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a brief sketch of his spiritual development from a con-
dition of moral " tadpolism " to the full-grown altruist
will be of more service to the enquirer after the secret,
if it is a secret, of the Salvation Army's power to turn
men of one type into men of another.

Here is Jack Stoker, for example. By what power
was this man made to see ? By what power was he
subdued from being a man in brute form to one of the
most lovable and gentle of men ? He was a pitman,
illiterate, drunken, and abandoned by his friends. He
married a happy Northern lass, and within twelve
months Jack was a widower, with a tender baby on



JACK STOKER 188

his hands. He took to drinking and horse-racing. He
drank and lost heavily. He would work for a week or
fortnight, and then with the proceeds perhaps about
ten pounds would carouse in public houses till every
penny was absorbed in drink and in betting. His
companions were foul-mouthed scoundrels, a bull-
terrier, and his young child, which he invariably carried
wherever he went except to the pit. He would roll it
up in a shawl, tuck it in the corner of an ale-shop, set
his dog to guard it, and then drink till he was drunk.
One morning he was discovered in a field where he had
slept all night, and inside his overcoat was his child !

A parson once attempted to reason with him.

" I couldn't understand the gentleman," he said.
" He spoke in parables."

" What do ye want me to dae ? " I asked.

" Read your Bible," he said.

" I canna read," I told him.

" Then come to church," he advised.

" I hae nae claes," I answered.

" Ask God to help you."

" I am always daeing that, sir, so help me God."

The parson gave him up.

The police were his best friends. They winked at
many of his revelries, and it is said that their reason
was not altogether philanthropic. Jack Stoker had
a couple of fists that had made deep impressions upon
the faces of several members of the force, and they were
merciful !

He was invited to attend a Salvation Army meeting,
conducted by one of those sweet Salvation lasses that



184 GENERAL BOOTH

have done more to redeem the Salvation Army from
dryness of soul than they get credit for. Jack and a
few more of his mates sat and listened with respect,
he with his dog as usual. Dogs are allowed inside
Salvation Army places of worship under certain circum-
stances. This was such an occasion. No one had
the pluck to object to the notorious " Jack Stoker "
taking his dog with him into that mission hall.

After the service was concluded and the men ad-
journed to their rendezvous, a discussion arose as to
the qualities of the woman preacher and her sermon.
All were agreed that the sermon was clever, but no one
quite understood the meaning of the text, " When the
prodigal came to himself."

" Dost thou knaw Scripture, Jack ? " Stoker was
asked.

" That I do," he replied, although he had never read
a line of the Book.

" Well, what does that text mean, Jack c come to
himself ' that we canna guess at, lad."

" You must have been badly brought up," he re-
plied. " It is as plain as thy speech, mate. Why, the
poor de'il had got so far down that he had pawned
everything to his very shirt. He came to himself ! "

And the men gravely accepted Stoker's interpreta-
tion of Holy Writ and called for a pot of beer.

The hallelujah lass heard of the story, and gave it
forth that Jack Stoker would be brought to the Lord.
God had given her the assurance that he would be
saved.

Jack treated the Captain's prediction as a great joke,



JACK STOKER 185

and drank more and more on the strength of it. One
Saturday evening he was so intoxicated that he rolled
into his dog-kennel and made it his bedroom for the
night. When he awoke next morning with a dry,
parched tongue, an aching head, and a miserable feel-
ing because he had neglected to attend to his little
child, he struggled to his feet, and just then he heard
the band of the Hallelujahs go past singing, " Oh, you
must be saved to wear a crown ! " A big ball of emo-
tion swelled up in his throat, and scarcely realising
what he was doing, he strolled into the Army hall,
and at the close of the service Jack Stoker was on his
knees praying !

It is difficult to find the appropriate term to describe
a cross between a prayer and an oath, penitence and
ignorance. But whatever word defines it, Jack Stoker
declared, " I'll drink nae more. I'll try and be a good
man and a kind father to my child. Aye, God help
me, that I will ! "

Next morning Jack, to the surprise of his mates in
the pit, landed at the seam without cursing. They
fancied that he was sick.

" Thou art not thyself to-day, Jack," one remarked.

