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and often the most difficult thing to obtain. That is
why I consented to open paper-sorting shops and
small light industries. I have nothing better to offer
them. If I had, it would be at their disposal. The
remuneration is small, I admit, but I do not admit that
the paper-sorting department of the Army is an
ordinary factory. If it was, I would tell my officers
to go into the open labour market and select the
ablest men and give them the trade-union rate of
wages. It would pay me to do so expert labour pays.
But these men are not able to do the work of experts,


and therefore the remuneration is fixed according to
a scale determined by what we can afford to give after
allowing for management and oversight. If a profit
should, after all, be made out of the sorting-rooms,
well, even the poor fellows need not grumble, for they
can have the satisfaction of knowing that it will go
into the department for dealing with them in another

" And what next ? Salvation. I do not sail under
false colours. Nine-tenths of the men who float down
the stream of unemployment are first drawn into it by
their own folly or wickedness. Hence my officers are
trained to conduct meetings calculated to impress
the men with the truth that a God of mercy and
power is ready to help and save them. If that is
proselytising, then I am a proselytiser. I declared that
was my intention when I wrote Darkest England. Read
it. Here it is :

" ' I have no intention to depart in the smallest
degree from the main principles on which I have acted
in the past. My only hope for the permanent deliver-
ance of mankind from misery, either in this world or the
next, is the regeneration or the remaking of the in-
dividual by the power of the Holy Ghost through Jesus
Christ. But in providing for the relief of temporal
misery, I reckon that I am only making it easy where
it is now difficult, and possible where it is now all but
impossible, for men and women to find their way to the

"It is charged against the scheme that we aim at
making it self-supporting. How unreasonable ! Has
not the world had enough of the dole system and of
indiscriminate charity ? The recipients of our charity,
in addition to criticising the work as a whole, protest
that we make money out of the shelters and some of


the industries. It is not correct. But what if it were ?
The fact supplies the best answer to those who label
my plans Utopian. Millions are spent upon the Poor
Law, and yet at the end of the year the poor are still
with us in even larger numbers. Under my method,
now in operation for over twenty years, the men either
pay for their shelter or work for it, and if I had more
money I could, on the principles that have been
demonstrated so successful, take hold of other, if not
all grades of the poor (with the exception of the en-
feebled, who should be kept by the State in a condition
of health and comfort), and make them work for what
they consumed, and pay a fraction towards the main-
tenance of the institution under which that oppor-
tunity is afforded them.

" I feel much the same about prisoners, tramps, in-
corrigibles, and rogues, a proportion of whom ought to
have their civil rights entirely forfeited, until they were
certified, after treatment in a colony, established for
the purpose, that they were fit to be released. There
is a deal of false sentiment as to the rights of man. A
man has, I contend, a right to live, a right to have an
opportunity to work, to be educated, and generally to
possess the means of a healthy existence. But, if
man, by his persistent and repeated misconduct, for-
feits any of these rights, or shows that he will not profit
by what society, through the law, inflicts upon him,
then he ought to be deprived of his liberty until such
time as he gives evidence of the return of mental and
moral sanity."

With which the majority of political economists
will agree. The questions that have been raised of late,
however, are scarcely touched by the General in this
and other defences.


Perhaps the most indefensible thing about the
^ Army is that it does not condescend to answer per-
fectly legitimate criticism. It circumvents, postpones
dealing with, or only partially replies to points,
and these of the least importance. It does anything
and everything but face straightforwardly an attack
upon its work.

Mr. John Manson, in his Salvation Army and the,
Public, has exposed the social work to a most analyti-
cal examination, and no one can read his comparisons
between what was promised in the original plan, and
what has been carried out, his dissection of balance
sheets and returns, his rather merciless exposure of the
shelters, factories, and the farm colony, without
realising the danger that will confront the Army when
the Social Scheme comes to be weighed in the scale of
results, as it must be some day.

