A M Nicol.

General Booth and the Salvation Army online

. (page 17 of 25)
Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 17 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

be passing through at this hour while journeying across
the sea from his visit to a heathen land. You know all
that. There are currents that are running in this sad
dispute that come oozing out of crushed and lacerated
hearts. God forbid that you or yours may ever ex-
perience the agony that our brave General is under-

And Miss Booth wept.

" But it is not on that ground, comrades, that I ask
you to think twice before you decide to lay down your
swords as Salvation warriors. Is it right to do so ?
Do your consciences approve the step you propose to
take ? When you and I go down to the Valley, we
shall need the power of a clear conscience to sustain


us in that hour of darkness. Do not let us add a single
act to our lives that will rise, in the light of that day,
to flood our souls with shame, and show us how we
sold our spiritual birthright for a mess of pottage.
What will the gain be ? Are you sure of your ground ?
Have you quite taken in this fact, comrades, that we
are fighting for something that is dearer than flesh
and blood, dearer than the life of the dear General
himself ? We are fighting for every Salvationist in the
world. It is our right to command, and our privilege
to obey. It is for that that we are fighting. We may
have to fight it in poverty, and under obloquy and
slander and misrepresentation. We may have to begin
afresh in America with our Bible, and the old banner
that stands for compassion and peace and brotherhood
all the world over. But we shall go through. I am
pledged to go through. And if, at the last moment, you,
my dear comrades, will give us your hearts and hands,
as before, this incident will never be mentioned save
to warn others to hold fast to that which is good, that
no man take their crowns."

What did she mean by these last words ?

A weak, wobbling Colonel, one of those men who
may be useful on occasions a man who studies the
current of things and frames his opinions accordingly
exclaimed, " There is a way out of the difficulty
here, boys. I think we ought to give Miss Booth a
chance to explain herself."

A general conversation followed.

In the meantime the seceders had been informed of
the unexpected invasion of Miss Booth and com-
mitted a tactical blunder. If they had shown a strong
hand, and issued a counterblast manifesto, declaring


the dissolution of the Salvation Army, and Mr. Balling-
ton Booth's determination to reconstruct the organisa-
tion on the principle of incorporation, there can be no
doubt that the eloquence of Miss Booth would have
' been as water spilt on the ground. But, like Crom-
well's enemies at Dunbar, the Ballingtons served her
cause more effectually than did her friends. They
hesitated, and lost. She showed a strong hand, and

Those who had tacitly agreed to leave the Army the
moment that the flag of secession was raised were filled
with chagrin. Their names generally were well known,
and now that Miss Booth had expressed her determina-
tion to go on with the work of the Army at all costs,
and that nothing would disturb her possession of
Headquarters, how would these officers stand at the
International Headquarters in the future ? For under
the Army's code of discipline mutiny was a deadly
sin. In this dilemma they turned to Miss Booth,
and that lady proved as wise a diplomat as she was a
gallant General. She promised, at the close of the
conversation referred to, that the rebels should,
out of consideration for the fact that they were largely
influenced by a brilliant leader, receive an indemnity,
on condition that they would personally express
regret for not having entered a protest when rebellion
was suggested.

The effect of this declaration was electric. Men and
women almost danced with delight. The Army in
America and for America was saved ! The wives of
staff officers wept with joy, and vowed that, though


they loved their late Commanders, they would be true
to the Army, and with the toll of twelve o'clock that
night the last act of repentance was ratified, and Bal-
lington Booth the idol of ten thousand hearts
was no longer a Salvationist or a son of his father,
in the Army sense of the term.

The first rift in the family lute had taken place.
There was consternation without confusion, sorrow
without anger, victory without the beating of drums
or waving of flags. Ballington and his wife fled from
the building.

The Press were indignant, and almost vowed
reprisals. Ballington Booth was called upon to at
once start a rival Army, and rich and influential friends
came forward by the hundred and promised him
support. For weeks it appeared as if the sequel to the
victory for unity at the National Headquarters
would be a wholesale rout of officers and soldiers
throughout the various States. Several Colonels and
Majors and Staff Captains refused the indemnity,
and in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Rochester,
Buffalo, St. Louis, and other cities, where the Army
had a fair muster of soldiers and friends, minor splits
occurred. Practically all the friends of the Army
sided with the Ballingtons.

