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Church service at least once a week.

The temptation to accept such a generous offer
was great. If carried out the Army would be delivered
from a great deal of financial anxiety. It would stand
on a higher footing in the religious world, and it
would help to put a stop to the persecution to which
it was subjected all over the country. He also per-
ceived that it would prevent the formation of a rival
Army, if I may say so, by the Church. Besides, the
General felt a strong leaning towards co-operation with
the Churches, and this might prove the beginning of
a new era in the efforts to bring about general Church
unity.

But he also saw that he had created a new thing
under the sun. Constitutionally the Salvation Army
must be itself. Its cosmopolitanism was already
stamped upon its converts. Besides, by this time the
Army had spread to Sweden, France, and other



RECEIVES THE D.C.L. 279

countries, where the same conditions did not prevail.
How could it be imagined that there could be any such
unity with the Lutherans in Sweden or the Catholics
in France ? Archbishop Tait's proposal had come too
late. General Booth said so explicitly and sorrowfully,
and thereby lost, no doubt, the encouragement,
practical support, and co-operation of a great moral
and spiritual force ; but by the manner in which he
first entertained and then abandoned the proposal
William Booth showed himself to be a truly strong man.

Within the limitations of his office he has the
qualities of the statesman. Had he been schooled
hi the realm of party politics he would have made a
Gladstone with the imperialistic glitter of a Disraeli,
for no man could have called an Army into being
and decorated men and women with the titles of
Captains and Colonels unless he had been endowed
with an almost effeminate weakness for colour.
His own uniform, with its gold braiding, golden-
threaded crests, scarlet vest, and undress military coat,
savours of a compromise between the cardinal's robes
and the plumes of the general on parade.

This little weakness for display came out very
innocently at Oxford on the day he received, at the
hands of Lord Curzon, the honorary title of D.C.L.
A galaxy of public men received the honour at the
same time, including Mark Twain, the late Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Edward Grey, the Bishop
of Armagh, and Lord George Hamilton. The students
behaved with rare good-humour, the only suggestion
of playfulness being " Now for the collection, General,"



280 GENERAL BOOTH

After the ceremony was over the General at once
returned to London, and instead of packing his
doctor's robes in his portmanteau, he wore them all
the way to London ! He was as proud of the honour
as if he had been an undergraduate who had passed
his final exams, with flying colours or had won a
Senior Wranglership. In fact, the General carried the
robes across the Atlantic, and in a private council
of officers at New York he appeared in all the glory
of the dazzling robes of his D.C.L. !

The Americans were delighted as much with the
vanity of their veteran Commander as the significance
of the degree. Huxley had called him Corybantic
in his religious fanaticism, but Lord Curzon described
him as " a man of compassion for souls."

But, as I have pointed out in the opening chapter,
the key to the alpha and omega of his character and
career is his religion. He takes it wherever he goes,
and as the years have introduced him to the realities
of other worlds besides his own, much of his own
severity toward others has been modified. He is more
subdued and less concerned about what a man
believes, and more liberal as to the spirit in which he
acts according to his convictions of right.

The General's chief charm, which endears him to
his people, is his simplicity. The love of simplicity
is stamped on all he does. He avoids the use of words
of more than three syllables, and he writes in short
sentences. His diet is simple and vegetarian. His
home at Hadley Wood is a model of comfort without
a luxury or an ornament. He uses no stimulants




Copyright, Bolak.



WILLIAM BOOTH, D.C.L.



HIS SIMPLICITY AND TRUST 281

except a glass of water diluted with bi-carbonate of
soda. He is quite blind in one eye and can scarcely
see to hold his pen, and he remains cheerful, satisfied
that he has done the will of God, and that his legacy
to mankind the Salvation Army will be safe in the
hands of Him who inspired it. General Booth is a poor
man. Wesley's one article of jewellery consisted of a
silver spoon. William Booth will not have so much as
that to include in his will. General Booth is a good
man, and serves God with all his heart and mind
and strength.



