Grand Fete on Mars


1870 Courier & Argus

Thursday, 22nd September.



     Yesterday was grand gala day on board the Mars Training Ship. The Executive Committee of the Training Ship had invited the friends of the institution to be present at a meeting on board the Mars, and the result was that a most brilliant company assembled yesterday on the deck of that vessel. The party, numbering upwards of 1000, included the Earl of Dalhousie, who occupied the chair at the meeting; Sir John Ogilvy, Sir George Ramsay, Sir David Baxter, Mr Edward Baxter, Sheriffs Bell, Barclay, and Smith; Professor Rogers of Oxford, and a vast number of the gentry of Forfarshire, Fifeshire, and Perthshire, and parties from a distance. A steamer was arranged to be awaiting at Craig Pier at twelve o’clock to convey the visitors to the ship, and, as the day was one of the finest we have had for a long time, the turn out at Craig Pier was unusually large. A steamer also conveyed the visitors from Newport about the same hour. When the steamer arrived opposite the Mars the yards were manned by the boys in real naval fashion, and, as the visitors steamed alongside, the band of the Dundee Rifle Volunteers, under Mr Warren, struck up “Rule Britannia.” A comfortable gangway was rigged out, and a fine arch of evergreen surmounted the end by which the Mars was entered.  Once safely on board, the scene was a very pleasing one. The prospect from the vessel is one of the very finest that heart could wish, and the scene on the deck was no less pleasing. The boys marched round the deck headed by their flute band playing stirring marches. After the movements of the boys had been watched with interest for some time, while others had surveyed the lower regions of the vessel, the business proper of the meeting commenced by the Earl of Dalhousie taking the chair underneath a fine floral canopy erected for the occasion.

    Lord Dalhousie having taken the chair, called upon Rev. Mr Mackay to open the proceedings with prayer. Mr Mackay then engaged in prayer, and afterwards the boys on board the ship sang the 100th Psalm.

… The Chairman said – Ladies and gentlemen. I have scarcely come here to-day prepared with any stated address upon this occasion; but any one who has set his foot upon the deck of this noble ship must be at once struck with admiration at the success which has attended the endeavours of the Committee of this Institution to carry out its objects. It seems, ladies and gentlemen, that there is some mistaken notion in the minds of the public as to the nature of this institution, and I think it is but right upon an occasion like this that the public mind should be disabused of some fancies it has taken that this institution is intended for the reformation of criminals. Now, it is no such thing. The object of the institution is to save children from falling into crime (hear, hear), and it doing the boys on board this ship the greatest possible injustice in any way to associate their names with crime, or to stigmatise them in any way as criminals…

Mr W.W. Renny gives a financial report on the institution followed by –

     Professor Rogers of Oxford, having been introduced by the Chairman, then delivered an address. He commenced by saying that he had never listened at any time to words which struck him as being so full of truth and importance as those which had fallen from the lips of the noble Chairman, when he told them that the business before them that day was the “solution in part of one of the most difficult problems in domestic economy.” He supposed it was notorious to them, although they might not have such a large experience of it in this part of the country, that destitution was increasing in the country with rapid, with terrible strides. At the present moment the cost of maintaining pauperism and destitution in England and Wales would keep up a gigantic army. This army of pauperism was to a very large extent a complete waste of the national resources. He believed there was no greater question before the public mind than the question as to how this destitution was to be arrested. It appeared in England in three forms – first, in supporting those incapable of working through age or other incapacity; secondly, in supporting able bodied pauperism; and thirdly, for the maintenance and bringing up of destitute children. In these the first one was sheer waste; the second was utterly demoralising; and the third was the only subject in which they could fairly entertain any hope. It seemed to him dealing with this question that this institution was a practical illustration of how it should be dealt with, in order that these young paupers should be made valuable members of society. Professor Rogers then went on to refer to the practise in the English Industrial Schools of bringing all the boys up to be shoemakers and tailors, and the girls to be domestic servants, and from many years’ experience he could state that the girls turned out badly, and the boys not too much better. He admitted that in the institution the cost of maintenance was considerable; but they had the consolation, he believed, of fairly concluding that almost every one of the boys that they brought up in this way would turn out a valuable member of society. A little time ago a noble Lord, who being amazingly fluent, and somewhat impulsively benevolent, had made a statement which he (the Professor) saw lately in a paper, warning them against being carried away by political economy, and forgetting the great duty of charity. The highest aim of political economy was to take destitution from destitution, and place it in a higher and nobler sphere, and he maintained that there could thus be no difference between the moralist and divine on the one hand and the political economist on the other. It was the duty of all to solve the problem of this increasing pauperism, and he believed this institution was one way of solving that problem. He thought it was the duty of the Government to take such institutions as this under their care, and deal with them in no niggard spirit…