Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/424

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THE General of the Salvation Army has, without intending it, rendered a very considerable service to society by provoking just the kind of discussion that was most wanted at the present time in regard to the best means of combating the poverty which seems ever to dog the steps of civilization. The "General" was perfectly confident that, if the public would only supply him with sufficient money, he could grapple with the problem as far as the city of London was concerned. His confidence in himself begot confidence in him on the part of others, and sufficient money has been placed in his hands to enable him to set about working out his experiment. But, while a portion of the public has thus proved responsive, another portion has sought to know something more about the "General's" schemes and methods before deciding on giving him support. Every one is probably aware of the position taken up by Prof. Huxley in reference to this matter. Having been consulted by a friend as to whether he would advise the giving of a large sum of money to the "General's" fund, he frankly stated, in a letter to the London Times, that the methods of the Salvation Army did not inspire him with confidence. What he saw was a vast organization centering round Mr. Booth, and obeying his commands with a submission almost as absolute as that rendered by a monk to the head of his order. In Prof. Huxley's opinion the world has seen enough of this kind of thing, and has had sufficient experience of the corruption that such personally-governed corporations naturally undergo. His conclusion, therefore, is that it would not be wise on the part of any one who does not fully believe in Mr. Booth as a spiritual leader and teacher to devote money to a scheme the main result of which would certainly be to increase that individual's personal influence. The objections thus taken on general grounds were found to be fully justified by the special facts which further inquiry revealed. The methods of the "army" were found to be such as an absolute autocracy might be expected to develop. Under such a system policy becomes paramount, and moral principles, if they conflict with policy, must fare as best they may. As Prof. Huxley's letters to the Times have lately been republished in this country, we should recommend those who are interested in the question as to the expediency of trusting to Mr. Booth's army to undertake social work, and of furnishing it with funds for the purpose, to study that question for themselves in the light of the facts which Prof. Huxley brings forward.

Meantime, we protest on broad scientific grounds against the idea of intrusting social work to any organization the methods and principles of which are not open to the fullest criticism, or to one the operations of which are under the absolute control of a single will. Mr. Booth professes that his main object is to save souls. The saving of souls is, in his opinion, bound up with the adoption of a certain theological creed. He really aims, while satisfying material wants, at extending the sway of his own ideas and beliefs. He wants to transform society into a salvation army, and he asks for money to enable him to carry on the work directly and indirectly. Let those assist who believe that it is well for the world that Mr. Booth's ideas should be more widely spread among mankind; but we do not see with what consistency men who hold