George Scott Railton.

The Authoritative Life of General William Booth online

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Social Operations have afforded to the Field and other Departments
of The Army all over the world.

(g) The world has been further benefited by the confidence the
Social Work has created in the hearts and minds of our own
people - both Officers and Soldiers - as to the truth and
righteousness of the principles and practices of The Salvation

(h) The world has been further benefited by the answer which the
Social Work constitutes to the infidel's sneers at Christianity and
the assertion of its effeteness.

Truly, our future chroniclers will have to record the fact that our
Social Operations added a celestial lustre and imparted a Divine
dignity to the struggles of the early years of The Salvation Army's

To our own eyes in The Army, however, that which has been done in
connexion with the Institutions is only a very insignificant part of the
whole effect produced. Until the present movement all over the world in
favour of the betterment of the social condition of the masses of the
people has had time to accomplish definite results, our Institutions may
yet have a good work to do.

But the great work The General did in this connexion was the restoration
to men's minds of the Saviour's own view, that we owed to every man
every care that a truly brotherly heart must needs bestow. That
principle, as The General pointed out, had always been acted upon, as
best it could be, from the beginning, and is daily acted upon to-day,
wherever The Army exists.

Chapter XXI

Motoring Triumphs

During one of his Motor Tours The General remarked: -

"It was here (Banbury) that the idea of a Motor Campaign was
conceived. Seven or eight years ago (1900) I held an afternoon
Meeting in this place. On that occasion a crowd of my own people
and friends came to the station to give me a send-off. Such was the
affection shown, and so manifest was the pleasure derived from my
visit, that I said to myself: -

"'Why should I not impart this satisfaction to those comrades and
friends throughout the country who have never had the satisfaction
of seeing my face, or hearing my voice?'

"And then the idea occurred to my mind that the automobile would
not only be the readiest means of transit, but the only plan by
which I could reach the small towns and outlying hamlets. Moreover,
it would perhaps prove the only method by which we could get
through the crowds who would be likely to assemble on such a

By most men, in their prime, it would be thought an ample filling up of
any week to address three large Meetings on the Sunday, and one each
week night; but The General, at seventy-four, saw that, travelling by
motor, and visiting in the daytime such smaller towns and villages as
had never seen him before, or not for many years, he could not only
reckon upon three large indoor Meetings every day, but speak, perhaps,
to millions of people he had never before addressed. And so in six Motor
Tours he passed from end to end and from side to side of Great Britain,
gathering crowds from day to day for six weeks at a time.

We have met with people frivolous enough to write of all that as if The
General's Motor Tours were luxuries! In one glorious sense they were
really so, for, to him, there could never be a greater luxury than to
proclaim the Gospel to a crowd. But, as a matter of fact, he found it
less expensive to travel in this way than to go as he ordinarily did for
a long journey to and from London by train to reach each town

And the economy of Army forces, by means of Motor Tours, has been
marvellous, every little Corps and village Outpost on the route on
week-days being given an opportunity to gather crowds they never
ordinarily reached together, and to unite their own efforts for once
with those of their General in trying to lift up Christ more than ever

And The General was so alive to the value of inflaming the love of any
handful of villagers or children, but especially of his Soldiers and
Officers to the Master, that it was to him a continual delight to move
about amongst his Soldiery in every land.

The General could rarely venture to plan very far ahead, because his
public appearances had all to be made to fit in with other and often
even more important engagements, of which only his Staff knew anything.
It is, indeed, marvellous how few engagements he made ever had to be
broken, and how successful almost every Campaign of his has been, seeing
at how short notice most of them were undertaken. In one of his diaries
I found a bitter complaint of the waste of time involved in having to
wait for three hours between the steamboat and train. "Why," he asks,
"could they not have arranged a Meeting for me?"

One who has travelled 8,000 miles with him on four Motor Tours says,
though everybody, everywhere, pressmen included, were of necessity
impressed with his sincerity and transparency, they could see that he
had all the time only one object in view, the glory of God and the
Salvation of souls.

And it is the extent to which he led all ranks into the same spirit
which made it easy for arrangements to be made and carried out in so few
hours for the very largest demonstrations, as to which it was never
possible to hold any approach to a rehearsal, those joining in them
living usually so widely apart from each other.

An occasional private letter gives, perhaps, the best possible
explanation of his own heart in this perpetual motion towards the Cross.
Who that saw him in some grand demonstration could imagine that he had
been feeling just before it as this letter reveals: -

"My feelings alternate; but my faith is steadfast. Morning, noon,
and night I tell God He is my only help. He will not fail me.
To-night's Meeting will be, as you say, a great strain; but the
memories of God's goodness encourage me to go forward in spite of
unutterable sadness and gloom."

