One turns out of the respectable streets where the children are playing cricket, cherry-bobs, hopscotch, hoops, and cards, and suddenly finds himself in streets miserable and evil beyond description.
These are streets of once decent two-storied villas, now lodging- houses. The very atmosphere is different. One is conscious first of dejection, then of some hideous and abysmal degradation. It is not only the people who make this impression on one's mind, but the houses themselves. Dear God, the very houses seem accursed! The bricks are crusted, and in a dull fashion shiny with grime; the doors, window-frames, and railings are dark with dirt only disturbed by fresh accretions; the flights of steps leading up to the front doors, under their foul porches, are worn, broken, and greasy; the doors and windows in the reeking basements have been smashed up in nearly every case for firewood. Here and there a rod is missing from the iron railings -- it has been twisted out and used as a weapon.
In these streets on a summer evening you find the flight of steps occupied by the lodgers, and the pavements and road-ways swarming with their children. The men are thieves, begging-letter writers, pickpockets, bookmakers' touts, totters (rag and bone men), and trouncers (men paid by costermongers to shout their wares), and bullies. The women add to their common degradation -- which may be imagined -- the art of the pickpocket, the beggar, the shoplifter, and the bully....
If you could see these bareheaded women, with their hanging hair, their ferocious eyes, their brutal mouths; if you could see them there, half dressed, and that in a draggle-tailed slovenliness incomparably horrible; and if you could hear their appalling language loading their hoarse voices, and from their phrases receive into your mind some impression of their modes of thought, you would say that human nature in the earliest and most barbarous of its evolutionary changes had never, could never, have been like this.
Concerning the men, one thing only need be said.... There was cunning in their faces, there was every expression of ... underhand craft, but they looked and lowered their eyes.... They seemed to me 'consciously wrong, inferior, and unhappy.'
But more than by anything concerning the men and women of this neighbourhood, one is impressed by the swarm of dreggy children playing their poor little pavement games in the shadow of these lodging-houses. Some -- can it be believed? -- are decently clothed and look as if they are sometimes washed.... The mass of these children, above five or six years of age, are terribly neglected. I have never seen children more dirty, more foully clothed, more dejected looking.... I saw many children with sores and boils; I saw some children whose eyes looked out at me from a face that was nothing but a scab.
A mortuary chapel has had to be built for this neighbourhood. The rooms of the houses are so crowded that directly a person dies the body must be moved.
Mr. Begbie now introduces Kate Lee: --
Into these streets come day after day, and every Sunday, the little, vigorous corps of The Salvation Army, stationed in this quarter of London. The Adjutant of the corps some years ago was a beautiful and delicate girl. She prayed at the bedside of dying men and women in these lodging-houses. She taught children to pray. She went into public-houses and persuaded the violent blackguards of the town to come away; she pleaded with the most desperate women at street corners; she preached in the open streets on Sundays; she stood guard over the doors of men, mad for drink, and refused to let them out.
On one occasion this little woman was walking home through evil streets after midnight, when a drunken man asked her if he might travel by her side. After going some way the man said, 'No, you aren't afraid,' and then he mumbled to himself, 'Never insults the likes of you, because you cares for the likes of us.'
It is to the work of this wonderful woman -- so gracious, so modest, and so sweet -- that one may trace the miracles whose histories are contained in the following pages. The energy, resolution, and splendid cheerfulness of the present corps, some of them her own converts, may likewise be traced through her influence. She has left in these foul streets the fragrance of her personality, a fragrance of the lilies of a pure soul. 'Ah,' exclaims an old jail- bird, showing me the photograph of this woman, 'If anybody goes to Heaven, it will be that there little Angel of God.' They call her the 'Angel Adjutant.'
We see the Angel Adjutant again in the book, visiting the 'Puncher' at his work; braving the abominations of 'O.B.D.'s' den, as she made friends with that sodden drink slave and his wife, piloting him to the hall and mothering the first signs of grace in his stupefied soul. We see her mothering the 'Criminal,' weeping over the fall of 'Rags and Bones,' endeavouring to hold the 'Failure' to his moral and spiritual obligations, and, despite his falls, refusing to give him up.