With many of the criticisms in that book I have no
sympathy. Mr. Manson has the skill of the man who is
clever at pulling down, but who cannot build. Besides,
he ignores the operation and power of the Divine Spirit.
He has nevertheless presented a serious indictment of
the Army, and one that has caused much grief to friends
and officers and believers in the integrity of the leaders
of the Army. His book ought to be answered ; but up
to the present all that the public has received from the
General, Mr. Bramwell Booth, and other responsible
leaders of the movement, in the form of reply, are
denials of the general truth of the book, and captious
and frivolous allusions to the man in the official organs
of the Army Press. Outsiders Premiers, Judges, Mem-


bers of Parliament in numbers have been called in
to render testimony to the value of the work, and
essays have been published by Mr. Arnold White,
Mr. Rider Haggard, and Mr. Harold Begbie, more or
less interesting, and confirmatory of much that is good
and beautiful in the lives of officers and converts.

But no man of any weight has examined the work
with a friendly and critical eye. Not a criticism ger-
mane to the value of the scheme as a national institu-
tion has been examined in the light of facts. Mr.
Rider Haggard's latest book, which professes to extol
the shelter as an agency of salvation, moral and social,
does not contain a single instance of one who has been
permanently helped to an independent livelihood
not one !

Now, General Booth, in this singular attitude toward
the public, is scarcely true to himself. He has shown
that he can be brought to reason by the compromise
entered into with the trade unions over the notorious
Harbury Street carpenters' shop. It was alleged that
sweating was practised there I know it was. The
Army officials argued to the contrary, and I am rather
ashamed that I was among the number. But the
facts proved too stubborn for the leaders of the Army,
and an arrangement was come to by which both the
men and the Army will, I think, eventually be the
better. Why, then, does the General only answer
attacks when he is driven to the wall ? Personally, I
could never understand it when I was officially de-
fending the organisation, inasmuch as the Army has
a reply, if not convincing, at any rate sincere and


reasonable, to almost every assault upon its general
position ; and if it would only acknowledge the justice
of some of the criticisms upon particular departments
of its social work, the public would, I believe, feel
ever so much happier than it does as to the reality of
the work. As it is, there is an uneasy feeling that all
is not well with the Army, for which the leaders are en-
tirely to blame. If a census of opinion could be taken
to-morrow on the question provided the census se-
cured the officers immunity from scrutiny the verdict
would be in favour of replying to the attacks that have
been made upon the trunk departments of the Social

I finish these observations with a personal testimony.
Ever since the Army started social work I have been a
constant and sympathetic student of its developments
in all lands, and this is my deliberate verdict upon the
whole scheme of social salvation reform :

1. That the Salvation Army by taking up social
work conferred a distinct boon upon the community.
It has lifted the study of sociology into a warmer

2. That the Salvation Army, by introducing social
auxiliaries to its campaigns for the salvation of the
sunken masses of the people, has awakened the
Churches of Christendom to a more practical concep-
tion of its mission in this century. The leader in the
van of social progress in the Churches has been, during
the last twenty years, the Salvation Army. Till the
book In Darkest England and the Way Out appeared,
the Churches generally were asleep on social questions.


3. That the Salvation Army has been unwittingly
the best argument in support of State Socialism. It
has accentuated discontent, confirmed the wail of the
exponents of Socialism, and by failing to secure the
co-operation that the leader desired by which he
asserted he could deal a death-blow at pauperism the
Army has supplied the Socialists with a powerful
weapon in favour of their programme.

4. That hi departing from his individualistic theories,
and going in for the wholesale management of sub-
merged humanity by means of shelters, metropoles,
and colonies, General Booth has forced the pace of
State interference with the general social conditions
of the poorer classes of the people.

5. That the Social Scheme has forcibly illustrated
the utter helplessness of present methods to rid society
of the evils which foster destitution, vice, and idleness.
The official organ of the Army admitted, at the opening
of the year 1911, that despite better trade and the
decline of unemployment, as registered at labour ex-
changes and verified by trade-union returns, the distress
in London was as great and as acute as ever.

