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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas

When he was in England two years ago, he twice reviewed the Scouts and gave a short address to them which was full of sound advice.

He told them how as a boy he had forced himself to do things which at first he was afraid of, or disliked, until he became so accustomed to them that the fear, or dislike, disappeared.

This is what made him able to do the wonderful self-sacrificing things he did later on, and which were, in the end, crowned by his last act of self-sacrifice.

As a boy he practised not only facing dangers, but also trained himself to endure hunger and cold and thirst. This made his will and determination strong, and gave him what we in Britain call “grit.”

When he was only seventeen, he got to know his duties as a soldier so well that he was made an instructor, just like a patrol-leader in the Scouts, and from that step he rose rapidly from one to another.

Sacrifices at Port Arthur

In the war between Japan and Russia in 1904, General Nogi commanded the Japanese forces which captured Port Arthur. Here came his first trial.

With his army he attacked this great fortress, and although it looked an almost impossible task to capture it, he and his troops went at it again and again, until, in spite of fearful loss, they succeeded in storming the place, and thereby took 41,000 Russians and 700 guns.

But to gain this triumph the General suffered heavy personal loss; his eldest son, Shoten, was killed in one of the earlier battles of the siege. Later the Japanese found it necessary, if they wished to take Port Arthur, to storm a very strong position called “203 metre Hill.” On this depended the taking of the whole fortress.

It was the key to the position.

The fight was bound to be a bitter one to the death. A picked force of Japanese was chosen to carry out this desperate duty, and when it had been formed, General Nogi placed his only other son, Hoten, in command, and this son was killed in the attack which followed.

The General also had with him a faithful servant who had accompanied him everywhere and was a close friend. This servant was killed. The General’s favourite dog, which always went with him, was also killed.

But Nogi, although he felt the most bitter grief, made no sign, he forced himself to bear his personal losses as a matter of duty, in carrying out his higher duty to his Emperor and to his country; and right nobly he did it.

His success in war was due to his character. Though brave as a lion he was always gentle and thoughtful for other people. His men and officers obeyed him because of their affection and respect for him rather than from fear of being punished by him.

The Emperor recognised what a splendid man he was, and after the war he put him in charge of his sons, so that they might be taught to have some of his character.

Then came the death of the Emperor.

The Emperor, as you know, is, in the religion of the Japanese, their God as well as their ruler. Nogi was so devoted to his Emperor, that when this great man died the General considered there was nothing more for him to live for. So the first gun of the salute to the dead Emperor was the signal to his faithful soldier to kill himself and follow him.

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