Oct19ThuRetrospective #34 October 19, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
In 1907, one hundred and ten years ago, General William Booth would pay his last visit to Canada. Numerous special events occurred from East to West during that trip.
Canadian authors General Arnold Brown’s WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT (The History of The Salvation Army in Canada ) first edition 1952, second impression 1957 and R. G. Moyles’ WILLIAM BOOTH IN CANADA (Descriptions of his six visits 1886-1907) written in 2006 contain valuable facts about that time as does Arch Wiggens’ THE HISTORY OF THE SALVATION ARMY, Volume Five, published in 1968 and Harold Begbie’s THE LIFE OF GENERAL WILLIAM BOOTH, Volume 2, 1920.
Moyles writes: "In 1907, during both visits to Canada, William Booth was an honoured guest. Ordinary people flocked to his meetings, public officials attended his functions, important people offered their homes as his billets and many groups sought him as a speaker, for two reasons: first, they felt that this might be the last time they would see and hear the venerable old man; and, second, most people, even his officers, were now regarding Booth as a figurehead. Not in the usual sense, a nominal leader, but as the visible symbol of Salvation Army enterprise. Harold Begbie observed, with regard to Booths motor-car tours, that : “People everywhere regarded him with great affection and very great indulgence, hailing him rather as the veteran returned from far-off and almost forgotten battles, then as a conquering knight, setting forth on a new crusade. The crowds which greeted him everywhere seemed to me rather to be taking their farewell of him than giving him a welcome.”
While each of the above share their individual perspectives on this visit adding certain additional elements not necessarily covered by the others – all of them have the following story in common which I will now share with you taken from Brown:
In Ottawa he was accommodated at the regal residence by His Excellency the Governor General, Earl Gray. In Begbie’s THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BOOTH there is related the following incident as told by one of Earl Gray’s daughters:
“General Booth kept to his own apartments, as a general rule, but on the evening before his departure, while they were in the midst of a great dinner-party, one of the members of his Staff came in to announce that the General wished to bid goodbye to his host and hostess. After he had shaken hands with my father and mother, the General suddenly announced that he was going to pray and then and there we all had to get up and kneel down at our chairs, while flunkeys in scarlet stood with dishes in their hands like so many statues looking down at us. I am afraid a great many people, overcome by the oddity of the situation, had to put their handkerchiefs to their mouths; but no sooner had we got up from our knees, the ladies in their silks and diamonds, and the men in their uniforms and Orders, then my father exclaimed with the greatest enthusiasm and with immense earnestness: ‘Wasn’t that a beautiful prayer? I think that was the most beautiful prayer I ever listened to.’ ”
From Moyles: “…William Booth was received as one of the world’s great statesmen. Listen, for example, to how the Saint John Telegraph describes him, under the headline “General Booth: One of the Greatest Men of All Time”:
"The great captain who begins his American tour in this city today has confounded all the prophets who sought to measure his force and his mission when both were new to the world. He began seemingly poor, but really rich through his high purpose, his great constructive ability and his dauntless courage. The ill-will and the laughter of the slums, even actual violence, did not suffice to discourage him. The contempt of the upper classes and the coldness of the churches but intensified his determination to perfect a far-reaching organization for the amelioration of humanity…
Nearing eighty, and wearing the majesty of great age, coupled with great achievement, General Booth today ranks among the great men of his time. In point of actual usefulness to the world he has few peers. He is unique…"
Regarding William Booth - The Salvation Army Year Book, 2017 says:
“The founder of The Salvation Army and its first General was born in Nottingham 10 April and Promoted to Glory from Hadley Wood on 20 August 1912. He lived to establish Salvation Army work in 58 countries and colonies and traveled extensively, holding salvation meetings. In his later years he was received in audience by emperors, kings and presidents…”
Thank God for William Booth!
Fire a volley!