And who that heard him on one of those Congresses, in which a great
company of his Officers and Soldiers felt themselves to be feasting on
heavenly manna for days together, could imagine his writing the week
after: -

"If ever I felt my full agreement with my Lord's definition of
service as expressed in the parable, I do to-day. After all, I am a
poor, unprofitable servant, and I have lost no little sleep since
Friday night in criticising regretfully and condemning my share of
the wonderful Congress that has certainly taken a large part of the
world by storm. Nevertheless, I thank God from the bottom of my
heart for the part I have been allowed to have in the matter."

Amongst the incidents of all touring, but especially of motoring, are
storms such as the one The General thus triumphed over: -

"We are still rushing on. I had five Meetings yesterday, Friday,
and an hour's ride through the most blinding storm I ever
encountered. Two of our cars broke down, gave up, and retreated to
the nearest town for the night; another got through in a damaged
condition, and three with difficulty arrived at our destination.
However, we who did get in, were rewarded with a big audience and a
big reception. It was very wonderful. I am now reckoning on the
closing Meeting which takes place on Wednesday afternoon.

"Everybody continues to bless me and speak well of me. Is it not a
little surprising, and, viewed from the Master's Standpoint, a
little dangerous? You must keep on praying that my faith fail not.
Abundance of trying things await me. I must wait for my rest
'until the Morning.' God bless you!"

Well may a man sometimes long for rest who has experiences like the
following: -

"I nearly killed myself on Saturday and Sunday at Birmingham. For
some cause or other both throat and head got wrong, and it was with
difficulty I could frame my sentences or pronounce my words, and
yet I had to meet the great opportunity that was presented. I am
paying the price to-day in weariness extreme. There is hardly a
bone in my body that does not ache, or a nerve that does not seem

"But I shall rally and be myself again; indeed, I must, for things
of vast importance have to be attended to before the day is out.
Our exchequer is empty, and I have to prepare for my autumn
Campaign in Holland, Germany, Italy, etc."

"A mile or two after Penzance, the chauffeur turned to General
Booth, and 'Now she's waking up!' he said, with a satisfied sigh,
as the great car began to hurry through the open lanes.

"The General nodded his head meditatively. 'Yes,' he said, in his
beard, 'people have to wake up before they begin to move. England
wants waking up; I'm trying to wake her up myself, just a little,
and then we shall move.'

"I asked him what he made of our national apathy.

"He shook his head. 'I don't know how it is," he said, 'but people
are somehow afraid to examine themselves, afraid to see facts as
facts. There is a spirit in England which is worse than opposition
to religion; it's a spirit of - of - of detachment, of separation, a
spirit which says, "I don't want you, I can do without you; and so
long as you leave me alone I shan't interfere with you." It's a
kind of slackness. They want waking up. They want rousing. They
want a good shaking. It seems as if they have fallen into a deep
slumber - opium-eaters!'

"He is setting out to rouse England once again, make one great
final effort for the future of humanity. The future of humanity, he
believes, can only be secured by 'conversion.'

"Look at him in his car! There he sits, with a light-coloured
overcoat buttoned round his neck, a grey forage cap pressed over
his ears, his hands in his pockets, his eyes looking straight
ahead, and his lips biting at his beard - an old, old man in the
newest of motor-cars.

"Through lanes where Wesley rode his horse, poring over a book as
he went, General Booth flies in his beflagged car - on the same
errand. These two men, so dissimilar in nature, so opposed in
temperament, and separated by nearly two hundred years, the one on
horseback, the other in a motor-car, sought and are seeking the
same elusive end - the betterment of humanity.

"One feels as one rides along our country roads with General Booth
the enormous force of simple Christianity in this work of
evolution. One sees why Wesley succeeded, and why The Salvation
Army is succeeding.

"'We make too much of sin,' says evolution. 'We don't make half
enough of sin!' cries The General. Politicians and men of science
seem like scene-shifters in the drama of life, and religion stands
out clear and distinct as the only actor.

"'People have taken to The Salvation Army because it's so kind to
poor people,' General Booth tells me; 'they know I love the poor,
they know I weep bitterly for all the hunger and nakedness and
sorrow in the world. People know I'm sincere. That's it! They know
The Salvation Army is sincere, that it's doing kind actions, and
helping those whom nobody else will help or can help. That's what
makes us popular. Sympathy.'

"But the secret of The General is not humaneness. His secret is the
reality with which he invests sin. Hear him talk about sin, and you
realise the man's spell.

