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Full text of "Gipsy Smith : his life and work"

A4 



EMMAKCC. 










STUOIA IN 7 



THE LIBRARY 

of 

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY 
Toronto 



Gipsy Smith 




< 

] *M^ 





/^^^ 



?&+* &. 




HIS LIFE 
AND WORK 

By HIMSELF 



Introductions by 

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN 

and 
ALEXANDER McLAREN, D.D. 




NEW YORK . CHICAGO . TORONTO 

FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 

=i 9 o 2 ===== 



A4- 



EMMANUEL 



COPYRIGHT, 1901, 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE 
EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCHES 



(All Rights Reserved) 



COPYRIGHT, 1902, 

BY 

FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 
(April) 



3 

3-3-15 



TTo 
MY FATHER 

TO WHOM UNDER GOD I OWE 
ALL THAT I AM 



NOTE TO MY READERS 



THIS story of my life is sent forth to the world 
with a diffidence amounting almost to reluc 
tance on my part, but I have often been urged to 
tell the tale of my not unromantic career in full, and 
these persistent requests are my justification for the 
present volume. 

I gladly acknowledge the invaluable literary help 
which I have received from my friend Mr. W. Grin- 
ton Berry, M.A., in its preparation. 

I do not pose as a practical or skilled author, and 
Mr. Berry s help has been simply indispensable. 

G. S. 



INTRODUCTION 
TO AMERICAN EDITION 

BY G. CAMPBELL MORGAN 

MY first acquaintance with Gipsy Smith was 
made in 1886 when I entered upon work in 
Hull, which he had originated. Going at the 
invitation of the committee then in oversight of the 
work at Wilberforce Hall to conduct services for 
fourteen days, I remained thirteen months, and 
thus had opportunity to observe the results of his 
labors. I found very many whole-hearted followers 
of Jesus Christ in dead earnest about the conversion 
of others. These, most of them, had been brought 
to God under the preaching of this man. Many of 
them remain in the churches of the town unto this 
day, and retain their first love to Christ and 
devotion for His cause. During this time I often 
met Gipsy, and from the first my heart was joined 
to his as a brother beloved, and I count him still as 
my close personal friend and a highly valued fellow- 
laborer in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. 
During these years I have noted with great joy 
his remarkable development, until to-day he stands 
at the very front of those who are doing the work 
of the Evangelist. His early life, as this book 



6 Introduction to American Edition 

clearly shows, consisted of certain facts which were 
against the chances of his success, and yet, taking a 
higher viewpoint of consideration, they were in his 
favor. 

His lack of educational advantages would have 
seemed likely to bar his progress. He recognized 
this, and set himself from the first with a devotion 
and earnestness which were magnificent to remedy 
the defect. He has been a hard worker and hard 
reader, and this has found its reward in the fact 
that to-day he has acquired a style and delivery that 
is full of force and beauty. One of our great 
London dailies said of him recently that he is one 
of the finest exponents of the possibilities of Anglo- 
Saxon speech since the days of John Bright. 

It is possible to hear him again and again, as I 
have done, without detecting a flaw in his grammar 
or pronunciation ; and one is filled with wonder at 
his wonderful triumph in this direction. 

In his case the very early lack has been the 
stimulus of constant effort, and there has been no 
arrest of development consequent upon the mistaken 
notion alas, too common among more favored men 
that he had his education long ago. 

Greatly in his favor is the fact that he was a child 
of nature, nurtured near to her heart. When that 
Spirit who breatheth where He listeth brought 
him into living contact with Christ, the gain of this 
early environment was manifest. 

To know him to-day is to catch the sweet, healthy 
freshness of woods and flowers and dear old mother 



Introduction to American Edition 7 

earth, and to breathe the fragrance of the life lived 
far from the stifling atmosphere of great cities. I 
never talk with him without taking in a wholesome 
quantity of ozone. His most remarkable growth 
has been spiritual. In tone and temper, and those 
fine qualities of spirit which are the fairest produc 
tions of Christian life, he has steadily advanced, and 
to-day more than ever is a child of God in outward 
conduct and inward character. 

Though thus a child of the country, his mission 
has been pre-eminently that of a messenger of the 
Gospel to great cities. It is one of the most heart- 
stirring and spirit-reviving sights I know to watch 
a dense mass of city folk, toilers in the factories, 
clerks from the offices, professional men, and those 
of culture and leisure, listen to him as he pleads 
with tender eloquence the cause of the Master. 

Gipsy Smith is an evangelist by right of a "gift," 
bestowed by the Spirit of God, as certainly as there 
ever was such in the history of the Church. In his 
case, moreover, we have a conspicuous example of 
the fact that the Spirit bestows such gifts on those 
by natural endowment fitted to receive and use 
them. There is no conflict between a man as God 
made him and the work of grace in him when he is 
utterly abandoned to the will of God. 

This story of his life is full of deep interest, as it 
breathes the very spirit of the man artless, intense, 
transparent. For it I bespeak a reading on the part 
of all those who love the Lord Jesus and are in 
terested in the story of His methods with the mes- 



8 Introduction to American Edition 

sengers of His grace. I welcome the book as a 
fresh living message of that grace, and as adding 
another to the long list of lives that show forth the 
excellencies of Him who calls men out of darkness 
into His marvellous light. 

This brief prefatory work is a work of love, for 
out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh, 
and of my friend who is at once Gipsy and Gentle 
man, because wholly Christian, I can truly say, 
thank my God upon every remembrance of him. 



INTRODUCTION 

BY REV. DR. ALEXANDER MCLAREN 

THERE is little need for any introduction to this 
book; but my friend Gipsy Smith having done me 
the honor of asking me to prefix a few words to it, 
I gladly comply with his request. I have at least 
one qualification for my present position namely, 
my long and close knowledge of the man who here 
tells his life-story, and I can say with absolute con 
fidence and sincerity that that knowledge has dis 
covered to me a character of rare sweetness, good 
ness, simplicity, and godliness, and possessed of 
something of that strange attractiveness with which 
popular beliefs have endowed his race. But the 
fascination is explicable on better grounds than 
magic spells ; it is the charm of a nature which draws 
others to itself, because it goes out to meet them, 
and is loved because it loves. 

The life told in this book has its picturesque and 
its pathetic sides, but is worthy of study for deeper 
reasons than these. It witnesses to the transform 
ing power of Jesus Christ, entering a soul through 
that soul s faith. A gipsy encampment is the last 
place whence an evangelist might be expected to 
emerge. Almost alien to our civilization, with 



io Introduction 

little education, with vices and limitations inherited 
from generations who were despised and suspected, 
and with the virtues of a foreign clan encamped on 
hostile ground, the gipsies have been all but over 
looked by the churches, with one or two exceptions, 
such as the work of Crabbe half a century since 
among those of Hampshire and the New Forest. 
But the story in this book brings one more striking 
and welcome evidence that there are no hopeless 
classes in the view of the gospel. We are accus 
tomed to say that often enough, but we do not al 
ways act as if we believed it, and it may do some 
of us good to have another living example of Christ s 
I>ower to elevate and enrich a life, whatever its an 
tecedents, disadvantages, and limitations. Gipsy 
or gentleman, "we have all of us one human heart/ 
and the deepest need in that heart is an anodyne for 
the sense of sin, and a power which will implant in 
it righteousness. Here is a case in which Christ s 
gospel has met both wants. Is there anything else 
that would or could do that? 

For another reason this book deserves study, for 
it raises serious questions as to the Church s office 
of "evangelizing every creature." Gipsy Smith has 
remarkable qualifications for that work, and has 
done it all over the country with a sobriety, trans 
parent sincerity, and loyalty to the ordinary ministra 
tions of the churches which deserve and have re 
ceived general recognition. But what he has not 
is as instructive as what he has. He is not an orator, 
nor a scholar, nor a theologian. He is not a genius. 



Introduction 1 1 

But, notwithstanding these deficiencies in his equip 
ment, he can reach men s hearts, and turn them 
from darkness to light in a degree which many of 
us ministers cannot do. It will be a good day for 
all the churches when their members ask themselves 
whether they are doing the work for which they are 
established by their Lord, if they fail in winning 
men to be His, and whether Christ will be satisfied 
if, when He asks them why they have not carried 
out His commands to take His gospel to those around 
them who are without it, they answer, " Lord, we 
were so busy studying deep theological questions, 
arguing about the validity of critical inquiries as to 
the dates of the books of the Bible, preaching and 
hearing eloquent discourses, comforting and edifying 
one another, that we had to leave the Christless 
masses alone." This book tells the experience of 
one man who has been an evangelist and nothing 
more. May it help to rouse the conscience of the 
church to feel that it is to be the messenger of the 
glad tidings first of all, whatever else it may be in 
addition! May it set many others to bethink them 
selves whether they, too, are not sufficiently furnished 
" for the work of an evangelist " to some hearts at 
least, though they have neither learning nor elo 
quence, since they have the knowledge of One who 
has saved them, and desires through them to save 
others.- 1 

ALEXANDER MCLAREN. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER PACK 

I. BIRTH AND ANCESTRY WITH SOME NOTES OF 

GIPSY CUSTOMS . . . . -I? 

II. MY MOTHER . . . . . . .27 

III. A MISCHIEVOUS LITTLE BOY WITH SOMETHING 
ABOUT PLUMS, TROUSERS, RABBITS, EGGS, 
AND A CIRCUS 38 

IV. THE MORALS OF THE GIPSIES . . .48 

V. MY FATHER, AND HOW HE FOUND THE LORD . 54 
VI. OLD CORNELIUS WAS DEAD . . . -65 

VII. CHRISTMAS IN THE TENT A STORY OF THREE 

PLUM-PUDDINGS 74 

VIII. THE DAWNING OF THE LIGHT . . . 78 

IX. LEARNING TO READ AND WRITE PREACHING TO 
THE TURNIP-FIELD SINGING THE GOSPEL IN 
THE COTTAGES 84 

X. I BECOME AN EVANGELIST THE CHRISTIAN MIS 
SION AND REV. WILLIAM BOOTH MY FIRST 
FROCK-COAT AND MY FIRST APARTMENTS . 9 1 

XI. GROWING SUCCESS WORK AT WHITBY, SHEF 
FIELD, AND BOLTON MEETING MY FUTURE 
WIFE ROMAN CATHOLIC RIOTS . . . IO4 



14 Contents 

CHAPTER PACK 

XII. BALLINGTON BOOTH MY MARRIAGE THE 

CHATHAM FOSSILS . . . .Ill 

XIII. HULL AND DERBY A GREAT SUCCESS AND A 

PARTIAL FAILURE 122 

XIV. HANLEY MY GREATEST BATTLEFIELD . 125 

XV. DISMISSAL FROM THE SALVATION ARMY . 131 

XVI. HANLEY AGAIN 140 

XVII. MY FIRST VISIT TO AMERICA . . . 160 

XVIII. THE MANCHESTER WESLEYAN MISSION . 183 

XIX. MY SECOND VISIT TO AMERICA . . . 193 

XX. WITH THE CHILDREN .... 206 

XXI. MY MISSION TO THE GIPSIES . . .221 

XXII. AMERICA AGAIN . . . . .228 

XXIII. GLASGOW 248 

XXIV. AUSTRALIA . . . . . . 251 

XXV. MY FATHER AND HIS TWO BROTHERS . . 270 

XXVI. LONDON, MANCHESTER, AND EDINBURGH . 283 

XXVII. MY FIFTH VISIT TO AMERICA . . . 296 

XXVIII. SOME FRESH STORIES ABOUT PETER MAC 
KENZIE ...... 308 

XXIX. AS THE NATIONAL COUNCIL S MISSIONER . 313 

POSTSCRIPT . ... 329 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING PAGE 

Latest Portrait Title 

The Wagon in which My Mother Died (Now in the Pos 
session of Another Family), 32 

My Father, My Sister, and Myself, 62 

In My First Frock-Coat 96 

At the Time of My Marriage 112 

My Wife and My First-Born 122 

Capt. Gipsy Smith, of the Salvation Army, . . . 140 

At the Age of Twenty-Six 162 

My Wife, 184 

Albany, My Eldest Son 198 

Hanley, My Younger Son, 212 

My Daughter Zillah, Gipsy Costume, .... 216 
Three Generations: My Father, Myself, and My Younger 

Son, 244 

The Converted Gipsy Brothers : Bartholomew, My Father, 

Woodlock, 272 

Taken During My Mission in Wolverhampton, October, 

1896 308 

My Mother s Grave in Norton Churchyard, . . . 320 



GIPSY SMITH 



CHAPTER 1 

BIRTH AND ANCESTRY WITH SOME NOTES OF 
GIPSY CUSTOMS 

I WAS born on the 3ist of March, 1860, in a gipsy 
tent, the son of gipsies, Cornelius Smith and his 
wife, Mary Welch. The place was the parish of 
Wanstead, near Epping Forest, a mile and a half 
from the "Green Man/ Leytonstone. When I got 
old enough to ask questions about my birth my 
mother was dead, but my father told me the place, 
though not the date. It was only quite recently 
that I knew the date for certain. A good aunt of 
mine took the trouble to get some one to examine 
the register of Wanstead Church, and there found 
an entry giving the date of the birth and christening 
of Rodney Smith. I discovered that I was a year 
younger than I took myself to be. The gipsies care 
little for religion and know nothing really of God and 
the Bible, yet they always take care to get their 
babies christened, because it is a matter of busi 
ness. The clergyman of the nearest parish church 
is invited to come to the encampment and perform 

2 



1 8 Gipsy Smith 

the ceremony. To the " gorgios " (people who are not 
gipsies) the event is one of rare and curious inter 
est. Some of the ladies of the congregation are sure 
to accompany the parson to see the gipsy baby, and 
they cannot very well do this without bringing pres 
ents for the gipsy mother and more often for the 
baby. The gipsies believe in christenings for the 
profit they can make out of them. They have, be 
sides, some sort of notion that it is the right thing 
to do. 

I was the fourth child of my parents. Two girls 
and a boy came before me and two girls came after 
me. All my brothers and sisters, except the last 
born, are alive. My eldest sister is Mrs. Ball, wife of 
Councillor Ball, of Ilanley, the first gipsy in the 
history of the country to occupy a seat in a town 
council. And he is always returned at the head of 
the poll. Councillor Ball, who is an auctioneer, 
has given up his tent and lives in a house. My 
brother Ezekiel works on the railway at Cambridge, 
and is a leading spirit of the Railway Mission there. 
He was the last of the family to leave the gipsy 
tent, and he did it after a deal of persuasion and 
with great reluctance. My father and I, on visiting 
Cambridge, got him to take up his quarters in a nice 
little cottage there. When I returned to the town 
some months later and sought him in his cottage, I 
found that he was not there and that he had gone 
back to his tent. " Whatever made you leave the 
cottage, Ezekiel?" I asked. "It was so cold," he 
replied. Gipsy wagons and tents are very comfort- 



Birth and Ancestry 19 

able "gorgios " should make no mistake about that. 
My second sister, Lovinia, is Mrs. Oakley, and lives 
at Luton, a widow. I had a mission at Luton last 
year, and she was one of those who came to Christ. 
My father, myself, and others of us had offered thou 
sands of prayers for her, and at that mission, she, 
a backslider for over twenty-five years, was restored. 
God gave me this honor the joy of bringing my 
beloved sister back to the fold. I need not say that 
I think of that mission with a special warmth of 
gratitude to God. Mrs. Evens Matilda, the baby 
of the family helped me a great deal in my early 
evangelistic labors, and together with her husband 
has done and is doing good work for the Liverpool 
Wesleyan Mission. 

Eighty out of every hundred gipsies have Bible 
names. My father was called Cornelius, my brother 
Ezekiel. My uncle Bartholomew was the father of 
twelve children, to every one of whom he gave a 
scriptural name Naomi, Samson, Delilah, Elijah, 
Simeon, and the like. Fancy having a Samson and 
a Delilah in the same family ! Yet the gipsies have 
no Bibles, and if they had they could not read them. 
Whence, then, these scriptural names? Do they 
not come down to us from tradition? May it not 
be that we are one of the lost tribes? We ourselves 
believe that we are akin to the Jews, and when one 
regards the gipsies from the point of view of an out 
sider one is able to discover some striking resem 
blances between the gipsies and the Jews. In the 
first place, many gipsies bear a striking facial re- 



2o Gipsy Smith 

semblance to the Jews. Our noses are not usually 
quite so prominent, but we often have the eyes and 
hair of Jews. Nature asserts herself. And al 
though, as far as the knowledge of religion is con 
cerned, gipsies dwell in the deepest heathen dark 
ness, in the days when I was a boy they scrupulous 
ly observed the law of the Sabbath, except when the 
"gorgios" visited them and tempted them with 
money to tell their fortunes. It was a great trouble to 
my father I am speaking of him in his unregenerate 
days to have to pull up his tent on the Sabbath 
day. And I have known him go a mile on Satur 
day to get a bucket of water, so that he should not 
have to travel for it on the Sunday. And the bundles 
of sticks for the fire on Sunday were all gathered the 
day before. Even whistling a song tune was not al 
lowed on the Sunday. When I was a boy I have 
been knocked over more than once for so far forget 
ting myself as to engage in this simple diversion on 
the Sunday. Sunday to the gipsies is a real rest-day. 
And at the same time it is the only day on which 
they get a properly cooked mid-day meal! Then, 
again, the ancient Jewish law and custom of mar 
riage is the same as that which is in vogue, or was in 
vogue, until quite recently among the gipsies. Sixty 
years ago a marriage according to the law of the 
land was unknown among the gipsies. The sweet- 
hearting of a gipsy young man and maiden usually 
extends over a long period, or, as "gorgios" would 
say, the rule is long engagements. Very often they 
have grown up sweethearts from boy and girl. It 



Birth and Ancestry 21 

was so with my brother Ezekiel and his wife. There 
is never such a thing as a gipsy breach of promise 
case, and if there were the evidence would probably 
be scanty, for gipsy sweethearts do not write to 
each other because they cannot. Ninety-nine out 
of every hundred of them have never held a pen in 
their hands. When the young people are able to 
set up for themselves they make a covenant with 
each other. Beyond this there is no marriage cere 
mony. There is nothing of jumping over tongs 
or broomsticks, or any other of the tomfooleries 
that outsiders attribute to gipsies. The ceremonial 
is the same as that which was observed at the nup 
tials of Rebekah and Isaac. Isaac brought Rebekah 
into his tent, and she became his wife, and he lived 
with her. The gipsies are the most faithful and 
devoted of husbands. I ought to add that the mak 
ing of the marriage covenant is usually followed 
by a spree. 

When a gipsy becomes converted, one of the first 
things about which he gets anxious is this defective 
marriage ceremonial. At one of my missions an 
old gipsy man of seventy-four sought and found his 
Saviour. He went away happy. Some days after he 
came back to see me. I perceived that something 
was oppressing his mind. " Well, uncle, what s the 
matter?" I asked. By the way, I should say that 
gipsies have great reverence for old age. We should 
never think of addressing an old man or woman by 
his or her name not Mr. Smith or Mrs. Smith, 
John or Sally, but always uncle or aunt, terms of 



22 Gipsy Smith 

affection and respect among us. Uncle looked at me 
gloomily and said : "The truth is, my dear, my wife 
and I have never been legally married." They had 
been married according to the only fashion known 
among the gipsies, and I told him that in the eyes of 
God they were true husband and wife. But he 
would not be persuaded. "No," he said, "I am 
converted now; I want everything to be straight. 
We must get legally married." And they did, and 
were satisfied. 