CHAPTER XIII

GENERAL BOOTH'S ELISHA

His Skill as Organiser The Army will Endure His Habit of Com-
mandA Fervid Orator Mr. Bramwell Booth and Mr. \V. T.
Stead Is Brought to Trial and Acquitted His High Aims in
Slum Work His Business Capacity

IT is a legal fiction to state that the successor to the
founder and first General of the Salvation Army is
unknown. The name of the next General is well known,
and amongst officers of the movement at least is a
household word. Indeed, it would be correct to say
that he is the pattern saint of the field officers. There
are the General's men and the Chief's men men who
swear by the General and men who swear by the Army.
There is only one officer in the Salvation Army qualified
to succeed the General, and he the eldest son, Mr.
William Bramwell Booth. By ability, experience, and
the confidence with which his word is accepted through-
out the Army, he is far and away the most fitted for
the post. When the General announces, as is his
practice when addressing large audiences, that no one
but himself knows who his successor is, he rather
emphasises the method by which the Army's law of
succession will be carried out than the fact itself. The
officers are not only convinced that Mr. Bramwell
Booth will succeed the General ; they dare not con-

282



MR. BRAMWELL BOOTH 283

template the possibility of anyone but the son wearing
the old prophet's mantle. Elisha must succeed Elijah.
Mr. Bramwell Booth is the indispensable J^itchener of
the Salvation Army, the chief engineer and resolute
administrator of Salvation rule and of the will of the
Commander-in-Chief.

Of course, the son's career has not filled the public
eye as the father's has done.

It is only those who have been or are closely asso-
ciated with the inner councils of the Salvation Army
at Headquarters who are aware of the enormous power
vested in Mr. Bramwell Booth in his position as Chief
of the Staff and his ability as an administrator. I have
no hesitation in declaring that without his executive
nous and skill, and his contentment to occupy the most
onerous and thankless of offices, it would have been
humanly impossible for General Booth to have given
cohesion and uniformity to the many departments
that had to be created after a new and almost dangerous
pattern.

Any Rowton or Levi can start a shelter and run it
under the Common Lodging House Act, but genius is
needed to make a shelter religious, as well as a net for
dragging wastrels and prodigals from the muddy walks
of depravity, and converting them into men with a
love of work and a measure of religious faith. A MAN
was needed to DO that sort of work, and in Mr. Bram-
well Booth the General found the man.

Assuming the soundness of General Booth's theory,
without a strong man at the wheel capable of guiding
the movement in harmony with the course mapped



284 GENERAL BOOTH

out for it by the General, it is obvious that the social
work generally might have altogether degenerated
into what some of its departments have undoubtedly
become mere commercial concerns.

In this high encomium I do not suggest that Mr,
Bramwell Booth took up the sketch supplied by the
designer and filled in the details with his own hands.
Far from it, he was assisted by men and women who
were better qualified for the rough and heavy labour
than he or the General was. But as Chief of the Staff,
Mr. Bramwell Booth kept his hand upon the progress
of the work and saw that it was developed in con-
formity with the specifications, and he had the
courage to make amendments when experience forced
him to recognise that the General himself was out
on any matters of detail. A man of supreme faith in
the principles of an experiment not then proved the
success that it now is, was required, and in his son the
General found that man to perfection.

So that in Mr. Bramwell Booth we have a General
already made ; in fact, for the last ten years he has
for all practical purposes been the Commander-in-
Chief of the Salvation Army. In the absence of the
General from Great Britain, Mr. Bramwell Booth acts
for him under full powers of attorney. When he enters
upon the titular command of the organisation, he will
therefore have already served an extensive apprentice-
ship for the position.

In view then of the power that will, in the order of
Providence, pass from the first to the second General,
and the possible effect of the next General's rule upon



GREAT RESPONSIBILITIES 285

the destinies of the Salvation Army, it becomes a
question of public importance whether the Army, as
an experiment in the socio-religious life of the world,
is likely to be fortified or weakened by a change of
leaders and the method by which the change is effected.