" Thou'rt reet, lad," Jack said. " I went to the
Hallelujahs last night, and I made up my mind to be
good, and I don't know, lad, how to begin. I hae nae
picks. They are all in pawn."

"I'll lend thee one of mine, Jack," said one of his
chums, glad for the sake of the town that he was going
to turn over a new leaf.

" Na, na, a Christian ought not to borrow, lad,"



186 GENERAL BOOTH

Jack replied, so careful was he to recognise at the
start that Christianity, as he understood it, was to be
measured by good conduct.

Within three years this illiterate and drunken miner
was preaching to one of the largest congregations of
men in the North of England. Now married to the
lass that predicted that he would be saved, General
Booth had the courage to commission them to catch
the souls of his class in the town of Sunderland.

In that town is a monument to the memory of
General Havelock. It can be seen, from its altitude,
a considerable distance away. There is another monu-
ment, but it is invisible, and yet worshipped by many
who at one time degraded their bodies, cursed and
persecuted and maimed their wives, and pawned their
children's boots for beer. To-day they are peaceable
and clean and Christian citizens, and they are those
who bless the day that ever Jack Stoker came to
Monkwearmouth. When he left at the word of com-
mand to go elsewhere Sunderland wept. The Mayor
gave him the Godspeed of the town, and hundreds of
reformed men and women sang one of his favourite
songs of salvation as the train took him away to
another battleground in the Army.

And as I write, he and his wife lie dying in a York-
shire hospital, their faces radiant and their hearts
calm with the peace of God. They have fought a good
fight, and are about to finish their course with ten
thousand blessings on their heads. And what I wish
to emphasise is not the man's work, but the man.
He is the greatest wonder. As an interpreter of Scrip-



SALVATION ARMY SAINTS 187

ture, as a human well of compassion for the inebriate,
as a successful winner of souls, he has few equals in this
organisation ; and when he is called to his reward the
nation will not go into mourning, and the great news-
s^ papers of the land may not even chronicle his death.
But what will the publicans and sinners think ? And
the happy wives and bairns in the North of England ?
Aye, and the angels in heaven ?

Will the Salvation Army continue to raise up such
men and women ? On that depends not so much their
religion as how they apply it. That an "enormous
power" accompanies the Army's preaching no one
will deny. What is frequently forgotten is that the
life begun in men is often throttled or destroyed by
the very means employed to bring it about.



CHAPTER IX
SOCIAL SALVATION

The Social Scheme The Farm Colony In Darkest England and the
Way Out 104-,000 subscribed in a few weeks Some Criticisms
Some Encouraging Features Some Recent Developments

IN the year 1891 General Booth startled the world with
an announcement that the Salvation Army would
organise a great Social Scheme with the object of ren-
dering shelter to the homeless crowds of our large
cities, establish depots for supplying out-of-works with
temporary labour, open labour exchanges, poor men's
hotels, drunkards' homes, prison-gate brigades, slum
posts, rescue homes, women's shelters, maternity
homes, hospitals, a poor man's lawyer, and a whole
network of agencies for inspiring the miserable and
sunken masses of society with the idea that no one
need starve, or steal, or commit suicide while physi-
cally able to perform sufficient labour to meet the cost
of his food and maintenance. All these agencies were to
be co-ordinated or grouped under two departmental
heads, one for the women's wing and the other for the
men, the whole to be called a City Colony, and to be
administered by Salvation Army officers.

The second part of this Social Scheme was to be
called the Land or Farm Colony, to which men were

188




Copyright, Bolak.

THE GENERAL AND MR. BRAMWELL BOOTH
DISCUSSING THE FARM COLONY.



SOCIAL SALVATION 189

to be transferred and restored to at least a measure of
moral and physical stamina in the City Colony. On this
Farm Colony, or community, there were to be all sorts
of small industries, but the chief occupations would be
those connected with market-gardening and general
farming. This Colony was also to combine training
for men who should be transported to another land,
which was to be named " The Over Sea Colony," where
they were to be placed upon an independent footing,
given land to cultivate or permanent work suited to
their ability, the moral idea being that the colonists
would obtain a real start in life. This Colony was to
be established upon co-operative principles, the Salva-
tion Army to hold in perpetuity the title-deeds, so that
it would exist wholly and solely for all time for the
benefit of the submerged tenth.

