A M Nicol.

General Booth and the Salvation Army online

. (page 10 of 25)
Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 10 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sacerdotal beliefs, has made four voyages to Australia,
eight visits to the United States, travelled all through
India, toured many of the countries of Europe, as if
they were but extensions of the railway connections
of his native land and that he has visited every
town and hamlet on a white motor-car, preaching sal-



A TRAVELLING POPE 135

vation, declaring that the Salvation Army was made
in heaven, and that in all its changes and so forth it
bears the " finger-marks of God," we are bound to
acknowledge that to him in reality the world is his
parish.

He views Holland as an average vicar of the Church
of England would weigh up the opportunities of a small
mission hall in an out-of-the-way village. A trip to
America gives him as much concern as a sermon would
do to the Archbishop of Canterbury in Edinburgh,
simply because the mind is under the spell of this
world-conquest. He is no traveller in the ordinary
sense of the term.

It was during a campaign in Switzerland twenty
years ago that I awakened to his Caesarism. We were
travelling en route for Lucerne when his son-in-law,
then Commissioner Booth-Clibborn, jumped from his
seat and cried :

" General, oh, what a magnificent view there is here
of Mont Blanc ! "

I at once rushed to the window, to revel in the
magnificence of the aspect. I saw the General frown.

; ' What has that to do with saving souls ? " replied
the warrior evangelist.

We were dumb (at least I was), and it took me long
before I could solve the riddle of the sarcastic reproof.
Mr. Clibborn argued the matter with his leader, but
I fancy that at the end of the debate the son-in-law
decided that when it came down to Salvation business,
_the old man was General first and father-in-law on
rare occasions !



136 GENERAL BOOTH

Here, then, we see this wonderful tourist bending
the forces of civilisation steam, electricity, railway
tracks, and ocean greyhounds to the design of a
Salvation Csesar. And we see too that, whether he
gives his benediction to the opening of a small-holding
experiment or a soul-converting campaign in Japan,
he is thinking of to-morrow and the relation of the
Army's system to the greater Army that he dreams
of for the whole world.

In one of his most inspired moments he delivered
an address to his Staff upon the Salvation Army of
the future. He called it a vision. And among the
forces that he saw at work were :

Homes for the Detention of Tramps.

Transportation Agencies for Removing Slum Dwel-
lers from one part of the world to another.

Steamers owned and chartered by the Salvation
Army for the purpose.

Stupendous factories, splendid stores, colossal work-
shops, and vast industrial enterprises.

Inebriates' Home for "men and women who drink
distilled damnation in the shape of intoxicants."

Rescue Operations of many orders for the deliverance
of fallen women.

Land Colonies evolving into Salvation cities.

Orphanages becoming villages and Reformatories
made into veritable paradises.

The working out of my idea for a World's University
for Humanity.

A Salvation Citadel in every village, town, and
city.



HIS WORLD-WIDE VIEWS 137

I can see this old prophet like a seer standing among
his faithful Staff delivering this finale to the vision :

" And now in the very centre, as it were, of this
heavenly plain, I see a vast amphitheatre, surrounded
by lofty hills, stretching up far away beyond the
power of eye to follow, all lined with the mighty
throngs of human beings. Human once, but they are
now celestial. . . . But who are they and whence come
they ? They are Salvationists. They were Salva-
tionists on earth : they are Salvationists for ever.
You can see it. They wear the uniform. You can
hear it. You have heard them sing before."

I have said the General of the Salvation Army thinks
in worlds. It is not inconsistent with his ideas of the
celestial world that he thinks in eternities, and if in
heaven there are no red guernseys and big drums, I
have a notion that the General will feel rather out of
place. At any rate, we have in these extracts from his
deliberate, if somewhat metaphorical, orations the
key to his world-campaigns. And if I try to describe
one of these campaigns I shall describe all, for the
General follows in all one line of action.

The Salvationism of the traveller will be clearly
understood when I state that when the General re-
ceived an invitation to the Palace at Tokio to be intro-
duced to the Emperor, the arrangement well-nigh
broke down because the General had neither morning
nor evening dress. The Acting Ambassador could not
see how he could, with propriety, appeal to the Japanese
Court for an exemption. Any explanation might be
liable to misunderstanding. There was no time for the



138 GENERAL BOOTH

smartest tailor in the city to make one, and even if
there had been time, I have a notion that unless re-
ceived in his Salvation Army regalia the General would
have diplomatically extricated himself from the di-
lemma.

