The GOSPEL TRUTH
FOUNDER and FIRST GENERAL
of the SALVATION ARMY
In Two Volumes
THE GENERAL DOES A LITTLE LOBBYING, FALLS AMONG POLITICIANS, SHAKES HANDS WITH A BISHOP AND A POLICE-INSPECTOR, AND UNDER GOES HIS FIRST OPERATION
ADVANCING another step into the Picturesque Period, the year 1908 was for William Booth a year of still greater influence. He began it, humbly enough, by going in January to open a Home for Destitute Men in Birmingham. Here he encountered Sir Oliver Lodge, and gives us his estimate of that adventurous man of science:
Select gathering and very fair meeting. Did a good and effective talk. Mr. Lloyd, a Banker, presided. A fine spirit. He had given £5o--he added a hundred after my speech. Sir Oliver Lodge moved a vote of thanks. Very much impressed by his appearance, manner, and matter. If I am not mistaken, he is an honest-hearted man. He wants me to stay with him on my next visit to Birrmingham.
Soon after interviews in London, concerned with Rhodesia, he went on Salvation Army business to Belfast and was billeted with Sir William Whitla: [A President of the British Medical Association, and a prominent leader in the affairs of North Ireland.]
Had a long talk with Sir William Whitla about Irish affairs, the relationships of Catholics and Protestants, the condition of the Country, etc.
We should have liked a record of this conversation, but none is given. It appears that the General soon edged himself clear of Irish politics and got Sir William Whitla transported to South Africa:
On the Saturday I planted a tree at the request of my host in his beautiful garden. He is interested in my Rhodesfan Scheme, and called the tree by that name. Before we started for Lurgan this morning he would have me down in his garden, where a brother practitioner photographed me with the spade in my hand. It was not much trouble to me and seemed to be of great interest to them.
In April he received disquieting news about his great scheme:
London letters anything but pleasant reading; among the rest was a copy of Hawkesley's letter to Ranger declaring that the Chartered Company could not carry out their intention in providing the money promised to work the Rhodesian Scheme, so there is an end once more to my Colony-over-the-Sea dream, anyway so far as South Africa is concerned, after two years and five months spent in anxious negotiation, and more money than I like to calculate spent in the inspection of the country, drawing up legal documents and other matters. It may turn out useful in the future; but I don't know--God's will be done.
We shall see, however, that he revived from this disappointment. But while he had not abandoned the hope of this great project, his soul was still ruled by the supreme idea of his life, the conversion of men's wills to the will of God. He writes to Bramwell:
I thought again as I was speaking last night that nearly all the things I said that cut into the hearts of the people, and the incidents I produced for their wondering amazement, were the result of Blood-and-Fire Salvation; the Social is the bait, but it is Salvation that is the hook that lands the fish.
Then again, what a thing it would be if, after a life's struggle to keep clear of Political Agitation, I am going to land my People in the bosom of the Liberal Party, and make eternal enemies of the Conservatives and Publicans--shutting the door in our own faces that leads to their souls, and promises their Salvation.
And yet, and yet, and yet I feel we must make a Declaration, and a Declaration we will make. How it is to be done I cannot now stop to inquire.
I feel that my days are numbered, and I want to spend them in real work, and not upon plans that will be dashed aside almost before they are placed upon paper.
We have to do the best we can with the tools that are to our hand, as all leaders of revolutions of all kinds have had to do before us. It is no use our worrying ourselves into the grave on the subject. I fancy sometimes in the World to Come we shall see that we were in error in wanting to do so much in so short a space of time.
An entry in his journal for April shows a friendlier feeling for W. T. Stead:
Mr. Stead wants to interview me for The Chronicle on the subject of the Licensing Bill. I refused the interview on the ground that I would not be drawn into Political Controversy, so he is coming to see me on other important questions, hoping, I expect, to get something about the Licensing Bill any way.
Stead has been----had an hour and a half's talk as hard as both of us could go. ---- was present to his great entertainment.
Stead seems to be much improved in spirit, treating the Army and our aims and difficulties with much more respect, and a reasonable measure of increased deference.
I am not sure whether I am responsible for the change, but he certainly appeared much more sympathetic with our position, our difficulties, and anxious to render us more assistance in his capacity as a Journalist than he has done for some time gone by.
This refers to the Licensing Bill of that year.
