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dividual liberty and was blind to the working of the
apostolic spirit in one of its most devoted servants.
..It was not the freedom of democracy that thrilled his
soul. It was not that he was converted to the principle
of self-government. No ; that ideal was smashed when


Mrs. Booth shouted from the gallery of the Conference
Chapel in Leeds, "Never ! " All their Reform notions
were then finally and for ever exploded. All their
reading of Wesleyan rule and Church polity proved of
no avail to them in that hour. They determined to be
their own masters, and, as I have hinted, the incident
brought Mr. Booth considerably nearer to the uniform
of the Commander-in-Chief of the organisation that
was destined to shake the world by reason of its
, sensationalism in method, leadership, and aim. The
General was forming rapidly under the black-coated
garb of a Methodist parson.

We need not follow Evangelist Booth to Cornwall,
or to the north and south of England, visiting chapels
in the capacity of a Moody or Richard Weaver. Suffice
it that wherever he went three features distinguished
his campaigns :

1. The ministers were as a rule unfavourably dis-
posed to his propaganda. They considered that the
interference with the routine of circuit work caused by
his missions, associated as they were with late and ex-
citing meetings, was detrimental to the permanence of
Church life.

2. Great crowds were attracted to his preaching
and the ministry of Mrs. Booth, whose lips were now
touched with the torch of a burning eloquence.

3. The number of converts was exceptionally large.
Other evangelists preached with more grace, erudition,
and circumspection ; other evangelists caused less
friction; other evangelists were broader and more
sociable; but as a friend of the Salvation Army


once observed at Cardiff, " Booth got the converts.
He filled the church and gorged the communion-rail
and vestry with enquirers."

4. The mission was usually followed up by " damp-
ing " efforts. At Brighouse the minister, as soon as
Booth closed a successful meeting there, announced
that he would preach a series of addresses to the young
converts, and he chose for his text, "Let him that
thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall ! " The
sequel was a stampede of Booth's converts.

The man who was eventually to regard evangelistic
effort on business lines was not likely to lose sight of
the moral of all this, and at the end of eight years of
evangelising Methodist Churches, Booth was just as
much out of joint with his own evangelistic work as he
had formerly been with circuit work. The rebel was
well developed in him when he landed for the third time
in the course of his career in London. He was then clear
about three things :

" I was satisfied that the methods of the average
Methodist Church were out of date. They had ceased to
attract the people to the chapel, at any rate in the city.
A tract and a sombre-looking handbill were not calcu-
lated to either cause the enemy to swear or pray. Then
I was not satisfied with the chapel itself, with its dull
grey walls, detached life, class pews, and high-toned
preaching far beyond the thoughts of the people. I
was dissatisfied with my own work. I saw grow under
my ministry, warm, loving, soul-seeking Christians, and
then I saw them chilled, neglected, and killed. I
rebelled against the repetition of this work, and when
I saw East London in the year 1864-5, I formed a


resolution to try something on the line of a perpetual
revival, and so started the East London Revival

At last the Rev. William Booth was in command of
his own, or within grasp of that despotic power which
he always describes as benevolent in intention, practice,
and aim. The East London Revival Mission was not,
however, a great success except for its educational
benefit. It showed him that the methods he adopted,
say, in a district like Hanley would not do among the
slummers and costers and dock-workers of the East
End. He realised that he would have to get further
away than ever from the appearance of the black cloth,
but how to do it he failed then to see. All the time
he was watching the effects of his preaching, Mrs.
Booth's meetings, and the results of the labour of men
and women whom he employed to assist him. Among
these were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and
even Plymouth Brethren altogether a heterogeneous
collection of evangelistic failures. Booth chafed at the
results, and he was more than once tempted, not to
abandon preaching and evangelising in East London,
but to despair of ever finding a way into the hearts
of the people. He could not get their attention.