Like the Jews, the gipsies have in a wonderful 
way preserved their identity as a race. Their sej> 
arate existence can be traced back for centuries. 
Throughout these long years they have kept their 
language, habits, customs, and eccentricities un 
touched. The history of gipsies and of their tongue 
has baffled the most laborious and erudite scholars. 
We can be traced back until we are lost on the plains 
of India, but even in these far-off days we were a 
distinct race. Like the Jews, the gipsies are very 
clean. A man who does not keep his person or be 
longings clean is called "chickly" (dirty), and is 
despised. They have hand-towels for washing them 
selves, and these are used for nothing else. They are 
scrupulously careful about their food. They would 
not think of washing their table-cloth with the other 
linen. Cups and saucers are never washed in soapy 
water. I saw my uncle trample on and destroy a 
copper kettle-lid because one of his children by mis 
take had dropped it in the wash-tub. It had become 
"unclean." A sick person has a spoon, plate, and 



Birth and Ancestry 23 

basin all to himself. When he has recovered or if 
he dies they are all destroyed. It is customary at 
death to destroy the possessions of the dead person 
or to bury them with him. When an uncle of mine 
died, my aunt bought a coffin large enough for all 
his possessions including his fiddle, cup and saucer, 
plate, knife, etc. except, of course, his wagon. My 
wife and my sister pleaded hard for the cup and saucer 
as a keepsake, but she was resolute. Nobody should 
ever use them again. 

To return to my father. He earned his living by 
making baskets, clothes-pegs, all sorts of tinware, 
and recaning cane-chairs. Of course in his uncon 
verted days he "found" the willows for the baskets 
and the wood for the clothes-pegs. Gipsies only 
buy what they cannot "find." My father had 
inherited his occupation from many generations of 
ancestors. He also pursued the trade of horse- 
dealer, a business in which gipsies are thoroughly 
expert. What a gipsy does not know about horses 
is not worth knowing. The trade is one in which 
tricks and dodges are frequently practised. A Dr. 
Chinnery, whom I met on one of my visits to 
America, told me of a gipsy horse-dealer for whose 
conversion he had been particularly anxious and 
with whom he had frequently talked. Said this 
gipsy, "Can I be a Christian and sell horses?" Dr. 
Chinnery urged him to try, and he did. The poor 
gipsy found the conjunction of callings very difficult, 
but he managed to make it work. After two or three 
years, Dr. Chinnery asked him how he was getting 



24 Gipsy Smith 

on. He answered that when he had a good horse 
to sell he told those with whom he was dealing that 
it was a good horse. Since he had become a Chris 
tian they believed him. If it was a horse about 
which he knew little, or a horse of which he had 
doubts, he said : " My friends this (naming the sum) 
is my price. I do not know anything about the 
horse; you must examine him yourselves, and as 
sure yourselves of his fitness. Use your judgment ; 
you buy him at your own risk." It will be seen 
from this anecdote that the gipsies are not want 
ing in finesse. This gipsy had also not a little of 
the Yankee cuteness which is breathed in with the 
American air. His Christianity did not in the least 
hinder, but rather helped, his horse-dealing. 

The gipsy women sell what their husbands make, 
and of course when we were all little my mother did 
the selling for us. The women are the travellers for 
the concern ; the men are the manufacturers. This 
old trade of making baskets is passing out of the 
hands of the gipsies; they can buy these goods for 
less than it costs to make them, and consequently 
they confine themselves to selling them. Recaning 
chairs and mending baskets is still done by some. 
Most of the men deal in horses and in anything else 
which is possible to their manner of life, and out of 
which they can make money. I estimate that there 
are from 20,000 to 25,000 gipsies in the British Isles. 
The women -folk among them still do most of the 
selling, but I am afraid that too frequently they 
carry their wares about with them merely as a blind. 



Birth and Ancestry 25 

The occupation of most of them is fortune-telling. 
It is the fashion and the folly of the " gorgios " that 
have to a large extent forced this disgraceful pro 
fession upon gipsy women. Soothsaying is an 
Eastern custom, a gift that Westerners have attributed 
to Orientals. The gipsies are an Eastern race, and 
the idea has in course of generations grown up among 
outsiders that they, too, can reveal the secrets of the 
hidden future. The gipsies do not themselves be 
lieve this; they know that fortune-telling is a mere 
cheat, but they are not averse to making profit out of 
the folly and superstition of the "gorgios." I know 
some of my people may be very angry with me for 
this statement, but the truth must be told. 

We travelled in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, 
Norfolk, Cambridge, Bedford, and Hertford. In my 
young days I knew these parts of England well, but 
since I left my gipsy tent, nearly a quarter of a cen 
tury ago, I have not seen much of them. I had no 
education and no knowledge of "gorgio" civiliza 
tion, and I grew up as wild as the birds, frolicsome 
as the lambs, and as difficult to catch as the rabbits. 
All the grasses and flowers and trees of the field and 
all living things were my friends and companions. 
Some of them, indeed, got almost too familiar with 
me. The rabbits, for instance, were so fond of me 
that they sometimes followed me home. I think I 
learned then to have a sympathetic nature, even if I 
learned nothing else. My earliest clear impression 
of these days, which have now retreated so far into 
the past, is that of falling from the front of my father s 



26 Gipsy Smith 

wagon. I had given the horse a stroke, as boys 
will do. He made a sudden leap and jerked me 
off onto the road. What followed has passed from 
my mind, but my father tells me I was run over by 
his wagon, and if my loud screams had not attracted 
his attention I should have been run over also by 
his brother s wagon, which followed his. 

It was my mother s death, however, which woke 
me to full consciousness, if I may so put it. This 
event made a wound in my heart which has never to 
this day been really healed, and even at this moment, 
though I am now in middle life, I often feel my hun 
gry soul pining and yearning for my mother. " Rod 
ney, you have no mother!" that was really the 
first and the ineffaceable impression of my boy s 
life. 



CHAPTER II 

MY MOTHER 

WE were travelling in Plertfordshire. The eldest 
of the family, a girl, was taken ill. The nearest 
town was Baldock, and my father at once made 
for it, so that he might get a doctor for his child. 
I remember as if it were yesterday that the gipsy 
wagon stood outside the door of the doctor s house. 
My father told him he had a sick daughter. The 
doctor mounted the steps of the wagon and, leaning 
over the door, called my sick sister to him and ex 
amined her. lie did not enter our poor wagon. 
We were only gipsies. "Your daughter has the 
small-pox," he said to my father; "you must get 
out of the town at once." He sent us to a by-lane 
about one and a half miles away it is called Norton 
Lane. In a little bend of this lane, on the left-hand 
side, between a huge overhanging hawthorn and a 
wood on the right-hand side, making a natural arch, 
father erected our tent. There he left mother and 
four children. He took the wagon two hundred 
yards farther down the lane, and stood it on the 
right-hand side near an old chalk-pit. From the 
door he could see the tent clearly and be within call. 
The wagon was the sick-room and my father was 
the nurse. In a few days the doctor, coming to the 



28 Gipsy Smith 

tent, discovered that my brother Ezekiel also had 
the small-pox, and he, too, was sent to the wagon, 
so that my father had now two invalids to nurse. 
Poor mother used to wander up and down the lane 
in an almost distracted condition, and my father 
heard her cry again and again : " My poor children 
will die, and I am not allowed to go to them \" Mother 
had to go into Baldock to buy food, and, after pre 
paring it in the tent, carried it half-way from there 
to the wagon. Then she put it on the ground and 
waited till my father came for it. She shouted or 
waved her silk handkerchief to attract his attention. 
Sometimes he came at once, but at other times he 
would be busy with the invalids and unable to leave 
them just at the moment. And then mother went 
back, leaving the food on the ground, and some 
times before father had reached it, it was covered with 
snow, for it was the month of March and the weather 
was severe. And mother, in the anxiety of her loving 
heart, got every day, I think, a little nearer and 
nearer to the wagon, until one day she went too near, 
and then she also fell sick. When the doctor came 
he said it was the small-pox. 

My father was in the uttermost distress. His 
worst fears were realized. He had hoped to save 
mother, for he loved her as only a gipsy can love. 
She was the \vife of his youth and the mother of his 
children. They were both very young when they 
married, not much over twenty, and they were still 
very young. He would have died to save her. He 
had struggled with his calamities bravely for a whole 



My Mother 29 

month, nursing his two first-born with whole-hearted 
love and devotion, and had never had his clothes 
off, day or night. And this he had done in order to 
save her from the terrible disease. And now she, too, 
was smitten. He felt that all hope was gone, and 
knowing he could not keep us separate any longer, 
he brought the wagon back to the tent. And there 
lay mother and sister and brother, all three sick with 
small-pox. In two or three days a little baby was 
born. 

Mother knew she was dying. Our hands were 
stretched out to hold her, but they were not strong 
enough. Other hands, omnipotent and eternal, were 
taking her from us. Father seemed to realize, too, 
that she was going. He sat beside her one day and 
asked her if she thought of God. For the poor gip 
sies believe in God, and believe that he is good and 
merciful. And she said, "Yes/ 

"Do you try to pray, my dear?" 

" Yes, I am trying, and while I am trying to pray 
it seems as though a black hand comes before me 
and shows me all that I have done, and something 
whispers, There is no mercy for you! 

But my father had great assurance that God would 
forgive her, and told her about Christ and asked her 
to look to Him. He died for sinners. He was her 
Saviour. My father had some time before been in 
prison for three months on a false charge, and it was 
there that he had been told what now he tried to teach 
my mother. After my father had told her all he 
knew of the gospel she threw her arms around his 



30 Gipsy Smith 

neck and kissed him. Then he went outside, stood 
behind the wagon, and wept bitterly. When he 
went back again to see her she looked calmly into 
his face, and said, with a smile : " I want you to prom 
ise me one thing. Will you be a good father to my 
children?" He promised her that he would; at that 
moment he would have promised her anything. 
Again he went outside and wept, and while he was 
\veeping he heard her sing : 

" I have a Father in the promised land. 
My God calls me, I must go 
To meet Him in the promised land." 

My father went back to her and said : " Polly, my 
dear, where did you learn that song?" 

She said : " Cornelius, I heard it when I was a little 
girl. One Sunday my father s tents were pitched 
on a village green, and seeing the young people and 
others going into a little school or church or chapel 
I do not know which it was I followed them in 
and they sang those words/ 

Tt must have been twenty years or so since my 
mother had heard the lines. Although she had 
forgotten them all these years, they came back to 
her in her moments of intense seeking after God 
and His salvation. She could not read the Bible; 
she had never been taught about God and His Son; 
but these words came back to her in her dying mo 
ments and she sang them again and again. Turn 
ing to my father, she said: "I am not afraid to die 



My Mother 31 

now. I feel that it will be all right. I feel assured 
that God will take care of my children." 

Father watched her all that Sunday night, and 
knew she was sinking fast. When Monday morning 
dawned it found her deep in prayer. I shall never 
forget that morning. I was only a little fellow, but 
even now I can close my eyes and see the gipsy tent 
and wagon in the lane. The fire is burning outside 
on the ground, and the kettle is hanging over it in 
true gipsy fashion and a bucket of water is stand 
ing near by. Some clothes that my father has been 
washing are hanging on the hedge. I can see the 
old horse grazing along the lane. I can see the 
boughs bending in the breeze, and I can almost hear 
the singing of the birds, and yet when I try to call 
back the appearance of my dear mother I am baffled. 
That dear face that bent over my gipsy cradle and 
sang lullabies to me, that mother who if she had lived 
would have been more to me than any other in God s 
world her face has faded clean from my memory. 
I wandered up the lane that morning with the hand 
of my sister Tilly in mine. We two little things were 
inseparable. We could not go to father, for he was 
too full of his grief. The others were sick. We two 
had gone off together, when suddenly I heard my 
name called: "Rodney!" and running to see what I 
was wanted for, I encountered my sister Emily. She 
had got out of bed, for bed could not hold her that 
morning, and she said to me, "Rodney, mother s 
dead!" I remember falling on my face in the lane 
as though I had been shot, and weeping my heart out 



32 Gipsy Smith 

and saying to myself, "I shall never be like other 
boys, for I have no mother!" And somehow that 
feeling has never quite left me, and even now, in my 
man s life, there are moments when mother is longed 
for. 

My mother s death caused a gloom indescribable 
to settle down upon the tent life. The day of the 
funeral came. My mother was to be buried at the 
dead of night. We were only gipsies, and the author 
ities would not permit the funeral to take place in 
the day-time. In the afternoon the coffin was placed 
on two chairs outside the wagon, waiting for the 
darkness. Sister and brother were so much better 
that the wagon had been emptied. My father had 
been trying to cleanse it, and the clothes, such as 
we had for wearing and sleeping in, had been put 
into the tent. While we were watching and weeping 
round the coffin father and his five children the 
tent caught fire, and all our little stock of worldly 
possessions were burned to ashes. The sparks flew 
around us on all sides of the coffin, and we expected 
every moment that that, too, would be set on fire. We 
poor little things were terrified nearly to death. " Moth 
er will be burned up ! " we wept. " Mother will be burned 
up!" Father fell upon his face on the grass crying 
like a child. The flames were so strong that he could 
do nothing to stop their progress ; and, indeed, he had 
to take great care to avoid harm to himself. Our 
agonies while we were witnessing this, to us, terrible 
conflagration, helpless to battle against it, may easily 
be imagined, but, strange to relate, while the sparks 



My Mother 33 

fell all around the coffin, the coffin itself was un 
touched. 

And now darkness fell and with it came to us an 
old farmer s cart. Mother s coffin was placed in the 
vehicle, and between ten and eleven o clock my father, 
the only mourner, followed her to the grave by a 
lantern light. She lies resting in Norton church 
yard, near Baldock. When my father came back 
to us it was midnight, and his grief was very great. 
He went into a plantation behind his van, and throw 
ing himself upon his face, promised God to be good, 
to take care of his children, and to keep the promise 
that he had made to his wife. A fortnight after the 
little baby died and was placed at her mother s side. 
If you go to Norton church-yard now and inquire for 
the gipsies graves they will be pointed out to you. 
My mother and her last born lie side by side in that 
portion of the grave-yard where are interred the re 
mains of the poor, the unknown, and the forsaken. 

We remained in that fatal lane a few weeks longer ; 
then the doctor gave us leave to move on, all danger 
being over. So we took farewell of the place where 
\ve had seen so much sorrow. 

I venture to think that there are some points of 
deep spiritual significance in this narrative. First 
of all, there is the sweet and touching beauty of my 
father s endeavor to show my mother, in the midst 
of his and her ignorance, the way of salvation as far 
as he was able. My dear father tried to teach her 
of God. Looking back on that hour he can see 
clearly in it the hand of God. When he was in prison 



34 Gipsy Smith 

as a lad, many years before, he heard the gospel 
faithfully preached by the chaplain. The sermon 
had been on the text, " I am the good Shepherd, and 
know My sheep, and am known of Mine." My 
father was deeply distressed and cried to God to save 
him, and had there been any one to show him the 
way of salvation he would assuredly have found 
peace then. 

At the time of my mother s death, too, my father 
was under deep conviction, but there was no light. 
He could not read, none of his friends could read, 
and there was no one to whom he could go for in 
struction and guidance. The actual date of his con 
version was some time after this, but my father is 
convinced that if he had been shown the way of sal 
vation he would have there and then surrendered his 
life to God. 

Another significant point was this : what was it 
that brought back to my mother s mind in her last 
hour the lines: 

" I have a Father in the promised land. 
My God calls me, I must go 
To meet Him in the promised land"? 

Was it not the Holy Ghost, of whom Christ said, 
" But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom 
the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you 
all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, 
whatsoever I have said unto you"? (John xiv. 26). 
My mother had lived in a religious darkness that 
was all but unbroken during her whole life, but a ray of 



My Mother 35 

light had crept into her soul when she was a little 
girl, by the singing of this hymn. That was a part 
of the true light which lighteth every man that cometh 
into the world. No minister ever looked near our 
gipsy tent, no missioner, no Christian worker. To 
me it is plain that it was the Holy Ghost who brought 
these things to her remembrance as plain as the 
sun that shines, or the flowers that bloom, or the 
birds that sing. That little child s song, heard by 
my mother as she wandered into that little chapel 
that Sunday afternoon, was brought back to her by 
the Spirit of God and became a ladder by which 
she climbed from her ignorance and superstition to 
the light of God and the many mansions. And my 
mother is there, and although I cannot recall her 
face, I shall know it some day. 

I became conscious after my mother s death that 
I was a real boy, and that I had lost something which 
I should never find. Many a day when I have seen 
my aunts making a great deal of their children, giv 
ing them advice and even thrashing them, I have 
cried for my mother if it were only to thrash me! 
It tore my hungry little heart with anguish to stand 
by and see my cousins made a fuss of. At such 
times I have had hard work to hide my bitter tears. 
I have gone up the lane round the corner, or into the 
field or wood to weep my heart out. In these days, 
my dreams, longings, and passions frightened me. 
I would lie awake all night exploring depths in my 
own being that I but faintly understood, and thinking 
of my mother. I knew that she had gone beyond the 



36 Gipsy Smith 

clouds, because my father told me so, and I believed 
everything that my father told me. I knew he spoke 
the truth. I used to try to pierce the clouds, and 
often-times I fancied I succeeded, and used to have 
long talks with my mother, and I often told her 
that some day I was coming up to her. 

One day I went to visit her grave in Norton church 
yard. As may be imagined, that quiet spot in the 
lonely church-yard was sacred to my father and to 
us, and we came more often to that place than we 
should have done had it not been that there in the 
cold earth lay hidden from us a treasure that gold 
could not buy back. I shall never forget my first 
visit to that hallowed spot. Our tent was pitched 
three miles off. My sister Tilly and I very little 
things we were wandered off one day in search of 
mother s grave. It was early in the morning when 
we started. We wandered through fields, jumped 
two or three ditches, and those we could not jump 
we waded through. The spire of Norton church was 
our guiding star. We set our course by it. When 
we reached the church-yard we went to some little 
cottages that stood beside it, knocked at the doors 
and asked the people if they could tell us which was 
mother s grave. We did not think it necessary to 
say who mother was or who we were. There was 
but one mother in the world for us. The good people 
were very kind to us. They wept quiet, gentle tears 
for the poor gipsy children, because they knew at once 
from our faces and our clothes that we were gipsies, 
and they knew what manner of death our mother 



My Mother 37 

had died. The grave was pointed out to us. When 
we found it, Tilly and I stood over it weeping for a long 
time, and then we gathered primrose and violet roots 
and planted them on the top. And we stood there 
long into the afternoon. The women from the cot 
tages gave us food, and then it started to our memory 
that it was late, and that father would be wondering 
where we were. So I said, " Tilly, we must go home/ 
and we both got on our knees beside the grave and 
kissed it. Then we turned our backs upon it and 
walked away. When we reached the gates that led 
out of the church-yard we looked back again, and I 
said to Tilly, " T wonder whether we can do anything 
for mother?" I suddenly remembered that I had 
with me a gold-headed scarf-pin which some one had 
given me. It was the only thing of any value that 
I ever had as a child. Rushing back to the grave, 
upon the impulse and inspiration of the moment, 
I stuck the scarf-pin into the ground as far as I could, 
and hurrying back to Tilly, I said, "There, I have 
given my gold pin to my mother!" It was all I had 
to give. Then we went home to the tents and wagons. 
Father had missed us and had become ver}^ anxious. 
When he saw us he was glad and also very angry, 
intending, no doubt, to punish us for going away 
without telling him, and for staying away too long. 
He asked us where we had been. We said we had gone 
to mother s grave. Without a word he turned away 
and wept bitterly. 