Fortunately, a smart Salvation Japanese, Brigadier
Yamamura, one of the ablest literary officers in the
Army, suggested a visit to the Minister for Foreign
Affairs. There was a parley between the Salvation
Army Brigadier and the Japanese statesman. The
Minister suggested that the good General should en-
deavour to borrow a suit for the occasion.

" But," said the Salvationist, " he is taller than any
European in Tokio, and then think what the English
would say. If King Edward received General Booth
in his red guernsey our illustrious Emperor will con-
sider himself in good company."

The argument was convincing, and so the General
entered the sacred grounds of the Mikado in his
" Blood and Fire " habiliments, while the Acting
Ambassador and other officials wore the regulation
Court dress. Report has it that the Emperor thought
the General's uniform the most attractive of all present
at the function, his own included !

The moral of which is that in all things General
Booth is a Salvationist. His travelling impedimenta,
reading, companions, and itinerary are all fixed so as
to advance the cause. The only time I knew him to
thoroughly relish sight-seeing was during a flying visit
to Jerusalem in the year 1906. The customary visits
to the Jordan, Bethlehem, Olivet, Bethany, and the



HE KISSES THE HAND OF A LEPER 139

Church of the Sepulchre were gone through with a zest
which seemed to indicate that, for once, the General
was lost in the man. But it was only for a season.

Gethsemane, like a well-kept suburban garden, ap-
pealed to him. Around its high walls were decrepit,
semi-nude, demented-looking lepers, with their piteous
eyes and extended arms, begging for alms. General
Booth, reminded by the conservatism of custom
despite the flight of time, and his first impressions of
New Testament reading, stood and exclaimed, " Here
we have the garden of the Lord and the stricken of
man : the symbols of the Divine and the human."

A leprous-stricken old man stepped forward, crouch-
ing and crying, " Backsheesh, good Englishman."

The General beckoned him to come near, and as he
handed the beggar a copper, he bent down and, to the
consternation of the company, kissed his hand ! The
lepers, Syrians, Russian pilgrims, and dragomans, as
well as his Staff, were amazed.

" Who is he ? " asked a Russian, who could speak
English.

I tried to explain in a few words, and then the
identity of the General with Christ's cause dawning
upon him, he rushed forward just as the General was
in the act of entering the garden, and said :

" Come, sir, come, oh ! come to my country ! "

In the garden itself the General was mute. He
knelt under the ancient sycamore and cried in a tear-
ful voice :

" Oh God, we are tempted to think that Thy
bloody sweat, Thy agony on the tree, is all in vain.



140 GENERAL BOOTH

Who is sufficient for these things ? My God. . . . My
God ! "

He next ascended Calvary. There his spirits
seemed to rise with the rarefying breeze that was

playing upon the green hill, and as his little party sang,

\

f( Were the whole realm of Nature mine,

That were a present far too small ;
Love so amazing, so Divine,

Shall have my soul, my life, my all ! "

he turned to Colonel Lawley, and said :

" We must have a soul-saving meeting in Jerusalem
to-night." And he did.

When in Japan, he had no time to enter into the
temples and discuss with the doctors of Buddhism the
moral and social well-being of the Empire ; no time to
get into raptures over Fuji ; no time to explore the land-
marks and monuments of the race, nor even study first
hand the Europeanisation of the industries and habits
of the people. He had only time to preach and save
souls, and turn every minute not spent in fulfilling
his supreme mission into one long note of interroga-
tion.

And yet he is a constant seeker after facts about
people, their occupations, habits, religion, as well as
all about the topics upon which he is directly con-
cerned.

He is a careful preparer of his campaigns. An
exhaustive correspondence takes place before he
decides upon visiting a country. When the decision
is arrived at, schedules as to arrangements are
sent out to the Territorial Officer, who has to detail



HIS METHOD OF TRAVELLING 141

everything that the General requires for each day
and in each town. His billets have to be carefully
selected with respect to accommodation, distance
from meeting-places, or mode of travel, whether by
rickshaw or cab ; the times of meeting, the size of
hall, and its freedom from traffic and other noises
have all to be specified.