In May the General was quoted by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree in The Times newspaper as having said that, "Had the Children of Israel been managed by a Committee they would never have crossed the Red Sea." This saying, characteristic of the man's mind and character, will better commend itself to the judgment of men than the following onslaught, equally characteristic, upon the poets. He appears to have gathered something of the New Theology from Bramwell, and writes back to him:
----, I suppose, would know what the modern heresies respecting the Atonement are.
What you say about Campbell getting them from Ibsen I can readily believe. It is only another proof of the opinion you know I hold about the leading poets. Nobody would have read the rotten stuff in prose, but dressed up in the sentiment of poetry it finds its way with its destructive consequences into the minds of the young and imaginative section of mankind.
But he blazes out, with almost equal warmth, against some members of the Staff:
I think it hard lines that I should be left to struggle with this huge undertaking, and the only man to whom I can speak is again and again jerked away from me. I have little or no fellowship from some cause or another with --; he and---- and other leading Officers who cross my path seem to regard me as a kind of ornamental or figurehead arrangement, with which they must get on, and get away from, with the least possible trouble!
Then we get a glimpse of his activities, and a terse piece of irony:
I have no more time, as I am off again at 10.30; have 44 miles to travel; two Workhouse-Meetings, and a reception when I arrive at 1.10. You will please note this is my holiday.
Throughout the whole of this period he longed again and again to be rid of patronage and free to lead a fierce and uncompromising attack against evil and indifference. Nevertheless, he was, now and then, gratified by an original compliment:
Earl Carrington [Now the Marquis of Lincolnshire.] moved the vote of thanks in very neat and well-chosen language, saying, among other things, that amongst his most esteemed friends were Cardinal Manning, the Bishop of London, and General Booth. To him, the first represented Faith, the second Hope, and the third Charity; and he thought he might be allowed to say in Scriptural phrase, the greatest of these is Charity.
We must now follow the General for a time as he sets out to capture the politicians for his Rhodesian Scheme. He begins modestly with an old and well-tried friend:
Hitchin was reached in due course, where the meeting was presided over by Sir John Gorst, who made some very kindly remarks bearing on the Army and the General.
Sir John is an old friend. For 20 years or more he has not only been ever ready to stand up in our defence, whether in the House of Commons or on the public platform, in the columns of The Times or elsewhere, but to urge upon Governments and authorities generally the value to the community of our Social plans and enterprises.
Since I saw him last he has visited New Zealand, and gathered some valuable information respecting our operations in those countries. I was glad to see Sir John once more and to find him apparently more vigorous than when we met before. Interested in the Garden City, Letchworth, where he had built himself a snug little villa where the experiment is being tried. Here I lunched with him after the meeting. On parting he assured me that he would be pleased to do anything helpful to the Army's interests that lay within his power. He made me the same promise 17 years ago and he has proved true to his word.
From this point we are suddenly projected into the more exalted political circles, the General's journal for July 28th beginning in a manner which will excite the envy of the feuilletonist:
"Earl Rosebery can see the General at 6 o'clock this evening at Berkeley Square. Wire reply."
Such was the message received in the midst of a Council on Foreign Affairs, at Hadley Wood.
At a few minutes to six I was at the door of the Berkeley Square Mansion, and immediately the bell was rung his Lordship opened the door himself. I had naturally expected the usual uniformed attendant, and was consequently somewhat taken aback at the Earl's presence. At first I thought I must be mistaken, thinking that my imperfect eyes must have deceived me; but there was no mistake, as the footman, a tall young fellow in a fashionable dress, came running out to discharge the task, but too late. His Lordship, with a friendly greeting, led the way into a large room, which had the appearance of a superior business office, offering me tea, and the choice of another room or the garden, and generally trying to make me feel that I was welcome.
I plunged into the reason for the call I was making. My Rhodesian Colonization Scheme after slumbering for a season had revived, and I wanted his Lordship's advice on the matter.
Before I had got well started with the explanatory reason for my visit his Lordship informed me that the coffers of the Rhodesian Trust were absolutely empty. In fact, he said, "We are bankrupt; no, not bankrupt, but insolvent." "Not so bad as that," I suggested. "Well, we are only just able to pay our way." But it was only a temporary difficulty following on the American Financial trouble, I suggested, and in another year all would be rectified. "Yes," he admitted, "it might be so."
Stating that I had not come to ask for money, but for advice, I started to explain how that my journey to Africa was planned on the supposition that this scheme of colonization was going to be carried out, together with the prospects of a large amount of unemployment in this country, which had reawakened the desire to find a home for some of these workless people in Rhodesia, and in order to do this I wondered if there was any hope of securing the Government aid that had been refused me during the previous year.