'That man, Mr. Begbie, is wonderful. He's got those men's very images on paper,' says one of Kate Lee's converts, referring to the 'Twice Born Men' characters. None the less truly did he get Kate Lee's photograph on paper, and sent it round the world for all to see, and for thinking people to admire, to wonder over, to praise and give thanks for.
'Twice Born Men' was a great success. Its first edition was immediately absorbed, while its present edition is the twenty-seventh, and its English circulation has reached over a quarter of a million copies. It has had, likewise, an enormous sale in the United States and Canada. It has been translated into French, German, and Swedish.
Few books of its time appealed to so widely differing minds and classes. The professor of psychology, the theologian, the prize-fighter, Christian mother, the school-boy, in common interest bent their heads over its pages. The Press discussed it from many aspects in a chorus of favour.
'The Angel Adjutant' became an entity whom people all over the world desired to know. After she had been thus discovered to the world, wherever she went she was received with honour. Churches besieged her with invitations to occupy their pulpits. Civic authorities paid deference to this spiritual and moral specialist.
How did the glare of the limelight affect Kate Lee? A comrade who knew more of her inner life than almost any other, lets in a sidelight upon her association with 'Twice Born Men.' Her experiences in connexion with the book were not entirely sweet. She felt the sting of jealousy, that hurtful thing which, while uncleansed human nature is what it is, will continue to inflict wounds upon those chosen for honour, but Kate Lee bore it with meekness and in silence. 'It is not easy to bear success,' she said on this subject. 'When I have been lifted up, it has meant a cross rather than a throne for me.'
It is not easy for a noble soul to bear a representative honour, unless it is patent to all that it is representative and not personal. No one realized more fully than Kate Lee that other women officers had worked and are working amongst the masses just as she worked, actuated by the same spirit as moved her, and achieving the same results as those in which she rejoiced. She would rather that another than herself had been thrown upon the world's screen to illustrate the work. A few weeks before she died, she spoke of this to her old friend, Brigadier Elizabeth Thomas, adding, 'Whenever "Twice Born Men" is mentioned, I want to run and hide my head.' But while she felt all this, her keen sense of true values withheld her from putting a trumpet to her lips and declaring it. Rather, with that Christlike modesty and dignity that characterized all her public service, she entered every door that publicity opened to her and gave her message. She occupied many important pulpits, filling great churches with interested and sympathetic congregations.
As ever she was about her Father's business. Far from attracting attention to herself, she brushed aside preliminaries, and got directly to her subject. For the title of her lecture, she did not always choose 'The Terrible Ten' or 'Modern Miracles' or 'Twice Born Men'; sometimes she gave a plain Salvation address, or a simple call to professing Christians to live the life of Christ. One lady who heard her, tells how on one occasion she held a great congregation in the hollow of her hand. Tears had flowed; heads were shaking in depreciation or nodding approvingly, as she pictured the sorrows and the sins of the poor, and God's power to save them to the uttermost. Then she 'turned her guns' upon her hearers. How did they stand before God in relation to sin? 'Society is often a cloak for sin that is terribly present in the heart. The law deals with sin that is found out: God deals with it as it is in the soul. You and I are each going to the bar of God to be judged as we are. How is it with your soul?'
A strange silence came upon that select audience, as the people pondered straighter and more personal questions than they were accustomed to hear addressed to them.
A lieutenant tells of a railroad incident, which reveals how truly Kate Lee loved to be unknown, and how she would screen herself from praise, when to accept it could serve no definite end. She says: --
We were returning from some Councils, and a clergyman got into our compartment. He was very friendly, and in conversation we found him enthusiastic over 'Twice Born Men.' He said how he would count it an honour to meet the 'Angel Adjutant,' and express to her his thanks for the help he had received by her example. I felt so proud of her, and wanted to tell the clergyman that the 'Angel Adjutant' was my Captain; but catching a warning glance from her, I had to keep quiet.
A few hours after he heard of Kate Lee's death, Harold Begbie penned the following tribute to her memory: --
There seems to me something in the death of Kate Lee at this moment which has a mystical significance.
The world has just received 'The Life of William Booth,' and is making up its mind what to think of him. His son, Bramwell, with a courage which is part of his religion, allowed the biographer of William Booth to write freely what he believed to be the truth, and the whole truth, of the great Founder of The Salvation Army. There in that book for all men to behold, in the very habit of his daily life, stands William Booth, revivalist, social reformer, colonizer, organizer, husband, father, and man.