CHAPTER III 

A MISCHIEVOUS LITTLE BOY WITH SOMETHING 
ABOUT PLUMS, TROUSERS, RABBITS, EGGS, 
AND A CIRCUS 

THE wild man in my father was broken forever. 
My mother s death had wrought a moral revolution 
in him. As he had promised to her, he drank much 
less, he swore much less, and he was a good father 
to us. When my mother died he had made up his 
mind to be a different man, and as far as was possible 
in his own strength he had succeeded. But his soul 
was hungry for he knew not what, and a gnawing 
dissatisfaction that nothing could appease or gratify 
was eating out his life. 

The worldly position of our household, in the 
mean time, was comfortable. My father made clothes- 
pegs and all manner of tinware, and we children 
sold them. If I may say so, I was the best seller 
in the family. Sometimes I would get rid of five or 
six gross of clothes-pegs in a day. I was not at all 
bashful or backward, and I think I may say I was 
a good business man in those days. I used so to 
keep on at the good women till they bought my pegs 
just to get rid of me. " Bother the boy/ they would 
say, "there is no getting rid of him!" And I would 



A Mischievous Little Boy 39 

say, " Come, now, madame, here you have the best 
pegs in the market. They will not eat and will not 
wear clothes out; they will not cry, and they will 
not wake you up in the middle of the night!" Then 
they would laugh, and I used to tell them who I was, 
and that I had no mother. This softened their hearts. 
Sometimes I sold my pegs wholesale to the retail 
sellers. I was a wholesale and a retail merchant. 

I got into trouble, however, at Cambridge. I was 
trying to sell my goods at a house there. It chanced 
to be a policeman s house. I was ten or eleven years 
of age, too young to have a selling license, and the 
policeman marched me off to the police-court. I 
was tried for selling goods without a license. I was 
called upon to address the court in my defence. 
And I said something like this: "Gentlemen, it is 
true I have no license. You will not let me have a 
license ; I am too young. I am engaged in an honest 
trade. I do not steal. I sell my clothes-pegs to help 
my father to make an honest living for himself and 
us children. If you will give me a license my father 
is quite willing to pay for it, but if you will not, I do 
not see why I should be prevented from doing honest 
work for my living." This argument carried weight. 
My ingenuousness impressed the court, and I was 
let off with a small fine. 

I think I can tell some amusing things about these 
days. My dress consisted of an overall (and an 
underall too), a smock-frock of the sort that is still 
worn in the Eastern counties. When I took this off, 
I was ready for bed. The frock had some ad van- 



40 Gipsy Smith 

tages. It had pockets which it took a great deal to 
fill. They were out of sight, and no one could very 
well know what was in them. One day I was up a 
tree, a tree that bore delicious Victoria plums. I had 
filled my pockets with them, and I had one in my 
mouth. I was in a very happy frame of mind, when, 
lo! at the foot of the tree appears the owner of the 
land. He gave me a very pressing invitation to 
come down. At once I swallowed the plum in my 
mouth, in case he should think that I was after his 
plums. He repeated his pressing invitation to come 
down. 

" What do you want, sir?" I asked, in the most 
bland and innocent tones, as if I had never known 
the taste of plums. 

"If you come down," he said, "I will tell you." 

I am not used to climbing up or climbing down, 
but I had to come down because I could not stay 
even up a plum-tree for ever, and my friend showed 
no disposition to go. He said, " I will wait until 
you are ready," and I did not thank him for his 
courtesy. I did not make haste to come down, neither 
did I do it very joyfully. When I got to the foot 
of the tree my friend got me by the right ear. There 
was a great deal of congratulation in his grip. He 
pulled me over rapidly and unceremoniously to an 
other tree. 

"Do you see that tree?" he said. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Do you see that board?" 

"Yes, sir." 



A Mischievous Little Boy 41 

"Can you read it?" 

"No, sir." 

" Well, I will read it for you : Whosoever is 
found trespassing on this ground will be prosecuted 
according to law." 

Since that day I have never wanted anybody to 
explain to me w r hat " whosoever " means. This 
memorable occasion fixed the meaning of the word 
on my mind for ever. The irate owner shook me 
hard. And I tried to cry, but I could not. Then I 
told him that I had no mother, and I thought that 
touched him, although he knew it, for he knew my 
father. Indeed, that saved me. He looked at me 
again and shook me hard. "If it were not for your 
father," he said, " I would send you to prison." For 
wherever my father was known in his unconverted 
days, by farmer, policeman, or gamekeeper, he was 
held in universal respect. At last he let me off with 
a caution. He threw an old boot at me, but he for 
got to take his foot out of it. But I was quite happy, 
for my pockets were full of plums. I dared not say 
anything about it to my father. My father would 
have been very angry with me, because, even in 
his wild days, he would not allow this sort of thing 
in his children if he knew. Then there were farmers 
who \vere kind to us very ; and we had to be special 
ly careful what we did and where we went. If our 
tent was pitched near their places, my father would 
say to us, "I do not want you to go far from the 
wagons to-day," and we knew at once what that 
meant. 



42 Gipsy Smith 

My father was a very fatherly man. He did not 
believe in sparing the rod or spoiling the child. He 
was fond of taking me on his knees with my face 
downward. When he made an engagement with 
me he kept it. He never broke one. He sometimes 
almost broke me. If a thrashing was due, one might 
keep out of father s reach all day, but this merely 
deferred the punishment; there was no escaping him 
at bed-time, because we all slept on one floor, the 
first. Sometimes he would send me for a stick to 
be thrashed with. In that case I always brought 
either the smallest or the biggest the smallest be 
cause I knew that it could not do much harm, or the 
largest because I knew my father would lay it on 
very lightly. Once or twice I managed to get out 
of a thrashing in this way : One was due to me in the 
evening. In the afternoon I would say to him, " Dad 
dy, shall I go and gather a bundle of sticks for your 
fire?" and he would say, "Yes, Rodney." Then 
when I brought them to him I would hand him one, 
and he would say, "What is this for?" "Why, 
that is for my thrashing," I would answer. And 
sometimes he would let me off, and sometimes he 
would not. Occasionally, too, I used to plead, " I 
know mother is not far behind the clouds, and she is 
looking down on you, and she will see you if you 
hit me very hard." Sometimes that helped me to 
escape, sometimes it did not. But this I will say 
for my father : he never thrashed me in a temper, and 
I am quite sure now that I deserved my thrashings, 
and that they all did me good. 



A Mischievous Little Boy 43 

As I grew older I became ambitious of some thing 
better and greater than a smock-frock, namely a 
pair of trousers. My father did not give an enthu 
siastic encouragement to that ambition, but he told 
me that if I was a good boy I should have a pair of 
his. And I was a good boy. My father in those 
days stood nearly six feet high, was broad in pro 
portion, and weighed fifteen stones. I was very 
small and very thin as a child, but I was bent on hav 
ing a pair of trousers. My father took an old pair 
of his and cut them off at the knees ; but even then, 
of course, they had to be tucked up. I was a proud 
boy that day. I took my trousers behind the hedge, 
so that I might put them on in strict privacy. My 
father and brother, enjoying the fun, although I 
did not see it, waited for me on the other side of the 
hedge. When I emerged they both began to chaff 
me. "Rodney/ said my brother, "are you going 
or coming?" He brought me a piece of string and 
said, " What time does the balloon go up?" And, 
in truth, when the wind blew, I wanted to be pegged 
down. I did not like the fun, but I kept my trousers. 
I saw my father s dodge. He wanted me to get dis 
gusted with them and to go back to the smock-frock ; 
but I knew that if I went on wearing them he would 
soon get tired of seeing me in these extraordinary 
garments and would buy me a proper pair. 

A day came when we were the guests of the Prince 
of Wales at Sandringham that is, we pitched our 
tents on his estate. One day I helped to catch some 
rabbits, and these trousers turned out to be very use- 



44 Gipsy Smith 

ful. In fact, immediately the rabbits were caught, 
the trousers became a pair of fur-lined garments; 
for I carried them home inside the trousers. 

At length my father bought me a pair of brand- 
new corduroys that just fitted me, but I was soon 
doomed to trouble with these trousers. One day I 
found a hen camping out in the ditch, and there was 
quite a nestful of eggs there. I was very indignant 
with that hen for straying so far from the farm-yard. 
I considered that her proceedings were irregular and 
unauthorized. As to the eggs, the position to me 
was quite clear. I had found them. I had not gone 
into the farm-yard and pilfered them. On the other 
hand, they had put themselves in my way, and I 
naturally thought they were mine, and so I filled 
my pockets with them. I was sorry that I had to 
leave some of these eggs, but I could not help it. The 
capacity of my pockets in my new trousers was less 
generous than in the old ones.. My next difficulty 
was how to get out of the ditch without breaking any 
of the eggs. But I was a youngster of resource and 
managed it. And now I had to take my way across 
a ploughed field. This meant some very delicate 
pedestrian work. Then I heard a man shout, and 
1 thought that he wanted me, but I did not desire to 
give him an interview. So I ran, and as I ran I fell ; 
and when I fell the eggs all cracked. I got up, 
and, looking round, saw nobody. The man who I 
thought was pursuing me was only shouting to a 
man in another field. It is truly written, "The 
wicked flee w r hen no man pursueth. " I thought I 



A Mischievous Little Boy 45 

had found these eggs, but my conscience found me. 
I have never found eggs again from that day to this. 
One other episode of my childish days will I inflict 
upon my readers. It was the time of the Cambridge 
Fair, and our wagons were standing on the fair-ground. 
The fun of the fair included a huge circus Sanger s, 
I think it was. In front of the door stood the clown, 
whom it was the custom among us to call " Pinafore 
Billy." This is the man who comes out and dilates 
on the wonders and merits of the performance, tells 
the people that the show is just about to begin, and 
invites them to step in. My highest ambition as a 
boy was to become a Pinafore Billy. I thought that 
that position was the very height of human glory, and 
I w r ould have done anything and taken any trouble 
to get it. Now I wanted to get into the circus, and 
I had no money. A man was walking round the 
show with a long whip in his hand driving boys off, 
in case they should attempt to slip in under the can 
vas. I went up to this whip-man and offered to 
help him. He was very scornful, and said, "What 
can you do?" I said, "I will do what I can; I will 
help to keep the boys off." So he said, " Very well; 
what will you do?" I answered, "You go round 
one way and I will go the other." It was agreed, 
but as soon as he started to do his half of the round 
and turned his back on me, and had got round the 
tent, I slipped under the canvas. I thought by 
doing so I should at once be in the right part of the 
circus for seeing the show, but instead of that I found 
myself in a sort of dark, dismal part underneath 



46 Gipsy Smith 

the raised seats of the circus. This was where the 
horses were kept. I saw at once I was in a fix, and 
to my horror I perceived a policeman walking round 
inside and coming towards me. I was at my wits 
end; but luckily I perceived some harness lying 
about, and seizing a loose cloth close at hand, I be 
gan to polish the rmrness vigorously. When the 
policeman did come up to me he said, "My boy, 
that is a curious job they have given you to do in 
such a place as this." "It is very hard work," I 
said, and went on polishing as vigorously as ever, 
never looking up at the policeman s face. I was 
afraid to, for I knew that my looks would betray my 
guilt. Then the policeman went on. I really do 
not know how I made my way into the circus. How 
ever, I found myself sitting among the best seats 
of the house, and I am sure that I attracted great 
attention, for here was I, a poor little gipsy boy, 
dressed in corduroys and velvets, sitting among 
all the swells. I was not long in peace. My con 
science at once began to say to me, "How will you 
get out? You dare not go out by the door in case 
you meet the whip-man that you offered to help." 
I felt myself to be a thief and a robber. I had not 
come in at the door, but I had climbed up some other 
way. I do not remember quite how I got out of this 
terrible dilemma, but I know that I escaped without 
suffering, and was very glad, indeed, to find myself 
outside again with a whole skin. 

These are the worst of the sins that I have to con 
fess. My boyhood s days were, on the whole, very 



A Mischievous Little Boy 47 

innocent. I did not drink or swear. I am afraid, 
however, that I told lies many a time. I had no 
opportunity for cultivating bad habits, for all the 
companions I had were my sisters and my brother, 
and so I was kept from serious sin by the narrow 
ness and the limitations of my circumstances. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MORALS OF THE GIPSIES 

PERHAPS this is a fit place to say a few words 
about the morals of the gipsies. I want to say at 
once that the character of my people stands very 
high. I never knew of a gipsy girl who went astray. 
I do not say that that never happened, but that I 
never knew a fallen woman in a gipsy-tent. The 
gipsy boy is told from his earliest days that he must 
honor and protect women. lie drinks in this teach 
ing, so to say, with his mother s milk, and he grows 
up to be very courteous and very chivalrous. The 
gipsy sweethearts do their courting in the day-time, 
and where they can be seen by their parents. The 
" gorgio " sweethearts would probably find these 
conditions rather trying. Gipsy sweethearts do not 
go out for walks by the light of the moon, neither 
do they betake themselves to nooks and corners out 
of sight and out of reach of everybody. All the 
sweet things the gipsy man says to the gipsy maid 
must be uttered, if not in the hearing of their parents, 
at least in their sight. 

My brother Ezekiel and his wife were sweethearts 
from childhood. One day, when they were approach 
ing the estate of manhood and womanhood, Eze- 



The Morals of the Gipsies 49 

kicl was sitting talking to his girl in the presence of 
her mother. "I know/ said Ezekiel s prospective 
mother-in-law, " that you young people want a walk. 
You shall have one. I will go with you." And this 
is the kind of thing which occurs invariably during 
gipsy courtships. Sweethearts would never think 
of going off alone for a little walk, yet the gipsies 
find this no bar to pleasant and successful courting. 
The result of these customs is that gipsy courtships 
are not marred by untoward and unpleasant in 
cidents. The hearts of the young men and young 
women are pure, and this purity is guarded by their 
parents like gold. The gipsy men, indeed, pride 
themselves on the purity of their women, and that 
says a great deal for the men. Practically all gipsies 
get married. There are very few old maids and old 
bachelors. The gipsy husband and wife live on 
the most intimate terms. The wife knows all that 
her husband knows. I would not say that a gipsy 
husband knows all that his wife knows, any more 
than a "gorgio" husband knows all that his wife 
knows. They usually have large families. There is 
no more groundless slander than the statement that 
gipsies steal children. They have every reason for 
not so doing. They have plenty of their own. My 
great-uncle was the father of thirty-one children, 
and a brother of my father s was the father of twenty- 
four, I think. I have never heard that they sought 
to add to their number by theft. 

The young gipsy couple start their married life 
by purchasing a wagon. This costs anywhere from 



50 Gipsy Smith 

40 to .150, and is obtained from a " gorgio " wagon- 
builder. Oddly enough, the gipsies never learn the 
trade of making their own wagons. The wagons 
are very warm and very strong, and last a great many 
years. The young husband is, of course, the manu 
facturer of the goods, and his wife the seller. When 
she leaves the wagon in the morning to go her rounds 
she arranges with her husband where the wagon 
shall be placed at night, and thither she betakes her 
self when her day s toil is over. In the course of the 
day she may have walked from fifteen to twenty 
miles. Gipsies have plenty of exercise and a suffi 
ciency of food. This explains their very good health. 
If the husband has been refused permission to stand 
his wagon on the arranged spot and has had to move 
on, he lets his wife know where he is going by leaving 
behind him a track of grass. 

Gipsies are very lovable and very loyal to one an 
other. They are respectful, and even reverential, to 
old age. I never knew of a gipsy who ended his or 
her days in the workhouse. The gipsy young man 
would rather work the flesh off his fingers than tol 
erate any such thing. They would feel ashamed to 
abandon those who had done so much for them. 

The gipsies do not hate the " gorgios," but they feel 
that they are suspected and mistrusted, and that 
everybody is afraid of them. They feel that all 
" g r gi s " are against them, and therefore they are 
against the " gorgios. " If a kindness is done them by 
a " gorgio " they never cease to talk about it. They 
remember it all their days and their children are 



The Morals of the Gipsies 5 1 

told of it too. Quite recently a curious illustration 
of this trait came to my knowledge. I was travel 
ling from Cambridge to Thetford, and had as my 
companion a clergyman of the Church of England. 
"Some years ago/ he said to me, "a gipsy family 
came to my parish. The father was ill, and I went 
to see him. I read to him, I prayed with him, and 
my wife brought him some nourishing soup. This 
poor man became a sincere seeker after Christ, and 
I have every reason to believe he was converted. I 
followed up my friendship with him. When he left 
the parish and went a few miles farther away I kept 
in touch with him, and wrote to a brother clergyman 
and arranged with him to follow r up what I had tried 
to do for this dying man. This he gladly did, and 
the man passed away happy in the knowledge of 
sins forgiven. Two or three years after I was driv 
ing out of Norwich when I met two young gipsy 
fellows with a donkey which they were going into 
Norwich to sell. I was in need of a donkey, so I got 
down and began to talk to them. I questioned them 
about the donkey. They said it was a very good 
one, and from its appearance I thought so too. Then 
we went on to discuss the price. I finally decided to 
purchase the donkey. I had some further conver 
sation with them, telling them where to take the don 
key, and when I would be home to pay for the same. 
In the mean time I observed with somewhat of alarm 
that these two young fellows were exchaging curi 
ous glances. We were about to fix up the bargain 
when one of them said to me, Are you Mr. So-and-so ? J 



52 Gipsy Smith 

Yes, I am. Oh, well, sir, we have heard of your 
great kindness to poor So-and-so when he was dying, 
and we cannot sell you this donkey : it is a bad one ; 
we could not take you in; but if you will let us we 
will give you a good donkey, a genuine, good arti 
cle. And they got me a fine animal, which has done 
a good deal of work, which I still have, and have 
been delighted with." 

The gipsies are naturally musical. In fact, I 
believe that the only naturally musical people in 
the world are the Jews and gipsies, and this is an 
other point of affinity between the two races. The 
gipsies love to dance in the lanes to the music of the 
harp, the dulcimer, and violin. They do not object 
to the " gorgios " looking on, but they would rather 
they did not join in the merriment. They like to live 
their own life with absolute freedom and without 
interference. 