There were to be no religious tests. The complete
scheme was to be managed by the Salvation Army,
without representatives from outside Associations.
The colonists would, as a mark of discipline, be ex-
pected to attend one Salvation service a week, and
General Booth stated that as the Army was un-
sectarian, the entire effort would be free of the least
semblance of proselytism. He humorously declared
that an infidel could participate in all the benefits that
his scheme might confer upon him, and that he could
" live and die and be buried as an infidel, and have a
stone over his grave to say so, provided that he paid
for it."

The whole scheme was detailed in the book entitled
In Darkest England and the Way Out, a book that



190 GENERAL BOOTH

proved an enormous success and which was translated
into several languages. The profits derived from the
sale amounted to considerably over 10,000, which
the author, General Booth, generously handed over
to the Darkest England Fund. The book itself was
written, and to some extent inspired, by a warm friend
of the Army, Mr. William T. Stead. He had followed
the Salvation Army from its inception, and criticised
it in a friendly spirit from time to time. If the General
requires a defender on the Press to-day he can always
rely upon the facile pen of Mr. Stead.

The time was opportune for launching such an enter-
prise both as it related to the Army and the spirit of
the times. The work of the London County Council
had revealed to the Churches that charity was not
making very serious inroads upon the immorality and
social degradation of the slums. It was beginning to
illuminate the civic conscience as to insanitation, bad
housing, and the parasitic classes that roamed about
the docks, bridges, and other resorts of the homeless.
Trade was also dull and the cry of the unemployed
was heard in the land. The spirit of Poor Law Re-
form was in the destructive stage of progress. Yet
no one seemed able to propound a new scheme im-
pregnated with the humanity and imagination neces-
sary to make it a success. Noble philanthropists like
Shaftesbury and Peabody had appeared on the scene
of despair from time to time, casting rays of light upon
the dismal plight of the overcrowded and out-of-works ;
but their schemes lacked comprehensiveness, unity of
organisation, and the men to carry them to a logical



THE -DARKEST ENGLAND" SCHEME 191

triumphant success. Then, again, the scouts of Labour
and Socialist parties were at work, and though
they were derided by the Press and looked upon as
visionaries, it is now conceded that they served to
accentuate the growing discontent against the dole
system of dealing with the necessities of the poor.
They focussed the attention of the public upon the
need of a more scientific and economic treatment of
the evils from which they suffered.

At the psychological moment General Booth of the
Salvation Army stepped forward with his great social
scheme.

But other circumstances were at work within the
organisation which almost forced the leader of the
Army to devise an effort that should run side by side
with the spiritual work, for enabling the officers to
effectually deal with men and women in distress who
asked the ordinary Captain for aid. Here is an ex-
ample of what I mean :

At the close of a Sunday meeting which I conducted
in Colchester just before the " Darkest England
Scheme " was launched, ten persons knelt at the
penitent form. Two of these were confirmed inebri-
ates. One was the wife of a well-known man and the
mother of seven children. She was clearly a case for
an inebriates' home, and the first for a more stringent
reformatory. But the Salvation Army had no such
institutions. Of the ten penitents two more belonged
to the tramp class. A young man had embezzled a
sum of money and had run away from home, while
another was a woman who could only be dealt with



192 GENERAL BOOTH

in a hospital. Now, all that I could offer this minia-
ture company of degenerates was the consolation of
salvation. It is easy to argue, as some theorists and
preachers do, that the function of the Church is not
to repair the moral wrecks of our economic system ; but
when you are confronted with repentant fellow-mortals,
cursed by heredity, a demoralising environment, and
the contaminating effects of drink and other evil
habits, what is the Church for, I ask, if it is not to take
such by the hand and help them to lead a better life ?
Aye, and help them by more than pious words and
lofty counsel.

The Salvation Army was even more helpless in this
respect than the Churches. It claimed that it was
specially raised up by God to rescue the lost, and to
a large extent it was apparently succeeding in en-
listing the attention of these classes. Many of its con-
verts, the stories of whose reformation enriched the
literature of the movement, encouraged the hope that
the Army was the only reply to the despairing and
forlorn. And yet, except for a few rescue homes and
a home for the reception of ex-prisoners, and one or
twa shelters and Slum Posts, the Army was doing next
to nothing but holding meetings every night and all
day on Sunday. Help for submerged people was de-
pendent upon the charity of an individual soldier or
a friend, the worst form of charity that can be ad-
ministered both in its results and effects upon society.