And now there ascends into the glory of God one of the most radiant spirits that ever blessed the darkest places of the earth with a light truly from Heaven, little Kate Lee, the Angel Adjutant of Notting Dale; the saint of the worst men that ever lived, the adored angel of souls once as foul and brutal and besotted with iniquity as ever corrupted human life, and but for William Booth she herself might have perished.
I am one of those who cannot think of William Booth as a saint. His wonder for me, and his greatness, lies in the fact that he made saints; this turbulent and tremendous power, this unresting energy, he made saints; that is to say, he made the most beautiful and gentle thing that can exist in human life, the spirit that loves the worst; that descends with joy into the pit of pollution; that is happier there than in the abodes of the sanctified; that is wholly content to be unknown and unheard of; that can save the worst and transfigure the most hideous, and itself remain utterly unspotted by the world.
I was far away in the dales of Yorkshire when I heard of Kate Lee's death. My first feeling was one of gladness, for I loved to know she was beyond the touch of pain. Then I fell into a fit of sorrow. Why had I not made this miracle of William Booth more real in the biography? Is there anything in life so important, or anything at this moment of the world's history that calls so urgently for proclamation, as the miracle of conversion?
Kate Lee seemed to be at my side. I saw the harassed statesmen of the nations attempting to piece together the broken pieces of this war-shattered world, and they seemed to me no greater figures than children playing with the parts of a world which they themselves had taken apart. And Kate Lee seemed to say, 'There is no hope for the world, no hope at all, but the changed heart. Until men love God, they will never love each other. And until they love each other there will be poverty and crime, revolutions and wars.'
Her life goes on in the lives of others. She is immortal here upon earth. For ever and ever some men and women will be better because in her lifetime she made other people good who were bad, happy who were unhappy. But I would that her spirit could penetrate into the whole life of humanity.
How modest she was, how unassuming, and how tranquil! She had seen the most evil depth of the human heart, and yet she believed, with a smile of unclouded gladness, that the human heart is of God. She loved the worst people in the world. She was tender and patient with the most stupid and dull. She never despaired of any soul that looked at her with eyes of hunger. The Pharisee might turn away with disgust, the judge might condemn, science might pronounce the case hopeless; she smiled and waited, waited at the prison door, waited in the pit of abomination, waited at the hard heart. And while she waited she prayed, quietly, and calmly; and while she prayed so great was the love of God in her heart, she smiled. There is no hope for the world until the love that was in Kate Lee is in us. Let every Salvationist assure himself with every day of life that his work lies only with the unhappy, the foul, the horrible, the repulsive. To this end came William Booth preaching in the slums and alleys of great cities, and on this mission of his went Kate Lee with a song in her heart and a smile on her lips.
I never looked into human face so full of the love of God, so shining with love of humanity, as the face of this 'Angel Adjutant.'
During the week of the announcement of Kate Lee's death, her name was upon the lips of millions of people. Newspapers throughout the country published her photograph and told of how she sought the lost. In the saloons around London the topic of conversation was the loveliness of the 'Angel Adjutant.' Almost wherever Salvationists appeared, people sympathized with them in the loss of so brave an officer as Kate Lee.
Beyond the seas, illustrated journals carried the picture of her pure face and the story of her love and devotion to her Saviour and the sinful, and mothers gave thanks for her life and prayed that their daughters might have her spirit.
Her casket was borne through streets lined with thousands of silent, reverent spectators and carried to the grave by men once deep-dyed in sin, now cleansed and ennobled by the Salvation she had proclaimed.
To queens has less honour been shown than to this girl who was born in crowded Hornsey, who lived a life of toil and struggle, and died penniless. Why? Because the human heart, despite its crookedness and failings, recognizes that love is the greatest thing in the world, and pays tribute accordingly.
COMRADES AND FRIENDS
Perhaps no class of people voluntarily work harder or longer hours than Salvationists. When the ordinary worker quits toil for recreation, the Salvationist drops his tools to work at his religion, and for no reward in this life. But for all that, the Salvationist has his compensations. The most precious thing about The Army, he will tell you, is its comradeship.