On the other hand, the Salvation Army maintained
a splendid fighting front. They refused to com-
promise with the insurgents. Having defined their
position, which was that Commander Ballington
must obey his General and say farewell to America,
and go wherever the General might choose to send


him, and that officers and soldiers must accept or
reject the new appointment with its consequences,
be what they may, they laid down a twofold policy :
(1) silence as to the cause and circumstances of the
controversy ; and (2) steadfastness to the work
entrusted to them.

This policy was accepted. For any departure from
it the responsibility rested not with field officers,
who had to bear the brunt of the secession. Indiscreet
and voluble staff officers kept the poisonous flames of
controversy so much alive that many people's faith
in the purity of religion was shaken. The Salvation
Army split in the United States did the cause of
religion generally a good deal of injury.

Mr. and Mrs. Ballington Booth were not inactive.
They gathered their seceding comrades together, and
after reviewing the situation, decided to organise
another army under the American law of incorporation,
with a Grand Council, the General or President to be
elected by a restricted vote. Church membership
was not to be a disqualification.

This latter clause was, I venture to think, a fatal
mistake. It created the impression that the new
organisation would be a proselytiser and draw upon
the Churches for its workers and support. At any
rate, the rival Army was formed, registered, and
launched with the attractive title of " The American
Volunteers." Statesmen, Church dignitaries, and
philanthropists wished it God-speed, and the eloquence
of Mrs. Ballington Booth in its support was a guarantee
that the new venture would at least meet with a


popular reception. As Mrs. Ballington Booth, who
had a warm sympathy with prisoners, announced her
determination to adopt prison-gate work as a de-
partment of the new Army's labours, the newspapers
added their quota of praise to the enterprise of the
Balling tons. Whatever may be said as to the wisdom
of the Ballingtons' secession, they too kept to the
unwritten compact and did little to feed the feud
between the two organisations.

And what has happened since the breach ? The
Volunteer Army is still in being and doing good work.
Mrs. Ballington Booth has created, or greatly helped
to create, a new sentiment with respect to the treat-
ment of convicts and prisoners. She has carried on a
most commendable work in convict prisons, and is
now recognised as the ablest and most gifted advocate
of convict reform in the United States.

The Salvation Army has also advanced, especially
in its social work. Its spiritual branch makes no real
progress whatever, and there can be no question, I
think, but that the secession caused a revulsion against
actual membership in the Salvation Army by many
Americans who up till then were showing a disposition
to think seriously of the movement as having a sound
'religious basis. Now they look upon it as philan-
thropic only. The Salvation Army as a religion is not
a success in the States. Out of the ninety millions
it has not forty thousand names on its roll of member-
ship. On the other hand, the officers are among
the hardest worked in the entire movement. They
raise large sums of money for the poor. In point of


numbers the officers have nearly doubled since the
split, and Rescue Houses, Metropoles, and Salvage
Brigades have been organised in large cities. The
Colonies for the transfer of city workers to the land,
upon which Mr. Rider Haggard reported to the British
Government, have not proved a success.

The General deplored the loss of his son and Mrs.
Ballington Booth ; but he adhered to his policy, and
his last visit to the States showed that he was even
more popular than ever.

Another and abler son fell out of the ranks for the
same reason. Mr. Herbert Booth occupied a place in
the affections of British officers similar to what his
brother Ballington did in America. He was a success-
ful director of the Training College at Clapton. He
distinguished himself as a field commander. He ap-
pealed to the imagination of the field. He was a clever
organiser. His superintendence of the Army's first
Crystal Palace demonstrations gave them a lead from
which they have not departed. He possessed, as his
mother predicted he would exhibit, the commanding
will of his father, and naturally came into frequent
collision with his brother, the Chief of the Staff, whose
mind does not travel so rapidly, and is, by training,
less disposed to embark upon showy enterprises. Then
the elder brother had to consider ways and means,
and though often approving Herbert's schemes in
principle, he had to put a veto upon them, as a Chan-
cellor of the Exchequer has to do when some excellent
project is submitted to him.