He asked me several questions bearing on the topic, and then said, "Well, I advise you to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer," remarking that the question belonged to his province.
"Mr. Lloyd George," he said, "has an open mind, and is both willing and able to take up new subjects. I was talking to him this afternoon in the House of Lords." His Lordship did not say that my Rhodesian Scheme was in any way connected with the subject of that conversation, but what has happened since then made me think that it was.
Our conversation ranged over several subjects, including stories of some remarkable reclamations we had succeeded in effecting---one of which was that of the young sub-editor ot the ----. This incident evidently impressed him, and I shall not forget the abstracted and intensely earnest look with which he gazed upwards as though the story awakened in him thoughts of some other wanderer in whose well-being he felt more than ordinary interest.
The interview had now lasted over an hour, and I rose to leave. Several times his Lordship assured me of the pleasure the conversation had given him, and as we shook hands he said: "Go and see Mr. Lloyd George; send me your autographed photograph, and don't go to South Africa."
He had more than once during our conversation urged on me the duty of taking care of myself, and it was on that ground he thought the journey involved a risk that ought not to be taken.
As Colonel ----, who had waited for me in the outer room, asked the footman to call me a hansom, his Lordship said, "No, here is my car at your service," and again saying, "Go and see Lloyd George," on the steps of his mansion I bade him "Goodbye."
The Earl soon afterwards left for the Goodwood Races, and the General found his way to Hadley Wood.
This ending, we venture to think, is full worthy of the beginning. A few "Extra Notes" are appended to this account:
"Is not such a journey a risk for you to take?"
"I never stay to consider risks when Duty calls," was my natural reply.
We talked of John Burns. "He is not a Socialist," his Lordship insisted, etc.
The danger arising out of the spread of Socialism. The appalling distress. Emigration, etc.
The impossibility of forming a moderate Political Party caused by the Caucus Electoral system.
On the following day the General called upon Mr. Lloyd George at the House of Commons. The reader, we think, will agree that while these accounts of extremely interesting conversations are marred by an unmistakable sense of future publication, nevertheless few diarists of our time have left behind them more entertaining, at any rate more original, records of their encounters with famous people:
"Mr. Lloyd George is taking tea at a quarter to five on the Terrace with the Queensland Premier, and the daughter of the Duchess of St. Albans, and will be pleased if the General will make one of the party."
I was not feeling very well--the day was abnormally warm-the wound made by the refusal of the Government to help me, after keeping me expectant for over a year, was not healed. Moreover, fancy tea drinkings or any other functions of the same class are not in my line, so I simply replied that I really had not time for the Terrace. I wanted to see the Chancellor alone; could he oblige me with a private interview in his room? Certainly, was the answer--come along at five.
At five, with the burning sun flaring in our faces, I drove down the Embankment with Colonel----, alighted at the entrance, and passed into the far-famed British Houses of Parliament.
The Policeman guarding the doors saluted me, the retiring visitors who had been regaling their eyes on the wonders of the building, with occasional glances at the Members, saluted me, M.P.'s sauntering about saluted me--everybody saluted me.
On my A.D.C. sending in my name we were ushered--not into the Chancellor's private office, but on to the far-famed Terrace.
On the way down the stairs the Colonel said, "Here is Mr. Winston Churchill," and sure enough, on looking round, there were the piercing eyes and glowing countenance of the President of the Board of Trade.
As he came along I said, "Oh, I don't want to meet Mr. Churchill except in a room with seconds and a brace of pistols."
"Come," said Churchill, "what have I done?"
"Kept me waiting and expecting all those long months, and then dismissed me with a sentence."
"Indeed," he said, in the most friendly manner, "I did all I could to bring the matter off."
I could not help replying, "I believe you did."
"Come and see me alone in my room," he reioined in the warmest manner. "All right," I replied, and with the repetition of the invitation to come and see him, he went on his way, and I went on mine.
Here was the Terrace, etc. It was certainly an attractive picture in itself, bordering as it does on the world-renowned river, beautifully shaded and cool with the golden sun shining all round. Every man on it remarkable for some reason or other, representing some part of the Empire.
Conservatives, Liberals, Radicals, Home-Rulers, Labour Members, and Socialists or those going under that name, all mixed up together.
Then there were ladies--wives, daughters, sisters, and friends, etc., etc. The Church was not unrepresented. Bishops belonging to the pan-Anglican Council, and other Spiritual dignitaries of different creeds and sections, were here and there.