6. That the Army has not faced the logical conclu-
sion of the experience that it has gained in dealing
with the submerged masses, with the result that it is
perpetuating failures, and deceiving people with the
idea that all it does for the poor is beneficial, whereas
much that it does is injurious to the poor.

7. That the proportion of men socially and perma-
nently redeemed from destitution is infinitesimal when
compared with the time, labour, and money expended


upon their reformation. If the Army were to alter its
return forms so as to tabulate the number helped, and
the number permanently restored as the outcome of
that help, the results disclosed would prove to be dis-
appointingly small. The Scheme as a social restora-
tive is, indeed, a failure. As an ameliorative agency
it is a success.

8. That the religion of the Salvation Army is a
greater failure, if tested by results, among the men's
social agencies than in any other branch of its opera-
tions. The general idea about the Salvation Army is
that the nearer that it gets to the most abandoned
classes the more wonderful and the more numerous
are the converts. It is a sad admission to pass on to
the world that the opposite is really the case. The re-
sults are fewer. General Booth would almost break his
heart if he knew the proportion of men who have been
" saved," in the sense that he most values, through his
social scheme. But he ought to know, and the Church
and the world ought to know, and in order that it may,
I will make bold to say that the officials cannot put
their hands on the names of a thousand MEN in all parts
of the world who are to-day members of the Army who
were converted at the penitent forms of shelters and
elevators, and who are now earning a living outside
the control of the Army's social work.

9. That the Women's Social Work is, on the con-
trary, as great a success in this respect as the Men's is
a failure. The moral, social, and spiritual value of that
work can scarcely be over-estimated. It reflects un-
dying credit upon all associated with Mrs. Bramwell


Booth in the management of rescue homes, shelters,
hospitals, and inebriate institutions. The State should
appoint a commission to examine the work as a simple
object-lesson upon how to deal with unfortunate and
vicious women.

10. That the colonisation experiments are too costly,
too cumbrous, and have not to any appreciable extent
been utilised for the purpose for which they were
organised. It is admitted by the General, if I am not
mistaken, that he committed a serious mistake in open-
ing the Hadleigh Farm Colony before he was sure of
the location of the Colony Over the Sea. Up to the
present that section of the Army's social programme
has not been given effect to. The General has made
several attempts to find a suitable tract of land, and
almost succeeded in inducing the British South Africa
Company to part with a million acres for the purpose
of establishing the Colony in the highlands of Rho-
desia ; but the terms offered by the Company were
considered by General Booth to be too exacting, and
the negotiations came to an end. This was most un-
fortunate, inasmuch as the success of the General's
scheme can never be considered complete till he has
had an opportunity of showing what can be done with
rejuvenated city labour in a colony managed, as it
would be, in a country away from the surroundings
and temptations of squalid dwellings and low ale-
shops. If the money sunk, for instance, in establish-
ing the Farm Colony at Hadleigh had been devoted
to the work of the City Colony, the results would
probably have been 1000 per cent more encouraging.


As it is, only about two hundred colonists on an average
are settled in that Colony. They have no living interest
in it. For all practical purposes it is simply a glorified
workshop, except that as a property with a consider-
ably enhanced increment, it must in time become a
valuable commercial asset to the Army. That time is
a long way off, however, owing to heavy mortgages
resting upon it. As an experiment it has proved
nothing that we were not familiar with before. As a
social picture it is interesting. The old Castle of
Hadleigh still crumbles to the earth. The Thames is
seen from the heights of seven hills, and the estuary
that glides past the pasture-lands of the Colony is
very engaging to men beaten in the war with sin
and misery. The place is an inspiration till the men
drop into their grooves of work, and then they realise
that the drudgery of the City Colony is only excelled
by what they go through here. The Hadleigh Colony
has been of real aid to a number of able-bodied paupers,
who have passed a period of probation at market-
gardening previous to being transferred to Canada.
Still it has been much exaggerated by those not
familiar with the relationship of the Colony to the
scheme as outlined in the General's book.

