Darkest England Scheme (1890)

Collected Essays IX


[312] In referring to the course of action adopted by "General" Booth and Mr. Bramwell Booth in respect of their legal obligations to other persons, or to the criminal and civil law, I have been as careful as I was bound to be, to put any difficulties suggested by mere lay commonsense in an interrogative or merely doubtful form; and to confine myself, for any positive expressions, to citations from published declarations of the judges before whom the acts of "General" Booth came; from reports of the Law Courts; and from the deliberate opinions of legal experts. I have now some further remarks to make on these topics.

I. The observations at p. 305 express, with due reserve, the impression which the counsel's opinions, quoted by "General" Booth's solicitors, made on my mind. They were written and sent to the printer before I saw the letter from a "Barrister not Practising on the Common Law Side," and those from Messrs. Clarke and Calkin and Mr. George Kebbell, which appeared in the "Times" of February 3rd and 4th.

These letters fully bear out the conclusion which I had formed, but which it would have [313] been presumptuous on my part to express, that the opinions cited by "General" Booth's solicitors were like the famous broken tea-cups "wisely ranged for show"; and that, as Messrs. Clarke and Calkin say, they "do not at all meet the main points on which Mr. Hatton advised." I do not think that any one who reads attentively the able letter of "A Barrister not Practicing on the Common Law Side" will arrive at any other conclusion; or who will not share the very natural desire of Mr. Kebbell to be provided with clear and intelligible answers to the following inquiries:–

(1) Does the trust deed by its operation empower any one legally to call upon Mr. Booth to account for the application of the funds?

(2) In the event of the funds not being properly accounted for, is any one, and, if so, who, in a position to institute civil or criminal proceedings against any one, and whom, in respect of such refusal or neglect to account?

(3) In the event of the proceedings, civil or criminal, failing to obtain restitution of misapplied funds, is or are any other person or persons liable to make good the loss?

On December 24th, 1890, a letter of mine appeared in the "Times" (No. V. above) in which I put questions of the same import, and asked Mr. Booth if he would not be so good as to take counsel's opinion on the "trusts" of which so [314] much has been heard and so little seen, not as they stood in 1878, or in 1888, but as they stand now? Six weeks have elapsed, and I wait for a reply.

It is true that Dr. Greenwood has been authorized by Mr. Booth to publish what he calls a "Rough outline of the intended Trust Deed" ("General Booth and His Critics," p. 120), but unfortunately we are especially told that it "does not profess to be an absolutely accurate analysis." Under these circumstances I am afraid that neither lawyers nor laymen of moderate intelligence will pay much attention to the assertion, that "it gives a fair idea of the general effect of the draft," even although "the words in quotation marks are taken from it verbatim."

These words, which I give in italics, (1) define the purposes of the scheme to be "for the social and moral regeneration and improvement of persons needy, destitute, degraded, or criminal, in some manner indicated, implied, or suggested in the book called 'In Darkest England." Whence I apprehend that, if the whole funds collected are applied to "mothering society" by the help of speculative attorney "tribunes of the people," the purposes of the trust will be unassailably fulfilled. (2) The name is to be "Darkest England Scheme," (3) the General of the Salvation Army is to be "Director of the Scheme." Truly valuable information all this! But taking it for what it is worth, [315] the public must not be misled into supposing that it has the least bearing upon the questions to which neither I, nor anybody else, has yet been able to obtain an intelligible answer, and that is, where are the vast funds which have been obtained, in one way or another, during the last dozen years in the name of the Salvation Army? Where is the presumably amended Trust Deed of 1888? I ask once more: Will Mr. Booth submit to competent and impartial legal scrutiny the arrangements by which he and his successors are prevented from dealing with the funds of the so-called "army chest" exactly as he or they may please?

II. With respect to the "Eagle" case, I am advised that Dr. Greenwood, whose good faith I do not question, has been misled into misrepresenting it in the appendix to his pamphlet. And certainly, the evidence of authoritative records which I have had the opportunity of perusing, appears to my non-legal mind to be utterly at variance with the statement to which Dr. Greenwood stands committed. I may observe, further, that the excuse alleged on behalf of Mr. Booth, that he signed the affidavit set before him by his solicitors without duly considering its contents, is one which I should not like to have put forward were the case my own. It may be, and often is, necessary for a person to sign an affidavit without [316] being able fully to appreciate the technical language in which it is couched. But his solicitor will always instruct him as to the effect of these terms. And, in this particular case where the whole matter turns on Mr. Booth's personal intentions, it was his plainest duty to inquire, very seriously, whether the legal phraseology employed would convey neither more nor less than such intentions to those who would act on the affidavit, before he put his name to it.