All are merry with that light and cheery spirit which so often accompanies [word omitted], and drinking tea in the most harmonious fashion.
The tables were ranged in a double row, with a space to promenade down the centre, at one end of which sat Mr. Lloyd George with his guests. I had met ---- the Queensland Premier at a luncheon with his Cabinet at Brisbane three years before ....
Tea for two was ordered by Mr. George at once, and before I could put in a word I was caught in the net and engaged in the convivialities--with the friendliness that more or less attends the tea-table.
But there was no rest. Almost the first to attack me was Sir Benjamin Stone, Member for one of the Sections of Birmingham. He was accustomed to photograph every celebrity he could lay his hands on, who came on to the Terrace, lodging the picture in the Museum for the benefit of posterity.
I must give him a sitting, said Mr. George. It was an historical event, and thereby would be recorded as such. I assented.
In due course the photographing was accomplished in company with Mr. Lloyd George and the Queensland Premier.
And after I don't know how many introductions, shaking hands with M.P.'s who had entertained me, or presided for me, or felt some sort of interest in my work, I claimed the promised interview, and we threaded our way through the tables to the Chancellor's private room.
My heart was full of the purport of my errand--once more the object I had striven for so many years appeared to be within sight. It is true that I had received encouragement from the same Government before--but changes had been made--the member of it, E----, who had been named as the chief obstacle to my success, had been removed and younger and more adventurous members had been promoted to leading positions.
However, here we are at the private room, when with but little privacy I urged my request.
"I want £100,000," I said, "on condition that the South African Company, in conjunction with some other Company or group, will furnish £150,000 for an experimental effort."
"Do you want the money at once?"
"No," I said. "£20,000 per annum for the next five years."
"How many people will you settle for that amount?" I promised to let him have the calculation.
Then came the usual question, "To what class will these people belong?" and answered after the same fashion.
After some further conversation on the theme, he turned to his Private Secretary, "Just see if the Prime Minister is at liberty. I would like the General to see him."
The Secretary came back saying, "Yes," and we hurried to Mr. Asquith's office.
I had met Mr. Asquith once before--soon after his marriage. Mrs. A., with whom I had some very friendly intercourse, wished me to meet her husband--invited me to lunch.
On that occasion I thought Mr. Asquith very stiff and distant. That, I was given to understand, was his ordinary manner. I expected to find the same brusquehess on this occasion. My errand was not of a kind which readily unlocks the heart and loosens the kindly sentiments of Cabinet Ministers.
However, nothing could very well have been more friendly than Mr. A.'s demeanour on this occasion.
"The General wants money for a Colonization scheme. The Queensland Premier, who, by the by, has just left the room, has been appealing to me for £70,000 per annum, the General wants £20,000 per annum for five years."
"Gift or loan?" said Mr. Asquith. "Loan," said I; "but you will never ask for it in return." At this they both smiled.
A few more words, then he said to Mr. George, "The General had better see Lord Crewe." Mr. George agreed and I assented.
On shaking hands Mr. Asquith asked me if I remembered his wife. "Yes," I replied, "very well." "Do you remember when you first met her? .... Certainly." "When was it? Let me try your memory." "On a journey from Paddington to Swindon." "That is right," said he, and I left the Prime Minister of this Great Empire feeling how human he was after all.
Now for Lord Crewe; was he on the premises? Yes, in the House of Lords. Good. We will try for him at once.
After threading the endless passages of that wonderful building, and shaking hands with a bunch of Colonial Bishops on the way, we came to the Peers' Chamber.
We followed the usual custom by sending in my name and saying that I wished a few words with his Lordship.
To this the reply came back, "Cannot leave during present debate," would I like to come in for a time?
Being then on the chance of the debate, which had something to do with Irish business, suddenly collapsing we went in to wait and listen.
I had hardly got inside the gilded chamber and glanced round at the 30 or 40 elderly gentlemen, who were discussing in the most sedate manner the important question before them, than I was challenged by Sir Samuel Evans, Solicitor-General, in the kindliest manner. He had the appearance of being a very capable man.
After a few moments we decided to come away and see Lord Crewe at the Colonial Office on the following day.
Caught the 7.35 from King's Cross, feeling that whether anything of immediate value came out of the Terrace and the interviews that followed it, fruit at some date near or far must be borne for advancement of the objects ever before me.