Bramwell and Herbert Booth did not quite hit it off.


While the father was at hand these differences never
reached an acute point. It was only after Mr. Herbert
Booth's marriage to Miss Schoch, of Amsterdam, that
this difference began to be recognised and lamented.
For though far from faultless, Mr. Herbert Booth was
considered a splendid coadjutor with his brother, and
when he was appointed to the command of Canada
the loss was generally felt to be a mistake.

With his departure from the British field the
position in Great Britain was weakened. His virtues
as a leader in England, however, did not dazzle the
followers of the Army in the democratic Dominion of
Canada. He was not a success there. His strong rule
was resented, and he soon had the resignations of
officers, internal controversies, splits, etc., to grapple
with. The position of the Army in Toronto was re-
duced to a fragment of what it was under that less able
man, Commissioner Coombs. Mr. Herbert Booth was
then appointed to Australia. Here he met with a
warm reception from all classes. His wife by this
time had become a fascinating public speaker and a
new force in the social life of the Army, as well as an
effective advocate of agencies for the reclamation of
fallen women. Her eloquence won for her the support
of the rich and the co-operation of the Governments
of the various States.

The leadership of these two remarkable people
seemed destined to give the Army a place second to
none in the Commonwealth, when, as in America, a
bolt as from the blue fell upon the situation. Com-
mander and Mrs. Herbert Booth resigned their com-


missions as officers shortly after the General's second
visit to the command.

The circumstances which led up to this calamity have
been very carefully kept from the rank and file of the
Army. Even in Australia, officers and soldiers are un-
aware to this day of what actually led to the separa-
tion. It is generally supposed that the cause of his
resignation was threefold :

1. The resentment of Mr. Herbert Booth at the
tightening process of control in the Foreign Office at
the International Headquarters. General Booth was
accompanied by a Commissioner, who was deputed to
give effect to this policy in certain specific matters.

Mr. Herbert Booth strongly demurred to this as
derogatory of his status in the Army, as calculated to
reduce Australia to the level of an English province,
and as certain to bring about dry-rot in an Army that
depended for its inspiration upon increasing rather
than in diminishing the power of qualified leaders.

2. The bad feeling which the General generated by
his expressed antagonism to the class of Rescue Home
and Reformatory which his son and daughter were
organising all over the Commonwealth. Here one is able
to put one's finger upon one of the General's serious
defects. He will not recognise that any distinction
should exist between a Rescue Home in Whitechapel
and in Melbourne. He makes no allowance for the
difference between the social standing of the criminals
in Australia and of the same class in England. Hence
the painful sensation that was felt throughout the
whole of the Australian territory when it was known


that the General objected to the neat and attractive
uniform that Mrs. Herbert Booth had designed for her
women officers. The influence of this attitude of the
father to the daughter-in-law did not fail to leave a
painful impression upon the son. It did not help him
to deliberate judicially upon his own grievances.

3. Mr. Herbert Booth adopted the Australian view
as to the proposed transfer of " submerged men and
women of England to the Colonies," and, in the opinion
of the General, this was rank heresy. There were other
embarrassing circumstances, all of which culminated
in the resignation of the two leaders. Once more the
Army was plunged into bewilderment, and the General
mourned over the loss of Herbert with a deeper sorrow
than he did that of Ballington.

General Booth had to experience the bitterness of
death in yet another secession from the shrine of his
family, the saddest, the most pathetic of all. His
eldest daughter, in company with her husband and
their family of ten children, tore themselves away from
the comradeship and platform of a movement for
which they had suffered persecution, trials, imprison-
ments, and endured the wear and tear of twenty
years' fighting on the most disappointing battlefield
that the Salvation Army has in the Western Hemi-

When "The Marechale," as the General's eldest
daughter was affectionately designated in France a
prefix that the French honoured without placing in
quotation marks and Commissioner Booth-Clibborn
left the Army, it is no exaggeration to say that the


movement on the Continent became like a helpless
widow. Religiously fanatical as Commissioner Booth-
Clibborn was, he was nevertheless an extraordinary
evangelist : a man with a burning call to men to repent
and do their first works, and to come out from the
world of strife and fashion and politics and money-
making, and live the simple Christ-life.