But, alas! there is a debit side to this moral balance 
account. The gipsies drink a good deal. Beer is 
their beverage. Spirits as a rule they take sparingly. 
They do not drink for the mere sake of drinking, 
but only when they meet friends. Their drinking 
is an unfortunate outcome of their highly social dis 
positions. They may be abstemious for days, weeks, 
and even months, but when they begin to drink 
they go in for it thoroughly. Cans and bottles do not 
satisfy them. Buckets are what they need ; and the 
spree sometimes lasts for nearly a week. Gipsy 
women, however, are abstemious. I have only 
known one who was really a drunkard. And then 



The Morals of the Gipsies 5 3 

gipsies swear, some of them, indeed, fearfully. They 
do not lie to each other, but to the "gorgios." They 
are paid to lie, to tell fortunes. This vile business, 
which has really been forced upon them by the " gor- 
gios," utterly debauches the consciences of the gipsies. 
And I should like all our educated women to know 
that every time they pay a gipsy woman to tell their 
fortune they make it the more difficult for that woman 
to become a Christian. The gipsies, too, are pilferers. 
They do not commit big robberies. They do not 
steal horses or break into banks, nor do they commit 
highway robberies, or find a few thousands, or fail 
for a few. But they take potatoes from a field or 
fruit from an orchard only what is sufficient for 
their immediate needs. The potatoes they take from 
a field are only those they need until they get to 
the next potato field. Sometimes, too, late at night, 
they will put five or six horses into a field to feed, 
and take them out early in the morning. They are 
also in the habit of finding young undergrowth stuff 
that they use for their clothes-pegs and baskets. 
Most of them never dream that there is any sin or 
wrong in such actions. They regard them merely 
as natural, ordinary, commonplace events in their 
daily lives. 



CHAPTER V 

MY FATHER, AND HOW HE FOUND THE LORD 

To return to the story of my own life. I have 
said that the gipsies are very musical, and my father 
was a good illustration of this statement. He was 
a very good fiddler by ear, of course. He tells 
a story of the days when he was learning to play 
in his mother s tent. Dear old lady, she got tired 
of the noise the boy was making, and she told him 
to stop. As he did not stop, she said, " If you don t 
I will blow out the candle." This she did. That, 
of course, made no difference to the young musician ; 
he went on playing, and grannie said, "I never 
saw such a boy; he can play in the dark!" For 
years my father had greatly added to his ordinary 
earnings by fiddling to the dancers in the public- 
houses at Baldock, Cambridge, Ashwell, Royston, 
Bury St. Edmunds, and elsewhere. Even after my 
mother s death, though his fiddling led him into 
great temptations, my father continued this practice, 
and he sometimes took me with him. When he 
fiddled I danced. I was a very good dancer, and 
at a certain point in the evening s proceedings my 
father would say, "Now, Rodney, make the collec 
tion," and I went round with the hat. That is where 



My Father How He Found the Lord 55 

I graduated for the ministry. If ever my father 
took more drink than was good for him, with the 
result that he did not know whether he was drawing 
the bow across the first string or the second, I went 
round again with my cap. What I collected that 
time I regarded as my share of the profits, for I was 
a member of the firm of Smith & Son, and not a 
sleeping partner either. How delighted I was if 
I got a few coppers to show to my sisters! These 
visits with my father to the beer-shop were very fre 
quent, and as I think of those days, when I was 
forced to listen to the vile jokes and vulgar expres 
sions of the common laborers, I marvel at the grace 
which shielded me and prevented me from under 
standing what was being said. 

All this time, while my father was living this life 
of fiddling and drinking and sinning, he was under 
the deepest conviction. He always said his prayers 
night and morning and asked God to give him power 
over drink, but every time temptation came in his 
way he fell before it. He was like the chaff driven 
before the wind. He hated himself afterwards be 
cause he had been so easily overcome. He was so 
concerned about his soul that he could rest nowhere. 
If he had been able to read the word of God, I feel 
sure, and he, looking back on those days, feels sure, 
that he would have found the way of life. His sister 
and her husband, who had no children, came to travel 
with us. She could struggle her way through a 
little of the New Testament, and used to read to 
my father about the sufferings of Christ and His 



56 Gipsy Smith 

death upon the tree for sinful men. She told my 
father it was the sins of the people which nailed Him 
there, and he often felt in his heart that he was one 
of them. She was deeply moved when he wept and 
said, "Oh, how cruel to serve Him so!" I have 
seen father when we children were in bed at night, 
and supposed to be asleep, sitting over the fire, the 
flame from which was the only light. As it leaped 
up into the darkness it showed us a sad picture. 
There was father, with tears falling like bubbles on 
mountain streams as he talked to himself about 
mother and his promise to her to be good. lie would 
say to himself aloud, " I do not know how to be good," 
and laying his hand upon his heart he would say, 
"I wonder when I shall get this want satisfied, this 
burden removed." When father was in this con 
dition there was no sleep for us children. We lay 
awake listening, not daring to speak, and shedding 
bitter tears. Many a time I have said the next morn- 
in to my sisters and my brother, " We have no mother, 
and we shall soon have no father." We thought 
he was going out of his mind. We did not under 
stand the want or the burden. It was all quite foreign 
to us. My father remained in this sleepless, con 
victed condition for a long time, but the hour of his 
deliverance was at hand. 

" Long in darkness we had waited 

For the shining of the light : 
Long have felt the things we hated 
Sink us into deeper night." 



My Father How He Found the Lord 57 

One morning we had left Luton behind us. My 
eldest sister was in the town selling her goods, and 
my father had arranged to wait for her on the road 
side with our wagon. When our wagon stopped 
my father sat on the steps, wistfully looking towards 
the town against the time of his daughter s return, 
and thinking, no doubt, as he always was, of my 
mother and his unrest. Presently he saw two gipsy 
wagons coming towards him, and when they got 
near he discovered to his great delight that they 
belonged to his brothers Woodlock and Bartholo 
mew. Well do I remember that meeting. My father 
was the eldest of the three, and although he was 
such a big man, he was the least in stature. The 
brothers were as surprised and delighted to meet 
my father as he was to meet them. They fell on 
each other s necks and wept. My father told them 
of his great loss, and they tried to sympathize with 
him, and the wives of the two brothers did their best 
to comfort us motherless children. The two wagons 
of my uncles faced my father s, but on the opposite 
side of the road. The three men sat on the bank 
holding sweet fellowship together, and the two wives 
and the children of the three families gathered around 
them. Soon my father was talking about the con 
dition of his soul. Said he to Woodlock and Bar 
tholomew: "Brothers, I have a great burden that I 
must get removed. A hunger is gnawing at my 
heart. I can neither eat, drink, nor sleep. If I do 
not get this want satisfied I shall die!" And then 
the brothers said: "Cornelius, we feel just the 



58 Gipsy Smith 

same. We have talked about this to each other for 
weeks." 

Though these three men had been far apart, God 
had been dealing with them at the same time cind 
in the same way. Among the marvellous dispensa 
tions of Providence which have come within my own 
knowledge, this is one of the most wonderful. These 
men were all hungry -for the truth. They could 
not read, and so knew nothing of the Bible. They 
had never been taught, and they knew very little 
of Jesus Christ. The light that had crept into their 
souls was "the true light that lighteth every man 
that cometh into the world." "He, the Spirit, will 
reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judg 
ment." 

As the brothers talked they felt how sweet it would 
be to go to God s house and learn of Him, for they 
had all got tired of their roaming life. My father 
was on the way to London, and fully resolved to go 
to a church and find out what it was his soul needed. 
The three brothers agreed to go together, and ar 
ranged to take in Cambridge by the way. They 
drove their wagon to the Barnwell end of the town, 
where there was a beer-shop. The three great big 
simple men went in and told the landlady how they 
felt. It is not often, I feel sure, that part of a work 
of grace is carried on in a beer-shop, and with the 
landlady thereof as an instrument in this divine 
work. But God had been dealing with the landlady 
of this beer-house. When the brothers spoke to 
her she began to weep, and said, " I am somewhat 



My Father How He Found the Lord 59 

in your case, and I have a book upstairs that will 
just suit you, for it makes me cry every time I read 
it." She brought the book down and lent it to the 
brothers to read. They went into the road to look 
after their horses. A young man who came out of 
the public-house offered to read from the book to 
them. It was The Pilgrim s Progress. When 
he got to the point where Pilgrim s burden drops 
off as he looks at the cross, Bartholomew rose from 
his seat by the way-side and excitedly walking up 
and down, cried: " That is what I want, my burden 
removed. If God does not save me I shall die!" 
All the brothers at that moment felt the smart of sin, 
and wept like little children. 

On the Sunday the three brothers went to the Prim 
itive Methodist Chapel, Fitzroy Street, Cambridge, 
three times. In the evening a certain Mr. Gunns 
preached. Speaking of that service, my father says : 
" His points were very cutting to my soul. He seemed 
to aim directly at me. I tried to hide myself behind 
a pillar in the chapel, but he, looking and pointing 
in that direction, said, He died for thee! The anx 
ious ones were asked to come forward, and in the 
prayer- meeting the preacher came to where I was 
sitting and asked me if I was saved. I cried out, 
No; that is what I want/ He tried to show me that 
Christ had paid my debt, but the enemy of souls had 
blinded my eyes and made me believe that I must 
feel it and then believe it, instead of receiving Christ 
by faith first. I went from that house of prayer still 
a convicted sinner, but not a converted one." 



60 Gipsy Smith 

We now resumed our way to London, and had 
reached Epping Forest when darkness came on. 
My father put his horse in somebody s field, intend 
ing, of course, to avoid detection of this wrong-doing 
by coming for it early in the morning. That night 
he dreamed a dream. In the dream he was travelling 
through a rugged country over rocks and bowlders, 
thorns and briers. His hands were bleeding and 
his feet torn. Utterly exhausted and worn out, he 
fell to the ground. A person in white raiment ap 
peared to him, and as this person lifted up his hands 
my father saw the mark of the nails, and then he 
knew it was the Lord. The figure in white said to 
my father, showing him His hands, " I suffered this 
for you, and when you give up all and trust Me I will 
save you." Then my father awoke. This dream 
shows how much the reading of The Pilgrim s 
Progress had impressed him. He narrated the 
dream at the breakfast-table on the following morn 
ing. When he \vent to fetch his horses his tender 
conscience told him very clearly and very pointedly 
that he had done wrong. As he removed the horses 
from the field and closed the gate he placed his hand 
on it and, summoning up all his resolution, said, 
"That shall be the last known sin I will ever wil 
fully commit." 

My father was now terribly in earnest. There 
were a great many gipsies encamped in the forest 
at the time, including his father and mother, brothers 
and sisters. My father told them that he had done 
with the roaming and wrong-doing, and that he meant 



My Father How He Found the Lord 61 

to turn to God. They looked at him and wept. Then 
my father and his brothers moved their vans to Shep 
herd s Bush, and placed them on a piece of building 
land close to Mr. Henry Varley s chapel. My father 
sold his horse, being determined not to move from 
that place until he had found the way to God. Says 
my father : " I meant to find Christ if He was to be 
found. I could think of nothing else but Him. I 
believed His blood was shed for me." Then my 
father prayed that God would direct him to some 
place where he might learn the way to heaven, and 
his prayer was answered. One morning he went 
out searching as usual for the way to God. He met a 
man mending the road, and began to talk with him 
about the weather, the neighborhood, and such 
like things. The man was kindly and sympathetic, 
and my father became more communicative. The 
man, as the good providence of God would have it, 
was a Christian, and said to my father, " I know what 
you want; you want to be converted." "I do not 
know anything about that/ said my father, "but 
I want Christ, and I am resolved to find Him." 
"Well," said the working-man, "there is a meeting 
to-night in a mission-hall in Latimer Road, and I 
shall come for you and take you there." In the 
evening the road-mender came and carried off my 
father and his brother Bartholomew to the mission- 
hall. Before leaving, my father said to us, " Children, 
I shall not come home again until I am converted," 
and I shouted to him, "Daddy, who is he?" I did 
not know who this Converted was. I thought my 



62 Gipsy Smith 

father was going off his head, and resolved to follow 
him. The mission - hall was crowded. My father 
marched right up to the front. I never knew him 
look so determined. The people were singing the 
well-known hymn : 

There is a fountain filled with blood 

Drawn from Emmanuel s veins, 
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, 
Lose all their guilty stains." 

The refrain was, "I do believe, I will believe, that 
Jesus died for me." As they were singing, my 
father s mind seemed to be taken away from every 
body and everything. "It seemed/ he said, "as if 
I was bound in a chain and they were drawing me 
up to the ceiling." In the agony of his soul he fell 
on the floor unconscious, and lay there wallowing 
and foaming for half an hour. I was in great dis 
tress, and thought my father was dead, and shouted 
out, "Oh dear, our father is deadl" But presently 
he came to himself, stood up and, leaping joyfully, 
exclaimed, "I am converted!" He has often spoken 
of that great change since. He walked about the 
hall looking at his flesh. It did not seem to be all 
quite the same color to him. His burden was gone, 
and he told the people that he felt so light that if 
the room had been full of eggs he could have walk 
ed through and not have broken one of them. 

I did not stay to witness the rest of the proceed 
ings. As soon as I heard my father say, " I am con- 




MY FATHER, MY SISTER, AND MYSELF. 



My Father How He Found the Lord 63 

verted," I muttered to myself, "Father is converted; 
I am off home." I was still in utter ignorance of 
what the great transaction might mean. 

When my father got home to the wagon that night 
he gathered us all around him. I saw at once that 
the old haggard look that his face had worn for years 
was now gone, and, indeed, it was gone for ever. 
His noble countenance was lit up with something 
of that light that breaks over the cliff-tops of eter 
nity. I said to myself in wonderment, " What mar 
vellous words these are I do believe, I will believe, 
that Jesus died for me." My father s brother Bar 
tholomew was also converted that evening, and the 
two stopped long enough to learn the chorus, and 
they sang it all the way home through the streets. 
Father sat down in the wagon, as tender and gentle 
as a little child. He called his motherless children 
to him one by one, beginning with the youngest, 
my sister Tilly. " Do not be afraid of me, my dears. 
God has sent home your father a new creature and 
a new man." He put his arms as far round the five 
of us as they would go, kissing us all, and before we 
could undersand what had happened he fell on his 
knees and began to pray. Never will my brother, 
sisters, and I forget that first prayer. I still feel its 
sacred influence on my heart and soul ; in storm and 
sunshine, life and death, I expect to feel the bene 
diction of that first prayer. There was no sleep for 
any of us that night. Father was singing, " I do 
believe, I will believe, that Jesus died for me," and 
we soon learned it too. Morning, when it dawned, 



64 Gipsy Smith 

found my father full of this new life and this new joy. 
He again prayed with his children, asking God to 
save them, and while he was praying God told him 
he must go to the other gipsies that were encamped 
on the same piece of land, in all about twenty families. 
Forthwith he began to sing in the midst of them, and 
told them what God had done for him. Many of 
them wept. Turning towards his brother Bartholo 
mew s van, he saw him and his wife on their knees. 
The wife was praying to God for mercy, and God 
saved her then and there. The two brothers, Bar 
tholomew and my father, then commenced a prayer- 
meeting in one of the tents, and my brother and 
eldest sister were brought to God. In all, thirteen 
gipsies professed to find Christ that morning. 



CHAPTER VI 

OLD CORNELIUS WAS DEAD 

AND now commenced a new life for my father. 
He felt so new inside that he was sure he must look 
new outside. And so he did. There was a hand 
glass in the wagon. My father was continually 
examining himself in it. lie looked at himself all 
over, at least as much of him as could be perceived 
in the glass, and when he had done this minute in 
spection he would say to himself, " Is this old Cor 
nelius?" It was not. The old Cornelius was dead. 
The new Cornelius was a great surprise and delight 
to my father, and also to his children. As it is writ 
ten, " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature : 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are 
become new." Christ makes new men and a new 
creation. 

No sooner had my father begun this new life than 
he had to withstand the assaults of Satan. His 
attention was first drawn to his old fiddle. He took 
it down, and I felt sure he was going to play "I do 
believe," and I asked him to do so. He said, "No, 
my dear, I am going to sell this fiddle." I said, 
"No, daddy, do not sell it; let Rzekiel and me play 
it. You can teach us how to." My father said, 



66 Gipsy Smith 

" No, that fiddle has been the cause of my ruin. It 
has led me into drink, and sin, and vice, and bad 
company. It shall not be the ruin of my boys. It 
shall not be where I am. I will get rid of it, and I 
shall not have one again until I feel strong enough 
to be able to manage it." So my father sold the 
fiddle and began to preach to the men that bought 
it from him. 

Very soon the third brother, Woodlock, was 
brought to God. The critical event in his life took 
place in Mr. Yarley s vestry. As soon as Mr. Yarley 
heard of the conversion of my father and his brothers, 
he invited them to his Tabernacle. He put up a 
mission tent on the ground where the gipsies were 
encamped and called it the Gipsy Tabernacle. A 
lady came to teach the gipsy children in the day 
time and some young men in the evening read to 
them. The three brothers made a solemn league 
and covenant with each other that they would never 
fall out, and that for Christian work they would 
never be parted. This pledge they kept until death 
dissolved the bond. If you wanted one of them for 
a meeting, you had to invite the three. These three 
men were as simple as children. One of the first 
hymns they learnt and the one that they were most 
fond of singing was 

" Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, 
Look upon a little child." 

And, after all, they were only children, felt themselves 
children always, and i>ossessed all their days a truly 



Old Cornelius was Dead 67 

childlike spirit. Each of them was as sweet as a 
sister, as tender as a mother, and as playful as a 
kitten. They were very fond of singing, and we 
children loved to sing, too. As for anything deeper, 
we did not yet understand the need of it. We had 
no books, and if we had had books we could not 
have read them. Our first idea of God came from 
father s beautiful life in the gipsy tent a life which 
was like the blooming of a flower whose beauty w r on 
us all. If father had lived one life in a meeting 
and another in the gipsy tent, he would not have 
been able to rejoice to-day over his five children 
converted. But the beauty of father s character was 
most seen in his home life. We dearly loved to 
have him all to ourselves. Nobody knew \vhat a 
fine, magnificent character he was as well as we 
children. Whenever we were tempted to do things 
that were at all doubtful, we at once thought of father, 
and if we had any suspicion that the course of con 
duct we contemplated would not be pleasing to him, 
we at once abandoned all idea of following it. 
Father s life was the leaven which leavened the 
whole lump. 

One Sunday morning, seven or eight weeks after 
their conversion, the three brothers set out to visit 
their father and mother. The old couple were camped 
in Loughton Forest, near High Beech. They walked 
all the way from Shepherd s Bush to Loughton, 
and when they got within hearing distance they 
began to sing, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild." 
Granny heard the voices of her boys and knew them, 



68 Gipsy Smith 

as every mother would have known them. She got 
up, and peering with her old, weary eyes over the 
bushes, said to herself, "Why, bless me, if them s 
not my boys coming!" It does not matter how old 
you are, as long as your mother is living you will 
still be a boy. Then granny, turning to grand 
father, said, " I say, Jim, come out of the tent and 
see if these ain t my bo}\s!" And the three stalwart 
men still marched triumphantly on with proud, smil 
ing, beaming faces, singing, "Gentle Jesus, meek 
and mild." Then says old granny, "What in the 
world is the matter with you?" "Oh," says my 
father, " mother, we have found Christ ; we have 
found Jesus; we are converted!" My poor grand 
father walked round the tent, saying, " My boys 
have come home to teach me what I ought to have 
taught them!" Granny soon had a meal ready for 
her boys. "Before we eat," said my father, "we 
always pray now"; and they all knelt down. As 
soon as they got off their knees, grandfather began 
to cry for mercy, and soon found peace. Grand 
father s brother was camping with him, and he, too, 
sought and found the Saviour. lie was ninety- 
nine years of age, and lived two years after this, dying 
a triumphant Christian death. Grandfather and 
grandmother were both seventy, and lived five years 
after their conversion. 