On July 3oth William Booth and Arthur James Balfour met for the first time. The General's account of his preconceived notion of the Conservative Leader will delight caricaturists and surprise the rest of the world. As for the General, Mr. Balfour tells me that he was "deeply impressed by the strength and charm of his character":
Among a number of other engagements for the day stood Lord Crewe at the Colonial Office at 3, and the Right Honourable Arthur Balfour at the House of Commons at 6.
I found Lord Crewe a man of commanding appearance--thoughtful, and so far as my visit was concerned, sympathetic demeanour. My business was soon before him. He gave me at once to understand that he was familiar with the question on which I came to consult him.
Whether he needed it or not, I gave him a resumè of the nature and position of my scheme, and of the assistance I wanted from the Government in order to carry it into effect.
He said he could not give me an answer right off, which I did not expect, but would consult his colleagues and let me know the result.
While very friendly, as I have said, there was nothing in what the Colonial Secretary said, or in his manner of iaying it, calculated to raise any expectations of success or to strengthen any that I might have already entertained.
Still, here was evidently a man of the future, of ancient family, rich, and well related, the son-in-law of Lord Rosebery, and of considerable natural capacity, occupying a high position, having climbed to the Governmental Leadership in the House of Lords, who made no secret of his friendliness with the aims and work of the Army.
At six o'clock we drove off once more to the House, as it is familiarly styled by those who have business in it. A few yards from the entrance we passed a Bishop with a homely, intelligent, friendly countenance. I had hardly got inside, having to wait a few moments for----, who was discharging the cabman, and having a word with him while he was paying him his fare, as is the Salvationist's usage, when the Bishop we had just passed overtook me.
He put out his hand, congratulated me on my appearance, health, etc., and on the safe and successful result of my recent Motor Campaign. I asked to what diocese he might belong, he answered "Peterboro." [The Hon. and Rt. Rev. E. C. Glyn.] I did not recollect at the moment, otherwise I would have thanked him for his wish to entertain me on a recent visit to his City.
Now for Mr. Balfour. I had imagined him in physique as short in stature, round and stout in construction, with a dark complexion, and a hard, cynical, forbidding countenance--in mind thoughtful, intelligent, etc., while in disposition, cynical, etc.
As he rose to meet me, offering a choice of chairs, saying that he had been desiring the pleasure of meeting me, I looked upon him with little short of wonderment.
At my first glance at his countenance, the fabric of my preconceived notions dissolved and vanished for ever. The features that I had expected to find so stern and unbending, while retaining every element of strength I had expected, appeared to indicate a nature as tender as a woman's.
Once seated, our conversation flowed on, not only with pleasure inspired by our mutual interest in the theme, but, I flatter myself, with the sympathy which inspires all true soul intercourse.
We had not gone very far when a gentleman came in, whom Mr. Balfour introduced to me as being not only his Secretary, but as a kind of colleague in literary and other labours, at least that was the impression made on me.
The conversation between them turned on a visit from a person whom they styled Jim, ultimately fixing on seven as the hour for Jim to come along. I judged that Jim was a nephew or some other young body who was making a call.
We then resumed the story. Mr. Balfour being evidently comparatively ignorant of my project, I summarized the scheme with a little particularity. When I apologized for entering on details, he begged me to proceed, as he wanted to understand the thing.
Occasionally I dwelt on the necessity for this New World I wanted to create, and then led to a little side discussion on Poverty, Drunkenness, and the like.
On the question of effecting a permanent cure for the inebriate, he was evidently in considerable doubt. This led me to describe a case or two, so landing us on the question of Conversion, and so we rambled on, while all the time his soft and yet commanding eyes revealed the sincerity and seriousness of the soul behind.
I know nothing of the "unreality" of Mr. B .... in politics, as complained of by his opponents, but on the question of Starvation, Immorality, and Misery, and I might add Religion, I felt I had found a true human if not a spiritual heart.
Of course we had never met before, and having been so long outside the Political realm with all its controversial changes, I had no real knowledge of the man. I am only jotting down the impressions made during that short hour.
"What can I do?" at length he inquired, when all had been said that seemed necessary in such a preliminary discussion. "It appears to me that if Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith have sent you to Lord Crewe, they admit that there is nothing opposed in principle to granting your request. If the Government were to propose the grant you ask for, I certainly would not offer any opposition to it."
I sprang at that in a moment, saying that that was the very thing I had hoped for in the interview.
He then added, "I say that for myself, but I cannot pledge my colleagues," and then he turned to his Secretary, asking if he knew whether Mr. Alfred Lyttelton was still in the House. He did not know, but would inquire.