The East End then was socially dead ; the only
evidences of life that it afforded and then a life that,
to him, was worse than death were Whitechapel Road
or Ratcliff Highway on a Saturday night, and Petti-
coat Lane on a Sunday morning. The civic conscience
was poisoned by vestryism and corruption. The
police were only concerned about the detection of


crime the new policeman with his tender respect
for "His Majesty the Baby" had not arrived. The
publicans and bookies were the twin governors of
East London, and the ground landlord and the brewery
kings, the monarchs who fattened on the poverty, vices,
and fears of the people. It was the happy hunting-
ground for the novelist and journalist. A royal
princess or a duke's daughter would occasionally
patronise it with a flying visit, and eloquent sermons
would escape the lips of bishops and mission preachers
as to the gross moral and social darkness of East
London ; but they had not the courage to admit
what he mourned over like a dying prophet, that
all, alas ! failed to make the people think for them-

What could what could he do ? He changed the
name of the Mission to the Christian Mission. He
engaged people as evangelists of his own make, and
they were more successful. He next tried preaching in
theatres, warehouses, under railway arches, and, more
frequently, at street corners, in alleys and lodging-
houses, and still success tarried. Financial matters
tried him. The claims of his family were increasing,
and his own health at times awakened anxiety in
Mrs. Booth. His committee, or conference, bored him.
Like Mark Twain, he was longing for a committee of
one, and he, the boss of the show, to be that one.
Even many of his converts disappointed him.

When they found that the Christian Mission required
assistance, and that they were expected to give, and
not to receive, the typical East End convert of those


days called it mean and Booth anything but a gentle-
man. The Churches bestowed a kindly interest in the
experiment he was making, but it was more negative
than practical. A few friends, such as Mr. George Scott
Morgan, of The Christian, the late Mr. T. A. Denny, and
the great Earl of Shaftesbury, patronised Mr. Booth's
efforts, and to some extent their encouragement
cheered Mr. and Mrs. Booth in their apparently fruitless
quest for the philosopher's stone.

At the end of ten years the Mission had opened
some twelve halls and was employing twenty evan-
gelists women as well as men and there were a few
hundred members, mostly of the chapel-going and
mission-hall order. Still, his personality had made a
mark upon them, and his dictatorial training of lay
workers had evolved a new order of missionary in
East London. The members obeyed him. If he
asked them to follow him to a street corner and give
their testimony, they would as soon have thought of
refusing him as if the Angel Gabriel had issued the

Then, again, Booth's meetings were magnetic. By
this time he had thrown overboard a good deal of his
Methodistic cargo. His ship was lighter, and he was
sailing light, under a fair breeze. His meetings were
free, easy, testifying. There were no dull moments
in them, and no long sermons, except when he or
Mrs. Booth preached to a set congregation, and then
they took their time in fact, preached longer than
they were accustomed to do when acting as evangelists
under Church rule.


- But what added special novelty to his mission
was the type of convert whom he succeeded in enlisting
under the banner of the Mission, and it was while in
this pioneer stage of his work as the founder of the
Salvation Army that he learned the value of a sensa-
tional announcement. A " converted pigeon-flier "
would always arrest the motley gatherings in Brick
Lane. A " converted burglar " would draw anywhere,
especially in Donkey's Row. A " converted, clean
sweep " attracted the humble cottagers on both sides
of Mile End.

And here I may be pardoned if I pause to intro-
duce a couple of sketches of these "attractions."
Afterwards, when the Salvation Army was spreading
like a prairie fire throughout the land, Mr. Booth was
asked by some wiseacre, " Where will you get your
preachers from ? "

The General replied, "From the ale-taps and drinking-
saloons and skittle-alleys." It was a bold reply. But
it was a reply for which he could point to his compara-
tive success.

A milkman, for instance, made a sensation. He was
announced to speak at a meeting as " the milkman
who had not watered his milk since he joined the Mis-
sion ! " The milkmen in the district were attracted
to that meeting, and it may be accepted that if Pro-
fessor Longhead had been announced to discourse
upon the ethics of Christianity, his appeal to that
fraternity would have fallen flat.

