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 waiting with the audience. It pours with rain, 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 three.
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 history 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.
No account of the Salvation Army 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 addresses.
[Illustration: MR. BRAMWELL BOOTH, Chief of the Staff.]
In appearance at his present age of something 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 commands 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 word.