After a time Mr. Lyttelton was found and brought in.
I had heard a good deal about Mr. Lyttelton before. He was the Colonial Secretary under the late Government, and while in that position had much to do with the Rider Haggard expedition to the United States and Canada to inquire into our Colonization Scheme there.
It was under his direction that the report of Mr. Haggard was sent to a Departmental Committee with the Chairmanship of Lord Tennyson--the report of which Committee we counted a very one-sided affair.
Mr. Balfour now introduced me to Mr. Lyttelton, who sat down beside me and commenced a little course of cross-exmination on the prospects of the scheme; his inquiries all being made in a most friendly spirit. But not understanding his difficulties, or the way in which he approached the subject, I am afraid that I did not give him the satisfaction he wanted.
His contention was, now I perceive, "Don't ask for anything on the plea that the Settlers under your scheme will ever repay it. They never have done so, and they never will."
My reply was, "While some may not and will not repay, a large proportion will," giving him some Emigration Statistics in the way of proof, and arguing still further that if a proportion of poor Emigrants, on whom we have no claim beyond their honour, repay, we may hope for still better results from Colonists whose possessions we hold for a pledge for the amount advanced.
Whether I satisfied him or not on that particular aspect of the plan, he admitted its utility and the importance of its having Government assistance for the experiment, adding, that most certainly he would not oppose it if the desired grant was proposed in the House.
It was now seven o'clock, and "Jim "was announced! As the door opened, a slightly-built, gentlemanly young man entered, whom Mr. Balfour introduced to me as the Marquis of Salisbury. I must confess that the transformation of Jim into a real living Marquis was a trifling surprise!
I had just time to catch my train and meet the Chief as per appointment, and having had a fair innings--so far as staying at the wickets was concerned--I said Good-bye.
Mr .... showed us a private staircase that carried us into the Palace Yard.
Here I gave the Police Inspector on duty the pleasure of a handshake, receiving from him the assurance of the usefulness of our People to them in difficult cases, and by a bit of a rush reached King's Cross in time for the train, and the meeting with the Chief.
In this account, so far as we have discovered, the General indulged himself for the first and the last time in a sporting metaphor, although, as the reader may remember, in one of his writings there is a confused reference to a cue and a cannon. He never played cricket, we think, and certainly never played billiards.
Lord Rosebery wrote to him on August 3:
DEAR GENERAL BOOTH--Many thanks for your letter, and for the excellent photograph.
I have not been photographed for innumerable years, and therefore I do not know what to send you. The only thing that at all represents my venerable appearance now is a postal card which would be beneath your notice.
On consideration I have determined to tell Messrs. Graves to send you an engraving of me, which was done when my hair still had a colour of its own, but which really is all that exists. If you do not like it put it in the fire.
I, too, wish you had seen Lloyd George earlier. I am in rather a delicate position with the present Government, and do not care to approach them, even in the person of my son-in-law.
My own belief is that the forces of unemployment will appeal in your favour much more strongly than anything else.
I wish you were not going to South Africa, but as you are, I wish you God-speed and a prosperous return. Believe me, Yours sincerely, RY.
On the same day that brought him this letter we read in his journal:
Yesterday Mr. Stead's long letter re his recent visit to St. Petersburg appeared in The Times. It is a remarkable production, especially that part referring to his conversation with M. Stolypin [Then Prime Minister.] re the permission for the S.A. to enter Russia. This is itself important, but to have the open approval of the strongest, some say the only real strong public man in the Empire, and that chronicled in the leading newspaper of Europe is something worthy of note. [Mr. 5tead's article comtained the following passage: "M. Stolypin said he thought the Salvation Army might come to Russia. It would at any rate interest the people and might be useful." There were, of course, other references to the work of the Army.]
He writes to Mr. Stead as follows:
I must thank you for the straight and courageous manner in which you expounded the truth about the S.A. to M. Stolypin, and for the very interesting manner in which you described the interview in The Times.
The incident may constitute an important step forward to operations that will prove of vast beneficent magnitude to Russia. We are big with desire and busy with preparations for the event. May God guide and succeed us.
God willing, I am off to South Africa on Saturday. I can neither go forward nor backward with Rhodesia. When I want to proceed with the undertaking some obstacle ever blocks my way, and when I want to give it up and know it no more, I am equally withheld.