Among the milkmen present at the meeting was
one who did adulterate his milk, and spent the greater


part of his eamings in drink. He took a seat at the
back of the hall, and as he studied the character of
the actors, as he called the converts on the platform,
he concluded, what more sober-minded people have
done, that the whole thing was a money-making game,
and he settled down good-humouredly, half drunk
as he was, to see how the game worked.

When the time came for testimonies, up jumped the
milkman, greeted with applause, " Hallelujahs," and
voices, " How much the part, guv'nor ? " and " Has
the milk got converted, Bill ? "

The leader was unperturbed, and the milkman,
closing his eyes, seemed to be engaged in prayer : an
act which the milkman at the rear of the hall thought

Then the following speech was made :

" Friends, you all know me. You know what a
miserable wreck I was six months ago. Look at me
to-night. (Hear, hear!) And what's done it ? Salva-
tion. (Hallelujah!) I take my wage home to the missis
now. I don't get up in the morning now with a head
as heavy as a ton of coals. (Laughter and ' Praise the
Lord ! ') I gets up with a merry heart, and sometimes

' "'I will tell you what induced me

For the Better Land to start,
'Twas the Saviour's loving kindness,
Overcame, and won my heart/"

And the motley audience started singing this old
Ranter song. The leader paced along the platform,
shouting, "God can make honest milkmen of you if
you will let Him."


Then the milkman resumed :

" Look here, friends, I've made no mistake. This
is a genuine piece of work. The Lord did it, and I know
it, for I was there when it was done. (Laughter and
4 Hallelujahs. ') Salvation takes the love of the booze out
of you. Since I knelt down at that 'ere plank in front
of the hall, I have not tasted a drop of four ale. (Sensa-
tion.) You look a bit sceptical, mates. But here is my
old girl on the platform, and I'll ask her if she ever
caught a whiff of booze in my breath since I gave my
heart to the Lord." The wife jumped to her feet and
said, " I give you my affidavy that my old man is all
right." And there were volleys of " Amens " and
" Hallelujahs."

When the interrupters had spent their expressions of
pleasure, the milkman at the rear was convinced
that the performance was very well done, and as soon as
a comparative calm had set in, he too jumped up and
asked the speaker, " What do you get for the job,
mister ? "

The elder confederate in the trade at once shouted
back, at the top of his voice, " Peace of conscience,
mate, and you can have the same at the same price."

" Peace of conscience." Ah ! that was just what he
hadn't got. That night the drunken milkman knelt
at the mercy seat and went home resolved to have this
peace. And what became of him ? In a word, he
became the pioneer of the best work that the Salvation
Army has outside Great Britain. The milkman
prospered, emigrated to Adelaide, and on finding that
there was no Christian Mission, or rather Salvation


Army, there, he turned his colonial shanty into a
Salvation Hall on Sundays, and by inviting his neigh-
bours and passers-by to hear what the Lord had done
for him, he gathered a few like-minded spirits around
him, and these formed themselves into a Hallelujah
Band. He then wrote the General, begging him to send
out officers to take hold of the work. The old East
London milkman could start the work, but he had
not the ability to keep it going.

Now, some people have the notion that in the
extension of the Salvation Army, General Booth has
from time to time, according to the supply of funds,
ordered one here and another there, to open fire upon
this place and the next place, and thus moved the
Army round the world. That view of the exercise
of the General's military authority is superficial.

General Booth in his aggressive work has only
gone as far as others have suggested to him was safe.
Others have made opportunities, and he has simply
seen them and made the most of them. It was so
with Australia. He grasped the significance of the
milkman's work at the first opportunity, and never
was General Booth's judgment shown to better ad-
vantage than when he selected ( ' Brother and Sister
Barker " afterwards Colonel and Mrs. James Barker
as the first officers in command of Australia. They
were of the people, and East London Christian Mission
converts. They had the spirit of testimony rather than
of preaching, were in intense sympathy with the
moral, social, and spiritual needs of the people, and
were profoundly sincere.


