Combating the Cosmos
OF COURSE THE HATE MAIL started arriving. He was 'the Infidel and enemy of mankind' whose depraved writings 'are of the devil'. 1 And the Salvation Army was marching out to meet him.
The Army was led by another General. 'General' Booth's Army had a massive military field structure by 1890, with 9,400 officers commanding 1,375 corps and three-quarters of a million recruits. Having spent his later life studying the origins of sects, Huxley found one springing up under his nose: 'a new Ranter-Socialist sect', whose spine-tingling trombone parades and hymn-singing corybantism was so much 'sanctified buffoonery'. The two autocratic Generals, sharing so much and so little, prepared to do battle for the imperial spoils of the hinterland, the souls of the dispossessed. Their armies stood poised, their rival flags of Spiritual Democracy and Technocratic Professionalism fluttering, the one with its street carnivals, the other with its Darwinian promises. It was horribly uneven, for 'not even a Salvation Army of Huxleys' could stop the simpletons singing along with Booth. 2
General Booth was four years younger. When Tom was in his back‐ street anatomy school run by that democratic New Connexion Methodist Marshall Hall, the working-class Booth was living up to Hall's democratic 'Methodist Jacobinism'; he too had joined the New Connexion; he too was a Chartist supporter. Like Tom, the evangelist was a prey to despondency and sought regeneration in a crusade. His Methodists denied the Anglicans' providentially happy world teeming with 'delighted existence'; for them, 'the whole creation travaileth and groaneth'. In his war cry, Darkest England, Booth could speak with Darwinian vigour of the weakest going 'to the wall'. But he was another whose radical religious duty was to aid this