Presently the brothers returned to London, and 
soon were deeply engaged in Christian work. The 
gipsies were all turned off the ground where they 
had been staying, and the Gipsy Tabernacle went 



Old Cornelius was Dead 69 

with them. My father hired a field at the rent of 
25 a year, and all the gipsies followed him there. 
The tents \vere pitched around the field with the 
mission tent in the centre, and meetings were con 
tinually held. Once again, however, they got into 
trouble. Several of the antagonists of the gipsy 
Christians got drunk, fought and made a great dis 
turbance, with the result that the gipsies were sent 
away from the land. We still travelled about a 
little, chiefly between Cambridge and London. The 
winter months we spent usually in Cambridge and 
the summer months on the east side of London. My 
father was anxious that his children should learn 
to read, and he sent us occasionally to school. By 
this he reckons that I must have had about six 
or eight weeks schooling at the most, one winter. 
These weeks comprise all my collegiate career. I 
had just enough schooling to learn my letters and 
a little more. The school was at Cambridge, the 
seat of learning ; so I am a Cambridge man. While 
working day by day to support their children my 
father and his two brothers never lost an oppor 
tunity of preaching the Gospel in chapel, in mission- 
room, and in the open air. 

I remember their work in the summers of 73, 74, 
and 75. Their method of proceeding was in this 
wise : father would get out his fiddle, for by this time 
he had another one which he used in his meetings, 
and which proved a great attraction. He was ac 
companied by his two brothers and all the children 
of the three families. They would start singing and 



70 Gipsy Smith 

keep on singing until three or four hundred peo 
ple gathered. And then they would commence an 
evangelistic service. The work that stands out 
most clearly in my mind is that which took place 
at Forest Gate. There was a great revival there, 
and as a result a large mission hall was erected, 
which is standing now, I believe. 

About this time my father and his brothers got 
into touch with the Rev. William Booth, the founder 
of the Christian Mission. Mr. Booth gave them 
much encouragement in their work, and told them 
that the way to keep bright and happy was to work 
for God. He persuaded the three brothers to under 
take a week s mission at Portsmouth. The town 
was placarded with the announcement that the three 
converted gipsies with their "hallelujah fiddle" 
were coming. So successful was the work that that 
week extended into six, and to us children in our 
tent, father being absent, it seemed almost like six 
years. When he was away, both father and mother 
were away. For he was mother as well as father to 
us. The six weeks seemed much longer to us than 
to the children of my uncles, for they had their moth 
ers. At last we were told of the day of his return. 
We thought he would come back early, and we were 
ready for him at six o clock in the morning. Alas! 
he did not come until six at night. It wasjiis cus 
tom when he came home to embrace us one by one, 
and speak words of tenderness to us. On this oc 
casion, as on others, we all made way for the baby, 
namely, my sister Tilly. It was my turn next. I 



Old Cornelius was Dead 71 

came after her. But Tilly stayed such a long time 
in my father s arms that I became very impatient. 
"Look here/ I said, "it is my turn now; you come 
out!" "All right/ said Tilly, quite cheerfully, 
"you get me out of my father s arms if you can." 
I knew that I could not do that; so I said, "Never 
mind, there is room for me, too, and I am coining in," 
and I went. There is room, too, in our Heavenly 
Father s arms for all. He pours out His love over 
His children \vith more fulness and tenderness than 
ever earthly father did; and remember no one can 
take us from our father s arms. 

My father now became possessed with a strong 
desire to go to Baldock, the scene of his troubles, 
awakening, and conviction. He had played his 
fiddle in the public-houses there for years. He felt 
he had done great mischief, and that now it was his 
duty to do what he could to repair that harm. He 
and his two brothers started for Cambridge. It was 
their custom to do evangelistic work as they pro 
ceeded on their way, and consequently their prog 
ress was not rapid. They stopped for the night 
just outside Melbourne and placed their wagons 
at the side of the road. The horses were tied to 
the wheels of the wagons and were given plenty of 
food. Then the brothers went to bed. At four 
o clock there was a knock at the front door, and 
a voice shouted, "Hallo there!" 

"Who are you?" my father asked. 

" I am a policeman, and I have come to take you 
into custody." 



72 Gipsy Smith 

"Why?" 

" There is a law made that if any gipsies are found 
stopping on the road for twelve miles round they 
are to be taken up without a summons or a war 
rant." 

" You must take care," said my father, " what you 
do with me, because I am a King s son!" 

When my father got up and dressed himself he 
found that there were four policemen awaiting the 
brothers. They were handcuffed like felons and 
marched off to the lock-up, a mile and a half distant. 
All the way the three converted gipsies preached to 
the policemen and told them that God would bring 
them to judgment if they neglected Him, that they 
would be witnesses against them at the great day, 
and would then declare in the presence of the Lord 
Jesus Christ that they had faithfully warned them to 
flee from the wrath to come. The officers made no 
reply and marched on. It is very certain that they 
had never had such prisoners before, and had never 
heard such a lengthy discourse as they did that 
night. For my father preached to them a sermon a 
mile and a half long. In the cells the gipsies fell 
on their knees in prayer and asked God to touch the 
hearts of the policemen. Then they sang 

" He breaks the power of cancelled sin, 
He sets the prisoner free." 

The keeper said that they must not make such 
a noise. The gipsies asked him if he had read of 



Old Cornelius was Dead 



73 



Paul and Silas having been put into prison, and he 
said, "Yes." Then they inquired of the policemen 
whether they knew what Paul and Silas did. Thev 
answered, "They sang praises to God." "And so 
will we," said the gipsies; and they began to sing 
again 

" His blood can make the vilest clean; 
His blood avails for me." 

The keeper gave them rugs to keep them warm, 
and his wife brought them hot coffee and bread and 
butter. My father gave her a little tract, entitled 
"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin," 
and told her the story of our Lord s death for sinners. 
She drank in every word, and there and then trusted 
Christ as her Saviour. In the morning the brothers 
were brought before the magistrates and fined 255. 
each, or in default they must go to prison for fourteen 
days. They had no money, but their fines were 
paid by whom they never knew. 

When the three gipsy brothers got to Baldock 
they told the people that they had been locked up at 
Melbourne, and the news spread on every hand, with 
the result that the interest in the meetings was very 
greatly increased. The first service was outside a 
public-house, and the landlady and her daughter 
were converted. The meetings were held in a 
meadow, and so great were the crowds that 
policemen were sent to keep order. 



CHAPTER VII 

CHRISTMAS IN THE TEXT A STORY OF THREE 
PLUM-PUDDINGS 

WHEN my father and his brothers travelled about 
the country, all their families accompanied them. 
By this time my father had prayed my sisters Emily 
and Lovinia and my brother Ezekiel into the king 
dom. They came in the order of their ages. I was 
the next, and in my heart I, too, was longing for God. 
My father used to pray continually in 1113* hearing, 
"Lord, save my Rodney!" 

All this time my father was very poor, and one 
winter at Cambridge we were in the hardest straits. 
My father was sitting in his van, looking solemn and 
sad. That day one of my aunts, I knew, had been 
buying provisions for the Christmas feast on the 
morrow. This had excited my interest, and, boy-like, 
I wanted to know what we were going to have for 
Christmas, and I asked my father. " I do not know, 
my dear," he said, quietly. There was nothing in 
the house, and he had no money. Then the devil 
came and tempted him. His fiddle was hanging on 
the wall, and he looked at it desperately and thought 
to himself, " If I just take down my fiddle and go to 
a public-house and play to the people there, my 



Christmas in the Tent 75 

children, too, will have a good Christmas dinner." 
But the temptation was very soon overcome. My 
father fell on his knees and began to pray. He 
thanked God for all His goodness to him, and when 
he arose from his knees he said to his children, "I 
don t know quite what we shall have for Christmas, 
but we will sing." He began to sing with a merry 
heart: 

" In some way or other 
The Lord will provide : 
It may not be my way, 
It may not be thy way ; 
But yet in His own way 
The Lord will provide." 

Just then, while we were singing, there was a knock 
at the door of the van. 

"Who is there?" cried my father. 

It was the old Cambridge town missionary, Mr. 
Sykes. 

"It is I, Brother Smith. God is good, is He not? 
I have come to tell you how the Lord will provide. 
In a shop in this town there are three legs of mutton 
and groceries waiting for you and your brothers." 

A wheelbarrow was needed to bring home the 
store. The brothers never knew who gave them 
these goods. But the word of God was verified: 
"No good thing will He withold from them that 
walk uprightly." 

I remember one of my pranks in these days very 
vividly. My sister Tilly and I were out selling our 



j6 Gipsy Smith 

goods. By thivS time the gipsies were very well 
known in the town. Going from door to door, we 
came to the house of Mrs. Robinson, a Baptist min 
ister s wife. She knew my father and his brothers 
well, and she bought some things of us. Then, 
after the business transactions were over, she began 
to speak to us in a kindly way, and it ended by her 
giving us three parcels, one for each of the three 
brothers. We carried them off in triumphant glee. 
But we could not resist the temptation to open the 
paper parcels and see what they contained. To 
our delight we discovered three plum-puddings. 
Each of us started on one. But we found out to 
our disgust that they were only partly cooked, and 
then it occurred to us if we had been older and 
wiser it would have occurred to us earlier that we 
really must not take home to our uncles these pud 
dings that we had begun to eat. The one we had left 
untouched we carried home like dutiful children to 
our father, and there we thought the matter ended. 
A few days afterwards Mrs. Robinson met Uncle 
Bartholomew and asked him how he liked his plum- 
pudding? He stared at her vacantly. What plum- 
pudding? lie did not know of any plum-pudding. 
Would she kindly explain herself? Mrs. Robinson 
told him that she had given Cornelius Smith s chil 
dren three puddings, one for each of the brothers. 
Uncle Bartholomew was forced to declare that his 
had never come to him. He spoke about the matter 
to my father, and I will sum up the situation by 
saying that my father explained it very clearly to us. 



Christmas in the Tent 77 

Never since that day have I had the least appetite 
for plum-pudding, and I believe that my sister Tilly 
shares this unnatural peculiarity with me. 

Quite recently Miss Robinson, the daughter of 
Mrs. Robinson, and a prominent worker in connec 
tion with the Y.W.C.A., met me at a mission and 
asked, "Are you the gipsy boy who knows some 
thing about plum-puddings?" At once the incident 
came back to my memory and we laughed together 
heartily. But let me say to all my young friends, 
"Be sure your sins will find you out. You cannot 
even eat your uncle s plum-puddings without being 
discovered and punished for it." 

And this recalls to my recollection how, before 
my dealings with Mrs. Robinson, I had palmed off 
a nest of sparrows as a nest of young linnets, and 
got paid for it as if they were the latter. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DAWNING OF THE LIGHT 

BUT, although I was a mischievous boy, I was 
not a really bad boy. I knew in my heart what 
religion meant. I had seen it in the new lives of 
my father, sisters, and brother. I had seen the 
wonderful change in the gipsy home the trans 
formation that had taken place there. I had seen 
the transformation-scene if I had not felt it, and in 
my heart there was a deep longing for the strange 
experiences which I knew to be my father s. I re 
member well a visit that my father paid to Bedford 
about this time. I shall never forget my thoughts 
and feelings while I listened to the people as they 
spoke of John Bunyan. They took us to see the 
church where he used to preach, and showed us his 
monument. During our stay in the town, I spent 
some portion of every day near the monument. I 
had heard the people say he had been a tinker and 
a great sinner, but had been converted, and that 
through his goodness he became great. And, oh! 
how I looked up as he stood on that pedestal, and 
longed to be good like him. And I wondered if I 
should always live in the "wagon" and spend a 
life of uselessness. I walked to the village where 



The Dawning of the Light 79 

John Bunyan was born, and went into the house he 
had lived in. I stood and wept and longed to find 
the same Jesus Christ that had made Bunyan what 
he was. I never lost sight in my mind s eye of the 
bright visions that visited me while I was in Bedford. 
I had got it into my mind that religion was a thing 
which first took hold of the head of the house, and 
then stepped down in the order of ages. My heart 
was heavy because I felt that I was standing in the 
way of my sister Tilly, who was younger than I. 
I remember one evening sitting on the trunk of an 
old tree not far from my father s tent and wagon. 
Around the fallen trunk grass had grown about as 
tall as myself. I had gone there to think, because I 
was under the deepest conviction and had an earnest 
longing to love the Saviour and to be a good lad. 
I thought of my mother in heaven, and I thought of 
the beautiful life my father, brother, and sisters were 
living, and I said to myself, " Rodney, are you going 
to wander about as a gipsy boy and a gipsy man 
without hope, or will you be a Christian and have 
some definite object to live for?" Everything was 
still, and I could almost hear the beating of my heart. 
For answer to my question, I found myself startling 
myself by my own voice: "By the grace of God, I 
will be a Christian and I will meet my mother in 
heaven!" My decision was made. I believe I was 
as much accepted by the Lord Jesus that day as I 
am now, for with all my heart I had decided to live 
for Him. My choice was made forever, and had I 
at once confessed Christ, I believe that the witness of 



8o Gipsy Smith 

the Spirit would have been mine, the witness which 
gives one the assurance of acceptance. I knew I 
had said "I will" to God. I made the mistake of 
not declaring my decision publicly, and I believe 
that thousands do likewise. The devil tells them 
to keep it quiet. This is a cunning device by which 
he shuts hundreds out of the light and joy of God s 
salvation. 

Still I was not satisfied. A few days afterwards I 
wandered one evening into a little Primitive Methodist 
Chapel in Fitzro} T Street, Cambridge, where I heard 
a sermon by the Rev. George Warner. Oddly enough, 
I cannot remember a word of what Mr. Warner said, 
but I made up my mind in that service that if there 
was a chance I would publicly give myself to Christ. 
After the sermon a prayer-meeting was held, and 
Mr. Warner invited all those who desired to give 
themselves to the Lord to come forward and kneel 
at the communion-rail. I was the first to go for 
ward. I do not know whether anybody else was there 
or not. I think not. While I prayed the congrega 
tion sang : 

" I can but perish if I go, 

I am resolved to try, 
For if I stay away I know 
I must for ever die." 

And : 

" I do believe, I will believe, 
That Jesus died for me, 
That on the cross He shed His blood 
From sin to set me free." 



The Dawning of the Light 81 

Soon there was a dear old man beside me, an old 
man with great flowing locks, who put his arm round 
me and began to pray with me and for me. I did 
not know his name. I do not know it even now. I 
told him that I had given myself to Jesus for time 
and eternity to be His boy forever. He said: 

"You must believe that He has saved you. To 
as many as received Him, to them gave He power 
to be the sons of God; even to them that believed 
on His name. 

"Well," I said to my dear old friend, "I cannot 
trust myself, for I am nothing ; and I cannot trust in 
what I have, for I have nothing ; and I cannot trust 
in what I know, for I know nothing ; and so far as I 
can see my friends are as badly off as I am." 

So there and then I placed myself by simple trust 
and committal to Jesus Christ. I knew He died for 
me; I knew He was able to save me, and I just be 
lieved Him to be as good as His word. And thus 
the light broke and assurance came. I knew that 
if I was not what I ought to be, I never should be 
again what I had been. I went home and told 
my father that his prayers were answered, and he 
wept tears of joy with me. Turning to me, he said, 
Tell me how you know you are converted?" That 
was a poser for a young convert. I hardly knew 
what to say, but placing my hand on my heart, 
I said, "Daddy, I feel so warm here." I had got a 
little of the feeling that the disciples had when they 
had been talking with Jesus on the way to Em- 

maus: "Did not our heart burn within us?" The 
6 



82 Gipsy Smith 

date of my conversion was the lyth of November, 
1876. 

How my father rejoiced at my turning to the Lord. 
He said to me : " I knew you were such a whole-souled 
boy that, before the devil spoiled 3-011, I coveted you 
for Jesus Christ. I knew that you would be out- 
and-out one way or the other. I seemed to see that 
there were in you great possibilities for Jesus Christ." 

Next morning I had, of course, as usual to go 
out and sell my goods. My first desire was to see 
again the little place where I had kneeled the night 
before ere I commenced my work for the day. There 
I stood for some minutes gazing at the little chapel, 
almost worshipping the place. As I stood, I heard a 
shuffling of feet, and turning round I saw the dear 
old man who had knelt by my side. I said to myself, 
" Now that I have my goods clothes-pegs and tin 
ware with me, he will see that I am a gipsy, and 
will not take any notice of me. He will not speak to 
the gipsy boy. Nobody cares for me but my father. " 
But I was quite wrong. Seeing me, he remembered 
me at once, and came over to speak to me, though 
he walked with great difficulty and with the aid of 
two sticks. Taking my hands in his, he seemed to 
look right down into my innermost soul. Then 
he said to me: " The Lord bless you, my boy. The 
Lord keep you, my boy." I wanted to thank him, 
but the words would not come. There was a lump 
in my throat, and my thoughts were deep beyond 
the power of utterance. My tears contained in their 
silver cells the words my tongue could not utter. 



The Dawning of the Light 83 

The dear old man passed on, and I watched him 
turning the corner out of sight for ever. I never 
saw him again. But when I reach the glory-land, 
I will find out that dear old man, and while angels 
shout and applaud, and the multitudes who have 
been brought to Christ through the gipsy boy sing 
for joy, I will thank that grand old saint for his shake 
of the hand and for his "God bless you!" For he 
made me feel that somebody outside the tent really 
cared for a gipsy boy s soul. His kindness did me 
more good than a thousand sermons would have 
done just then. It was an inspiration that has never 
left me, and has done more for me than I can describe. 
Many a young convert has been lost to the Church 
of God, who would have been preserved and kept for it, 
and made useful in it, all for the want of some such 
kindness as that w r hich fell to my lot that day. 



CHAPTER IX 

LEARNING TO READ AND WRITE PREACHING 
TO THE TURNIP -FIELD SINGING THE GOS 
PEL IN THE COTTAGES 

I BELIEVE that with my conversion came the 
awakening of my intellect, for I saw things and 
understood them as I had not done before. Every 
thing had a new meaning to me. I had already 
begun to spell out a little, but now my desire for 
reading was tremendously intensified. I now had 
something to learn for, and I seemed to have, I did 
not know how, a settled assurance that I should one 
day preach the gospel. At the time of my con 
version I could only spell and understand words 
of one syllable. I used to get my Bible down and 
begin to read it, alas! sometimes the wrong way up, 
in my father s tent or in the corner of a field, away 
from everybody. Many a time have I wept and 
prayed over that Bible. I wanted my heart filled 
with the spirit of it. 

One day I was passing a huge sign-board with a 
red ground and gilt letters. As a matter of fact I 
believe now, if my memory serves me right, that it 
was a brewer s sign-board. T stared at it in wonder 
and distress. I was so anxious to know what it 



Learning to Read and Write 85 

said. A lady passed, going to market, and I asked 
her if she would read the sign-board for me. " Why 
do you want to read that?" she said. "Oh," I an 
swered, "I really am anxious to know what it says." 
Then she read the words, and I thanked her. She 
asked me if I knew my letters, and I said, "Yes, 
I can go over them both backwards and forwards." 
She patted my black head and said, " You will get 
on some day." Her kind words were deeply stamped 
on my memory. 