An ordinary Headquarters would have chosen
educated and experienced officers. But General Booth
knew his Australia, and that the Army could not
compete with the intellectualism that he then per-
ceived was gaining ground in the churches of the

James Barker caught on. The places of shame in
Melbourne and Sydney were startled by the coming
of the Salvation Army, and within twelve months of the
landing of these strange English officers, the Colonies
received them with open arms and hailed them as
saviours of the worst. James Barker became a friend
of all classes ; his word on matters connected with
convicts, reformatories, and social questions generally
was for years law. And all this and more was
the outcome of the testimony of the saved, sober, and
honest milkman.

Who will deny that General Booth was warranted
then, with these and other remarkable evidences of
reformed lives, to persevere as he had gone on ? He
was attaining what the Red Indian calls the "scent."
The Christian Mission was doing more for him than it
was doing for the world, and the old Methodist evan-
gelist grew in self-assertiveness.

In these days he proclaimed his right to govern.
His addresses, or such parts of them as found their way
into the Christian Mission Magazine, showed very
clearly that the Rev. William Booth as superintendent
was the life and essence of the organisation. He made
rules as to attendances, the conduct of class meetings,
the responsibilities of exhorters, the visitations of


men and women workers, finance, taking halls, holding
sacraments, and the other ordinances common to
Methodist bodies. The language of the Mission was
militant and defiant. Here is a sample :

" We are at war. The Devil knows it. The publicans
know it. They are crying out against us. We are at war
against sin. It is the scourge of hell, the curse of
earth, and is sending millions to hell every year.
We are at war for God. Go forward. Lift up your
banners. Show on whose side you are."

So much had the influence of the Mission, by the
time it had reached its tenth birthday, exercised upon
the members, that they dropped the appellation
" Super " when referring, in a familiar manner, to the
head. They preferred the term " General."

There were other formative influences. The current
events outside the Mission " in the world," as
Christians say were circulating a military atmo-
sphere. The Rifle Volunteer movement was very much
in evidence, as the Territorial has been in recent years.
Political and patriotic addresses inflamed the public
mind as to the necessity of the movement in case of
the country being embroiled in a foreign war. " Are
you a volunteer ? " was a question on many lips. It
was immortalised in music-hall songs and formed the
text of many sermons, The Christian Mission, in its
printed references to its own work at this time, showed
that it was influenced in its nomenclature by what
was going on outside its borders. Evangelists would
often use the query, in appealing for decisions at a
meeting, " Come forward now ! One volunteer is


worth ten pressed men. Be a volunteer for God and

One day General Booth resolved to review the opera-
tions of the Christian Mission, and issue an appeal to
the public for funds to extend the beneficent character
of the work to other towns. A young man, called Mr.
George Scott Railton, the son of a Wesleyan minister,
an able writer and an enthusiast for a militant policy
at all times, was General Booth's secretary, and the
two started to collaborate the review. As they
proceeded, the resemblance of the Christian Mission
to the Volunteer movement for the defence of the
country impressed itself very forcibly upon the
Superintendent of the Mission. He drafted out the
comparisons. Both were originated from a conviction
of duty, the strength of both was made up of ordinary
people, both were officered by civilians, both believed
in authority and obedience, and both were voluntary.
Neither officers nor men were paid for their services,
and both were successful movements.

Summing up these characteristics, the General,
with the aid of his secretary, revised the article.
One phrase ran, " It will thus be seen that the
Christian Mission is a Volunteer Army an Army of

" I think we can improve upon that sentence,
Railton," remarked Mr. Booth to his secretary.

The General read the sentence again, and striking
his pen through it, he amended it as follows :

" The Christian Mission is a Salvation Army."

And at that moment the Rev, William Booth may


figuratively be declared to have first seen the light
as the General of the Salvation Army. The General
of the Salvation Army was at length, after a long,
wearying process of vicissitude, bitter disappointment,
rebellion, failure, and success, in command of a people
that he had made out of the fag-ends of chapelism, the
cast-offs of missions, converts from drunkenness and
gambling all more or less ready to obey him on any
matter under high heaven.

What would he do with the increased power ?
How would he mould the opportunity in the interests
of the cause that had eaten so deeply into his heart ?
The General was made ; what sort of Army would the
General make ? We shall see.