As an officer who knew the mind of the field officer,
I fearlessly asserted that the Social Scheme, when it
was introduced, meant the salvation of the Salvation



THE "DARKEST ENGLAND" SCHEME 193

Army. We hailed it as a relieving force to an army
in an awkward situation. The fact is, the organisa-
tion was beginning to stagnate. The interest in its
methods had begun to wane. The cessation of perse-
cution had left it without a theme for exciting public
sympathy. Attendance was down. Soul-saving was
down. The membership was a most fluctuating
quantity, and the Army was hampered financially.

The dramatic introduction of a new policy with the
bold challenge that the Army Chief would, if the money
were forthcoming, eventually rid England of pauperism,
and establish a system that would stamp out the evils
of the casual ward and drain our social morass of its
pestilential parasites, was seriously accepted by a sec-
tion of the public. The Army itself was wildly en-
thusiastic about it. It revived the spirits of the
organisation. Everywhere the subject was talked
about and discussed. Nonconformist chapels were
thrown open as they had never been before to officers
of any and every rank, to lecture upon the General's
Scheme, whether they knew much about it or not.
The Scheme was debated in clubs, literary societies,
and conferences of Poor Law Guardians, and when
the General formally launched the effort in the old
Exeter Hall, he stated that if the public would provide
him 1,000,000 to establish the experiment and supply
him with 100,000 per annum, he would demonstrate
the success of the scheme he had described in his book
In Darkest England and the Way Out. Money for the
experiment rolled in. Within a few weeks 104,000
was subscribed, and it seemed to some as if the de-
o



194 GENERAL BOOTH

spised, ridiculed, and persecuted " Corybantic Chris-
tianity " of the Salvation Army was to evolve a
solution for the socially submerged classes of the
cities, while political economists indulged in either
airing or confounding theories.

Before dealing with some of the objections that have
been brought in recent years against the Social Work
of the Salvation Army, it is but rendering General
Booth and his associates the barest justice to enume-
rate what he has actually accomplished during the last
twenty years :

Shelters for the poor and destitute, 30 ; High-class
Hotels for working men, 15 ; Factories, Workshops,
and other industries, 30 ; Farm and Industrial Colonies,
5 ; Cheap Food Depots, 20 ; Labour Exchanges, 30 ;
Small Holdings experiment, 1 ; Young People's Re-
formatories, 5 ; Emigration Offices, 10 ; Anti-Suicide
Bureaux, 5 ; Lost Relatives Department, 1 ; Dis-
charged Prisoners' Aid Societies, 10 ; Special Relief
Agencies (such as Food Depots on the Embankment,
local efforts arising out of strikes, etc.), 20 ; Receiving
and Rescue Homes, 90; Maternity and other Hos-
pitals, 5 ; Inebriate Homes (both sexes), 2. When
one remembers, however, that there was a falling off
in the donations of the public toward the maintenance
of the experiment three years after the initiation of
the scheme ; that the Army has had to contend with
trying obstacles in obtaining suitable buildings in the
cities for its shelters ; that it has had to select, train,
and develop officers from the ranks of the Army who
could combine business management with religious



SOCIAL AGENCIES 195

zeal ; arrange and rearrange their plans to fit in with
the increasing and exacting demands of local authori-
ties ; combat the criticism of friends and enemies of
the scheme ; learn bitter and expensive lessons from
the failures of individual experiments the above table
of results forms as remarkable a document as the
tabulation of the Salvation Army's progress as a whole.

The Salvation Army reporters have not failed to
magnify unduly, I suggest these results, and one
of the methods by which they do so is in the embodi-
ment of a schedule in the annual reviews of the Social
Scheme. This schedule always gives the number of
meals supplied at the cheap depots, the cheap lodgings
for the poor (the Army has no free shelters), meetings
held, receipts from the poor for their food and shelter,
number of applicants for work, and so forth ; all of
which is misleading and unscientific because of the
fact, admitted by officers, that the shelters are fre-
quented by a class two-thirds of whom are regular
attendants, just as there is a class who regularly make
the common lodging-house and casual ward their
nightly habitation.

