H. Rider (Henry Rider) Haggard.

Regeneration: being an account of the social work of the Salvation army in Great Britain online

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The problem is one upon which I cannot ven-
ture to express any decisive opinion, even after
many years of experience of such matters. I
trust, however, that the answer may prove to be
in the affirmative, and I am quite sure that if
any Organization is able to cause it to work out
this way, that Organization is the Salvation
Army, whose brilliant business capacity can, as
I know, make a commercial success of the most
unpromising materials.

I should like to point out that this venture is
one of great and almost of national importance,
because if it fails then it will be practically proved
that it is impossible to establish small holders
on the land by artificial means, at any rate, in
England, and at the present prices of agricultural
produce. It is not often that a sum of ^40,000
will be available for such a purpose, and with it
the direction of a charitable Organization that
seeks no profit, the oversight of an Officer as
skilled and experienced as Lieut.-Colonel Iliffe,
and, in addition, a trained Superintendent who
will afford advice as to all agricultural matters, a
co-operative society ready to hire out implements,
horses and carts at cost price, and, if so desired,


to undertake the distribution or marketing of
produce. Still, notwithstanding all these advan-
tages, I have my misgivings as to the ultimate

The men chosen to occupy these holdings by
a Selection Committee of Salvation Army Officers,
are for the most part married people who were
born in the country, but had migrated to the
towns. Most of them have more or less kept
themselves in touch with country life by culti-
vating allotments during their period of urban
residence, and precedence has been given to those
who have shown a real desire to return to the
land. Other essentials are a good character, both
personal and as a worker, bodily and mental
health, and total abstention from any form of
alcohol. No creed test is required, and there
are men of various religious faiths upon the
Settlement, only a proportion of them being

I interviewed two of these settlers at hazard
upon their holdings, and, although the year had
been adverse, found them happy and hopeful.
No. i, who had been a mechanic, proposed to
increase his earnings by mending bicycles. No. 2
was an agriculturist pure and simple, and showed
me his fowls and pigs with pride. Here, how-
ever, I found a little rift within the rural lute, for
on asking him how his wife liked the life he


replied after a little hesitation, ' Not very well,
sir; you see, she has been accustomed to a town.'

If she continues not to like it ' very well,' there
will, I think, be an end to that man's prospects
as a small holder.

I had the pleasure of being present in July,
1910, at the formal opening of the Boxted Settle-
ment, when the Salvation Army entertained several
hundred guests to luncheon, many of them very
well-known people. The day for a wonder was
fine, General Booth spoke for over an hour in his
most characteristic and interesting way ; the
Chairman, Earl Carrington, President of the
Board of Agriculture, blessed the undertaking
officially and privately ; everybody seemed pleased
with the holdings, and, in short, all went merrily
as a marriage bell.

As I sat and listened, however, the query that
arose in my mind was What would be the state
of these holdings and of the tenants or of their
descendants on, say, that day thirty years? I
trust and hope that it will be a good state in both
instances; but I must confess to certain doubts
and fears.

In this parish of Ditchingham, where I live,
there is a man with a few acres of land, an
orchard, a greenhouse, etc. That man works his
little tenancy, deals in the surplus produce of
large gardens, which he peddles out in the neigh-


bouring town, and, on an average, takes piecework
on my farm (at the moment of writing he and his
son are hoeing mangolds) for two or three days
a week; at any rate, for a great part of the year.
He is a type of what I may call the natural small
holder, and I believe does fairly well. The ques-
tion is, can the artificially created small holder,
who must pay a rent of 4 the acre, attain to a
like result?

Again, I say I hope so most sincerely, for if not
in England ' back to the land ' will prove but an
empty catchword. At any rate, the country should
be most grateful to the late Mr. Herring, who
provided the funds for this intensely interesting
experiment, and to the Salvation Army which is
carrying it out in the interests of the landless

Impressions of General Booth

IT has occurred to the writer that a few words
descriptive of William Booth, the creator and
first General of the Salvation Army, set down
by a contemporary who has enjoyed a good
many opportunities of observing him during the
past ten years, may possibly have a future if not
a present value.