III. With respect to Mr. Bramwell Booth's case, I refer the reader to p. 311.

IV. As to Mr. Booth-Clibborn's misrepresentations, see above, pp. 298, 299.

This much for the legal questions which have been raised by various persons since the first edition of the pamphlet was published.


So far as I am concerned, there is little or nothing in this brochure beyond a reproduction of the vituperative stuff which has been going the round of those newspapers which favour "General" Booth for some weeks. Those who do not want to see the real worth of it all will not read the [317] preceding pages; and those who do will need no help from me.

I fear, however, that in justice to other people I must put one of Dr. Greenwood's paragraphs in the pillory. He says that I have "built up, on the flimsy foundation of stories told by three or four deserters from the Army" (p. 114), a sweeping indictment against General Booth. This is the sort of thing to which I am well accustomed at the hands of anonymous newspaper writers. But in view of the following easily verifiable statements, I do not think that an educated and, I have no doubt, highly respectable gentleman like Dr. Greenwood can, in cold blood, contemplate that assertion with satisfaction.

The persons here alluded to as "three or four deserters from the army" are:–

(1) Mr. Redstone, for whose character Dr. Cunningham Geikie is guarantee, and whom it has been left to Dr. Greenwood to attempt to besmirch.

(2) Mr. Sumner, who is a gentleman quite as worthy of respect as Dr. Greenwood, and whose published evidence not one of the champions of the Salvation Army has yet ventured to impugn.

(3) Mr. Hodges, similarly libelled by that unhappy meddler Mr. Trotter, who was compelled to the prompt confession of his error (see p. 277).

(4) Notwithstanding this evidence of Mr. Trotter's claims to attention, Dr. Greenwood quotes a statement of his as evidence that a statement quoted by me from Mr. Sumner's work is a "forgery." But Dr. Greenwood [318] unfortunately forgets to mention that on the 27th of December 1890 (Letter No. VII. above) Mr. Trotter was publicly required to produce proof of his assertion; and that he has not thought fit to produce that proof.

If I were disposed to use to Dr. Greenwood language of the sort he so freely employs to me, I think that he could not complain of a handsome scolding. For what is the real state of the case? Simply this–that having come to the conclusion, from the perusal of "In Darkest England," that "General" Booth's colossal scheme (as apart from the local action of Salvationists) was bad in principle and must produce certain evil consequences, and having warned the public to that effect, I quite unexpectedly found my hands full of evidence that the exact evils predicted had, in fact, already shown themselves on a great scale; and, carefully warning the public to criticize this evidence, I produced a small part of it. When Dr. Greenwood talks about my want of "regard to the opinion of the nine thousand odd who still remain among the faithful" (p. 114), he commits an imprudence. He would obviously be surprised to learn the extent of the support, encouragement, and information which I have received from active and sincere members of the Salvation [319] Army–but of which I can make no use, because of the terroristic discipline and systematic espionage which my correspondents tell me is enforced by its chief. Some of these days, when nobody can be damaged by their use, a curious light may be thrown upon the inner workings of the organization which we are bidden to regard as a happy family, by these documents.

Preface and Table of Contents to Volume IX, Evolution & Ethics and Other Essays, of Huxley's Collected Essays.

Next part of this article, Social Diseases and Worse Remidies: The Articles of War of the Salvation Army, pages 321-334.

Previous part of this article: Letters to the Times, pages 237-311.



1.   THH Publications
2.   Victorian Commentary
3.   20th Century Commentary

1.   Letter Index
2.   Illustration Index

Gratitude and Permissions

C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University

§ 1. THH: His Mark
§ 2. Voyage of the Rattlesnake
§ 3. A Sort of Firm
§ 4. Darwin's Bulldog
§ 5. Hidden Bond: Evolution
§ 6. Frankensteinosaurus
§ 7. Bobbing Angels: Human Evolution
§ 8. Matter of Life: Protoplasm
§ 9. Medusa
§ 10. Liberal Education
§ 11. Scientific Education
§ 12. Unity in Diversity
§ 13. Agnosticism
§ 14. New Reformation
§ 15. Verbal Delusions: The Bible
§ 16. Miltonic Hypothesis: Genesis
§ 17. Extremely Wonderful Events: Resurrection and Demons
§ 18. Emancipation: Gender and Race
§ 19. Aryans et al.: Ethnology
§ 20. The Good of Mankind
§ 21.  Jungle Versus Garden