11. That while the Army colonies can no longer be
charged with insanitation and overcrowding, and the
general administration has considerably improved,
there is force in what some critics have pointed out
again and again, namely, the commercial spirit has
seriously nullified the power of the social and reforma-
tive. The officer in charge of a shelter is actuated by


a compound influence. He has to make the shelter
pay its way in fact, he has to improve its income.
He has to work hard to do so. He is up early and late,
is at the beck and call of all concerned, and, as a rule,
he has no leisure for qualifying himself for the most
arduous of all his tasks personal dealing with the
inmates of the shelter. The majority of officers fall
under the temptation of the commercial spirit. One
can tabulate returns of inmates, the receipts at the
box-office, and the amount received at the bar of the
cheap-food depot. On the other hand, one cannot so
easily calculate the value of a heart-to-heart talk with
a prodigal son or a repentant wife who has been de-
serted (and the shelters are the happy hunting-grounds
of the wife-deserters), nor can Headquarters secre-
taries calculate the value of a splendid human meeting.
When, therefore, the shelter officer's figures are ex-
amined, and he finds, as he does, that more attention
is paid to the financial side of the account than to the
spiritual, it is small wonder that the shelters and
elevators degenerate into shoppy or lodging-house

It seems, therefore, to be fair to conclude, if these
propositions are correct, that the effort, worthily and
nobly conceived, and extended to its present dimen-
sions, is still hi an unsatisfactory stage. It has at-
tacked many, but solved no single problem. It has
drawn into its many nets of mercy thousands of the
ghosts of our social underworld and inspired them with
cheer and some little hope ; but the march of poverty
still goes on. Lazarus, with all his sores, is still at the


gates. The horrors on the Embankment show no sign
of dying out. Thirty thousand men at least are out of
work in London. The nomads of our civilisation wander
past us in their fringy, dirty attire by night and by day.
If a man stops us in the street and tells us he is starving,
and we offer him a ticket to a labour home or a night
shelter, he will tell you that the chances are one out of
ten if he will procure admission. The better class of
submerged, or those who use the provision for the sub-
merged in order to gratify their own selfishness, have
taken possession of the vacancies, and so they wander
on. If a man applies for temporary work, the choice of
industry is disappointingly limited. One is tempted to
think that the whole superstructure of cheap and free
shelters has tended to the standardisation of a low
order of existence in this nether world that attracted
the versatile philanthropist at the head of the Salva-
tion Army twenty years ago. If we look to the land
as the solution of one-half of our social problems, all
that General Booth can point to is a colony of casual
labourers at work on his colony at Hadleigh and to a
handful of small holders learning petit culture under
favourable conditions.

But, unlike the evangelist of earlier days, the leader
of the Salvation Army would appear to have gathered
very little new light upon the problems on which he
is at work. He stands by a somewhat antiquated
laissez faire, and seems incapable of seeing the rise of
new forces in the world. In dealing with the objec-
tions that he anticipated when he launched his scheme,
he argued that if the work upon which he was to em-


bark would be better done by the State, he would let
them try, and leave it alone himself. Now all that has
changed. The State has started shelters, swept aside
miles of insanitary dwellings, brought the lodging-
houses of the metropolis under vigorous inspection,
established public baths and laundries, assumed a
master control of a thousand and one things that con-
cern the food and housing of the people, and recently
ensured, by the application of the Children's Free
Meals Act, that the education of the children of the
metropolis shall be carried on under reasonable con-
ditions. The National Administration of affairs has
not been idle. The Local Government Board have
multiplied their ramifications, and the Old Age Pen-
sions Act has at least chased some of the horrors away
from the aged poor of the land. Labour Exchanges
have worked a small revolution, and if developed on
the lines that are suggested at the Imperial Conference,
may do more to solve some of the problems that
General Booth and the Church and other Armies are
engaged upon than anything else. The Prison Com-
missioners have resolved upon the abolition of the
ticket-of-leave system, and the substitution of notifi-
cation to Discharged Prisoners' Societies, in which
figure the Salvation Army, the establishment of a
central association for giving effect to this and other
provisions, more or less in the direction of bringing
voluntary agencies under the ultimate control of the
State. And yet there is one gleam of hope in what
the General and his brave army of officers have
brought on to the arena of social endeavour. He


