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they only persevere a little longer. Reform is certain."



HER DESIRE FOR REFORM 39

Alas for her hopes. The Reform movement
ended in controversy, and when Catherine Mumford,
now settled with her parents in London, saw the
sequel to the agitation in a state of antagonism to
the original denominational mother, she was bitterly
disappointed.

" I had hoped," she wrote, " that we were on the
eve of a spiritual revival. Instead of that everything
was conducted very much in the ordinary style, and
I soon became heartily sick of the spirit of debate and
controversy which prevailed to such a degree as to
cripple the life and power of the concern."

In the meantime an event was to happen which was
to change not only the whole current of her life, but to
answer her highest aspirations after a revival of
spiritual life. Catherine Mumford was to meet William
Booth, who, espousing the cause of Reform on the
same ground, was now in London, and though en-
gaged hi business, spent his leisure in promoting the
cause of Methodism in and around the metropolis as
a local preacher. He hoped that some day he might
be able to enter the ministry. But a heresy-hunting
minister discovered in young Booth the elements of
a very disturbing factor, at least so he unjustly thought
for Booth was only eager for the spiritual regenera-
tion of Methodism and he too was expelled from Wes-
ley an Methodism, an act of bigotry that, as Mrs. Booth
would say in her homely way, " would come down on
their own pates."

This stroke of adversity was attended, however,
with far-reaching results. A Mr. Rabbitts invited



40 GENERAL BOOTH

William Booth to take over the direction of a Reform
Chapel, and introduced him to Catherine Mumford.

An amusing conversation between Rabbitts and
Booth on the salary question arose. Asked as to how
much he could live upon, Booth replied, detailing his
domestic and other requirements, " I can live on
12s. 6d. per week," for which sum he was willing to
relinquish business and become the mission-pastor of
this new Reformed-Methodist Church.

Mr. Rabbitts admired his spirit, and dazzled his
friend by guaranteeing for twelve months the sum of
1 per week. Mr. Rabbitts was then a prosperous mer-
chant, but he never made a happier investment than
when he engaged the future General of the Salvation
Army at that sum, for the principal sequel to the trans-
action led to the meeting of this Nottingham Methodist
and Kate Mumford, of Ashbourne, she being a member
of the Church to which Mr. Booth in this bargain-
making manner was called.

Miss Mumford " took " to the " new man." She
was impressed more with the man than the matter of
his discourse, for he seemed to be swallowed up with
the old-time zeal of Methodism rather than with the
college type of preacher ; and after hearing him for
the first time, she remarked to her mother that " if all
the Methodist preachers were like young Mr. Booth
there would have been no Reform movement."

Well, in the course of time these kindred spirits met
one evening at the house of Mr. Rabbitts, with a com-
pany of other Reformers, the object of the host being
to promote social intercourse among those who were



A KEEN SUPPORTER OF TEMPERANCE 41

having an uphill battle with old friends who had now
become religious opponents.

At this meeting Mr. Booth was asked to render a
favourite temperance recitation entitled " The Grog-
seller's Dream." Delivered with the sincerity of
deep conviction, and with a dramatic gesture that
seemed to transform the dream into a realism of the
actual and debasing effects of drunkenness, the com-
pany did not, strange to say, express any manifesta-
tion of favour with it. The General has said that there
was an embarrassing pause when he sat down.

The meaning of this was afterwards disclosed when
a member of the gathering asserted that the moral of
the recitation was overdrawn, an opinion that found
an echo in other members of the company. Mr.
Rabbitts himself was not a teetotaller. An unrehearsed
debate on the pros and cons of drink followed. All the
stereotyped arguments in favour of the traffic were
expounded by upholders of moderation and the con-
venience of liquor for revenue purposes. Miss Mum-
ford, who possessed rare debating power, joined the
discussion, and after asking a few inconvenient ques-
tions of the supporters of alcohol, she replied first to
one argument and then another. One was that the
Bible upheld the use of drink. " And where do you
find it ? " she asked. " Two kinds of drink are re-
ferred to in the Scripture, one intoxicating and the
other unfermented." " You say that you cannot
make people sober by Act of Parliament. How do
you know ? Are you sure ? It has been tried and
proved a success in some countries, and since the



42 GENERAL BOOTH

sale of drink has been banished from villages with
which I am familiar, drunkenness and crime have de-
creased. And as for the revenue what would become
of a man if he were to suck his own blood and eat his
own flesh ? How can a kingdom flourish that lives
upon the destruction of its subjects, and that draws
its revenues from their very graves ? Christians use
alcohol ? Do they ? Well, the more the pity, for
it would be almost as easy to get up a revival in hell
itself as in a Church whose members support the
traffic, and some at least of whom may well be sup-
posed to be slaves of it also."