It should ever be remembered that the Salvation
Army is not governed by a conference or a board
of philanthropists selected from the Churches, other-
wise the question of a new president might be dis-
missed in a few lines, The organisation makes great
spiritual one might add sacerdotal pretensions.
The leaders claim that the Army is, as I have more
than once observed, a divinely created movement ;
that the authority in which the spiritual control of the
General is vested is as sound and as sacred as that of
the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury ; that the
Army's system of government is suited to the con-
quest upon which it has entered and is consistent with
Biblical teaching ; and that the underlying principles
of the Army's operations are calculated to secure for
it permanence and unity throughout the world. The
insignia and symbols of the Army portray these pre-
tensions. The Army has a creed very exacting on the
practical side of things and it depends to a large
degree upon public support for the maintenance of its
social and spiritual operations, while its complex
system is held together, directed and inspired by one
man.

Hence the man who is to succeed the present
leader becomes at once an object of curiosity and some
importance. His personality cannot but awaken



286 GENERAL BOOTH

kindly feelings at least among the thousands and
millions who up and down the land have spoken of his
patriarchal-looking father with his flowing beard,
snow-white head, genial smile, and glowing eyes not
as " General Booth of the Salvation Army," but
" The General." Then some, not of his fold, even go
further and call him "Our General." The Pope is
the only other figure in Christendom who is spoken of
and accepted with the prefix of the definite article.

Who is he then who will step into this heritage of
respect and religious veneration ? We may well ask.
Will he be a worthy successor to the originator of the
Army ? Has he that progressive genius which a
Joshua requires to possess in a fuller degree than a
Moses ? Will the next General be able, with the
growing demand for complete self-government, to
maintain and develop the control of the world-wide
organisation from one common centre ? Will he
modify or confirm the Army's present attitude toward
politics and its Chauvinistic relation to the Churches ?
Will it be more as many devoutly pray or less
religious, or evolve into a mere, though vast, social
ambulance, or help to give it a new lease of spiritual
life, and raise up men and women who will denounce
with new and clarion vehemence the madness of sin
and proclaim in a new way the wonders of the grace
of God ?

These are questions that are germane to the welfare
of a movement that advertises its claim, as no other
has ever done in the history of Christianity, to be con-
sidered as raised up by God for a special work.



THE GENERAL'S SUCCESSOR 287

I have no bias in favour of the role of the prophet,
and therefore am not disposed to say that Mr. Bram-
well Booth is either the man that will " rise to the
occasion " or signalise the beginning of the end of a
great endeavour. I simply say there is no other man
at present fit to follow General Booth in the leadership
of the Army. Some predict that the movement will
begin to disappear from the stage of religious life from
the very day that the grand old Evangelist-General
passes away. I do not believe it.

If on no other account, the Army is too materialistic
in its organic life to wither so easily. A myriad self-
interests tend to preserve it, and up to the present, with
the exception of the Church Army, it is without a rival.
The spirit of the Army has permeated the family and
social customs of thousands of people. To them it has
become a fetish, and as nothing is so tenacious as super-
stition, or veneration for the prophet of a religious
system, the Army is not going to fall to pieces simply
because the death of the General may give it a shock.

Then, as I shall presently show, Mr. Bramwell Booth
has been sufficiently sagacious to foresee the possibility
of a lapse of the public trust in the Army when the
idol of the movement is laid to rest by the side of his
partner in Abney Park Cemetery.

The son long ago contemplated such a contingency,
and had his lines well laid to meet any serious exigency
that may follow that inevitable event. It may be that
the change will bring into being new forces that will
rejuvenate the work of the Army. Indeed, it will not
surprise some officers who know Mr, Bramwell Booth



288 GENERAL BOOTH

should the religious world receive a greater surprise
when the second General gets well into the saddle than
it did when the Rev. William Booth doffed the white
tie of the cleric for the scarlet jacket of the Salvationist.
England certainly needs some strong religious impetus,
and some circumstances point to the possibility of the
Army breaking out in a new place and endeavouring
to supply that impetus. At any rate, we may dismiss
the thought that the Salvation Army will receive its
death-knell when the announcement is flashed to the
world that General Booth is dead.

Mr. Bramwell Booth may prove a strong General.
He possesses at least the essential pluck needed to
perpetuate the Salvationism of the movement. But
has he the unprejudiced insight into the moving
thought of all grades of the working and lower classes
of society ? That is a question of more importance
to the Army than may at first appear.