The uniform of the military means something of fellowship on service, nothing on leave; but the Salvationist is always on service, and the sign of cap, bonnet, or even the small Salvation Army brooch or tri-coloured ribbon, serves as an introduction, which includes a welcome, when Salvationists meet in any clime or country.
The uniform stands for the acceptance of certain convictions, principles, and consecration to one purpose in life, which knows no barrier of nation, colour, nor class. Salvationists are comrades of a single purpose, the bringing of all men to knowledge of God. Mr. Harold Begbie describes this bond of comradeship which he found illustrated in a prayer meeting which he attended amongst Salvationists in India. He writes: --
Those Officers represented many nations. Among them were a Brahmin, a Singalese, Malayali, a Tamil, a German, a Norwegian, a Swede, an Australian, an Englishman, and a Scot. All were praying. The voices of those various nationalities rose into the air as a cry inspired by love for a sinful world, with a compassion and a longing, uttered for the need of a common humanity, and all those separate voices and different words rose in a perfect unity like the prayer of a single family under a father's roof.
Constitutionally Kate Lee was not dependent; she did not know what it was to hunger for society; to pine for a 'yarn'; to ache with desire to discuss with a chum small talk of The Army. The passion of her life swept her beyond such things and the springs of her refreshment ran deep. Her business was to seek and to save that which was lost -- to shepherd the sheep -- and these she sought with a love that never wavered. Nevertheless, fellowship with her comrades was one of her chief joys. She delighted in Officers' Councils where all were bent upon seeking guidance for the furtherance of the Salvation War. Whenever she was thrown into the company of her comrades her heart was at once at leisure from itself, and she sought and found pleasant and profitable point for contact.
She felt herself to be a poor conversationalist, and her success in fellowship lay in drawing out the interests of others. She was a good listener, rather than an entertainer. Humility was one of her greatest charms and she had no hesitation in confessing her limitations. 'I enjoy the fun, but I can't make it; do help me,' she said to a comrade, when once she found herself responsible for guiding the conversation of a party of officers.
Tributes come from comrades of all ranks, from the shy lieutenant, to the veteran commissioner, telling of the sweetness of her communion in comradeship.
But so great was the pressure upon her life, that during any period of respite from her work, she longed, not for change or entertainment, but rest.
One cannot talk with Kate Lee's people without discovering that they regarded her as a person apart from all others. She would drink tea in a hovel with outcasts, or lead a volunteer brigade in scrubbing her halls; handle hammer and nails as a man; collect produce for the harvest festival with a donkey-cart, and perform a hundred and one other 'unladylike' offices. But about her was an atmosphere of intrinsic superiority, that the most untaught felt and appreciated. Amongst the most rough and ready people she is never mentioned with familiarity; but one constantly hears references to 'that heavenly woman,' 'an angel if ever there was one,' and 'that lovely lady'; also mention of 'her private means!'
Incidentally, a pathetic interest attaches to the illusion of 'her private means,' for, except for her small Army allowance, Kate Lee had no private funds. Reserve and independence are characteristics of the Lee family, and are, despite warm affection, observed within their tiny family circle. When the mother joined her Officer daughters in their home, Lucy and Kate realized that if she were aware of the smallness of their allowance, she would feel that a third person could not share it without causing strain, and such knowledge would be a continual sorrow to her. So they never enlightened her, and during the years spent together, they endeavoured, by touching little self-denials, to keep their table and wardrobe as in the home days. So the little mother lived in peace, and died, and never guessed the truth. It was a good training for Kate, and later in life few women could get more value out of money than she. Her uniforms were turned, mended, and worn to the last. Her single indulgence was books, and these were few and well chosen. By dint of the habit of constant watchfulness over her purse, and the blessing of God, her little store became like the widow's cruse of oil, and she gave her tenth and more to the Lord's work. But it was the graciousness with which she gave that made her gifts appear large in the estimation of those who received.
While Kate was received and made much of by high and low alike, she made no pretence of being well born or well educated; nor did she assume airs. She was a perfectly natural woman, who, realizing that she was a daughter of the Heavenly King, sought to rightly represent Him. Nothing rough, mean, nor trivial would become a member of the heavenly household; but joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness -- the graces of the Spirit should be seen in her. And they were. The consciousness of her heavenly relationship also gave her a dignity that held itself graciously in any company, and with gentle, unafraid eyes, she met the gaze of all. Kate believed that if we 'walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with the other,' and from a heart free from selfishness and guile, she looked out upon her neighbours, asking for nothing but to understand and bless them, and be blessed. The hearts of all but those who hate and reject the good, rose to salute her, and called her friend.