No wine was drunk at the supper which followed.
But an impression was made among the company that
if the declaimer against drink and the ardent defender
of individual and national temperance should ever be
drawn into a closer union than that of Church fellow-
ship, the world would have to reckon with an English
Gough and a voice that would make the traffickers in
drink tremble.

It was their first meeting. It may not be strictly
correct to say that Cupid's dart found a happy asylum
in the bosom of the fair Catherine Mumford ; but the
affinity of their predilections on this subject remained
throughout their lives, and together they eventually
founded an Order of Purity, the Salvation Army a
leading plank in whose platform is that its members
are all pledged total abstainers.

Within a few months of that casual meeting the
young minister became engaged to Catherine Mumford.
Their personal attachment to each other, the delibera-



HER ENGAGEMENT TO MR. BOOTH 43

tion with which they considered the possibilities of their
union, the spirit in which they dedicated their lives to
each other, and contemplated a partnership in the light
of their obligation to God and the salvation of souls,
form together one of the most sublime classics that
ever were written in the book of history under the much-
abused chapter of LOVE.

It was on the 15th of May, 1852, that the two met
to finally settle or dissolve the proposal that, poor
though Mr. Booth was, and uncertain his path as a
minister of the Gospel, they should unite in heart and
soul for time and eternity. They brought their reason
to bear upon their circumstances, and after kneeling
together in prayer, committing their lives to the special
leading of the Divine Spirit, they parted not only be-
trothed, but, as will be seen in the letter which Catherine
Mumford wrote to her lover a few days after, pledged
to make their union, whenever God should put His
seal upon it, the ladder up which they should climb to
higher experiences of the Spirit of Christ and service
in His cause.

" MY DEAREST WILLIAM,

" The evening is beautifully serene and tran-
quil, according sweetly with the feelings of my soul.
The whirlwind is past, and the succeeding calmness is
proportionate to its calmness. Your letter, your visit,
have hushed its last murmurs and stilled every vibra-
tion of my throbbing heart-strings. All is well. I feel it
is right, and I praise God for the satisfying conviction.

" Most gladly does my soul respond to your invita-
tion to give myself afresh to Him, and to strive to link



44 GENERAL BOOTH

myself closer to you by rising more into the likeness of
my Lord. The nearer our assimilation to Jesus, the
more perfect and heavenly our union. Our hearts are
now indeed one, so one that division would be more
bitter than death. But I am satisfied that our union
may become, if not more complete, more Divine, and
consequently capable of yielding a larger amount of
pure unmingled bliss.

" The thought of walking through life perfectly
united, together enjoying its sunshine and battling
with its storms, by softest sympathy sharing every
smile and every tear, is to me exquisite happiness ; the
highest earthly bliss I desire. And who can estimate
the glory to God and the benefit to man accruing from
a life spent in such harmonious effort to do His will ?
Such unions, alas ! are so rare that we seldom see an
exemplification of the Divine idea of marriage.

" If indeed we are the disciples of Christ, ' in the
world we shall have tribulation,' but in Him and in
each other we may have peace. If God chastises us
by affliction in either mind, body, or circumstances,
it will only be a mark of our discipleship ; and if borne
equally by us both, the blow will not only be softened,
but sanctified, and we shall be entitled to rejoice that we
are permitted to drain the bitter cup together. Satisfied
that in our souls there flows a deep under-current of
pure affection, we will seek grace to bear it with the
bubbles which may rise on the surface, or wisdom so
to burst them to increase the depth, and accelerate the
onward flow of the pure stream of love, till it reaches
the river which proceeds out of the throne of God and
the Lamb, and mingles in glorious harmony with the
love of heaven.

