Wisdom and Folly

Wisdom and Folly – by The Venerable William Macdonald Sinclair, D.D., Archdeacon of London, Canon of St Pauls, Chaplain to Queen Victoria, Honorary Vice-President of The Boys’ Brigade. Published in 1898.

The Rev H Morrison Rose (competition judge) writing in the BB Gazette for April 1899 noted: It must be a matter of regret to all to learn that there has been again a considerable falling off in the number of com­petitors this year, when compared with that of last year. Papers were sent in by 279 Boys (57 fewer than last year). Through neglecting a proper observance of the regulations for the competition, 17 Boys have been disqualified, and the papers which have passed the preliminary scrutiny of Head-Quarters, and have been sent on to me for adjudication, number 116 in the Senior Division and 146 in the Junior. Taking the Brigade Boys of the United Kingdom alone, this number shows the exceedingly low proportion of about one in 120. There seems to be a decided and growing disinclination amongst Boys at the present time to take part in anything of a serious nature, or in anything which appears to necessitate the least trouble or thought. The same difficulty meets one at drill, Bible-class, clubroom, and even sometimes on the football field. I myself brought the subject of the competition before the Boys of my Company at a Bible-class of about 35 or 40 a few weeks after the Christmas Books had been distributed, with the disappointing result that not a single Boy entered for the competition.

Few though those papers that have come to hand may be, their writers hail from all parts of the three Kingdoms. We also gladly welcome the 23 competitors from Calcutta, Toronto, Ottawa and Trinidad. Dublin heads the list on this occasion with 30 papers, London and Glasgow tie with 24 each, Liverpool and St. Ninian’s with 12 each, and Aberdeen follows with 1O. Next in order come Campbeltown, Dundee, Nottingham, Edin­burgh, Enfield, Newport, Belfast, Perth, Manchester, Hastings, Brighton, Bristol, South Shields, Ayr, followed by other towns which send one or two competitors each. The 1st Dublin Com­pany is to be congratulated upon sending in 22, the largest number from any one Company, while the 1st St. Ninian’s comes second with 12 competitors.

Christmas books – The late Victorian period was a time of rapidly increasing literacy, with The Boys’ Brigade playing its part in this progress with the publication in 1889 of a Christmas Gift book for Boys. The primary purpose of this book was to encourage Boys to read, and the first publication featured 16 pages of text interspersed with illustrations. This set a pattern for future books which continued until 1899. These books proved very successful, and reached a good proportion of Boys in the Brigade. Few of these books now exist, and it is fortunate that enough copies remain to be reproduced and read on the BB virtual museum as a flip book below.  

Wisdom and Folly

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