Many years ago I was asked to meet Mrs. General
Booth at St. Pancras on her return from a lecture at
Oxford. I was then under orders to accompany the
General on one of his Scandinavian campaigns, and
being a novice at " managing " the General, the kind
and tactful lady warned me of one or two dangers that
I might be liable to fall into.

" The General is rather severe at times," she said,
" and if you let him down he will let you know it, even
if it is only over a trifle."

I thanked Mrs. Booth and said that I hoped I under-
stood the difference between the man who had the
right to command and the man whose privilege it was



MR. BRAMWELL BOOTH 289

to obey. She seemed pleased with the answer and
then launched into a homily upon the capacity to
command.

" Herbert [her youngest son] has got it," she said,
" to a fuller degree than Bramwell. Bramwell is slow
and conciliatory. Herbert is quicker of apprehension
and readier to demand and require obedience. He is
a born leader he has the General's spirit and will be
heard of."

I presumed that she was aware of the fact that, in
common with many other officers at the International
Headquarters at that time, I rather resented the dicta-
torial spirit of this younger Booth. We considered he
v was too daring, too cocksure hi his calculations, and too
fond of stamping his personality upon his exploits in
favour of the Army. Mrs. Booth was mistaken. Her-
bert years later left the Salvation Army, and the elder
brother has demonstrated that the Army required the
very qualities that Mrs. Booth had belittled. Mr.
Bramwell can and does exact obedience.

On one occasion I accompanied him to Paris when
the state of the work there was, I understood, causing
the General some concern. He found the Staff at Paris
obsessed with a fear of the authorities and afraid to
adopt measures out of the ordinary rut.

" If I were in command of this city," he said to one
of the Staff, " I would go out into that boulevard and
take my stand in front of the Grand Opera and shout
at the pitch of my voice, ' Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever ! And He saves me



290 GENERAL BOOTH

The French staff officer smiled and said, " In
London that might be possible, but here in Paris it
would be madness."

I have known Mr. Bramwell Booth do " madder "
things in London. He once preached from a coffin on
the stage of the Army's platform at Holloway. I have
walked with him more than once through crowded
streets of provincial towns while he has been dressed
in sackcloth, and jeered at by boys and sneered at
by respectable members of Christian society. I have
seen him jump off a public platform on a Sunday night
and walk round and round the aisles crying in a
strained, excited, and pitiful voice, " Eternity !
Eternity ! Eternity ! " and I have watched men and
women stricken with the fear of sin walk and
even leap to the penitent form and cry, " What must
I do to be saved ? " And this by General Booth II !
He is fired with the Salvationism of his father.

Mr. Bramwell Booth's platform oratory belongs to
the fervid style. His coffin-sermon was one of the most
dramatic appeals to the emotion of Fear to which I
have ever listened. Preceded by a calm discourse upon
the certainty and uncertainty of death, the finality of
all hope of the soul that has passed out of the world
unforgiven, the preacher drew a vivid picture of
mortality in the grave, Entering the coffin and lying
on his back, he quoted Paul's death-defiant gospel
while describing the soul at peace with God.

" O Death, where is thy sting ? O grave, where is
thy victory ? " And in these words he raised his voice
in loud, appealing tones :



A SERMON IN A COFFIN 291

" Are you prepared to meet the Messenger ? Are
you ready for the white shroud, the last call of the
undertaker, and to lie down in this cold, narrow, lonely
bed ? Backslider, you, you who have afresh driven
the nails of rebellion into the Saviour's hands and feet,
trampled on Divine mercy, mocked the Blood, and
rejoined hands with the enemy of souls ; oh ! are
you you ready ? Sinner, brother and sister, friend,
listen : Has sin so numbed your reason that Death
has so lost its terrors that you take the numbing effect
of contempt to imply the possession of a courage that
is as strong as the faith of the saint ? "