My first books were the Bible, an English Dic 
tionary, and Professor Eadie s Biblical Dictionary. 
That last volume was given to me by a lady. I ex 
pect my father had told her that I desired to preach. 
These three mighty volumes for they were mighty 
to me I used to carry about under my arm. My 
sisters and brothers laughed at me, but I did not 
mind. " I am going to read them some day," I said, 
"and to preach, too." I lost no opportunity of self- 
improvement and was always asking questions. I 
still believe in continually asking questions. If I 
came across anything I did not understand, I asked 
what it meant I did not mind. If I heard a new 
word I used to flee to my dictionary. I always kept 
it beside me when I read or tried to read. Then I 
began to practice preaching. One Sunday I entered 
a turnip-field and preached most eloquently to the 
turnips. I had a very large and most attentive congre 
gation. Not one of them made an attempt to move 
away. While walking along the road with my bas 
ket under my arm I used to go on preaching. I 



86 Gipsy Smith 

knew a great many passages of Scripture and hymns, 
and my discourses consisted of these all woven to 
gether. My father, too, began to see that this was 
no mere boyish ambition, and encouraged it. A 
Mr. Goodman, in Brandon, Norfolk, advised my 
father to send me to Mr. Spurgeon s Pastors College, 
and I was greatly excited over the idea. But events 
so shaped themselves that this project was never 
carried out. 

At this time, too, I did my first bit of real Christian 
work. One day I was hawking my wares, and, as 
usual, ever anxious to get a chance of telling people 
about Jesus. I went to a large house, and two maids 
came to the door to see me. I began to preach to 
them about the Saviour, and I discovered that they 
were both of them Christian girls. They took me 
into the kitchen, and we had a nice little conversation 
together. On the table was a collecting-box, which 
they told me was one of the British and Foreign 
Bible Society s boxes. I asked them for a box. 
Their master was the secretary of the Bible society 
for Cambridge, and when they told him, he gave me 
a box. I carried this in my basket for many weeks, 
collecting halfpennies and pennies for the Society. 
When I took the box back to the man who gave it 
me I had collected from 155. to i. I never felt so 
proud in my life. 

I was on very good terms with the women in the 
villages. After I had done my best to get them to 
buy my goods I would say to them, " Would you 
like me to sing for you?" And they usually said, 



Learning to Read and Write 87 

"Yes." Sometimes quite a number of them would 
gather in a neighbor s kitchen to hear me, and I 
would sing to them hymn after hymn, and then per 
haps tell them about myself, how I had no mother, 
how I loved Jesus, and how I meant to be His boy 
all my life. Sometimes the poor souls would weep 
at my simple story. I came to be known as "the 
singing gipsy boy." One day one of these women 
was speaking to my eldest sister about her brother, 
and my sister said, "Which brother?" "Oh," she 
answered, "the one who sings and stretches out his 
neck like a young gosling." I could sing then with 
great force, though I was very small in those days 
and very thin. My favorite hymn was: 

" There is a fountain filled with blood 

Drawn from Emmanuel s veins, 
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, 
Lose all their guilty stains." 

There is an old lady still living in West Ration 
who bought a reel of cotton from me when I was a 
boy, and allowed me to conduct a service in her kitch 
en. She will not part with that reel of cotton for 
love or money. I believe that these little singing 
sermons were made a great blessing. I was sought 
after particularly by the young folks in the houses. 
As my ability to read grew, I learned off by heart the 
fifty-third and fifty-fifth chapters of Isaiah, and the 
fifteenth of St. Luke. I occasionally went through 
one of these chapters for the lesson in father s meet 
ings. My father and his two brothers were, of course, 



Gipsy Smith 

always engaged in evangelistic work, and I used to 
sing with them. My father says he still frequently 
meets old people who talk about those days. 

In the spring of 1877 we removed from Cambridge 
to London, travelling in our wagons. We did the 
journey in easy stages, which took us five or six 
days. The gipsy brothers held open-air services 
in the villages as they passed through them. Their 
coming was hailed with delight and enthusiasm. 
It was a fine spectacle these three big, full-blooded, 
consecrated men, standing in the open air, with their 
children around them, singing and preaching the 
gospel. One poor man came to hear us. The hymn 
they sang and that my father played on his violin 
was called, " Will you go?" This man came and 
tapped the fiddle on the back and said, "Didn t that 
old fiddle say, Will you go? " The fiddle won great 
fame as the "hallelujah fiddle," and the people used 
to come long distances to the meetings sometimes 
merely to see it. 

During the summer we stood our tents on a piece 
of building land at Forest Gate. One day I was out 
selling my goods, or trying to. My luck varied con 
siderably. A good day would mean that I made a 
clear profit of perhaps 25. 6d. That implied about 
75. 6d. worth of sales. On a bad day, I might make 
only a shilling profit or even a good deal less. But 
on the whole, a father with his wife and children, if 
they were all helping, would do pretty well. Our 
expenses, of course, were small, but my father s con 
version increased them, because now he invariably 



Learning to Read and Write 89 

paid for the land on which he stood his wagon and 
tents. If I remember rightly, the rent was about 
is. 6d. or 2s. 6d. a week. There were no taxes to pay 
and no appearances to keep up. There was no money 
spent on luxuries or on drink, and we lived in a very 
plain style. Gipsies have just two good meals a day 
breakfast at 7.30 or 8 A.M. and supper about 5 P.M. 
Breakfast consisted of bacon or ham, or boiled meat 
with bread and potatoes, and supper was the same. 
The gipsies are great tea-drinkers. Throughout 
the day we had to beg or buy something to keep us 
going. Most of the gipsy food is either boiled or 
fried, for they have no ovens. They go to bed early 
and they rise early, about five or six o clock. They 
live on plain food and not too much of it, and con 
sequently they are very healthy. 

I remember one incident of this time vividly. It 
was a very wet day, and I had taken shelter in an 
unfinished building. The rain was coming down 
in torrents, and there seemed no immediate prospect 
of its stopping. I felt I could not do better than 
spend the time in prayer. I knelt down in the 
kitchen among the shavings, sawdust, and sand, 
with my cap on one side of me and my basket on 
the other, and began to speak to my Lord. I do 
not know how long I continued in supplication. It 
was a sweet and gracious time passing very quickly. 
I was startled by hearing something like a sob or a 
sniff, and, looking through the unfinished kitchen 
window, I saw on the wall which separated the two 
gardens three men with their caps off. They had 



90 Gipsy Smith 

been listening to my petitions, and had been deeply 
affected thereby. Their tears fell with the rain- 
dops. If I had been a little older, or had possessed 
a little more courage, I should there and then have 
begun to preach the gospel to them; but I was shy, 
nervous, and frightened, and, taking up my basket 
and cap, bolted out like a wild deer into the rain. 



CHAPTER X 

I BECOME AN EVANGELIST THE CHRISTIAN 
MISSION AND REV. WILLIAM BOOTH MY FIRST 
FROCK-COAT AND MY FIRST APARTMENTS 

I NOW approached my seventeenth birthday. 
My desire to become a preacher grew stronger as 
the days passed by. One Sunday morning I rose 
with the determination to undertake something in 
that line. I arrayed myself in my Sunday best, 
consisting of a small brown beaver hat, a velvet 
jacket with white pearl buttons, a vest with the same 
adornments, a pair of corduroys, and a yellow hand 
kerchief with a dash of red in it round my neck. 
If gipsies have a weakness in the love of clothing, 
it is for silk handkerchiefs. I sallied forth in this 
attire. The people were just starting off for church 
and chapel. I stood in a little corner some way 
from the wagons. I knew the people must pass 
that way. I took off my hat and I began to sing, 
and after singing I prayed, and after prayer there 
was another hymn. By this time a few people had 
stopped to see what was going to happen. I dare 
say a good many persons about knew me by sight, 
for I took care that I was never long in a place be 
fore the people knew me. I had a way of introduc- 



92 Gipsy Smith 

ing nn-self. I was a child of nature, and I introduced 
myself as naturally as the flowers do. I told the 
people how I had found the Saviour, what my life 
and desires were, and that I loved Jesus and wanted 
everybody else to love Him, too. They listened and 
wept. When I had said this I began to get very 
anxious as to how I should end. I desired to finish 
off beautifully, but I did not know how. Happily, 
when I had finished what I had to say, I told the 
people that I hoped to do better next time, and then 
1 crept back to the wagons, certainly not feeling 
over exultant about my first meeting. I found that 
my father and some of my friends had been listen 
ing to me. They applauded my zeal, but I do not 
remember what they said about my sermon. 

In the spring of this year I got into touch with 
the Christian Mission, of which the Rev. William 
Booth, now General Booth, was superintendent. 
The headquarters of the mission were at 272 White- 
chapel Road. It had twenty-seven mission stations 
and thirty-five missionaries. They were under 
the control of Mr. Booth, who was popularly referred 
to by the Christian workers as the Bishop. They 
had an annual conference at which speeches were 
made and resolutions were put and voted upon, 
but what amount of directing or legislative power 
this conference possessed I do not know. It is cer 
tain that Mr. Booth was as absolute in his control 
of the Christian Alission as he now is nominally 
at least of the Salvation Army. While attending 
some meetings at the mission station in Plaistow, 



I Become an Evangelist 93 

we heard of an all-day gathering that was to be 
held at the mission s headquarters in Whitechapel 
Road on Whit-Monday. Uncle Bartholomew and 
sister Emily arranged to go and take me with them. 
At the evening meeting there must have been about 
a thousand people present. 

The Rev. William Booth presided. He " spotted " 
my uncle, my sister, and myself, for he knew the 
gipsy brothers well, and availed himself of their 
services. Further, he knew a little about me par 
ticularly. Some time previously my father had been 
conducting a mission at Leicester with the late Mr. 
William Corbridge, and he had told Mr. Corbridge 
that he had a boy who wanted to be a preacher, and 
whom he thought of sending to the Pastors College. 
Mr. Corbridge, as I got to know years later, there 
upon wrote to Mr. Booth, saying " Cornelius Smith, 
the gipsy, has a boy, Rodney, whom he thinks of 
sending to the pastors College. He has a great 
desire to preach. Get hold of him. He might be 
very useful in the mission." My appearance at 
this Whit-Monday service no doubt brought this 
letter back to Mr. Booth s mind. After several 
persons had addressed the meeting, he said, "The 
next speaker will be the gipsy boy." There was 
only one gipsy boy in the meeting, and I was he. 
My first inclination was to run away, but immedi 
ately the thought came to me that that would never 
do. Said I to myself, "Have I not promised the 
Lord to do whatever He commands me? and, as 
I did not seek this, I feel it is from Him." Trembling, 



94 Gipsy Smith 

I took my way to the platform, which, luckily, was 
only five or six steps off. When I reached it I shook 
in every limb. Mr. Booth, with that quick eye of his, 
saw that I was in something of a predicament, and 
at once he said, "Will you sing us a solo?" I said, 
" I will try, sir " ; and that night I sang my first solo 
at a big public meeting. It was as follows : 



" HAPPY, EVER HAPPY 

" Jesus died upon the tree, 
That from sin we might be free, 
And for ever happy be, 
Happy in His love. 
He has paid the debt we owe; 
If with trusting hearts we go, 
He will wash us white as snow 
In His blood. 

"Then with joy and gladness sing; 

Happy, ever happy be ; 
Praises to our heavenly King 
Happy in the Lord. 

" Lord, we bring our hearts to Thee 
Dying love is all our plea ; 
Thine for ever we would be 

Jesus, ever Thine. 
Jesus smiles and bids us come, 
In His loving arms there s room, 
He will bear us safely home 
Home above. 



I Become an Evangelist 95 

" When we reach that shining shore 
All our sufferings will be o er, 
And we ll sigh and weep no more 

In that land of love; 
But in robes of spotless white, 
And with crowns of glory bright, 
We will range the fields of light 

Evermore." 

The people listened with interest and attention. 
I felt I had done pretty well, that I had made a good 
introduction, and that now I should have a chance. 
I was clearing my throat \vith a preliminary nervous 
cough every preacher knows quite well what I 
mean when a great tall man (afterwards Com 
missioner Dowdle, of the Salvation Army) shouted, 
"Keep your heart up, youngster!" I said, "My 
heart is in my mouth; where do you want it?" I 
did not mean the people to hear this, but they did, 
and they laughed, and I was not sorry that they 
laughed, for while they laughed I had a bit of time 
to pull myself together. As far as I can remem 
ber, this is how my address proceeded : " I am only 
a gipsy boy. I do not know what you know about 
many thngs, but I know Jesus. I know that He has 
saved me. I cannot read as you can. I do not live 
in a house as you do; I live in a tent. But I have 
got a great house up yonder, and some day I am 
going to live in it. My great desire is to live for 
Christ and the whole of my life to be useful in His 
service." My discourse was very brief, and I was 
very glad when it was done. I had sense enough 



96 Gipsy Smith 

to sit down immediately I had finished what I had to 
say. I do not know that I have been equally wise 
on every occasion since then. As I resumed my seat 
there came from many quarters of the meeting the 
exclamation, "God bless the boy!" 

Mr. Booth kept me beside him until the meeting 
was over. Then he took my arm in his and led me 
aside from the people and said, " Will you leave your 
gipsy home, your father, sisters and brother, and 
come to me to be an evangelist in the Christian Mis 
sion?" I asked him what an evangelist was, and 
he told me. Then I said, " Sir, do you think I shall 
make a good evangelist?" He said, "Yes, I do." 
I replied, " Well, you know more about this than I 
do, and if you think I am of any use, it is an answer 
to my prayer and I will come." The date was fixed, 
25th of June, 1877. 

When. I got home to our wagon, I woke them all 
up and told them I was going to be a preacher. They 
had laughed a good deal at my youthful ambition, 
but now it was my turn to laugh. When the morn 
ing came, I secured my three books and, putting them 
under my arm, walked swaggeringly up and down 
in front of the wagon, full of innocent joy and pride. 
"Rodney is going to be a preacher 1 " They could 
not quite realize it, and they talked of nothing else 
for days. After breakfast that morning, I looked 
at my gipsy clothes and said to myself, " If I am 
going to be a preacher, I shall have to dress like a 
preacher." I had saved a little money. I went 
to a clothier and outfitter s shop and bought a frock- 




IN MY FIRST FROCK COAT. 



I Become an Evangelist 97 

coat, a vest, and a pair of striped trousers, all ready 
made. I paid for them and the assistant parcelled 
them up and pushed them over the counter to me. 
I drew myself up to my full height, and putting on 
all the dignity I could command, said, " Send them. 
Do 3 r ou know I am going to be a preacher?" So 
these clothes were sent to the gipsy tent. Next I 
went off to purchase some linen. A young lady 
came to serve me and asked me what my size was. 
I said, " I do not know, miss, but if you give me 
a bit of string I will measure myself. " These articles, 
too, I had sent home to the tents. I further reflected 
that when folks went travelling it was proper that 
they should have a box. So I bought a box for half 
a crown, and a piece of clothes-line to cord it up with. 
At last the morning of the fateful 25th dawned. 
I was up early and dressed myself with much care. 
I know that I burst several buttons in the opera 
tion. I will not say that I felt comfortable in these 
clothes, because the very reverse was the truth. I felt 
as if I had been dipped in starch and hung up by the 
hair of my head to dry. My sisters were whispering 
to each other in the most eager and excited tones. 
" What a swell he looks! Look at his collar! And, 
I say I declare look at his cuffs!" They called me 
a Romany Rye (gipsy gentleman), and Boro Rashie, 
that is to say, a great preacher. I did not leave the 
dear tent without many tears. I was only seventeen 
years and three months old, and my father s tent 
was as dear to me as Windsor Castle is to a prince 
of the blood royal. I was leaving people who loved 



98 Gipsy Smith 

me and understood me, and I was going to people 
who certainly would not understand me. It was 
like tearing my heart out to leave them. I kissed 
them all and started off, then ran back again many 
times; and they ran after me. Finally I tore my 
self away. I had two cousins to carry my box to 
Forest Gate Station, on the Great Eastern Railway. 
I could have carried all that I had in a brown paper 
parcel, but the dignity of the occasion demanded a 
box, and forbade me to carry it myself. I booked 
to Aldgate Station, and I told the guard to put my 
box in the van. He knew me, or at least he knew my 
father, and I found it difficult to impress him suf 
ficiently with the dignity of my new position. He 
lifted the box and said with a laugh, "What is in 
it?" I said : " Never you mind, sir. You are ]>aid to 
be civil and to look after passengers." Yet even 
that did not greatly awe him. " All right, old man," 
he answered, laughing; "good luck to you!" 

At my destination I was met by one of the mis 
sionaries, a Mr. Bennett, who took me to a good 
Christian family with whom Mr. Booth had arranged 
that I should stay. I think their name was Lang- 
ston, and the house was in a side street not far from 
the mission s headquarters, at 272 Whitechapel 
Road. I remember the situation exactly. I arrived 
just in time for a meal in the evening, and for the 
first time in my life I had to sit up to table, and also 
to use a knife and fork. I began to entertain some 
feelings of gratitude towards the starch in which I 
was encased, because, at least, it helped me to sit up 



I Become an Evangelist 99 

straight. I had resolved to watch what my neigh 
bors did, but they served me first and told me not to 
wait. At the side of my plate was a piece of linen, 
beautifully glazed and neatly folded. I did not 
know what it was, nor what I had to do with it. I 
thought, perhaps, it was a pocket-handkerchief, and 
I said so to my hosts. Immediately, I felt that I had 
introduced a discord into the harmony of the dinner 
party. I was sensitive enough to feel and know I 
had blundered, but my hosts were kind enough not 
to laugh. I said to them : " Please forgive me. I 
do not know any better. I am only a gipsy boy. I 
have never been taught what these things are. I 
know I shall make lots of blunders, but if you correct 
me whenever I make a mistake, I will be very grate 
ful. I will never be angry, and never cross." I 
felt this was the right course for me to take. I knew 
that airs would not have fitted me at all. 

After supper and prayers, they told me they would 
show me to my apartment. My apartment! I made 
a mental note of the word and resolved to look it up 
in my dictionary at the first opportunity, for I still 
carried about my library of three books with me. 
When they shut the door of my room upon me, I felt 
I was in jail a prisoner within four walls and a ceil 
ing ! I fancied there was not room enough to breathe. 
It was the 25th of June, and the East End of London! 
I felt homesick and longed for my tent. Had I not 
often woke up in the morning with my head, or my 
arms, or my legs, outside the tent, on the grass, under 
the ample dome of heaven? Here in this small room 



i oo Gipsy Smith 

I felt suffocated. I looked at the bedstead and won 
dered if it would hold me, and when, by experiment, 
I found that it was strong enough, I turned down the 
bedclothes and examined them, for I had heard of 
the London "company," and I strongly objected to 
the way they made their living. I got into bed with 
a run, as long as I could have it, and a leap. It was 
a feather bed. I had been accustomed to sleep in 
feathers as long as myself, that kind which grows 
in a wheat-field, and very often I had to make a hole 
with my fist for my ear to lie in. I could not sleep. 
For hours I lay awake thinking of my home, for I 
realized acutely that I was in a land of strangers. 
Such sleep as I had was only in snatches, and I was 
dreaming all the time of my father s tent and wagon. 
I rose very early in the morning, and at once knelt 
in prayer. I told God that He knew that I was 
among strangers people who could not under 
stand my wildness and my romantic nature; that 
lie had brought me there; and if He would only give 
me grace I would try to do my best. Then I had to 
attend to my toilet. There was, of course, a wash- 
hcind basin and a towel. I was almost afraid to use 
them, in case I should soil them. I had never seen 
such things in use before. It had been my custom 
to run to a brook of a morning and to wash in that 
or a pool near by. I took my bath with the birds. 
At other times I dipped my hand in the grass laden 
with dew and washed myself with it. I was up and 
dressed long before there was any stir or movement 
in the house, but of course I kept to my bedroom 



I Become an Evangelist 101 

until I made sure that somebody else was up. I 
spent the time over my Bible. 