has shown what sanctified passion is capable of doing
and undoing. It is still the paramount power when the
task is the regeneration of the individual. If that fails,
then nothing in heaven or earth can succeed. An
officer in the Salvation Army whom the General was
questioning as to the failure of his Corps, had tried
everything and failed.

" Did you ever try tears ? " said the old man.

The young man had not. But officers as a rule know
how to weep and work, and man for man they are
a wonderful combination of devotion, compassion,
and practicality.


A Question of Policy Some Statistics Difficulty of Retaining Re-
cruits Some Reasons New Methods Required Sensational
Accompaniments of the Penitent Form Noisy Advertisement

WHAT is the numerical strength of the Salvation
Army ? This question has occupied the attention of
many of its critics, without resulting in any definite or
even approximate reply.

While the Salvation Army has consistently published
an annual statement of accounts, it is somewhat para-
doxical that its leaders have refrained from giving
statistics of membership. Again and again, and in
almost every country where the Army is at work, no
official statement as to the numerical strength of the
Salvation Army has been published.

Headquarters regularly publishes the number of
staff and field officers, local officers, bandsmen, corps,
outposts, shelters, rescue homes, training homes, with
the number of cadets in each, prison-gate missions, the
number of lodgers in shelters, and a mass of other
minutice. But for some mysterious reason, no mention
is ever made in these statistical statements of the
number of soldiers (or members). These figures re-
main a secret. Guesses at the numerical power of the


Army have been hazarded by responsible and irre-
sponsible officers. For example, it has been stated that
the number of Salvationists in the world goes into
millions ; and I have seen a report somewhere that in
England alone the number of uniformed warriors is
more than that of the combined Methodists' and
Baptists' membership.

The secrecy adopted on this question is somewhat
curious, for sooner or later the Army must disclose the
fact. Why not now ? All other religious agencies
tabulate their membership. On what ground does
the Army stand by a policy of silence on such a vital
matter ? Is it quite honourable ? Is it in harmony
with its professed regard for letting the world know all
about its affairs ?

The question of soldiership is recognised by the
General as of paramount importance. It is the test
of an officer's success. On every Corps report -form
that a field officer sends to his superintendent is a query
as to the number of soldiers in the Corps at the be-
ginning and end of each week. A local census board
meets monthly to deal with transfers, removals, ad-
missions, and deletions. It is the most important
meeting in the life of the Corps. The Divisional Com-
mander or Superintendent of the Corps is judged by
the number of soldiers he adds to the Corps under his
direction. If the number goes down, he is reckoned
a failure ; if it increases, he is considered a success.
So that progress in the Salvation Army is measured
by the number of Salvationists that responsible
officers add to the roll.


As a method it is very sound. By it, the Army can
estimate the strength of the movement, as well as the
practical means of ascertaining the value of the
enormous expenditure of time, energy, and outdoor
and indoor evangelisation put forth in landing a sinner
at the mercy seat. The Churches who lament a decline
of membership might do worse than call upon Mr.
Bramwell Booth for a wrinkle or two on how to tabu-
late results. A Corps is a soul-saving and soldier-
making agency. Without it there would be no Salva-
tionists, and without Salvationists there would be no
officers and no Social Scheme and no Salvation Army.
Surely, then, it is in the interest of workers of the
Salvation Army that they should not be kept in ignor-
ance as to the number of their comrades in every
country where the Army is at work, their own in par-
ticular. If the numerical strength is small, then the

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Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 14 of 25)