Of the greatness of this man, to my mind, there
can be no doubt. When the point of time whereon
we stand and play our separate parts has receded,
and those who follow us look back into the grey
mist which veils the past; when that mist has
hidden the glitter of the decorations and deadened
the echoes of the high-sounding titles^ of to-day;
when our political tumults, our town-bred excite-
ments, and many of the very names that are
household words to us, are forgotten, or dis-
coverable only in the pages of history; when,
perhaps, the Salvation Army itself has fulfilled its
mission and gone its road, I am certain that the
figure of William Booth will abide clearly visible
in those shadows, and that the influences of his


work will remain, if not still felt, at least remem-
bered and honoured. He will be one of the few,
of the very few enduring figures of our day;
and even if our civilization should be destined to
undergo eclipse for a period, as seems possible,
when the light returns, by it he will still be seen.

For truly this work of his is fine, and one that
appeals to the imagination, although we are so
near to it that few of us appreciate its real pro-
portions. Also, in fact, it is the work that should
be admired rather than the man, who, after all, is
nothing but the instrument appointed to shape it
from the clay of circumstance. The clay lay ready
to be shaped, then appeared the moulder animated
with will and purpose, and working for the work's
sake to an end which he could not foresee.

I have no information on the point, but I should
be surprised to learn that General Booth, when
Providence moved him to begin his labours
among the poor, had even an inkling of their
future growth within the short period of his own
life. He sowed a seed in faith and hope, and,
in spite of opposition and poverty, in spite of ridi-
cule and of slander, he has lived to see that seed
ripen into a marvellous harvest. Directly, or in-
directly, hundreds of thousands of men and women
throughout the world have benefited by his
efforts. He has been a tool of destiny, like
Mahomet or Napoleon, only in this case one


fated to help and not to harm mankind. Such,
at least, is my estimate of him.

A little less of the spirit of self-sacrifice, a
different sense of responsibility, and the same
strength of imagination and power of purpose
devoted to purely material objects, might have
raised up another multi-millionaire, or a mob-
leader, or a self-seeking despot. But, as it hap-
pened, some grace was given to him, and the river
has run another way.

Opportunity, too, has played into his hands.
He saw that the recognized and established Creeds
scarcely touched the great, sordid, lustful, drink-
sodden, poverty-steeped masses of the city popu-
lations of the world; that they were waiting for a
teacher who could speak to them in a tongue they
understood. He spoke, and some of them have
listened; only a fraction it is true, but still some.
More, as it chanced, he married a wife who
entered into his thoughts, and was able to help
to fulfil his aspirations, and from that union
were born descendants who, for the most part,
are fitted to carry on his labours.

Further, like Loyola, and others, he has the
power of rule, being a born leader of men, so
that thousands obey his word without question in
every corner of the earth, although some of these
have never seen his face. Lastly, Nature endowed
him with a striking presence that appeals to the


popular mind, with a considerable gift of speech,
with great physical strength and abounding
energy, qualities which have enabled him to toil
without ceasing and to travel far and wide. Thus
it comes about that as truly as any man of our
generation, when his hour is ended, he, too, I
believe, should be able to say with a clear con-
science, ' I have finished the work that Thou
gavest me to do ' ; although his heart may add,
4 I have not finished it as well as I could wish.'

Now let me try to convey my personal im-
pressions of this man. I see him in various con-
versations with myself, when he has thought that
he could make use of me to serve his ever-present
and impersonal ends, trying to add me up, won-
dering how far I was sincere, and to what extent
I might be influenced by private objects; then,
at last, concluding that I was honest in my
own fashion, opening his heart little by little,
and finally appealing to me to aid him in his

1 I like that man; he understands me! ' I once
heard him say, mentioning my name, and be-
lieving that he was thinking, not speaking.

I tell this story merely to illustrate his habit
of reflecting aloud, for as he spoke these words
I was standing beside him. When I repeated it
to his Officers, one of them remarked horrified :

1 Good gracious ! it might just as well have


been something much less complimentary. One
never knows what he will say.'