This characteristic of the Army's reporting is univer-
sal, and to be deplored on public grounds. The Army
has yet to understand the A B C of impartial writing
and diagnosis, a defect that is simply a concomitant of
the leader's platitude that " we have no time to record
failures we are too busy consolidating victories."
As if a true statement of failure, and a careful study
of the lessons to be derived from failure, would not be
beneficial to the cause concerned and the progress of



96 GENERAL BOOTH

the reform. But there it is. The defect has become a
disease. I defy anyone to search through the deluge of
literature issued from the Salvation Army Press and
find in it one single impartial report of any of its opera-
tions in any land. Where a semblance of impartiality
is introduced it is covered by so many generalities that
nothing definite can be ascertained from it.

In Mr. Harold Begbie's book Broken Earthenware
this defect in the Army's reports is frequently brought
to notice. I know personally every one of the converts
whom Mr. Begbie has, with vivid descriptive talent
and a philosophic temperament, depicted in that book.
But it will surprise those outside the Salvation Army
who have read that book it will surprise no one inside
to be informed on the authority of one who suggested
the publication of such a work, that it is not repre-
sentative of the character of the work of the Army
Corps in London. For every thief that came under
the ministry of the Army in Notting Dale, twenty went
to the devil, and some became worse than ever. That
Mr. Begbie omits to tell. For every drunkard re-
formed, for every tramp made to labour, and for every
trophy canonised in that work, there have been hun-
dreds I say so with deliberation and after renewed
investigation of the Corps who did not materialise
into honest, industrious, sober men and women. I
say so with deep regret ; and I say so believing, at
the same time, in the basic principle that the author
referred to has so graphically upheld. But what a
loss to the Church and State, and to the Army itself,
it is that Mr. Bramwell Booth, when he instructed



BROKEN EARTHENWARE 197

Mr. Begbie to study his " broken earthenware," did not
at the same time give " the other side." Was it fair
to that author's reputation as a student of psychology
and moral phenomena ? I only recite this instance to
emphasise the painful deficiency in the Army's general
reporting, and the uneasy feeling one experiences when
one reads of millions of starving people fed and housed
and redeemed through the instrumentality of the
Social Scheme.

This does not prevent one, however, from recog-
nising the unique boon that the Social Scheme has
been to the science of sociology, to say nothing of the
untold blessing it has been to an uncounted number
of individuals.

It has been my privilege to hear the General in
public and private, times without number, talk criti-
cally of the Social Scheme, and expound his dreams for
its development. It would be injudicious on my part
if I disclosed what I felt to be confidential in these
talks. Neither he nor any great leader of men ought
to be quoted when thinking aloud. I shall discard,
therefore, what he has said in moments of severe retro-
spectiveness about the Darkest England Scheme, and
confine myself to the following combination of several
conversations in different parts of the world :

" I never think of it but what I repeat what I have
said about the parent of the Social Scheme the
Salvation Army it is not what it is, or what it has
done, that provides me with the happiest reflection :
it is what it will be. If a man is drowning, what is the
first instinct that prompts us ? It is the sense of



198 GENERAL BOOTH

humanity. We do not stop to enquire if he is a Russian,
or a German, or an infidel, or a Protestant, or a Catho-
lic. We do not ask if he ever stole or lied, or even took
the life of his fellow-man. We at once try to save him.
That is my argument for the shelter. If there are men
in our big cities without shelter, or barely the means
to procure shelter, I say stop theorising and discussing
the effects upon the social and political cults of the
hour. It must be right to help him. Therefore help
him. Why do I make him pay for his shelter ? Be-
cause the best way to save a man is not to try and
do it for him, but make him do it himself. What next
does that man require ? Hope. He reached the posi-
tion I describe because there is no chance in the labour
market, no chance for him at the labour exchange,
no chance with his friends, and no chance with the
Church or the State ; only the workhouse or the casual
ward, and he is not old enough perhaps or beaten down
enough to seek these asylums of the State.

" Well, we meet that man with a kind word and a
promise to do our best for him. That is more than he
will get on ' the road,' or from the swell that throws
him a sixpence to get rid of him. Then what next ?
Work, work, work, and again work, the most desirable


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Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 13 of 25)