But I have said enough I trust to show that the problem is not a hopeless one, and that the portion of General Booth’s scheme to which this chapter refers is particularly applicable to India and capable of being successfully put into operation on a scale commensurate with the necessities of the hour.
Having obtained our territory we should proceed to mark it out, and to direct into the most advantageous channels, the inflowing tide of immigration. There would be a threefold division into agricultural districts which would furnish food for the incoming population, a pastoral district for the cattle, and a central market, which would furnish the pivot on which all the rest would work. Our agricultural and dairy farm proposal I have already fully discussed and will now proceed to describe the social City of Refuge which will act as a sort of solar system round which all the minor constellations would revolve.
THE SOCIAL CITY OF REFUGE.
I am tempted again to turn to Hebrew history to find a parallel for what would I believe be easily accomplished at an early period in connection with our “Poor Man’s Paradise.” I refer to what was styled the “City of Refuge.” The object of this institution was to provide a temporary shelter for those who had unintentionally killed any one, so that they might escape from “the avenger of blood.” If on inquiry it could be proved that the death was purely accidental, the fugitive was entitled to claim protection until by the death of the high priest, the blood should have been expiated when he would be free to return to his home and people. If, on the other hand, it were a case of premeditated murder, the city authorities were bound to hand over the fugitive to justice.
The careful provision made by the Hebrew law for the occasional manslayer surely casts a severe reflection on the millions who, many of them through no fault of their own, represent the submerged tenth! Let us leave for the time being the wilful criminals who are the open enemies of society to be dealt with as severely as you like by the arm of the law. Turn for a moment a pitying gaze towards those hungry destitute multitudes, who cannot it may be, plead their own cause, but whose woes surely speak with an eloquence that no mere words could ever match! Why should we not provide them with a City of Refuge, where they will have a chance of regaining their feet? If it be urged that their numbers preclude such a possibility, we would reply that it has already been proved in the previous chapter, that this will in really make our task the more easy. The impetus and enthusiasm created by a movement in mass tends largely to ensure its success.
If on the other hand it be urged that our object is to divert the flow of population from cities to villages, it must be remembered that this does not preclude the creation of new towns and cities, which shall furnish convenient centres and markets for the surrounding villages. It is not a part of General Booth’s scheme to abolish cities, but rather to dispose suitably of their superfluous population. And no doubt in course of time the world will be covered not only with suburban farms and industrial villages, but with cities which for commercial importance and in other respects will rival any that now exist.