He is an autocrat, whose word is law to thou-
sands. Had he not been an autocrat indeed, the
Salvation Army would not exist to-day, for it
sprang from his brain like Minerva from the head
of Jove, and has been driven to success by his
single, forceful will.

Yet this quality of masterfulness is tempered
and illuminated by an unfailing sense of humour,
which he is quite ready to exercise at his own
expense. Thus, a few years ago he and I dined
with the late Mr. Herring, and, as a matter of
fact, although I had certain things to say on the
matters under discussion, his flow of most in-
teresting conversation did not allow me over
much opportunity of saying them. It is hard to
compete in words with one who has preached con-
tinually for fifty years !

When General Booth departed to catch a mid-
night train, for the Continent I think, Mr. Herring
went to see him to the door. Returning presently,
much amused, he repeated their parting words,
which were as follows :

GENERAL BOOTH : ' A very good fellow -
Haggard; but a talker, you know, Herring, a
talker ! '

MR. HERRING (looking at him) : ' Indeed ! '

GENERAL BOOTH (laughing) : ' Ah ! Herring,


you mean that it was / who did the talking, not
Haggard. Well, perhaps I did.'

Some people think that General Booth is con-

' It is a pity that the old gentleman is so vain,'
a highly-placed person once said to me.

I answered that if he or I had done all that
General Booth has done, we might be pardoned a
little vanity.

In truth, however, the charge is mistaken, for
at bottom I believe him to be a very humble-
minded man, and one who does not in the least
overrate himself. This may be gathered, indeed,
from the tenor of his remarks on the subject of
his personal value to the Army, that I have
recorded at the beginning of this book.

What people of slower mind and narrower views
may mistake for pride, in his case, I am sure, is
but the impatient and unconscious assertiveness
of superior power, based upon vision and accumu-
lated knowledge. Also, as a general proposition,
I believe vanity to be almost impossible to such
a man. So far as my experience of life goes, that
scarce creature, the innately, as distinguished
from the accidentally eminent man, he who is
fashioned from Nature's gold, not merely gilded
by circumstance, is never vain.

Such a man knows but too well how poor is the
fruit of his supremest effort, how marred by secret


weakness is what the world calls his strength, and
when his gifts are in the balance, how hard it
would be for any seeing judge to distinguish his
success from common failure. It is the little
pinchbeck man, whom wealth, accident, or cheap
cleverness has thrust forward, who grows vain
over triumphs that are not worth having, not the
great doer of deeds, or the seer whose imagination
is wide enough to enable him to understand his
own utter insignificance in the scale of things.

But to return to General Booth. Again I hear
him explaining to me vast schemes, as yet un-
realized, that lurk at the back of his vivid,
practical, organizing brain. Schemes for settling
tens of thousands of the city poor upon unoccupied
lands in sundry portions of the earth. Schemes
for great universities or training colleges, in which
men and women might be educated to deal with
the social problems of our age on a scientific basis.
Schemes for obtaining Government assistance to
enable the Army to raise up the countless mass
of criminals in many lands, taking charge of them
as they leave the jail, and by regenerating their
fallen natures, saving them soul and body.

In the last interview I had with him, I read
to him a note I had made of a conversation which
had taken place a few days before between
Mr. Roosevelt and myself on the subject of the
Salvation Army. Here is the note, or part of it.


MR. ROOSEVELT : ' Why not make use of all
this charitable energy, now often misdirected, for
national ends ? '

MYSELF : ' What I have called " the waste forces
of Benevolence." It is odd, Mr. Roosevelt, that
we should both have come to that conclusion.'

MR. ROOSEVELT: 'Yes, that's the term. You
see the reason is that we are both sensible men
who understand.'

' That is very important,' said General Booth,
when he had heard this extract. ' " Make use of
all this charitable energy, now often misdirected
for national ends!" Why not, indeed? Heaven
knows it is often misdirected. The Salvation
Army has made mistakes enough. If only that
could be done it would be a great thing. But
first we have got to make other people " under-
stand " besides Roosevelt and yourself.'