A man of immense physical stature, his head covered
with a shock of fine brown hair, with dazzling eyes,
and a voice strong and musical, he went through
France and Switzerland like a prophet resurrected
from mediaeval times. He sang like a bird in the
heavens, and played upon the emotions of Latin and
Teuton congregations with commanding skill. He was
a winner of souls. When he preached a note of wrath
reverberated in his denunciations of sin. He laboured
incessantly, translated and Vrote books, composed
hymns, and devised campaigns of evangelistic con-
quest. When he sat down to the real business of a
Commissioner of the Salvation Army which is to
direct and guide the troops rather than stand at the
front of the battle and bare the breast to the fire of the
enemy he was a paradox. He would not be bound
by the regulations of London. He was ever in hot
water over some memorandum or rule ; and as time
wore on Headquarters began to lose patience with their
stormy and critical representative.

Latterly he expounded what were, in the judgment
of the Army hierarchy, dangerous doctrines, and in
the Army heresy is a mortal offence, its theological
dogma being as immovable as flint ; there is no


elasticity in its beliefs, and no room for enlightenment,
beyond the limits of boiled-down Methodistic articles
of faith. Moreover, the one interpreter of doctrine is
the General ; and in doctrinal disputes he and he
alone decides what is and what is not correct. When
Commissioner Booth-Clibborn, therefore, began to
preach faith-healing as it was taught by the Bethshan
School, and the doctrine of the leading of the Spirit as
it is held by extreme Quakers Mr. Clibborn was him-
self a minister of the Society of Friends previous to
joining the Salvation Army he fell foul of the General,
and there was war behind the scenes.

Commissioner Booth-Clibborn took offence at some of
the social developments of the Army and the seculari-
sation of week-night meetings, by means of cinemato-
graph shows and sales of work, as well as exhibitions,
workshops, and other auxiliaries which the Army has
added to its paraphernalia during the last twenty
years. He denounced these things as subversive of the
Army's spiritual power. And again there was war
behind the scenes.

He preached Quaker views upon war, and he who
countenanced the men who earned their living in
organising engines of death was a veritable arch-
enemy of Christianity in his eyes. Once more there
was war behind the scenes, for the General is a
Paulinist. He is all things to all men : he considered
his son-in-law guilty of crass folly in propagating this
extreme view of war in a country where conscription
was the chief bulwark of its independence.

Once more Commissioner Booth-Clibborn ran amok


with International Headquarters, this time over the
late impostor of Zion City, the Rev. John Alexander
Dowie, who ascribed to himself the prophetic role of
an Elijah. Commissioner Booth-Clibborn enquired
into Bowie's claims and, in proportion as he sym-
pathised with the views of that American conjurer
in high-flown mysticism and manipulator of shady
financial companies, there was fierce war behind the
scenes. And one day an ultimatum was put to Clib-
born and he left the Army ; and, to the intense sorrow
of the whole Army, the Marechale, the General's
beautiful daughter, left with him.

One can easily appreciate and even applaud this
act of self-sacrifice on her part. She was the saving
clause in the domestic upheaval involved in Mr.
Clibborn's acceptance of Dowieism. If she remained
steadfast to her Army marriage vows, perhaps she
ought to have stood by the Flag of the " Blood and
Fire." The articles of marriage in the Army are cruelly
explicit on the superior place to which they put the
Army as such in contrast with one's obligations to
wife, home, children, and Fatherland. Here is one
clause to which the Clibborns subscribed when married
by the General in Congress Hall :

" We do solemnly declare that we have not sought
this marriage for the sake of our own happiness and
interests only, although we hope these will be furthered
thereby ; but because we believe that the union will
enable us better to please and serve God, and more
earnestly and successfully to fight ancl work in The
.Salvation Army.


