I should add, perhaps, that there is a Citadel or gathering hall, which will seat 400, where religious services are held and concerts are given on Saturday nights for the amusement of the Colonists. I may mention that no pressure is brought to bear to force any man in its charge to conform to the religious principles of the Army. Indeed, many of these attend the services at the neighbouring parish church. Notwithstanding the past characters of those who live there, disturbances of any sort are unknown at Hadleigh. Indeed, it is extremely rare for a case originating on the Colony to come before the local magistrates.
General Booth and his Officers are, as I know from various conversations with them, firmly convinced that many of the great and patent evils of our civilization result from the desertion of the land by its inhabitants, and that crowding into cities which is one of the most marked phenomena of our time. Indeed, it was an identity of view upon this point, which is one that I have advanced for years, that first brought me into contact with the Salvation Army. But to preach the advantages of bringing people back to the land is one thing, and to get them there quite another. Many obstacles stand in the way. I need only mention two of these: the necessity for large capital and the still more important necessity of enabling those who are settled on it to earn out of Mother Earth a sufficient living for themselves and their families.
That well-known philanthropist, the late Mr. Herring, was another person much impressed with the importance of this matter, and I remember about five years ago dining with him, with General Booth as my fellow-guest, on an occasion when all this subject was gone into in detail. So lively, indeed, was Mr. Herring’s interest that he offered to advance a sum of L100,000 to the Army, to be used in an experiment of land-settlement, carried out under its auspices. Should that experiment prove successful, the capital repaid by the tenants was to go to King Edward’s Hospital Fund, and should it fail, that capital was to be written off. Of this L100,000, L40,000 has now been invested in the Boxted venture, and if this succeeds, I understand that the balance will become available for other ventures under the provisions of Mr. Herring’s will. A long while must elapse, however, before the result of the experiment can be definitely ascertained.
The Boxted Settlement is situated In North Essex, about three miles from Colchester, and covers an area of 400 acres. It is a flat place, that before the Enclosures Acts was a heath, with good road frontages throughout, an important point where small-holdings are concerned. The soil is a medium loam over gravel, neither very good nor very bad, so far as my judgment goes, and of course capable of great improvement under intensive culture.