I felt easier at the breakfast table, because I had 
had some experience and at any rate I knew what a 
napkin was. However, I made many blunders and 
broke the laws of grammar, etiquette, and propriety 
again and again. But my hosts were kind. They 
did not expect too much from me. They told me 
when I was wrong, and I was grateful; encouraged 
me when I was right, and I was equally grateful : it 
was an inspiration to try again. You see, I was 
born at the bottom of the ladder, and there is no dis 
grace in being born at the bottom. There are thou 
sands of people who owe everything to their father 
and mother, and yet walk about the earth and 
swagger as if they had made creation. I knew I 
had tremendous odds to strive against, and I strove 
to face them as they came one by one. I did not 
face them all at once, I could not : they would have 
swamped me. Each day brought its own diffi 
culties, its own work, and there was strength for the 
day also. I received no educational training what 
ever from the Christian Mission. My schooling and 
discipline was work visiting the people and taking 
part in meetings. I was the thirty-sixth missionary. 
I was stationed at Whitechapel Road, the head 
quarters of the mission, along with a Mr. Thomas, a 
very able preacher, who is now dead, Mr. Bennett 
(before mentioned), and Mrs. Reynolds. I owe a 
great deal to Mrs. Reynolds. She was as a mother 
to me. The other workers took most of the in-door 



IO2 Gipsy Smith 

services. I helped in visiting, in open-air work, and 
occasionally I spoke at an in-door service, but not 
often. Much was made of the fact that I was a real 
live gipsy, and I was always announced as " Rodney 
Smith, the converted gipsy boy." Mr. Booth found 
a home for me, and my father kept me supplied with 
clothes. What little money I had was soon spent. 
I worked in the Christian Mission six months without 
receiving any salary at all. 

When I was called upon to conduct a service alone 
I had to face a very serious difficulty how to deal 
with the lessons. I had spent as much time as I 
could find in learning to read, but my leisure and 
my opportunities were very severely limited, and I 
was still far from perfection in this ari. I certainly 
could not read a chapter from Scripture right through. 
What was I to do with the big words? First of all, 
I thought I would ask a good brother to read the 
lessons for me. " No/ I said, "that would never do. 
I think that the people would prefer me to read them 
myself." Then I thought I should get over the 
difficulty by spelling out to them any word that was 
too difficult for me. But I felt this would be like an 
open surrender. The plan I adopted was this 
I went on reading slowly and carefully until I saw 
a long word coming into sight. Then I stopped 
and made some comments, after the comments I 
began to read again, but took care to begin on the 
other side of the long word. I used to struggle night 
after night in my lodgings over the hard words and 
names in the Bible. 



I Become an Evangelist 103 

But in the meetings I did, I think, pretty well. 
God gave me utterance, and I found myself saying 
things I had never thought about or read about. 
They were simply borne in upon me and I had to 
say them. In spite of mistakes and I made many 
of these I was most happy in my work, and always 
had a good congregation. At the headquarters in 
Whitechapel Road I sometimes spoke to well over 
a thousand people, and when I went to the mission 
centres at Plaistow, Canning Town, Poplar, and 
Barking, I always had crowded congregations, and 
I never had a meeting without conversions. These 
four happy months passed away very quickly, as 
in a dream. The most memorable incident of my 
work in Whitechapel was the conversion of my sister 
Tilly at one of my own meetings. Some members of 
the family had come with my father one Sunday to 
see me and hear me preach. I have already said that 
I came to Christ myself partly because I felt I was 
keeping Tilly from Him. I was immediately above 
her in age, and the members of our family had been 
converted in order of age. It was while I was sing 
ing one of my simple gospel songs that my dear 
sister was won for the Lord. Speaking from the 
human side, I may say that my love for her led me 
to decision for Christ, and God repaid me more than 
abundantly by making me a blessing to her. 



CHAPTER XI 

GROWING SUCCESS WORK AT WHITBY, SHEF 
FIELD, AND BOLTON MEETING MY FUTURE 
WIFE ROMAN CATHOLIC RIOTS 

ONE Saturday morning Mr. Booth sent for me 
and asked me if I had quite settled to my new work, 
and if I had made up my mind to stick to it. I said, 
"Yes, certainly, I have fixed upon this as my life 
work." "Very well/ said Mr. Booth, "we think 
of sending you to Whitby. Are you willing to go?" 
I said, "Yes, sir." "Can you go to-day?" I said 
"Yes, sir;" and very soon I was at King s Cross 
and on my way. I had been given a ticket for Whit 
by, which had been bought b}^ Mr. Booth s instruc 
tions, and the address of the missioner at that town, 
Elijah Cadman, afterwards Commissioner Cadman; 
but I had no money. This was my first long rail 
way journey. When we once started I thought we 
should never stop. I had never travelled at such 
a rate before, and I had no idea the world was so 
large. I left King s Cross at three and got to York 
at eight, where I had to change. I discovered that 
there was no train for Whitby until five o clock in 
the morning. I was cold and hungry, and I had 
nothing to do but wait. I had nine hours of that, 



Growing Success 105 

and I spent the time in conversation with the railway 
porters and preaching the gospel to them. I walked 
up and down the platform, and once or twice I found 
a group of people in a public waiting-room and I had 
a chat with them about the Christ I had found, and 
of whom I was ever delighted to speak. 

I reached Whitby at nine o clock on Sunday morn 
ing. Nobody came to meet me, but I found my way 
to Mr. Cadman s house at 16 Gray Street. He greet 
ed me with the words : " I have been up nearly all 
night waiting for you." I replied that since three 
o clock on the previous afternoon I had been trying 
to get to him. After a hurried breakfast, I went out 
with Mr. Cadman and took part in six meetings that 
day, three out-door and three in-door meetings. The 
in-door meetings were held in St. Hilda s Hall. 

I was now cut off from my first surroundings. I 
had to stand on my own legs, and I was made to 
feel that I must launch out for myself. I developed 
an older feeling and a greater independence of spirit. 
I did more speaking in the meetings than I had done 
in London. My singing was always a great attrac 
tion, but especially in Whitby among the fishermen. 
I became a great favorite in the town, and much good 
was done. Some of the most prominent and most 
useful local preachers in Whitby at the present day 
were brought to God under my ministry in the town. 
Not a few of the converts were rough people, very 
sadly in need of instruction in Christian ethics. I 
remember one peculiar case well. A man who had 
been a drunkard and a fighter was converted. Soon 



io6 Gipsy Smith 

afterwards he was met by one of his old chums from 
whom he had borrowed a sovereign. 

"I say, Jack/ said the lender, "I hear you have 
got converted." 

"Yes, I have, and joined the Church." 

"Ah well, do you remember some time ago I lent 
you a sovereign?" 

"Yes, I remember." 

"Well, I shall expect you to pay it back. When 
people get religious, we expect them to do what is 
right." 

"Oh," said Jack, "the Lord has pardoned all my 
sins, and that is one of them." 

We had to put Jack right, and to tell him plainly 
that conversion meant restitution as well as amend 
ment. The jailer w r hen he was converted washed 
the stripes of the disciples whom he had beaten the 
same hour of the night, and Zacchaeus when he was 
brought to God made a fourfold restitution to those 
whom he had defrauded. And we persuaded Jack 
to do the right thing. 

Among my converts at Whitby was a Miss Pen- 
nock, whom I afterwards became engaged to, and 
who is now my wife. As soon as Mr. Cadman knew 
that I was sweethearting, he communicated with 
Mr. Booth, and I was removed from the town. 

The scenes of my next labors were Bradford, Lon 
don, and Sheffield. I never preach in Sheffield now 
without a dozen or more people telling me that it was 
through my ministry in their town over twenty years 
ago that they gave themselves to Christ. It was in 



Growing Success 107 

Sheffield, too, that my first salary was paid to me, 
eighteen shillings a week. Fifteen of these went 
for board and lodging, so that I had three shillings 
a week for clothes, books, and anything I wanted 
for the improvement of my mental powers. My 
three shillings per week did not go far when I had 
to visit the sick and the needy. 

I spent six happy and fruitful months at Bolton. 
My fellow-workers, with whom I lived, were Mr. 
and Mrs. Corbridge, who treated me like a son. Mr. 
Corbridge was a very able man, a deep student of 
Scripture. Mrs. Corbridge was an educated and 
refined lady, and a noble helpmate to her husband 
in his mission work. While staying with Mr. and 
Mrs. Corbridge, I laid the true foundations of all the 
educational equipment that I ever possessed. Upon 
that corner-stone I have been striving to build ever 
since. I owe more to Mr. and Mrs. Corbridge than 
to any other person in the Salvation Army or the 
Christian Mission. 

The out-door services at Bolton were held in the 
Market Square on the steps of the Town Hall, 
where from two to three thousand people gathered 
to hear addresses by Mr. and Mrs. Corbridge and 
myself. 

We had some difficulties with the Roman Catholics. 
Several of them were converted, and two young wom 
en brought their beads and rosary to Mrs. Corbridge 
and gave them up. This roused the anger of other 
Roman Catholics in the town and of the priests. One 
night Mr. Corbridge was not feeling well and stayed 



io8 Gipsy Smith 

at home, Mrs. Corbridge remaining to nurse him. So 
I had to conduct the open-air service in the Market 
Square alone. The crowd was larger than I had ever 
seen it before. My workers rallied round me and I 
was provided with a chair. As the service proceeded 
the crowd grew. Until the benediction was pro 
nounced everything had gone on in peace and quiet 
ness, but the moment the benediction was said the 
crowd began to sway menacingly. My band of 
workers and myself were in the centre. The swaying 
grew more powerful and the people more excited. 
Then they set up one of those wild Irish Catholic 
yells and closed in upon us. My workers gathered 
round me for my protection. One ferocious woman 
in the crowd took off her clog and struck at me with 
the heel. But just as she was driving the blow home, 
her companion came between me and the heel and 
was felled to the ground. There were a few police 
men near the spot, and when they heard the yelling 
and perceived what it meant they worked their way 
into the crowd and came to my rescue. I was pushed 
into the nearest shop a drug store. One of the 
policemen came with me and got me out through the 
back door of the premises. We climbed over three 
or four walls and eventually reached a side street 
which led to quite another part of the town, and so 
reached home in safety. There is no doubt that if 
the mob could have got at me that night, my life 
would have been ended there and then. The news 
of the riot had already reached Mr. and Mrs. Cor 
bridge, and their anxiety about my safety had been 



Growing Success 109 

painful. They were very glad, indeed, to see me safe 
and sound in every limb. 

On the following morning, Mr. Corbridge and I 
went to see some of the leading townsmen who were 
in sympathy with our work, and asked their counsel. 
Together we all called upon the Mayor, stated our 
case to him, told him that we thought this disturb 
ance had arisen because of the conversion of some 
Roman Catholics, and that the opposition plainly 
came from an Irish and Catholic mob; and asked 
him what he advised us to do whether to stop our 
work or to go on. He said: " By all means go on. 
You are not fighting your own battle merely. You 
are fighting ours as well. You have as much right 
to the square as the priests." And so that night 
we again held our open-air meeting in the Market 
Square. Mr. Corbridge had recovered and his wife 
came with us. The crowd was bigger than ever, 
and, as on the night before, there was the most per 
fect quietness and good order until the benediction 
was pronounced. Then the swaying and yelling 
began. But in the crowd there were sufficient police 
men in uniform or in plain clothes to form almost 
a chain round us, and, under the escort of this force, 
we were marched off to our home at No. 4 Birming 
ham Street. The mob followed us all the way, yell 
ing like furies, and when we were safe in our home 
a number of policemen were put on duty to watch 
the house until all was quiet. 

The riots were, of course, the talk of the whole 
town, but the feeling and sympathy of all respect- 



no Gipsy Smith 

able citizens were all on our side. The local papers 
took the subject up and championed the cause of 
free speech. When the powers behind the scenes 
realized that their wrath was going to be unavailing, 
the tumults subsided as suddenly as they had arisen, 
and there was never another voice or movement 
against our work in the Market Square. These 
commotions brought us many friends and sympa 
thizers that we should never have known of, and, 
instead of hindering our work, greatly helped us. 
We grew and nourished exceedingly, and the Lord 
daily added to the church such as should be saved. 



CHAPTER XII 
"The Word of the Lord Grew and Multiplied." 

BALLINGTON BOOTH MY MARRIAGE THE 
CHATHAM FOSSILS 

MY next station was West Hartlepool. During 
these months I was teaching myself reading and 
writing. I had to prepare a good many discourses. 
I soon came to the end of my own native mental 
store, and I had to seek replenishment for my mind in 
study and thinking. And one cannot well study un 
less one knows how to read. I taught myself writing 
from a copybook, and like everybody else who has 
pursued this method of self-instruction, I found the 
first line I wrote under the copy was always the best. 
As I got farther away from the model, the worse my 
writing grew. The thoughtful reader will see a 
lesson here for himself. The nearer we keep to our 
model, Christ, the more like will our life be to His. 
Should not this be our daily prayer : 

" A heart in every thought renewed 

And full of love divine, 
Perfect and right and pure and good, 
A copy, Lord, of Thine"? 

My days were spent somewhat after this fashion : I 
rose about seven and breakfasted at eight or half- 



1 1 2 Gipsy Smith 

past. Some of the time before breakfast was always 
spent in devotional exercises, and occasionally also 
in a little study. Then I went out to visit the most 
urgent cases. If there were no such cases I spent 
most of the morning in reading, writing, and prepar 
ing my addresses. The afternoons were occupied 
in visiting. I had a service every night, and the 
service was almost invariably preceded by an 
open-air meeting. On Sunday we had three 
services. 

My stay at West Hartlepool was brief. Soon I 
received instructions to go to Manchester to work 
under Mr. Ballington Booth, the General s second 
son. An address was given to me at which I might 
find him in Manchester. When I got there he was 
absent and was not expected home for many days. 
The woman who occupied the house told me that 
she did not know where I was to stay. I left a short 
note with her for Mr. Ballington Booth, saying that 
as he was not there, as operations had not begun, as 
the hall was not to be opened for some days, and as 
I had been working hard and wanted a rest, I would 
go and stay at Mr. Howorth s, Blackburn Road, 
Bolton, and that that address would find me the mo 
ment he needed me. That same night I went to 
Bolton and attended a meeting of the Christian Mis 
sion there. I was, of course, well known to all the 
people. The missionary in charge, a Miss Rose 
Clapham, immediately asked me what business I 
had in her meeting. The people, naturally enough, 
were making something of a fuss of me as an old 




AT THE TIME OF MY MARRIAGE. 



Ballington Booth 1 1 3 

friend. I told Miss Clapham that I felt that I had a 
perfect right to be present; I should do her no harm. 
I attended these meetings regularly every night for 
a few days. 

On the Saturday afternoon a telegram reached me 
ordering me to Manchester at once, and saying that 
I was announced to preach the next day. I had a 
very sore throat, and I knew that we had no station 
in Manchester. I replied by another wire that I was 
not fit to preach or sing, and that I should stay in 
Bolton until Monday, resting myself. On Monday 
evening I again attended a meeting of the mission 
in Bolton. To my surprise, whom should I see there 
but Mr. Ballington Booth. Miss Clapham, it ap 
peared, had gone to Manchester to consult Mr. Bal 
lington Booth and his mother, who was in Manchester 
at that time, and to complain of my presence at her 
meetings. Throughout the whole of the meeting 
Mr. Booth made no reference to me, never spoke to 
me, and seemed determined to go away without speak 
ing to me. I placed myself against the door, re 
solved to bring him into conversation, and when he 
saw that he must say something, he took hold of 
me by the arm, and pulling me a little aside he said, 
"Gipsy, we can do without you." I replied, "Very 
well, so you shall." I am quite willing and ready 
to admit that I blundered there. I had no right to 
take any notice of what Mr. Ballington had said to 
me. He was not the superintendent of the mission. 
He did not engage me to work in it, and he had no 
power or right to dismiss me. But I was a boy and 



1 14 Gipsy Smith 

inexperienced and I felt deeply hurt. Sorrowfully 
I went home and sent in my resignation. 

The incident caused a great deal of excitement in 
Bolton, and many of my old friends, some well-to- 
do people among them, besought me that I should 
preach to them before I left the town. I preached for 
six weeks to crowds of people in the Opera-house. 
But I was very miserable all the time. I knew I 
had done wrong and I felt it. I knew that the step 
I had taken was not the right step, and I felt that I 
was not in the place I ought to be. I resolved to 
bring matters to a head, and travelled to Newcastle 
to see Mr. Booth. I asked for an interview with him, 
which was granted readily. I told him I was sorry 
for the step I had taken and for the pain I knew I 
must have given him. I might have had provoca 
tion, yet I had acted wrongly, and I asked him to 
forgive me. Mr. Booth, from whom I personally 
had never received anything but kindness, treated 
me like a father and forgave me freely. He advised 
me to leave Bolton at once, to go home to my father 
for a few days, and then to report myself at head 
quarters, where I should receive further instructions. 

I was reinstated as Lieutenant Smith, and sta 
tioned at Plymouth. My superior officer was Cap 
tain Dowdle. Just about this time, early in 1879, 
the Christian Mission was in a transition state and 
was being transmuted into the Salvation Army. The 
old Christian Mission Monthly Magazine had been 
replaced by the Monthly Salvationist. The new 
name for the movement meant new methods and 



Ballington Booth 11$ 

titles for the workers. While at Dovenport I was 
promoted to the rank of captain. 

I was married to Miss Pennock, daughter of Cap 
tain Pennock, of the mercantile marine, at Whitby, 
on the ijth of December, 1879, at a registry-office. 
I started my married life with an income of 335. 
a week, but I had besides a furnished house rent 
free. I do not think I shall ever know in this 
world how much of my success is due to my wife, 
her beautiful Christian life, and the unselfish readi 
ness with which she has given me up to leave her 
and the children for the work to which my Master 
has called me. She knows and I know that I am 
doing my life s work. When lie comes to reward 
every bit of faithful service done in His name and 
to give out the laurels, my wife and children will not 
be forgotten. God has given us three children. The 
eldest is Albany Rodney, who was born in Newcastle 
the last day of 1880 ; then Alfred Ilanley, born on the 
5th of August, 1882; and Rhoda Zillah, born on the 
1st of February, 1884. My eldest son is a sailor boy; 
my second is a student at the Victoria University, 
Manchester, a local preacher on trial, who hopes to 
become a candidate for the Wesleyan ministry; 
Zillah is at home. When she was somewhat younger, 
she once said to me: "Some little girls have their 
daddies always at home ; mine only comes home when 
he wants clean collars." On another occasion she 
said to me, " Daddy, if you really lived with us you 
would be happy." My wife and children feel that 
my work is theirs, and that they must not for a mo- 



1 1 6 Gipsy Smith 

ment say a word or do anything that would in the 
slightest degree hinder me. Wisely and lovingly 
have my dear ones carried out this principle. 