An important item is the menu. The General in his
latter years has adopted a vegetarian diet, and it
follows that his hostesses have to be advised as to what
he takes for breakfast, luncheon, tea, and supper
he has no dinner in the conventional sense.

An incident in connection with one of his con-
tinental journeys led him to adopt this arrange-
ment. The millionaire inhabitant of the town, on
hearing that the Army's Chief intended to visit the
place, applied to have the honour of entertaining him.
The invitation was accepted : the General has a
weakness for millionaires in a purely philanthropic
sense, of course. He believes that by relieving them of
some of their superfluous wealth he can add to their
interest in the affairs of the world.

Well, the train was late in arriving, and the General
had to drive from the station direct to the place of his
public engagement. After the meeting, tired and
disappointed with the day's itinerary, the General
hoped that his new millionaire friend would relieve
the monotony of the day. He entered the supper-
room, gorgeously illuminated and filled with the
celebrities of the neighbourhood, including " my lord
the Bishop," the Burgomeister, and heads of the



142 GENERAL BOOTH

University. Introductions over, the host made a
formal speech of welcome, and when the General sat
down on his right, he said :

" Now, General, make yourself quite at home. We
have everything here, and I have engaged a special chef
from Paris to cook your food. Now, what will you
have to begin with ? "

I was present at that sublime moment. The General
looked at his secretary and then at the table, with its
glittering gold and silver dishes, and in the most polite
manner in the world apologised for his secretary.

" He ought to have known my little weaknesses
and informed you as to their nature. I am rather a
tiresome eater. I take very little for supper."

" Here is some light soup or salmon, General. And
what will you say for a drink light national wines,
or the best vintage from France ? "

"No, thank you, sir," replied the General. " If you
please, just a small basin of bread and milk ! "

I will not attempt to describe the looks of the
guests. A tragedy was written in the distressed con-
tractions of the millionaire's face.

That night General Booth resolved that a similar
mistake should not be made again ; hence the secre-
tary's duties included the despatch of a detailed menu
previous to his visiting a town, which is a subject,
however, that has often given the General's hosts and
hostesses more anxiety than all other responsibilities of
entertaining.

General Booth is a good sailor. His voyage to Japan
formed one long round of industry at sea as well as



HIS METHOD OF TRAVELLING 143

on land. There is a sense, however, in which he is
extremely punctilious and hard to please. The
proximity of his cabin to noisy passengers, or some
grating and disagreeable disturbance during the night,
will irritate him, and his secretaries will be commissioned
to remove the cause, or the captain will be appealed to
to provide a more congenial cabin. I have known the
General change his cabin three times in the course of a
single voyage.

On one voyage a cabin near the General's was the
rendezvous of after-dinner card-parties, and the
fortunes of the game would be attended with more
hilarity than was congenial for the old General, then
deeply engaged in the compilation of a special brief.

I was commissioned to appeal for a modification
of the entertainment. Not being quite successful, we
were treated to a dissertation upon the difference
between the discipline on board an American ship as
contrasted with an English. Still, on the whole the
General is riot, considering his age and the position he
occupies, an awkward passenger, and he receives the
best hospitality that can be procured on board ship.

His life on board is interesting. He travels first class.
He generally has two cabins, one for himself and
another next to it for the patient secretary-valet.
The one room communicates with the other by an
electric bell. Both cabins are fitted with the essentials
of an up-to-date office, stationery racks, typewriting
machines, etc., and the General works on an average
ten hours per day while at sea.

His rule is to call his secretary about 8 a.m., when he



144 GENERAL BOOTH

has tea specially made for him, from a blend which the
General carries with him wherever he goes. Needless
to say, the brand is the one that he is anxious the
public should accustom itself to in the interests of the
Army's missionary cause. The profits derived from
the sale are hypothecated to this section of the work.
At this tea, generally taken in bed, the secretary is
present, for during the night it is almost certain that
the General will have had some thought upon a branch
of the work upon which he will desire to expatiate and,
for the sake of form and entertainment, solicit advice.

