As I have mentioned, however, a proportion of the cases are quite irreclaimable. They come and consult the Army, then depart and do the deed. Six that can be traced have been lost in this way during the last few months.
Colonel Unsworth explained to me what I had already guessed, that this business of dealing with scores and hundreds of despairing beings standing on the very edge of the grave, is a terrible strain upon any man. The responsibility becomes too great, and he who has to bear it is apt to be crushed beneath its weight. Every morning he reads his paper with a sensation of nervous dread, fearing lest among the police news he should find a brief account of the discovery of some corpse which he can identify as that of an individual with whom he had pleaded at his office on the yesterday and in vain.
On former occasions when I visited him, Colonel Unsworth used to show me a small museum of poisons, knives, revolvers, etc., which he had taken from those who proposed to use them to cut the Gordian knot of life.
Now, however, he has but few of these dreadful relics. I asked him what he had done with the rest. He answered that he had destroyed them.
‘The truth is,’ he added, ’that after some years of this business I can no longer bear to look at the horrid things; they get upon my nerves.’
If I may venture to offer a word of advice to the Chiefs of the Salvation Army, I would suggest that the very responsible position of first Anti-Suicide Officer in London is not one that any man should be asked to fill in perpetuity.
When planning this little book I had it in my mind to deal at some length with the Provincial Social Work of the Army, Now I find, however, that considerations of space must be taken into account; also that it is not needful to set out all the details of that work, seeing that to do so would involve a great deal of repetition.
The Salvation Army machines for the regeneration of fallen men and women, if I may so describe them, are, after all, of much the same design, and vary for the most part only in the matter of size. The material that goes through those machines is, it is true, different, yet even its infinite variety, if considered in the mass, has a certain similitude. For these reasons, therefore, I will only speak of what is done by the Army in three of the great Midland and Northern cities that I have visited, namely, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow, and of that but briefly, although my notes concerning it run to over 100 typed pages.