22 JULY 1882, Page 12



SIR,—I have read your article on the Salvation Army in this week's Spectator with much interest and very general agree- ment. It recognises at least a possible, perhaps an actual,

good. It sounds, as Canon Farrar has done, a warning note against an evil that is perilously near.

'If I were to venture on any criticism of that with which, on the whole, I agree, it would be that both you and Canon Farrar seem to me to have written as spectators from a distance, caught naturally by the more glaring and offensive features, and have accordingly judged of the Army as though it presented nothing but a " rowdy " form of Calvinistic Evangelicalism. You have not, so far as I can judge, attended a Salvation " free-and-easy," or read their hymn-book and other graver publications, or endeavoured to learn from one of themselves what their life has been. From the point of view gained by that measure of knowledge, I venture to say a few words in arrest of judgment.

1. The hymn-book of the Army is very far from being a collection of "wild hymns" only. Nearly all the established favourites that we find in every collection aro to be found there also,—" Rock of Ages," " Jean, lover of my soul," and a hundred others, including even "Hark, the herald angels sing." It will be admitted, I think, that these must tend to the refine- ment of rowdyism. Even " fountains of blood " may claim a respectable place in the traditions of hymnology, from the Apocalypse downwards.

2. At the " free-and-easy " at which I was present, simply as an observer, there was nothing in itself irreverent or offen- sive. Interjectional Hallelujahs and Amens were, at first, startling, and one is not accustomed to waving of hands and handkerchiefs while people are singing hymns. That piece of " rowdy " ritual is, however, at times tolerated when a crowd, more or less respectable, joins in " God save the Queen."

3. The War Cry is, I own, not pleasant reading ; but even here, there are oases in the wilderness. And as we read it, we have to remember that it is written largely by and for those whose Sunday reading was before confined to some "penny dread- ful," or the Police News, and the change is not altogether for the worse. I take it that the War Cry is an instance of that deli- berate "adaptation of methods" of which Mrs. Booth writes, in her singularly interesting and suggestive volume on " Aggres- sive Christianity." I do not agree with all that that volume contains, and I question the fitness of some of the methods thus adopted ; but I think that it is premature for any one to pro- nounce a judgment on the Army, till he has studied what is an authoritative exposition of its main principles.

4. I wrote to one of the " captains " whom I heard at the " free-and-easy," asking him to tell me freely the story of his life. Tie met my request frankly and courteously, in a letter which no one could read. without respectful interest. It lies in the nature of the case, that I cannot so far quote from the letter as to make identification possible, and much of it naturally speaks of that which you, least of all, would wish to see in the columns of a newspaper. But I may give, perhaps, one or two extracts, as indications of its general character :—

" I heard the doctrine of holiness set forth by them [the Army]. I weighed it well over in my heart, and saw very clearly I did not love God with all my heart., soul, mind, and strength, and my neighbour as myself ; and felt confident, from what I saw in some of the workmen who were Salvation Army soldiers, whom I had known before their conversion, that they were happier than I, and had something that I had not I felt God required my all I was willing to go any- where for him, and was willing to forsake all, to be anything or nothing for his sake only I believe our soldiers practice what they preach. I see them in their homes, in the .atreets, and cannot doubt their genuineness I believe one of the Army's strongest points is godly living being in our homes and in the homes of the people what we are on our platforms, being in secret what we are in public."

I feel, of course, that a single instance is not an adequate basis for an induction, and my correspondent does not appear to have ever been among the class of " roughs ;" but as far as it goes, it will be admitted, I think, that the influence of such a man upon the " roughs " and "rowdies " would be for good, and not for evil.

I have not shrunk from pointing out elsewhere to the leaders of the Army what seem to me serious defects and very threaten- ing dangers ; I feel all the more bound not to keep back what- ever has come under my observation that suggests a more favourable judgment.—I am, Sir, &c., Deanery, Wells, Somerset, July 16th. E. H. PLUMPTRE.