" The more you lead me up to Christ in all things
the more highly shall I esteem you ; and if it be



A HAPPY MARRIED LIFE 45

possible to love you more than I now do, the more shall
I love you. You are always present in my thoughts.
" Believe me, dear William, as ever,

" Your own loving

" KATE."

From that hour, right on through years of vicissi-
tudes, trial, contumely, and holy warfare, these two
hearts remained steadfast to the double pledge and
consecration of that summer evening. Mr. Booth
passed from London to Spalding, in Lincolnshire, where
he was worshipped for the devotion of his labours and
his success as a Methodist minister. He had thoughts
of entering the Congregational Ministry and began to
prepare for college ; but on being presented with a book
of theology which he was informed he would have to
master and accept as the standard of teaching upon the
thorny topic of election, he in a fury of indignation
threw it from one side of the room to the other, and
vowed that he would sooner starve than be guilty of
proclaiming the doctrine.

In all these uncertainties he was supported by the
counsel of his friend, and at this stage of their friendship
one can perceive again the resemblance of the ancient
and modern Catherines to each other. Catherine of
Siena was essentially a peacemaker and a counsellor,
and when peace failed she could wage war. Mrs. Booth
was the same. But for the circumspection with which
she studied the subjects that underlay the dedication
of her companion to the service of the Church, he would
often have acted impetuously. Then, her intellectual-
ism, even at this critical period in her career, was



46 GENERAL BOOTH

marked by originality with respect to matters that
were then far from being so popular as they are to-day.
We have already seen her courage upon the question
of temperance. She was equally pronounced on the
dignity of women and the equality of the sexes, and if
she were alive to-day she would be one of the foremost
defenders of the political emancipation of her sex.
Her views are worth quoting :

" That woman is, in consequence of her inadequate
education, generally inferior to man intellectually
I admit. But that she is naturally so I see no cause to
believe. Never yet has woman been placed on an
intellectual footing with man. All man-made religions
neglect or debase woman, but the religion of Christ
recognises her individuality and raises her to the
dignity of an independent moral agent. ... I love my
sex. I have no sympathy with those who would alter
woman's domestic and social position from what is
laid down in the Scriptures. But on the subject of
the equality of nature I believe my convictions are
true."

Her sarcasm for the attitude of the Press toward
woman was biting. " I despise," she said, " the
attitude of the English press toward woman. Let a
man make a decent speech on any subject, and he is
lauded to the skies. Whereas, however magnificent
a speech a woman may make, all she gets is ' Mrs.
So-and-so delivered an earnest address.' '

Catherine Booth lived to write her signature to the
first commission that a woman received as a Salvation
Army leader, and to have these views embodied in an




Copyright, Bolak.

A FARTHING BREAKFAST AT A SLUM POST.



MR. BOOTH IN THE EAST END 47

organisation that literally gave expression to them by
appointing women to the charge of territories where,
in the judgment of the General, they showed the
qualifications for leadership. For example, Miss Booth
is now in command of the work of the Army in America.
Women are at the head of many secular as well as
spiritual departments, and hundreds and thousands
are in charge of Corps, where they command men and
order them to do just as they think fit in the interest
of the Army. And judged by that standard for which
the Army has a fanatical devotion, numbers, they are
as a whole a greater success than are the men.

We need not follow in detail, however, the sequel
to the union of this singularly religious couple of
Methodists. It is the common heritage of the Church
of Christ. Their dissatisfaction with the circuit life of
their Methodist Church led Mr. Booth to be appointed
as a Connexional evangelist. The disturbing effect of
that position gave offence to many ministers and pro-
duced a party feeling on the question of the employ-
ment of evangelists within the Church. This culmi-
nated in the decision of the Conference to replace Mr.
Booth in circuit work, and, as we have already stated,
led to the final separation of Mr. and Mrs. Booth from
Methodism. They wandered about the country as
evangelists, proving their fitness for the office in the
usual way. In the year 1865 they came to London.
Mr. Booth started an East London Revival Mission.
Out of this grew the Christian Mission, and after ten or
twelve years' experimenting after the line to adopt
that should attract the non church and chapel going



48 GENERAL BOOTH

classes to religious services, the Salvation Army was
created.