After this mean refreshment the General spreads his
papers out for the day, takes ten minutes' walk on
deck, and returns for prayers. Prayers are times of
ordeal as a rule. Their utility is dependent upon
purely temperamental conditions. If the General is
in one of his aggressive moods, or fancies that his
unworthy Staff are in danger of being contaminated
with their superior surroundings, he will certainly
find occasion while the Scriptures are being read to
tender wholesome warnings as to the evils of luxurious
living and the demoralising effects of the deck. I
remember being caught in the act of playing quoits,
and for days I was held up as a woeful specimen of
the ease with which one can take the first step on
the slippery slope of backsliding ! Nevertheless, the
prayers are characteristic of the General.

Scripture is read on the rotary principle, and the
General is certain to pass some remarks upon the
reading.

" Higgins," he would say, " you are inclined to be



OBITER DICTA 145

monotonous. Your tone of voice is too uniform. Put
a little more feeling into it. Cox, you have an excel-
lent voice, but at times it is too dramatic. Forget that
you have such a fine instrument and read a little bit
quicker. Nicol, you drop your voice. Where did you
get that emphasis from ? Scotland, I reckon. Not
so fast, brother. Remember your stops."

His impromptu comments are always unconventional.
One morning the selection related to an incident in the
life of Moses, a favourite Bible study of the General's.
Interrupting Higgins in the reading, he leant back
in his rocking-chair specially made for him and
mused thus :

"What was Moses? A Bishop, or a parson, or a
General ? Whatever he was designated, he had his
troubles with his temper, and his mother-in-law, and
the manna. He must have had a dull time in that
wilderness, though it must have been a good drill-
ground for the submerged tenth of his day. Poor old
Moses ! I wonder if he was ever harassed by critics
and pessimists and pressmen ! Without the discipline
and hardness of the life I can't see how Moses could
have made a people do you, Higgins ?

" The British Colonies object to my submerged.
They want money, and men who have been to the
Board Schools. They are mistaken. Men, when
drilled in habits of industry, and who have become
habituated to work, are the class that will turn the
earth to advantage. Moses made the best farmers and
the best fighters the world has ever known or ever
will know out of slaves ! We are all mistaken as to



146 GENERAL BOOTH

what the poor can do. The battle of the next century
will be between brains and character.

" If I were a betting man, I would put my money
upon the man of character. Where did Moses get his
political economy and statesmanship from ? The land,
the land, the land ! And there is more common sense
to be picked up on a farm than at Oxford or Cambridge.
Let us pray ! Cox, lead. And be short, and don't
use big words."

Sometimes the prayers of his Staff vexed his soul :
if one were too religious, he would overhaul it after-
wards ; if too loud and overdrawn, as Lawley's would
be, he would say :

" We are not going to hold a meeting on board to-
night, Lawley. Remember that the Lord expects that
you will put your head as well as your heart into your
petitions."

Lawley would only smile, or say :

" General, if I didn't let my heart out, there would
be no Johnnie Lawley." And the General would pass
on and say, " He is hopeless ! " But in an aside to
a member of the Staff he would add :

" I like Lawley, but don't let him know that I said
so. He would have swelled head for the rest of the
voyage."

After prayers, a stroll ; not long, but sufficient to
make him eager to get back to his sermon-making with
a new verve for work. He rarely cultivates the social
side of life on board ship. The majority of passengers
bore him. He considers the life that the average first-



INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL 147

class passenger leads detrimental to body and soul.
The General, therefore, is not sought after like other
celebrities. The passengers on board the Minnesota
the ship that carried us to Yokohama were an excep-
tion, however ; they had the American weakness for
a genuine sensation, and when it was found that the
Salvation Army Chief would spend his seventy-ninth
birthday on board and that a little maid would also
celebrate her natal day on the same date the 10th of
April a bevy of American ladies prepared a monster
cake and after dinner persuaded the General to talk
on the lesson of his life.