That, at least, was the sense of his words.

Once more I see him addressing a crowded
meeting of City men in London, on a murky
winter afternoon. In five minutes he has gripped
his audience with his tale of things that are new
to most of them, quite outside of their experience.
He lifts a curtain as it were, and shows them the
awful misery that lies often at their very office
doors, and the duty which is theirs to aid the
fallen and the suffering. It is a long address,
very long, but none of the hearers are wearied.


At the end of it I had cause to meet him in his
office about a certain matter. He had stripped off
his coat, and stood in the red jersey of his uniform,
the perspiration still streaming from him after the
exertion of his prolonged effort in that packed
hall. As he spoke he ate his simple meal of
vegetables (mushrooms they were, I remember),
and tea, for, like most of his family, he never
touches meat. Either he must see me while he ate
or not at all ; and when there is work to be done,
General Booth does not think of convenience or
of rest; moreover, as usual, there was a train to
catch. One of his peculiarities is that he seems
always to be starting for somewhere, often at the
other side of the world.

Lastly, I see him on one of his tours. He is
due to speak in a small country town. His Officers
have arrived to make arrangements, and are wait-
ing with the audience. It pours with ram, and he
is late. At length the motors dash up through the
mud and wet, and out of the first of them he
appears, a tall, cloaked figure. Already that day
he has addressed two such meetings besides
several roadside gatherings, and at night he must
speak to a great audience in a city- fourteen miles
away ; also stop at this place and at that before he
gets there, for a like purpose. He is to appear in
the big city at eight, and already it is half-past


Five minutes later he has been assisted on to the
platform (for this was before his operation and he
was almost blind), and for nearly an hour pours
out a ceaseless flood of eloquence, telling the his-
tory of his Organization, telling of his life's work
and of his heart's aims, asking for their prayers
and help. He looks a very old man now, much
older than when first I knew him, and with his
handsome, somewhat Jewish face and long,
white beard, a very type of some prophet of
Israel. So Abraham must have looked, one
thinks, or Jeremiah, or Elijah. But there is no
weariness in his voice or his gestures; and, as
he exhorts and prays, his darkening eyes seem
to flash.

It is over. He bids farewell to the audience
that he has never seen before, and will never see
again, invokes a fervent blessing on them, and
presently the motors are rushing away into the
wet night, bearing with them this burning fire
of a man.

Such are some of my impressions of William
Booth, General of the Salvation Army.

The Chief of the Staff

NO account of the Salvation Arn,y would
be complete without some words about
Mr. Bramwell Booth, General Booth's eldest son
and right-hand man, who in the Army is known
as the Chief of the Staff. Being convinced of
this, I sought an interview with him the last of
the many that I have had in connexion with the
present work.

In the Army Mr. Bramwell Booth is generally
recognized as ' the power behind the throne.'
He it is who, seated in his office in London,
directs the affairs and administers the policy of
this vast Organization in all lands; the care of
the countless Salvation Army churches is on his
shoulders, and has been for these many years.
He does not travel outside Europe; his work lies
chiefly at home. I understand, however, that he
takes his share in the evangelical labours of the
Army, and is a powerful and convincing speaker,
although I have never chanced to hear any of his

In appearance at his present age of something

Chief of the Staff


over fifty, he is tall and not robust, with an
extremely sympathetic face that has about it
little of his father's rugged cast and sternness.
Perhaps it is this evident sympathy that com-
mands the affection of so many, for I have been
told more than once that he is the best beloved
man in the Army, and one who never uses a stern

I found him busy and pressed for time, even
more so, if possible, than I was myself; he had
but just arrived by an early train from some pro-
vincial city. In fact, he was then engaged upon
his annual visitation to all the Field Officers in the
country, which, as he explained, takes him away
from London for three days a week for a period
of six weeks, and throws upon him a considerable
extra strain of mind and body. The diocese of
the Salvation Army is very extensive !