"At one moment he is full of humour and robust talk, a genial,
merry, shrewd-eyed old gentleman; at the next - at the mention of
real sin - his brows contract, his eyes flash, and his tongue hisses
out such hatred and contempt and detestation as no sybarite could
find on the tip of his tongue for anything superlatively coarse or

"'Sin!' he cries to me. 'Sin is a real thing - a damnable thing! I
don't care what science calls it, or what some of the pulpits are
calling it. I know what it is. Sin is devilish. It is sin and only
sin which is stopping progress. It is sin and only sin which
prevents the world from being happy. Sin! Go into the slums of the
great cities - pick up little girls of six years of age sold into
infamy by their parents; look at the drunken mother murdering her
child, the father strapping his cripple son - sin! - that's what I
call sin; something beastly and filthy and devilish and
nasty - nasty, dreadfully nasty.'

"As you listen and as you realise that The Salvation Army contains
numberless men changed in the twinkling of an eye from lives of
such sin as this to lives of beneficent activity, you begin to feel
that General Booth, right or wrong, has at least hit upon one of
the most effective ways for helping evolution.

"He makes sin as real to the individual as only the mystics can
imagine for themselves. Perhaps humanity likes to be told how black
it is, how far it is from the perfectness after which Nature is
blundering and staggering. I know not; but it is manifest that when
this grim old man, with the ivory face, the black, flashing eyes,
the tangle of white hair and the tangle of beard, leans over the
rostrum and calls sin 'beastly' and 'devilish' and 'nasty' the
people sit as white and spellbound as the patient of the hypnotist.

"It is a different General Booth whom the villagers flock to see as
he drives, smiling and genial, through Cornish villages, whom the
band plays into towns, and whom mayors and councillors receive with
honour. But the reason of this honour and this popularity is the
fact that he is a force, a living, breathing power who has made sin
real to the world and has awakened the religious consciousness in
thousands of human beings."

William Booth was always very wide awake to the discouraging emptiness
of mere demonstrations, and never expressed himself more contemptuously
with regard to them than when he thought that any of his Officers, in
the midst of some grand display, which was attracting unusual attention,
seemed to be likely to be satisfied with the show of what had been done,
instead of pressing forward to greater things.

Yet he saw that, in presence of the continual and enthralling
exhibitions of the world, there was absolute need for such
manifestations of united force as might encourage every little handful,
usually toiling out of sight, and convince the world that we were
determined fully to overcome all its attractions.

There had been before his time large demonstrations in favour
of teetotalism, and in some parts of the country the Sunday
Schools were accustomed annually to make displays of more or less
fashionably-dressed children and teachers. But The General was alone in
his own country and time in organising any such public demonstrations in
honour of Christ, and of total abstinence from sin and from

How perfectly The General could always distinguish between the enjoyment
of demonstration and of real fighting, was strikingly manifested on one
of our great Crystal Palace days. Looking down from the balcony upon the
vast display, when some 50,000 Salvationists were taking part in various
celebrations, he noticed a comparatively small ring of our converted
military and naval men kneeling together on the grass, evidently within
hearing of one of the band-stands upon which one Band after another was
playing, according to programme.

"Go and stop that Band," said he to one of his A.D.C.'s. "We must not
have those praying men hindered in their fight for souls by the music."

And this was only one example of his frequent abandonment of any
programme, or practice, or arrangement which seemed to him only to have
demonstrative effect, when any more enduring benefit could be otherwise

In short, demonstration in his eyes was only valued at its military
worth, and he never wished any one to become so occupied with appearance
as to miss enduring victory.

The following description, by a writer in a big London daily, of one of
The General's tours might be fairly accepted as a sample of them all,
and as giving some idea of the way in which they manifested his care for
all that concerned men: -

"'An easy day' was The General's description of that on which we
fared to mediæval Godalming, through the beautiful Hindhead region
to Petersfield, and thence in the evening to antiquity and
Winchester. He meant that he had only to address three great
gatherings (the day's course admitted of scarcely any of the
customary wayside and hamlet musters), so his oratory would be
merely a matter of five hours or thereabouts. There were solid fact
in The General's airy designation; it _was_ an easier day than most
of those of the tour; but it had sundry distinctions of its own,
apart from the great, welcoming Meetings.

"It was curious and pleasant to see gipsies salute The General from
their wayside Bohemia on the road to Hindhead; it was delightful to
see The General himself as he descended and spoke to the church
school-children who hailed him by the wayside at Roke, in one of
the most charming wayside spots on the journey. They stood with
their teachers under the trees in the sunshine, little pictures of
bloom and happiness. 'Now wouldn't you like to be running round the
country on a motor?' he asked them straight away, and their answer
come with hearty directness. In a naïve and tender little speech,
that had a touch of airiness, he told them of the joy of motoring,
turning anon to the many glad and beautiful things within the reach
of little people who yet might not go a-motoring, and so in simple
little touches appealing to the joy of life and soul that the
child-sense could understand.

