously
produced drawing approaching the scrap-heap from which he has to select his raw material. This slip of ebony came from what was once German West Africa, that piece of mahogany was part of a bedstead in an historic mansion house in Fifeshire. Here is a bit of teak from a jute ship stranded at the mouth of the Tay after an encounter with a submarine, and the foundation of the whole is a square of African oak from the powder magazine of an old man-of-war. The boy is not particularly impressed when informed of these details, but makes a start without emotion. Soon he works up a littie interest, and when he has to return on board the Mars finds that he has passed on the whole a pleasant day, and a shorter one than he has formerly been accustomed to. On the following morning he is at his ordinary lessons, but thinks much of to-morrow, when he will find himself back at his bench. His work scarcely seems so good as he had grown to imagine. However, he knows errors can be corrected, and so plods away all slay, leaving off fairly satisfied. Two days later, on turning to, he is not so well pleased. Things are not going right at all. There is a possibility of the whole concern having to be taken to pieces, which indeed actually happens, and often happens more than once, before the finished job is ready for inspection. He approaches the judge with trepidation, wishing he could have been permitted to disguise defects with a coat of varnish. To his intense relief it passes muster. Indeed, some merits are discovered which his own modesty and timidity have led him to overlook. Forthwith he starts on a more ambitious piece of work with established confidence. It is one of the writer's greatest delights to watch the boys at inlaid woodwork, but his pleasure is mingled with regret that this interesting occupation which insensibly teaches truth, accuracy, honesty, patience, perseverance, and kindred virtues did not come into fashion long years ago.
The large showroom contains many specimens of the cabinetmaker's art, much of the best work of one boy, who during his three years' stay in the Mars became a perfect master of his trade. When discharged at the age of 16, he had to start at the lowest rung of the ladder and serve the full time as apprentice before he could become a recognized tradesman. This is one of the innumerable grievances which now exist and will have to be put right after the War. Many models are to be seen, notably that of a rowing boat, which won a first prize at the White City Exhibition in 1908. Surely that boat is too small for use?” remarked a utilitarian visitor to the workshop, a gentleman not gifted with great powers of imagination, yet for all that a School Board member. Another model is that of a camp building made in the workshops and put up on Largo Links for the accommodation of tuberculous and other delicate boys from Dundee in the summer of 1913. Here is indeed a perfect museum of war relics sent home by an old boy who served with distinction in the Cameroons campaign. Every sort of weapon is to be found in this collection, from the primitive poisoned arrow to the modern bomb, whilst peace is represented by a caseful of butterflies from Sierra Leone. The room is full of a great variety of object-lessons from all parts of the world, and of every period. Thus history, geography, and every other subject can be taught here in a much more attractive and satisfactory as well as more expeditious manner than in the regular schoolroom. And why should this not be so ? The War has taught
us many things. It has made the versatile chief schoolmaster of the Mars a sailor of judgment and capacity, so that he can take charge equally well on deck, in the schoolroom, or in the workshop. We shall do well to remove the partitions. A classical worthy is credited with the remark that “everything is done best standing up," and with what relief would we, one and all, see the schoolroom desk discarded, and no longer left to serve as a pillow for weary heads.