A World-wide Ideal The raison d'etre of the Deed Poll Doctrines
settled for ever A Sect of Sects Powers of the General
Expansion by Growth, not Dictation How Germany was In-
vadedThe latest Deed and the thin end of the Democratic
Wedge If a General become Bankrupt, what then ? Applying
the Powers under the Trust Deed to the making of an Army
The Havoc of a New Despotism

" WITH such a name as the Salvation Army to conjure
with, and with such consecrated men and women as had
gathered around me, it would have been comparatively
easy for me to have kicked up a fine ' hullabaloo ' in
the country, when I entered upon the business of
making the Salvation Army. And I have no doubt
that I could have attained a certain kind of reputation.
But my object was not to make a sensation : it was to
make an organisation." GENERAL BOOTH.

Whatever opinions may be held as to the wisdom of
many of the methods he employed in doing so, General
Booth has been as good as his word. His Army is a
real army. There is no make-believe about it. It is
to be seen in places scattered over one half of the
civilised world and in heathen lands.

One will meet it wherever one travels. Since I have
entered another fold, I have found its representatives



waiting on my doorstep in a far-away mining town in
the wilds of Tasmania ; I have had my footsteps
dogged for a subscription to its funds in the depth of
an Australian bush ; I have been confronted with its
heralds of salvation in cafes in Berlin and Brussels ;
and when I have tried to escape its attentions on a
holiday, the lass with the tambourine and the collecting-
box has turned her irresistible eyes upon me for an
offering to the cause !

Go down to the slums of Lambeth to-night, and you
will find a sister of tender years, versed in the science
of hygiene and filled with the electrifying magnetism
of love, tending the sick and imparting comfort to some
lost sheep, as he lies in racking pain and with the death-
haze in his eyes.

I have watched an Italian navvy in the top flat of a
New York tenement look wistfully into the face of his
little wife and only child, after he has been told the
fatal word that death would soon put an end to his
struggles with consumption. I have seen the Salvation
lass take the place of the absent priest, and remove the
crucifix from the wall and hold it to the lips of the
dying member of another fold.

I have stood outside an American saloon and taken
part in an appeal to the " toughs " that were upholding
a shattered and battered wall in more senses than one.
I have felt the piercing Alaskan wind go through me
as I have studied the situation and heard an officer in
her " hallelujah " uniform plead with tears in her eyes
for the reform of her beer-sodden congregation, and
then I have seen first one and then another quit the old


trysting-spot and kneel in the snow and ask the Salva-
tion girl to pray for them. Yes, it is an army, and no
mistake. Walk into the Headquarters in Queen
Victoria Street, and put the most obvious question to
the man on the door, and you will feel that he is under
the magic spell of the master mind on a higher floor.
Ascend a little higher and ask the man with the
Colonel's crest on his collar a few questions bearing on
finance, and you will discover how very much a man
under orders he is. It is an army in more than in name,
and General Booth has made it.

How did he do it ? After what model ? And will
it last ?

General Booth tells us :

" It was not my intention to create another sect.
I sometimes think that, if Providence had not placed
this work in my hands, I possess some of the gifts that
would have qualified me to promote the union of
Christendom. Nothing was further from my inten-
tions than to do anything that would multiply the
differences between professing Christians. For that
reason we have abandoned the administration of the
Sacraments and all ritual that is supposed to contain
some intrinsic or mystic virtue. We are not a Church.
We are an Army an army of salvation."

In these words General Booth has explained his re-
lationship to the Churches, and it will be observed that
he does not deny the necessity of a Church, or that there
must be some authority which creates and controls a


General Booth, it must be remembered, had to do
something to give a legal foundation to his organisa-
tion. He was acquiring property for a specific and
public purpose. That property had to be protected
from any diversion to other and un worthier objects,
and for the promotion of that object for all time. He
was compelled to take action from the hour when he
saw that the movement was likely to be one that in-
volved the collection and expenditure of voluntary
contributions of the general public, and it cannot be
too well known that the General treated the matter
with the importance that it demanded, took into his

Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 6 of 25)