Of those who loved her and whom she loved there is no count; but here and there upon the fields where she fought, there are some to whom her soul clave in a particular way.
In and out of the homes of the rich she went, bearing sunshine and gathering gold wherewith to push her campaign; but she had no time to make friendships there. A certain leisureliness is inseparable from the life of the well-to-do; time to talk; to be interested in a variety of subjects; to be amused; time even to eat and rest in correct form. With Kate, life was terribly real. On every side her eyes saw men, women, and little children weighed down with sin and sorrow, and her soul joined in the consecration of the great soul who wrote: --
My every sacred moment spend.
Thus, while many rich friends opened their beautiful homes to her, placed their cars at her disposal, and begged for her company, she passed on her way with a smile that was wholly free from censoriousness. And there may have been another reason. In her nature was a deep love for the beautiful, the harmonious. Maybe she recognized in the good things of life a temptation which she needed to hold at arm's-length, if all her spikenard were to be poured out for her Lord.
In any case, it was to Bethany-like households, where, as a rule, the occupants did their own serving, but were rich in love and in full sympathy with her spirit and purpose, that she tarried to gain strength or refreshment.
One of these friends, Mrs. Taylorson, is a bedridden saint, a remarkable woman in her ninetieth year, of charming countenance, keen, vigorous intellect, great heart and spiritual vision. In the school of affliction and discipline she had sought and found the blessing of Full Salvation, and though a prisoner in her home, her interests are wide, and her influence, by the ministry of prayer, great.
Hearing of Adjutant Lee's arrival in the town, she sent for her, and from their first meeting this aged saint rightly estimated the beauty and greatness of the Adjutant's soul, and felt there was a part she could play in her campaign. Mrs. Taylorson says: --
I realized that my ministry to her was to look after her bodily welfare. I took to my bed whilst she was stationed here: and living quite near to me, she would often slip in for a few moments. Her sweet face would come round the door like a ray of sunshine. She would give me a warm kiss, tell me the latest news -- this case or that problem to pray over -- then she was off again. But I saw to it that my maid always had something nourishing on hand to help that dear, worn body. How my maid loved her! The Adjutant's influence so led her into touch with Christ, that life became changed for her.
Oh, how Kate Lee worked! Far beyond her strength. Often, after her quest for souls, she would pass this house at two o'clock in the morning. When I would remonstrate with her, she would reply, 'Oh, but I had such a case last night.' Then she would relate to me the story. Once, kneeling by my bed, she said, 'Granny, last night I was afraid for the first time. Oh, this place, this place! The sin, the sin is terrible!' And she described to me the horrors of iniquity she had seen in our town.
The transparent hands were tensely clasped; the strong alert features relaxed into contemplation, and my eyes lifted from the face of the aged saint to the wall beside her bed where hung a motto, 'Prayer brings victory.' It was easy to realize how Kate Lee had gathered strength for the fight in that little sanctuary of faith and hope, and love, with the practical addition of a strengthening cup, 'always ready, that the Adjutant might not be hindered.'
Kate met her beloved old friend only once after her term of three years at Sunderland. When leaving London to spend a week there, she received a wire from her old lieutenant, then on duty amongst the troops in France, 'Coming on leave; want to spend week-end with you,' to which she replied, 'Going to Granny's. Come.' It was a happy party that gathered in that old home. The joys of reunion were still fresh, when in the doorway another figure appeared -- Lucy Lee, also home on leave from France. Heaven seemed to come down to earth for those four women. Three from the rush of the battle, bubbling over with stories of the Holy War, the fourth -- her faculties fresh as those of the youngest -- delighting to linger on the brink of eternity, that she might hold up the hands of these, her adopted daughters in battles for God and souls.