Almost accidentally, if there is such a thing, I was led last week into interviews with Lord Rosebery, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George, Lord Crewe, Mr. Lyttelton, and Mr. Balfour on the subject. All were cordial and friendly to a remarkable degree, and none more sympathetic than Mr. Balfour. I had not met him before; he impressed me very much. With all this, I feel how blessed are they that expect nothing, etc.
Your intercourse with Bramwell [Bramwell Booth was travelling to Stockholm] in the train on the way to St. Petersburg deeply interested him, and from the summary he gave me impressed me also. But you are ever interesting to us. Why, oh why, are you not a Salvationist!!
To which Mr. Stead replied:
MY DEAR GENERAL--what an unbelieving Turk you are! Do you not see, and can you not understand, that your path and mine are both marked out for us by One who is wiser than both of us put together? You find your way mysteriously hindered about Rhodesia, so that you neither seem to be able to go backwards or forwards. The meaning of this seems to me plain enough, namely, that you have a work to do there, but the time has not yet come for action; so with regard to my becoming a Salvationist. You know as well as any one that, looked at from the Salvation Army standpoint alone, God Almighty is making a great deal more use of me outside the Army than even He could have done inside. But I have no patience with such rank infidels as you and Bramwell! But this is an old story, and I have got to put up with you as you have got to put up with me. . . . Yours sincerely, W.T. STEAD.
He left in the same month of August for the visit to South Africa, against which Lord Rosebery had warned him.
Lunched with the Governor [of Cape Colony], Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson.
On returning to the Hotel I found a card from the Prime Minister, Mr. Merriman. He is residing at the Hotel and wished an interview. I looked in on him and Mrs. Merriman at 6.25.
He is a forcible and capable man. Very tall. He must be six feet five inches at least. He threw plenty of cold water on the Rhodesian Scheme, and I put all the religion into him I could. They say he is an infidel. I don't know; but he was very civil, nay, kindly, with me--but full of unbelief about any good coming out of my colonization plans. Oh, oh, oh, who can decide when so many professed experts disagree?
At Johannesburg the General was welcomed by Mr. (now Sir) Abe Bailey.
Mr. Abe Bailey took me in his motor to his magnificent mansion.
After lunch I had a long talk with him respecting Rhodesian affairs. I found him deeply interested and under the supposition that everything was settled, and that I was to visit Rhodesia and inaugurate the Scheme. He was very vexed to find that the thing was still in the air, and immediately cabled Dr. Jameson, saying, in substance, that my being in the country made it imperative that this matter should now be brought to an issue.
Kitching [the General's devoted Secretary] has had more talk with Mr. Bailey, who came in after I had retired, and he expresses himself most emphatically as to his going to help the Army in the future.
He has told Kitching to-night that he owns the most important newspapers in the country, and whatever there is that is important that he does not own, he intends to. He is going to wire the Government to-morrow morning, and tell them that if they will push this scheme, he will help them. He reckons that he has great influence with them.
The Governor, Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, is a remarkably agreeable person. Has resided many years in Africa--was General in Command in Rhodesia during the Matabele rebellion. and was Governor of the Orange Free State during the Boer War.
He is much interested in my colonization plans, presided at my evening lecture, and, generally speaking, made my stay very agreeable.
9.30. Interview with the Governor. [Sir Matthew Nathan.] Rather surprised to find him a Socialist--on the usual lines of theory and not practice. Had some really interesting converse with him.
11.0. Called by appointment on the Prime Minister I found that he had most of the Cabinet with him, and that the purpose he had in view was to know how far we could help them with their Reformating Young People.
The interview did not come to very much, seeing that at every turn their financial straitness barred the way.
However, we got out some facts and opened their eyes a little, I fancy.
As we broke up, the Secretary of the Premier informed me that he was a Sunday Scholar at Spalding, knowing a number of my old friends there.
Last night's lecture--excellent Platform--members of the Natal Cabinet, three judges, representatives of all classes of the people greeted me when I rose to speak, upon the introduction of the Governor of the Colony, Sir Matthew Nathan. At the close the Prime Minister moved a vote of thanks, while the Chief Justice seconded the same.
Then follows an interesting observation concerning Jews:
The Governor, as I have conversed with him, has turned out to be a thoughtful, kindly, intelligent man--a Jew in Religion and Nationality, and in a further conversation I had with him yesterday I find he is a Socialist in theory, which, when put together with a Representative of the English Government in so important a position as that he occupies, makes rather a curious combination. He was evidently very much impressed last night, and asked, as I arrived at the door of the Government House, to see him again next morning. Dealing with Jews, like dealing with High Caste Hindus, is always a very difficult business. One reason for this is the inward abhorrence they have of making any change in their convictions. Giving up the Jewish Faith is so closely allied with giving up the Jewish Nationality, and so strongly is the attachment felt in this direction that it is very near akin to impossible to get them to alter.