But the General was as smart as the Yankee ladies.
When he had finished his address and cut the cake and
made an appropriate speech in honour of the little
American girl, he slyly turned to his lady friends and
hinted that it was usual to receive gifts on such an
interesting day. The ladies were for a moment taken
by surprise. The ship was rolling. The ceremony had
lasted longer than was expected, and passengers were
making for the companion-way ; but a happy thought
occurred to one, and the ladies rushed into their cabins
and seized various articles one a soap-dish, another
a jewel-tray, and a third a fancy coal-scuttle ; and
armed with these extemporaneous offertory-boxes, they
" bombarded " the saloon and deck, and the funds of
the Army were that night enriched by some twenty
or thirty pounds. It was a happy and profitable
birthday !

Sometimes an opportunity arises for the General
to show his magnanimity. A fireman died and was



148 GENERAL BOOTH

buried at sea, and when it was ascertained that he had
left a widow and two children, his Staff were instructed
to procure liberty from the chief officer to pass the hat
round in aid of the bereaved, and being adepts at the
business, they collected 90 and handed that sum over
to the Company to invest in the widow's interest : a
good act that, curiously enough, broke down the preju-
dice of the scion of a noble house in England then on
board, who ever since has been a consistent friend of
the Army.

Another aspect of the General's appetite for evan-
gelising the people is his readiness to conduct religious
services on board. What a picturesque sight it is to
see the veteran preacher standing amidships among
the third-class passengers, proclaiming in his strong,
resonant voice the story of salvation ! The scene
makes a living mosaic in the evangel of the great globe-
trotter. Men and women and children, sailors and
stewards, lend him a hand by " singing up, mates," as
he calls them. First-class passengers lean over the
rails of the upper decks and survey the living picture.
Something like the solemnity of the grave creeps over
the motley audience when the patriarchal-looking
preacher removes his hat and reveals his snow-white
head, and then, with closed eyes, raises his voice in
prayer, " for the dear ones at home, and for courage
to endure the trials and responsibilities that await us
in the land to which we are sailing, the officers of this
good ship, the crew, the stewards, and the passengers " ;
and as he cries, " Lord, we are all journeying to another
port. Have we got the correct chart ? Have we got



PREACHING ON BOARD 149

the right captain on board ? Is our ship weather-
proof ? Are we insured against the dangers and quick-
sands of the world ? " the Sunday-evening service has
a mellowing effect, as if the old man knew something
about the reality of the other world.

I have spoken to many people who have heard the
General on land and have never been moved by the
eloquence of his gospel, but they have acknowledged
that the night they heard him on the water they were
convinced that the evangelist had the ring of the
prophet about him. It is certainly the case that the
nearer you get the General of the Salvation Army to
the people, the clearer shines the spiritual light and
touch that the man possesses. I have listened to him
in college, lecture-hall, and assembly with impatience,
but never once have I listened to him without soul-
pleasure when he has spoken in a shelter or at a street
corner, or at a railway station, or "down among the
thirds " of an ocean greyhound.

The greatest traveller in the world, it is impossible to
tabulate the mileage he has covered since the night
he pledged his word to his bosom companion to live
only for the salvation of the world. In his eighty-
second year he is still travelling. As I write he has
begun a journey on the continent of Europe that
would stagger a man in his prime. Within thirty days
he will conduct twenty meetings and deliver twenty
lectures in the principal cities of Holland, Germany,
Switzerland, and Italy, and finish in Rome with an
exposition of the movement's relation to Church
and State. His Holiness the Pope draws an ecclesi-



150 GENE&AL BOOTH

astical fence around St. Peter's, and beyond that he
will not travel. General Booth, a self-appointed Pope,
has contracted the world to a parish. In that parish
he moves about with apparently as much ease and
method as a priest does in an ordinary English parish.

The influence of these pilgrimages upon the imagina-
tion of his people has exercised a sort of supernatural
charm. They have made the Army feel in its com-
ponent parts that its General belongs to no land or
people in particular ; they have confirmed the part of
local men in the sanity of its ideals. The General is a
persuasive, masterful diplomat ; and the campaigns
have yielded great moral and spiritual results.

Excepting in one or two countries, however, he has
not launched any scheme that was born of the sorrow
and need of that particular country. The " Darkest
England " scheme was at least an honest and great
attempt to show a more excellent way of dispensing
charity and supplying work for the poor of England.
But he has not attempted to found anything original
in Germany or Holland or France to grapple with
their particular social evils. Then the Army has failed
to do anything on a large scale in South Africa, and in


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 10 of 25)