Perched on the crest of a hill overlooking a seashore town, is a tiny cottage -- two rooms up and two down. There are flowers in the windows and garden, and within, simplicity and sweet homeliness. The dwellers there are an old pensioner and his daughter. The daughter, a semi-invalid, keeps house. Her face is calm as a lake resting in the sunshine; her eyes blue as the sky on a spring day, and her voice musical and soothing as rippling water. Almost twenty years ago, Kate Lee conducted a battle for souls in the little town nestling below the hill. The suffering woman listened to her call to arms, at first from a distance. By degrees the full meaning of the officer's life dawned upon her; she knew she could never be a leader; but she could, perhaps, be an armour-bearer; so she came nearer, and nearer, till she took a place at Captain Kate's side, ready to perform any service possible.
A sufferer who triumphed had a peculiar charm for Kate Lee. This woman, caught in the furnace of affliction, had yielded herself to the fire, and found the Son of God keep company with her there, and she grew like Him.
When nerves were tingling, and body and soul were weary with sins and sorrows of the world, to no place did Kate turn her steps more readily than to the tiny house on the hill.
'Why can you love to come here? I have so little to offer you. Rich people would love to have you, and give you what I cannot,' said her friend.
'And you can and do give me what no money in the world could buy: understanding, and love, and rest.'
On a sunny day, Kate would take a rug and a cushion, a book or some sewing, and her friend would accompany her to a little knoll, a stone's throw from the house, which commanded a sea view for many miles. And there, mostly in silence, she would sit, and sun and rest for a day or two, and then hie back to the fight.
A mother with a child in an invalid chair, followed The Army march many a Sunday night during one summer. The band charmed the child, the sweet face of the officer soothed and strengthened the mother. One night, mother and child ventured into the meeting. At the conclusion of the first service, Adjutant Lee was shaking hands with the people as they left the hall, and urging them to return, and she beamed on the mother and child, and later, visited their home. A typical home of millions of working people, but true love reigned there, and made it a more pleasant place than many a mansion. The mother had spinal disease and her child seemed to have been born only to die. Doctor and friends had striven in vain to unlock the bands of mother love, and let the little suffering life escape, but the mother refused. If love and ceaseless care could make a child live, he should live. Mother and child nestled under the protection of a great, loving husband and father. The coming of the Adjutant to that home was like the visit of an angel; but she gathered as she gave, for the soothing atmosphere of those tiny rooms fell upon her spirit like dew. As well as love there was music. The father sat at the organ, and as he played and sang, his strong, tender spirit seemed to ring through the hymns. 'Just one verse!' the Adjutant would say, as she dropped in to give five minutes' cheer.
The Adjutant lay ill in her quarters. Bronchitis had, as usual, laid her low during a foggy week. She had sent her lieutenant out on a round of work, and, feverish and weak, gave herself up to rest. There was a movement on the stairs and a face appeared at the bedroom door. It was little invalid mother. 'How did you get here?' the Adjutant asked. 'Through a window, and you'll not talk. Just eat this bit of steamed fish.' Every day, until the Adjutant was able to be about her Master's business again, the little woman ministered to her with tender, joyful love.
'Would you mind letting me look at your back?' she asked the little mother, when she had come to be regarded as the dearest friend of the small family. She looked, and her eyes filled with tears. For a woman with such a back, to work, as this mother worked, to watch and wait and refuse to give up hope for love of her child, this was love indeed. Kate Lee would love sin-sick souls in this way. 'Thank you,' she said simply, 'you have inspired me.' During her stay the little boy, then six years of age, definitely yielded his heart and life to the Saviour. When he was fourteen he begged to be allowed to join The Army Young People's Band. 'Impossible,' said the doctor. 'But, doctor, you know how he has lived in spite of many contrary opinions, and we wish him to devote his life to The Army,' pleaded the mother. A tall lad with purposeful face, playing in an Army band, is a joy to his Salvationist parents who carry in their hearts the faith of Kate Lee, that one day their son shall be an Army Officer.
Such were a very few of the friends of Kate Lee. Many, because of their great love for her, and conscious of her love for them, will, perhaps, feel a touch of disappointment that they are not included in the number, but the pages of our book will not stretch. As I think of them all, as I have seen them in their homes, and know of the many I have not been able to meet -- I am reminded of strangely similiar company, fishermen, clerks, and a company of humble, holy women who ministered to Kate Lee's Lord and Master in the days of His flesh.