He reflects in passing:
I suppose, although I am much impressed by the human brotherhood idea, that it would be very difficult to make me give up the English reticence which has been bred in me since my babyhood; but I have no time for reflections--I must go to the interview.
Back in England, we read in his journal on November 11:
. . . left for Nottingham to see Dr. Bell-Taylor about the cataract in my eye, which has become very troublesome. I am past reading, except large type, and then with difficulty. Everybody marvels that I am able to write so legibly, and I do myself. Still that is becoming more trying.
Dr. Taylor says I have cataract in both eyes, one of which is ready for operation, but recommends that I wait for the other to ripen also, so that both can be operated upon at the same time.
On the following day he appears to forget all about the cataract in critical news concerning his Rhodesian Scheme, that great hope of his latter days which is eluding him; but other subjects occur to keep his brain busy, as he waits for the operation on his dimming eyes. He writes to Bramwell on December 10, heading the letter: "To be read, but may wait for a leisure moment."
I cannot help feeling that we ought at once to arrange in our own minds, and as openly as it will be safe to do it, for the creation of a superior class of Staff Officer.
There is something in breeding and education and conceit--well, a sense of superiority--which carries immense weight, and is a source of great force in the individual possessing it and in the individuals on whom it is exercised ....
Would a Staff College do this? If so, the foundation of the Institution ought to be put in this very day ....
Of course, access to this superior Staff ought to be open to all the world, but only by extra talent combined with extra devotion. No more on this strain at the moment ....
On December 16 he underwent his first operation:
This is the day fixed for the operation. It is to be performed by Mr. Higgens, chief oculist of Guy's Hospital. I hope the Lord will hold and guide his hands, and make this thing a success.
Just got a letter from some friend at Bournemouth who says that he had five operations on his eyes, and that they were all a failure, and he had arranged to have his eyeball taken out on the Saturday, but on the day previous it took a turn for the better, and finally his sight came back and he has seen all right for the last four years. He attributes this restoration to the prayers of the Salvationists round and about.
12 noon. The Nurse, about whom we felt a little curious, has just arrived. She seems a very kind person--friendly and manageable. I don't get on well with hard, dictatorial members of this class.
Shortly after I was summoned upstairs with the announcemerit that the Doctors had arrived, and that all was ready. I found the Doctor with his shirt sleeves turned up looking like business, and I was requested to sit down, and receive what I suppose was a baptism of cocaine in both eyes, and then undressed, got myself ready for bed, after which I mounted the Operating Table that had been extemporized in the middle of the room.
It was 3 o'clock. The afternoon was foggy--the light consequently imperfect, but the Doctor announced that he had brought with him an Electric lamp which would enable him to operate with or without the light of day.
I must say I felt rather curious as I laid myself down, and as he grasped my head and commenced his work, but I simply felt that all I could do was, as I said to the operator when he was giving me some directions--"All right, I am in the hands of God and you."
The effect of the cocaine was marvellous. After putting his needle into the eye in order to make a stitch to hold it in position, he thrust his knife into it--turned it round and then the darkened lens was brought forth. A little friction of the eyelid on the eyeball, very gently done, finished the operation. The actual work on the eye did not last more than two minutes. Both eyes were then bandaged up with sticking-plaster to prevent any movement whatever; a pad of wadding held in its place, elastic bands round the head completed the business, and I was piloted to bed, and lay down, full of gratitude that the long-looked-for was successfully commenced. I have to spend 48 hours in this entire darkness before the Doctor is to remove the bandage to inspect his work.
In his journal for December 21 we find the dictated entry:
Received a kind message of sympathy from Her Majesty the Queen, reading as follows: "Have felt so much for you, and hope the operation successful, and trust you are getting on towards complete recovery, and that the sight you need so much will soon be completely restored. THE QUEEN."
I replied as follows:
"General Booth thanks Her Majesty for Her gracious sympathy with him in the operation he has found necessary, and for the kind expressions in her telegram. Mr. Higgens has just seen the eye and says that it could not possibly be doing better. The General begs to offer his best wishes for Her Majesty's happiness."
On Christmas Day, her birthday, he telegraphed to Eva Booth in New York:
Love unchanging, increasing, eternal. GENERAL.
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