The audience meantime gazed at the platform as if
hypnotised. Neither the dramatic garb of the speaker
jior the gruesome object on the platform evoked any
resentment from the scoffers in the back rows, who
had a few minutes before been fortifying their nerves
with glasses of beer at the bar of an adjoining public
house. The man was in terrible, deadly earnest. In
that moment he seemed to combine the zeal of a
Xavier with the morbid imagination of a Richard Bax-
ter, and had he been on this occasion morally sustained
by a corresponding faith and sympathy on the part of
his officers, this sermon alone might have inflamed the
zeal of the average London Salvationist. But it fell
flat though incidentally it clearly revealed that Mr.
Bramwell Booth, the gentlemanly Chief of the Army,
dabbler in science and philosophy, writer to The Times,
and keen bargain-dealer, is also a practical believer
in the wisdom of rank sensationalism as an auxiliary to
the evangelisation of the people. The Salvationist of



292 GENERAL BOOTH

to-day still admires the officer of this type, and all this
and more than this stands to the credit of the man who
more than any other is likely to succeed General Booth
in ruling the Salvation Army.

His association with Mr. W. T. Stead in the reckless,
sensational, and yet successful effort to raise the age
of consent under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act,
brought Mr, Bramwell Booth at the time (twenty-two
years ago) into notoriety and showed another side of his
character. For some days he remained with his com-
patriots under the opprobrium of having been an
accessory to the procuration of a child for immoral
purposes, until he was exonerated not only without a
stain on his character, but his conduct in the case was
held by Justice Lopes to be that of a Christian gentle-
man. What he actually did was to introduce to Mr. Stead
a woman at one time a keeper of a house of ill-fame
who he believed was in possession of facts bearing
upon a hideous traffic in girls of a tender age. The
whole force of the Army's organisation was called up
to ventilate the need of an amendment in the Criminal
Law. Five thousand Salvation soldiers marched
through London to the House of Commons with Mr.
Bramwell Booth on horseback, and presented a mam-
moth petition in favour of the Bill.

Writing from the dock at the Old Bailey, we get
an introspective view of the next General of the Salva-
tion Army from his own pen :

" MY DEAREST MOTHER,

" This morning we are here again, and the



AT THE OLD BAILEY 293

enemy is all in array against us. Just got your kind,
brave telegram. It has cheered me. I confess last
night I felt very much distressed indeed. I think of
the Army, of course, and it seems so hard to have all
this sort of thing twisted against us. I care very little
about myself, but others do and will suffer through me,
Russell is making a most splendid speech for Jarrett.
Many people in the court cried when he spoke of her
desire to do something to make amends for her former
life. I cannot tell what effect he is making on the jury.

" Only think how we are making history ! We are
the first prisoners put into the box to give evidence
for ourselves for a thousand years ! The thing is quite
new. I expect I shall go into the box about noon to-
morrow, or perhaps later. I know you will pray for
me. I am so nervous about the most ordinary things
that I am certain to be extremely shaky. The strain
has been very great since we began, and I am all of
a tremble before I go in. However, God will be with
me and give me what I shall answer.

" In any case, and no matter what the result, I am
not ashamed to be here. I did all I did because the
wail of the oppressed and the imprisoned had come
up into my ears and gone down into my heart, and
because I could not help it, and if I had done any other
I should have gone against my conscience."

There never was any case against Mr. Bramwell
Booth. But for the negligence of a member of the
Army's editorial department, who carelessly misplaced
a letter that came into his possession by mistake and
kept it there for a month, Mr. Booth would never have
been charged at all. These extracts, however, supply
a few cameos that reveal the son's strong attachment



294 GENERAL BOOTH

to his mother, a physical nervousness from which the
strenuous life he has led since has not quite freed him,
the self-appeasement of his conscience, and the ruling
passion of his life the Army first and the Army last.
Writing after the verdict to his Army friends, he
said :

" I am aware that those who expose the doings of
immoral men must expect to be attacked in return,
and that those who snatch the prey from the destroyer
must suffer as well as their Lord and Master."

In his own way it has been defined as masterly
opportunism Mr. Bramwell Booth was as good as his
word. Immediately after the trial he organised an
Investigation Bureau, by means of which he has dug
up out of the social morass of London probably as
much information as to the haunts of vice as is lodged
in the pigeon-holes of Scotland Yard ; but which Mr.
Bramwell Booth has made entirely subservient to the
rescue of women and the working of a system for
exacting privately a measure of justice from the chief
culprits.

Thousands of unfortunate women have been cared


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Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 19 of 25)