I said to Mr. Bramwell Booth that I desired
from him his views of the Army as a religious
and a social force throughout the wide world, in
every land where it sets its foot. I wished to
hear of the work considered as a whole, likewise
of that work in its various aspects, and of the
different races of mankind among which it is
carried on. Also, amongst others, I put to him
the following specific questions:

In what way and by what means does the

Army adapt itself to the needs and customs


of the various peoples among whom it is
established ?

What is its comparative measure of success
with each of these peoples, and what future is
anticipated for it among them respectively ?

Where is the work advancing, where does it
hang in the balance, and where is it being
driven backwards ?

What are your views upon the future of the
Army as a religious and social power through-
out the world, bearing in mind the undoubted
difficulties with which it is confronted ?

Do you consider that now, after forty-five
years of existence, it is, speaking generally,
on the downward or on the upward grade?

What information can you give me as to the
position of the Army in its relations with other
religious bodies ?

At this point Mr. Bramwell Booth inquired
mildly how much time I had to spare. The
result of my answer was that we agreed together
that it was clearly impossible to deal with all
these great matters in an interview. So it was
decided that he should take time to think them
over, and should furnish his replies in the form
of a written memorandum. This he has done,
and I may say without flattery that the paper
which he has drawn up is one of the most clear
and broad-minded that I have had the pleasure


of reading for a long while. Since it is too
long to be used as a quotation, I print it in an
appendix,* trusting sincerely that all who are
interested in the Salvation Army in its various
aspects will not neglect its perusal. Indeed, it is
a valuable and an authoritative document, com-
posed by perhaps the only person in the world
who, from his place and information, is equal to
the task.

Personally I venture upon neither criticism
nor comment, whose role throughout all these
pages is but that of a showman, although I trust
one not altogether devoid of insight into the
matter in hand.

To only one point will I call attention that
of the general note of confidence which runs
through Mr. Bramwell Booth's remarks. Clearly
he at least does not believe that the Salvation
Army is in danger of dissolution. Like his
father, he believes that it will go on from good
to good and from strength to strength.

There remain, however, one or two other points
that we discussed together to which I will allude.
Thus I asked him if he had anything to say as
to the attacks which from time to time were made
upon the Army. He replied as his father had
done : ' Nothing, except that they were best left
to answer themselves.'

* See Appendix ' A '


Then our conversation turned to the matter of
the resignation of certain Officers of the Army
which had caused some passing public remark.

' We have an old saying here,' he said, with
some humour, ' that we do not often lose any one
whom we very much desire to keep.'

I pointed out that I had heard allegations made
to the effect that the Army Officers were badly
paid, hardly treated, and, when they proved of
no more use, let go to find a living as best they

He replied that, as to the matter of money, the
Army had established a Pension fund in all the
Western countries, which now amounts to a
large total. In this country the sum was about
,44,000, and during 1909 about ^1,800 had
been paid here in pensions. This, however, was
only a beginning, but he thought that the effort
was being made on the right lines, and that,
notwithstanding their poverty, a really adequate
Pension fund would be built up in due course.

Then of a sudden he became eloquent. He
said he admitted that the Army had little to
offer. Those who came into its service knew that
this was so; that they had no hope of temporal
reward; that thenceforth the great feature of
their life and work was that it must be filled
with labour and self-denial. The whole business
of helping and saving our fellow-creatures was


one of struggle and suffering. Sacrifice was the
key-note of Christianity as laid down by its
Founder. Those who sought money and tem-
poral honour must look elsewhere than to the
Salvation Army. Its pride and glory was that
thousands were willing to suffer and deny them-
selves from year to year, and to find their joy
and their recompense in the consciousness that
they were doing something, however little, to
lighten the darkness and relieve the misery of
the world.

Here are some of his actual words upon this
matter that I will quote, as I cannot better them :

' The two facts of real consequence about our
Officers are these : First, that their numbers go

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Online LibraryH. Rider (Henry Rider) HaggardRegeneration: being an account of the social work of the Salvation army in Great Britain → online text (page 11 of 14)