The part that Mrs. Booth played in this evolution
was only equal to that of her husband. I have no
doubt that but for her he never would have succeeded
as a Methodist minister. But for her he certainly
would not have gone to Spalding. But for her he
would again and again have compromised on matters
of principle or what seemed to her matters of principle.
In a word, but for Mrs. Booth, there would have been
no General Booth and no Salvation Army. He was the
prophet, and she the philosopher of his life. He
loved the field, she the conference room and the
platform. He caught the attention of Bill Sikes,
Mrs. Booth won the confidence of the thoughtful
and the aggressive spirits of her times. His style of
preaching was gladiatorial, hers argumentative. The
General was made to lead men, Mrs. Booth to persuade.
Both were needed to bring into being this remarkable
organisation. No innovation was ever made in its
methods or measures until Mrs. Booth was consulted.

She was largely responsible for the abolition of the
Sacraments in the Army. Her voice was raised in
favour of giving up the christening of children. She
invented the " hallelujah bonnet." She formulated
the first code of rules for the training of cadets. She
it was who conceived the idea of a world-wide move-
ment and gave tone and rule to the literature of the
Army. Had she had her way entirely, however,
there is no doubt that she would have disapproved of
much that is now being carried on in the name of the



AN EXCELLENT WIFE AND MOTHER 49

organisation. But she was wife as well as partner in
the great business to which they had consecrated their
lives. When she differed, as she often did, from the
views and proposals of her husband, she the moment
a decision was arrived at loyally supported him,
and woe be to the officer who afterwards discussed
instead of carried out his decision !

She shouldered the responsibilities of her large family
with courage and independence, She supervised their
education with an almost painful and Puritanic rigour.
She kept them from contact with worldly Christians
and insisted that their dress should in all things reflect
the principles of the parents. She was a severe
disciplinarian and a stout opponent of the religious
system of education. Under her inspiration, and
largely at her dictation, the General wrote a voluminous
book on the training of children, one of the most
unpractical things that he ever put his hands to. The
pen that wrote it was William Booth's, but the hand
that guided the pen was that of his good wife, But,
if extreme in tone and out of harmony with the
average circumstances of the people to whom it was
addressed, the principles have to some extent been
acted upon, though on matters of dress, furniture,
books, companionships, entertainments, the Army
itself has fallen away from the standard set forth in
the book. Mrs. Booth never adequately realised the
great gulf that exists between a home like her own
and that of the average London householder, and there-
fore she missed the chance of giving a proper lead to
the teaching of the Army upon the duties of parents.



50 GENERAL BOOTH

Mrs. Booth finished her career in the spirit of a
martyr. Just as the movement was entering upon
the stage at which it was recognised with toleration
and favour, and just as it was about to face the
problems that arose out of its own success, Mrs. Booth
was pronounced to be the victim of that scourge
which still defies the skill of men. She was stricken
with cancer.

The feeling when that announcement became the
common property of the Army was something similar
to what a nation experiences when the news of some
great catastrophe follows a succession of victories.
I was at the Headquarters when the Chief of the Staff
took a few of the leaders aside and communicated the
sad news. There have been some dark days there.
That was a dark day when the same officer handed to
his Commissioners the cable that told of the sudden
death in a railway accident of his beloved sister, Mrs.
Booth-Tucker. She was the beau-ideal of her father's
heart, the joy of her friends, and the hope of the Army
for many things. She was cut down in an instant,
but at a time when the movement could more easily
spare her than when Mrs. Booth was called to enter the
fiery furnace of affliction.

The General never needed the wisdom of her counsel
more than at the time she was passing through the
valley. He was athirst for more power for the Army.
There were evidences that the spiritual side of its
operations was on the wane. Reaction was setting in.
The boom of the Army's novelty was dying down, and
with it came up some serious problems. The world



DIFFICULTIES 51

was moving, too, in the direction of a more humane
treatment of the poor. The spirit of self-government
was reflected in the creation of the County Council.
The questions of temperance, the housing of the
people, the necessity of more open spaces, and the
technical education of the artisan class were forcing
themselves to the front. The evils, which up to then
were largely discussed as being essentially moral, were
being viewed, and rightly viewed, as economic in
their cause, and therefore to political economy and
Parliament men began to look for redress.