"'Isn't he like Father Christmas?' a little girl was heard to
whisper. Here he charmed those in the morning of life; away at
Petersfield in the afternoon the sight of him consoled some in
life's evening. One poor old lady, who had lost the use of both
limbs, was carried to her door and set in a bath-chair, and there
she remained till The General had passed. We noticed the light on
her face, and how vehemently she waved her handkerchief. An Army
Officer chatted with her before we left the town in the evening. 'I
can now die happy,' she said; 'I have seen The General. And when
the call comes I know that God will send down the hallelujah motor
for me, and the loss of my old limbs won't matter in the least.'

"I have mentioned 'an easy day.' Having now described in a broad
way the typical early stages, it may be well, in a somewhat more
intimate and personal way, to give an idea of the work, moods, and
trend of the average day of the whole tour. The stress and
excitement it meant in the long stretch of country from the first
town to the last were extraordinary. We mustered, as a rule, at
nine in the morning for the day's work and travel, most of the folk
of the town where the night had been spent turning out for the

"The General was on the scene almost invariably to the minute.
Nearly always at those starts he looked grave, resigned, and calm,
but unexpectedly careworn. It was as if he had wrestled with all
his problems, with a hundred world-issues in the watches of the
night, and was still in the throes of them, and unable for the
moment to concentrate his attention on the immediate town and crowd
that hurrah'd around him. But, of course, he stood up and
acknowledged the plaudits - though often as one in a dream. But the
picturesqueness of his appearance in the morning sunshine - with his
white hair, grave face, and green motor garb - took the imagination
of the mass, and without a word from him the people were left

"He looked a new personality at the first important stopping-place,
reached usually about an hour before noon. His air and mood when he
stepped to the platform for the public Meeting had undergone a
radiant change; all the more radiant, we noticed, if the children
who had hailed him from the waysides had been many and strenuous.
There was something of the child in his own face as he stepped to
the platform's edge, and replied to the enthusiasm of the house by
clapping his own hands to the people. There was always something
naïve and delightful in The General's preliminary task of
applauding the audience.

"Here came his first important address of the day, lasting an hour
and a half, or even longer. It had many 'notes,' and displayed The
General in many moods. He was apt to be facetious and drily
humorous at first. He had racy stories to tell - and none can tell a
story for the hundredth time with fresh zest than he - in
illustration of the old and bitter prejudices against The Army. A
typical one was that of an old woman, arrested for the hundredth
time for being drunk and disorderly, who was given the option of
going to prison or being passed over to The Salvation Army. Too
drunk to realise what she did, she decided for the latter. She was
kindly tended, set in a clean cosy bed, and watched over by a
sister till the morning. When she woke the sunlight streamed
through the window, and the happy, unaccustomed surroundings
surprised her. 'Where am I?' she exclaimed in bewilderment. 'You
are with The Salvation Army,' said the sister kindly and softly.
'Oh, goodness gracious,' roared the old woman, 'take me away, or
I'll lose my reputation!'

"Often in these long and comprehensive addresses The General told
how he found the work of his life. He was never so impressive as at
this stage. And the tale in its intensity was ever new. His
language was nervous, intense, almost Biblical, his figure
suggestive of a patriarch's in a tragedy. 'Sixty years ago - sixty
years ago - sixty years ago,' each time with a different and a
grimmer intonation - 'the Spirit of the Living God met me.... I was
going down the steep incline when the great God stopped me, and
made me think.'

"In the last stage of his address he was the coloniser, the
statesman, the social wizard who would recast character and
rearrange humanity. He gave an epic sense to the story of
emigration and colonisation. But he was invariably clear and lucid
in his detail, so that the immediate and practical meaning of it
all was never lost on the mayors, and corporation and council
worthies, who heard him. Then miles and miles away at the second
important stopping-place in the early afternoon, after incidental
wayside speeches and idylls, he went over the same ground in a
further address of an hour or more. Somehow in the afternoon he
appeared to speak with added individuality and passion, as if the
wants and woes of the world had been growing upon him since the

"A needed rest, perhaps a little sleep, then away once more by the
waysides and through the welcoming hamlets. The third and last
great stopping-stage was reached, as a rule, about eight o'clock.
He typified serene old age as he stood up in the white car, passing
the long lines of cheering humanity. Here in the evening light it
was not easy to regard him as a propagandist. He might be a study
for Father Christmas, or a philosopher who dealt much in
abstractions and knew little of men. The General who, twenty
minutes later, proclaimed his spiritual truths and his social
ideals to a new audience, seemed, once more, an absolutely
different personality. Often at these evening meetings he spoke for
the better part of two hours."

Chapter XXII

Our Financial System

The continued strain to raise the money needed for the work was,
undoubtedly, to William Booth the greatest part of his burden all the
way through life. And it is to this day the puzzle which makes it most
difficult to write as to The Army's finances. On the one hand, we have

Online LibraryGeorge Scott RailtonThe Authoritative Life of General William Booth → online text (page 18 of 30)