11 December 1888
There can be little doubt that, as the winter grows upon us, the bitter cry of outcast London will be as loud, as keen, as persistent this season as it has been at all. No substantial improvement has taken place in the condition of the destitute population of the Metropolis since last winter. Indeed, there is every probability that these sufferers will, in many instances, be worse off than they were a year ago, in consequence of the disastrous hopping season through which they had to pass. Those who, in former years, have been able to put a little on one side to help them and their families through the long and dreary winter, have not had that opportunity this year, and the result will be an increase in the bulk of poverty in our midst. That some special effort will have to be made to meet this emergency goes without saying; but that the means of alleviation should be placed in the hands of General Booth and his noisy host is quite another matter. The "boss" of the Salvation Army has never shown any embarrassment through excessive modesty, especially when the tapping of the pockets of the public happened to be the question of the hour, which, by the way, it generally has been. But his latest proposal knocks all his other performances in this direction into the shade. He has presented a memorial to the Home Secretary, in which he coolly proposes that the Government should aid the Salvation Army in what it is pleased to call its rescue work, and in the provision of food and shelter depots, by a grant of £15,000. Mr. Matthews has, of course, promised the matter his careful attention, but he is hardly likely to place such a nice little plum in the General's mouth on the off chance of its being properly distributed. There are other institutions for the relief of the destitute than the Salvation Army, and until it can be proved to the public satisfaction that these agencies have failed, there is no possible excuse for appointing such a man as General Booth almoner of the Government bounty. If he took the public a little more into his confidence as to the fairness of his own fanatical organisation, the opposition of this last and coolest of his many demands would, possibly, be less strenuous, though equally well founded. As things stand it will not do at any price.