The Church was helpless. It had proved its unfitness
to handle what is now called the social question, and
there were officers in the Salvation Army, as well as
supporters, who predicted the failure of the Salvation
Army unless it adapted itself to the ethical movement,
signs of which were multiplying almost daily. Among
these officers was Mr. Frank Smith, of the L.C.C.,
then a popular Commissioner of the Army. He
knocked at the gate of the Army and pleaded for a
larger Gospel, and begged the General to go deeper
down with his Army of Salvation to the help of the
struggling poor and the starving and homeless.

At this moment Mrs. Booth was wounded, mortally
wounded, on the battlefield. The blow was staggering,
and some feared that the General would sink under it.
But here again Mrs. Booth became his philosopher
and friend. She gauged the situation with statesman-
like grasp. She resolved that she would adhere to her
place as long as it was possible to do so. Her resolve
put nerve into her heart-stricken husband and drew



52 GENERAL BOOTH

from the Army expressions of renewed devotion. The
cloud had its silver lining, for, as the General has often
remarked since, " the sufferings of which I was a daily
witness of my dear one gave me somehow a tender
solicitude for those that were confined within the
region of what I call ' Darkest England.' ' The great
Social Scheme was conceived, planned, and launched
in the sanctuary of suffering at Clacton-on-Sea, where
Mrs. Booth died on the 4th October, 1890.

Mrs. Booth in her death, as in her life, was heroic.
She bore pain with the resignation of Christian forti-
tude. Not once did she complain of the mystery
of the dispensation. She thought of the war to the
last, and her last message to the Army is treasured
as its chief heritage. Her funeral and the Memorial
Service at the Olympia attracted 100,000 people.
The Press were unanimous in proclaiming the justice
of the appellation that she was " the Mother of the
Salvation Army."

Mrs. Bramwell Booth had not then earned for herself
the reputation that she now is entitled to. Mrs. Booth-
Tucker had kept herself largely free from the higher
councils. The Chief of the Staff was absorbed in the
administrative avalanche of work that was thrown
on his shoulders by the Social Scheme. The Army
drifted, and while shelters were being opened, centres
being equipped, and the Farm Colony at Hadleigh was
being got ready for the reception of the submerged,
the spiritual interest of the Corps received a blow from
which it has not yet recovered, and probably never will.

The Foreign Service demands made a great drain



HER DEATH 53

upon the leaders of the Army in Great Britain. The
result was that nearly all the big Corps in England
suffered at the hands of poor leadership. It was
comparatively easy for the Army to start a Corps.
For a season it lived upon the reputation of the
successes that were secured by breaking fresh ground.
Old ground was neglected. The consolidation of new
Corps was only partially attended to, and, as I have
said, the Social Scheme, while it raised the prestige
of the movement, and incidentally silenced the
cynical critics and vulgar opponents of the Army,
was responsible for untold mischief in the Corps.
Everything was sacrificed, and at the very worst
hour, for the success of the scheme, and the General
aggravated the situation by undertaking long trips
abroad and confining the principal part of his addresses
to expositions of the social work.

It was at such a moment as this in the fortunes of
the Army that Mrs. Booth would have been invaluable.
She had the insight of a seer to signs of declension.
She could detect, with the scent of a bloodhound, the
track of the disturber, and great therefore was the loss
to the Army by her death. To this day those who
were familiar with her influence over the General,
and who knew the skill she could display in devising
ways and means for counteracting the evil effects
of even a good policy, applied with too much haste
and inexperience, mourned over the desolation that
followed everywhere.

In all the cities where the Army was doing excellent
work along its spiritual lines places like Bristol,



54 GENERAL BOOTH

Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle, and
Bradford the decline was manifest, and I am afraid
that in these centres of population, if a census of
attendance were taken of the Army gatherings, the
revelation of its thinness would startle even the
members of the Army itself.

Mr. Bramwell Booth has been doing his utmost to



Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 4 of 25)