:< We here promise that we will not allow our
marriage in any way to lessen our devotion to God,
our affection for our comrades, or our faithfulness in
The Army.

" We each individually promise that we will never
do anything likely to prevent the other's doing or giving
or suffering anything that is in his or her power to
do, give, or suffer to assist The Army, believing that
in so doing we shall best promote the glory of God and
the Salvation of souls.

" We also promise that we will use all our influence
with each other to promote our constant and entire
self-sacrifice in fighting in the ranks of The Army for
the Salvation of the world.

" We also promise always to regard our home in
every way as a Salvation Army Soldier's (or Officer's)
Quarters, and to arrange it accordingly, and to train
all in it who may be under our influence and authority,
for faithful and efficient service in The Army.

;< We promise, whether together or apart, always
to do our utmost as true Soldiers of Jesus Christ to
carry on and sustain the War, and never to allow The
Army to be injured or hindered in any of its interests
without doing our utmost to prevent it.

" Should either of us from sickness, death, or any
other cause cease to be efficient Soldiers, we engage
that the remaining one shall continue to the best of
his or her ability to fulfil all these promises."

What was the wife and mother to do then ?

If she had resolved to remain with the Flag, she
would have been lifted above the struggle that was to
be hers, of having to face the world and earn as a poor
evangelist bread for a sick husband and large family.
The General too would have been spared the shame


of seeing his daughter's name dragged into publicity as
one who, but for her evangelistic labours, must have
had to face destitution, if not starvation. Two diffi-
culties then stood before this devoted wife, mother
and Salvation heroine. She too was dissatisfied with
the system of the Army which had led her brother
Ballington to resign, and which was to lead Herbert
to do the same. She did not share her husband's
opinions as to the leading of the Spirit, faith-
healing, and other non-essential doctrines. She was
the daughter of the General. Like her noble
father, she only cared for one thing souls, bringing
them to Christ, urging them to love God, good-
ness, truth, mercy. The dogmatic never appealed
to her. She revelled in preaching in her coal-scuttle
bonnet to the demi-mondes of Montmartre, in Paris.
Her heaven on earth was, and is still, in pouring forth
words of tender sympathy in a theatre, or music hall,
or cafe, to the derelicts of humanity, and telling them
that it is all cant and superstition and dogmatism that
makes out the world to be full of sin, or religion to be
something merely for the grave and eternity. Her
idea of Christ is that He is the Son of Man, and unless
He was so He could not have brought healing to the
broken hearts of men. For this view of the Divine she
contended with infidels, anarchists, and the most sensual
and the most aesthetic in the land which she loved and
to which she had devoted the best years of her life.
For this she suffered many things. She endured im-
prisonment in Neuchatel ; had been mobbed and
robbed and threatened with violence and things worse


than death. With this gospel she broke down walls of
prejudice, won an entree to the haunts of the vilest, as
well as to the confidence of Catholic priests, who could
not be expected to endorse such a waste of sanctified
affection upon an organisation that, in their estima-
tion, with its schisms and perversions of truth and
lapses of morality, springs from an inherent lack of
Divine authority. Father Lassere called her a holy

This woman chafed against the metallic spirit of
International Headquarters, its high-sounding assump-
tions and deification of regulation. Her soul abomi-
nated the thing. " Christianity is life," she argued,
" not a system in which free souls are caged in by a
netting of rules, as trumpery as some of them are
impertinent." And so, when her husband doffed his
Army uniform for ever because of views that she had
no sympathy with, she too turned her back upon it,
conscientiously believing that its London leaders were
blind to the process of fossilisation and spiritual death
that to her were everywhere apparent. Husband and
wife and children therefore marched away from the
Flag to which they had brought a world of lustre, and
by that act forfeited the fellowship of the patriarchal
man at the head, a father and a grandfather no longer.
A black day indeed for this family, and a sad, sad
day for the weary General in his solitude at Hadley

In all these controversies one unsatisfactory feature
has been the chasm created between the General as a

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 17 of 25)