My first charge after my marriage was at Chatham. 
This station, which was several years old, had never 
been a success. If it had, then it had fallen very 
low. I was sent down to end it or mend it. The 
General had visited the town and knew the situation 
exactly. I shall never forget the reception that my 
congregation, numbering thirteen, gave me on the 
first night. There had been dissension among them, 
and each of them sat as far away from his neighbor 
as possible. I saw there was something the matter 
somewhere, and resolved to set it right if it were 
possible. I sat down and looked at my frigid con 
gregation for quite a number of minutes. The 
thirteen isolated items were meanwhile exchanging 
glances, mutely inquiring of each other what was 
the matter, and what they were waiting for. At 
length one man more bold than his neighbors arose 
to tackle me, wanting to know what I meant by not 
beginning the meeting. "I am getting to know," I 
said, " what is the matter with you. I am studying 
the disease am feeling your pulse. A doctor does 
not prescribe until he knows what the disease is." 
There was another dead silence, and at length I 
began the service. But my troubles were still to 
come. One old man, who had gazed at me in con 
sternation and suspicion all through my address, 
said to me: 

"Who sent you here, my boy?" 



Ballington Booth 117 

"The Rev. William Booth, the superintendent of 
this mission/ 

"Well, you won t do for us." 

"Why, what have I done? Why do you not like 
me?" 

"Oh," said the old man, "you are too young for 
us." 

"Is that it?" 

"That is it." 

"Well," I Sciid, "if you let me stop here awhile I 
shall get older. I am not to blame for being young. 
But if I have not any more whiskers than a goose 
berry, I have got a wife. What more do you want?" 

I held up the book containing the names of the 
members, and I told the people that I had authority 
to burn it if I liked. But I had no desire to do this. 
I wanted their sympathy, prayers, and co-operation. 

I showed the people that I meant business that 
I was eager for the help of those who were of the 
same mind, and as for the others, they must cease 
their troubling or betake themselves elsewhere. The 
result was as satisfactory as it was sudden. Har 
mony was restored. The individual members of the 
congregation no longer sat far apart. The people of 
the neighborhood got to know of the change in the 
relation of our members to each other, and came 
to our chapel to see what was happening. The 
congregation grew apace, and when I left, after 
nine months service, the membership had risen from 
thirty-five to 250. 

At Chatham we had some difficulties with the 



1 1 8 Gipsy Smith 

soldiers and sailors. They took a strange and strong 
aversion to our work, expressed by throwing things 
at us. I believe that the publicans were at the bot 
tom of the mischief. The civilian imputation did 
not help us, but simply looked on enjoying the fun 
while we were being pelted and otherwise molested. 
But one day a gentleman came from London to see 
me and discuss the situation. He refused to give me 
his name, and I have never been able to discover it. 
He asked me if we were conscious of saying any 
thing to aggravate the trouble, and I said no, we had 
no desire to pose as martyrs and we were not seek 
ing a sensation. The result of the interview was 
soon manifest. We had soldiers and sailors among 
our members, and great was our joy when some of 
them came to us one Sunday morning and told us 
it would be all right now. Early that morning the 
soldiers were called out on parade, and a letter from 
headquarters was read stating that if any soldier 
was found interfering with the open-air services of 
the Salvation Army in the town he would be tried by 
court-martial. Something similar must have ha]> 
pened in the case of the sailors, because from hence 
forth we had no trouble at all. This was particularly 
gratifying to me, because I had never complained to 
the authorities of the treatment we had received. 
I recognized it as part of the cross we had to bear, 
and was resolved to face it out and endure it to the 
end for the sake of the Master. 

I could narrate many incidents of my Chatham 
work. There was one case, at once sad and comical. 



Ballington Booth 119 

A poor, ignorant man very ignorant attended the 
services regularly for weeks. One night, as he was 
passing out, he said to me: " I am fifty years of age, 
and have served the devil all the time. But I am 
giving him a fortnight s notice." I reasoned w r ith 
him, and urged immediate decision. "Oh no," 
said the poor man, " I would not like to be treated 
like that myself. I am going to do to others as I 
would like to be done by. But I have given the 
devil a fortnight s notice. " When a week had passed, 
as the poor fellow was again passing out of the hall, 
he held up one finger to signify that the devil had 
just one week longer of him. When the notice had 
expired the devil was dismissed, and the man who 
had been in his service for fifty years entered a ser 
vice which he liked much better, and which he has 
never left. He was for years a true and humble dis 
ciple of another Master. 

At Newcastle, which was my next station, we had 
many conversions, as we always had. I remember 
well the case of a man whom his mates called 
"Bricky" he was such a hard, tough customer. 
Bricky, with some companions, came to our meet 
ings not to be edified, but to scoff and sneer. I 
picked him out among the crowd and went to speak 
to him. He said: 

" I am a good churchman ; I say my prayers every 
night." 

" Do you know the Lord s Prayer?" 

"Of course I do." 

"Let us hear it, then." 



I 20 Gipsy Smith 

" The Lord is my Shepherd ; I shall not want," etc. 

I did not seem to have made any impression on 
Bricky. I invited him back, and he came this time 
without his companions. I regarded that as a good 
sign. He came again, and yet again. I saw that a 
work of grace was proceeding in him. He began to 
feel the burden of his sins and to hate them and 
himself too. Finally he gave himself to Christ. He 
was changed from a drunken, swearing, gambling 
sot into a new creature, and was used as an instru 
ment for the salvation of many others. 

A few weeks after his conversion, as he was coin 
ing one night to the meetings, he passed the theatre, 
where a pantomime was going on, a theatre that he 
had been in the habit of attending. At the door he 
met a good many of his old companions, and they 
said to him : 

" Bricky, we have not seen you for a long time. 
Are you coming in to-night?" 

" No, I cannot come. I am serving a new Master." 

"Oh, but have you seen the transformation-scene 
this year?" 

"No," said Bricky. "I have not seen it, but I 
have felt it." 

A man and woman who had lived together for 
many years unmarried came one night into our 
meeting at Newcastle. They did not know of each 
other s presence there. Neither knew what was 
passing in the mind and heart of the other. At the 
end, in response to my invitation, they both came 
forward among the penitents and I dealt with them. 



Ballington Booth 121 

Even while they knelt there before God, confessing 
their sins and seeking His salvation and strength, 
each was ignorant that the other was among that 
little company. But presently, of course, the situa 
tion was revealed to them, and the look of surprise 
and joy on their faces was a sight that will never be 
forgotten by me as long as I live. They told me their 
story, and I asked what they meant to do. They 
said, "We cannot go home together to-night; that 
is certain." I asked them if they knew of any rea 
son why they should not be married. They said 
there was none; and they ate their wedding-break 
fast at our house. After this both led beautiful lives, 
adorning the grace that had wrought this miracle 
in them. 



CHAPTER XIII 

HULL AND DERBY A GREAT SUCCESS AND A 
PARTIAL FAILURE 

MY next sphere of work was Hull. The success 
which we enjoyed there surpassed anything that 
had hitherto fallen to my lot. The Salvation Army 
had two stations at Hull, one at Sculcotes and one 
which was called the Ice-house. I was present, 
along with General Booth and some leaders, at the 
opening of this second station. All the money ex 
cept 1,000 had been promised. Mr. T. A. Denny, 
however, offered to give 200 if the people would raise 
the other 800. A deputation of local gentlemen 
told the General that if they could have Gipsy Smith 
as their captain, they would raise the other 800 
during his stay. By this time I had become known 
by the name of Gipsy Smith. At the beginning of 
the work I had been advertised as "Rodney Smith, 
the gipsy boy." The people talked about me as the 
Gipsy, and very soon that became my popular ap 
pellation. But in order to be quite distinct from 
my father and his two brothers, who were always 
spoken of as "The Three Converted Gipsies," I re 
solved to call myself "Gipsy Smith." 

The General consented to the request of the local 
friends of the army, and I took charge of the Ice- 




MY WIFE AND MY FIRST-BORN. 



Hull and Derby 123 

house. Never before had I seen such crowds and 
such wonderful results. It was quite a common 
thing for us to have gathered together a thousand 
people who had been converted at the services, and 
what is perhaps even more marvellous, an attend 
ance of about fifteen hundred at the prayer-meeting 
at seven o clock on Sunday morning. Very often 
the building was filled, and the street in which it 
stood, Cambridge Street, completely blocked. Many 
a time I have had to get to the platform over the seats, 
as the aisles were so crowded that nobody could walk 
up them. During the whole six months I spent in 
Hull we needed two policemen at every service to man 
age the crowds at the doors. Some conception of 
the magnitude of the work may be gained from the 
fact that the Ice-house and the other branch of the 
mission, which was much smaller, sold every week 
15,000 copies of The War Cry. 

One of the most notable of my converts at Hull 
was a woman who afterwards came to be known as 
" Happy Patty." Poor Patty had plunged deep into 
the sink of impurity, and for eighteen years had been 
living a life of the foulest sin. She came to the Ice 
house and, to quote her own words, " stripped off her 
old filthy rags and jumped into the fountain filled 
with blood drawn from Emmanuel s veins." She 
went home to her house rejoicing, but she had still 
a hard battle to fight. Her former life continually 
kept coming back and facing her, and she had to 
cut off her right arm and pluck out her right eye. 
The mistakes of her life had been many, the sins of 



I 24 Gipsy Smith 

her life more, but she became a child of God and a 
great force for good in Hull. Many weather-beaten 
seamen, too, were brought to God by my ministry in 
that old town. 

From Hull I went to Derby. I do not recall my 
work there with much satisfaction. It was a partial 
failure. I do not say that I had no -success, because 
there was success, and great success, but I felt that 
I had not the success I ought to have had, and cer 
tainly not the success I longed for. There were 
palpable evidences of worldliness among the mem 
bers of the local corps. I rebuked them. They did 
not like my rebukes and they did not stand by me. 
I fought the battle practically single-handed, and al 
though I had some fruit among outsiders and great 
sympathy from them, my labors were not nearly so 
happy or so fruitful as they had been at Hull. I 
became uneasy about my work, and I told the Gen 
eral, taking upon myself for once to dictate to him, 
that I should hold my farewell meeting on a certain 
date. He made no objection. 



CHAPTER XIV 

HANLEY MY GREATEST BATTLEFIELD 

I WAS instructed to go to Hanley, and reached 
the town on the 3 1st of December, 1881, accompanied 
by my wife and one child. The baby was just a year 
old. It was a Saturday when I arrived. The Gen 
eral had said to me some days before, "Where do 
you want to go to next?" I answered, "Send me 
to the nearest place to the bottomless pit." When I 
got to Stoke station, and began to make my way on 
the loop-line to Hanley, the pit fires came in sight, 
and I could smell the sulphur of the iron foundries, 
and see the smoke from the potteries; I began to 
wonder if I had not got to the actual place whither I 
had asked to be sent. At Hanley station we en 
gaged a cab, got our trunks on it, and went off in 
search of lodgings. For two hours we drove over 
the town, knocking at many doors. But when we 
said that we were a contingent of the Salvation Army, 
the portals were shut against us. At last a poor old 
Welsh tody took compassion on us and took us in. 

I went at once to see the battlefield namely, the 
building in which the services were to be held. Three 
young men had been sent to the town to commence 
operations two or three weeks before our arrival, 
but they had utterly failed to make any impression 



126 Gipsy Smith 

on the people. The meetings were held in the old 
Batty Circus, a cold, draughty, tumble-down sort of 
place, the most uncomfortable meeting - house in 
which I had ever worked. The ring of the circus had 
been left just as it was when the circus people cleared 
out, and any one who ventured therein was soon up to 
the knees in sawdust and dirt. There were no seats 
in this portion of the circus. On this Saturday 
evening I found two young lieutencints standing 
inside the ring, making it a sort of pulpit. Sprinkled 
over the seats of the building, rising tier upon tier, 
were from twenty to thirty people, looking for all 
the world like jam-pots on a shelf, and singing as I 
entered, "I need Thee, oh, I need Thee." Believe 
me, I stood and laughed. I thought it was true 
enough that they needed somebody. After a brief 
talk with the people I asked them to meet me in the 
Market Place at ten o clock next morning. 

The two young lieutenants, my wife, and myself 
duly took our stand in the Market Place on Sunday 
morning. Not a soul came out to support us. I 
played a little concertina which had been given to 
me on leaving Devonport by my friends there, many 
of whom were converts. We sang some hymns, 
and people living above the shops in the Market 
Place, thinking we were laborers out of work, threw 
us pennies. I had no uniform on in fact, got out 
of wearing the uniform when I could, and, indeed, 
never in my life did I wear a red jersey. I used to 
dress somewhat, although not markedly, in gipsy 
fashion. Nobody stopped to listen to us. It was 



Hanley My Greatest Battlefield 1 27 

rather wet, and the people who passed by on their 
way to church put their umbrellas in front of their 
faces so that we should not see them. But we went 
on as though we had been addressing a crowd. In 
the afternoon, the four of us were in the open-air 
again. At night, about eighty people attended our 
services in the circus. The building seated 2,500 
people, but these eighty people huddling themselves 
close together, to keep warm I suppose (for the build 
ing was very cold), sat in the midst of the most ap 
palling and depressing desolation. It was a very 
dismal beginning, without hope, without cheer, 
without anything that gave promise of success. 

But I was resolved to do what I could in this dif 
ficult situation. On Monday morning we went to 
the building to see if we could do something to stop 
the draughts and get the windows mended. We 
found a hammer, some nails, and some pieces of 
timber in the empty stable of the circus, and we 
worked with these instruments all day, doing our 
best to make the place habitable. My wife assisted 
by holding a candle when we had to creep into dark 
corners in the course of our labors. I sometimes 
nowadays marvel at the great mechanical skill 
which we discovered among ourselves. It is wonder 
ful what a man can do, even a man who knows him 
self to be unskilful, when he is put to it. For two 
weeks we went on hammering and plastering, and 
then I secured the help of my brother-in-law, Mr. 
Evens, a joiner by trade. He spent a few days with 
us, and in that time we made some seats for the ring. 



128 Gipsy Smith 

We got hold of some old chairs, knocked the backs 
off, and planked them together. 

In the mean time we continued our services in 
the Market Place and our audience grew quickly to 
large proportions. The people listened attentively, 
and joined heartily in the singing. But we had 
never more than a hundred people in the circus. 
After a month s hard labor I asked the General for 
help something in the way of a special attraction. 
I felt we were not making progress quickly enough. 
The first month s collections just managed to pay 
the gas bill. There was no money for the poor 
evangelists, and no money for the rent. We did 
not apply for pecuniary assistance, because every 
station was supposed to be self-supporting, and we 
had made up our minds that Ilanley would pay its 
way too. The General gave us the services of the 
" Fry family," a father and three sons, splendid 
musicians, for a few days. They could sing beauti 
fully and play almost any instrument. It occurred 
to me that if I could get somebody of local reputa 
tion to preside at their first meeting w r e should have 
a good congregation. I was advised to call on the 
Mayor of Burslem, who that year was Alderman 
Boulton, and ask him to preside. It so happened 
that the Rev. John Gould, who was then Wesleyan 
minister at Hull, had just been with the mayor, 
and had told him about my work in that great city. 
On the strength of Mr. Gould s report, Alderman 
Boulton promised to preside at the first of the Fry 
meetings. 



Hanley My Greatest Battlefield 129 

I at once got out a huge poster, announcing that 
a great public meeting in connection with the Salva 
tion Army was to be held in the Batty Circus; that 
the Mayor of Burslem would preside; that various 
speakers would address the gathering, and that 
the singing would be led by the Fry family. The 
alderman was kind enough to invite a good many 
of his friends, substantial business men, to accom 
pany him to the meeting, so that the platform was 
filled, and there was a crowded attendance. The 
alderman plainly discerned what had been our 
purpose in organizing this meeting, and his speech 
was indeed a master-stroke. lie told the people 
tersely, though fully, all about my work at Hull, 
and then he said, " We have not heard Gipsy Smith, 
and we all want to hear him. I am not going to take 
up your time. The gipsy will address the meeting." 
1 was ready and willing, proud, indeed, to face such 
a magnificent audience. My sermon was very 
short, for I desired to get the people back again, and 
so I sent them away hungry. I never wanted a con 
gregation after that meeting. As long as we oc 
cupied this old circus it was crowded at every service. 
The mayor had placed the local hall-mark on our 
work, and we at once entered into the good-will of 
the whole town. 

The work in Hanley, once well begun, went on 
increasing in success and fruitfulness. The revival 
which had its centre in our meeting-place spread 
over the whole of North Staffordshire. There was 

no Nonconformist church within ten or twenty miles 
9 



130 Gipsy Smith 

of Hanley that did not feel the throb of it. At the 
end of every week hundreds and thousands of persons 
poured into Hanley, the metropolis of the Potteries, 
to attend our meetings. From 6.30 P.M. on Saturday 
to 9.30 P.M. on Sunday we had nine services, in-doors 
and out of doors. I conducted them all. We sold 
ten thousand copies of The War Cry every week. 
No other station in the Salvation Army has ever 
managed to do this, as far as I know. I cannot go 
into any congregation in the Potteries to-day with- 
out seeing people who were converted under my min 
istry in that great revival. In America and in Aus 
tralia, too, I have met converts of those days. I 
preached every Sunday to crowds of from seven 
thousand to eight thousand people, and every night 
in the week we had the place crowded for an evan 
gelistic service. The leaders of the churches in 
the Potteries were impressed by the work, and being 
honest men and grateful for it, they stood by me. 



CHAPTER XV 

DISMISSAL FROM THE SALVATION ARMY 

AT the end of June, having been six months in 
Hanley, the General informed me that he wanted 
me for another sphere of labor. Mrs. Smith was 
in delicate health at the time, and the ladies of the 
town sent a petition to Mrs. Booth, appealing to her, 
as a wife and mother, that for the sake of my wife s 
health I should be allowed to stay in the town a little 
longer. The General readily gave his consent. 
When the leaders of the free churches knew that I 
was likely to be removed from their midst, a com 
mittee was formed, representing all the churches in 
the town and neighborhood save the Roman Catholics. 
This committee, a leading member of which was a 
churchwarden, impressed by the striking work of 
grace which had gone on under my poor little min 
istry, felt that I should not be allowed to leave the 
district without some expression of their love and ap 
preciation, and presented me with a gold watch, 
bearing this inscription: "Presented to Gipsy Rod 
ney Smith, as a memento of high esteem and in rec 
ognition of his valuable services in Hanley and 
district, July, 1882." 

My wife and my sister, Mrs. Evens, each re 
ceived a gift of 5. These presentations were 



i 32 Gipsy Smith 

made at a public meeting, presided over by Alder 
man Boulton, who was supported by many of the 
leading persons in the town. The gifts came from 
people who were outside the Salvation Army. The 
soldiers of the arm} had some intention of making 
us a gift, but we stopped that movement, as we knew 
that the General did not approve of such presenta 
tions. 

To my surprise, about two weeks after, Major 
Fawcett, my superior officer, called on me about 
these presents. He said that he was sent to ask me 
what I had to say about these testimonials. I said 
that the gifts had not come from soldiers of the army, 
that they came entirely from outsiders, that I had done 
no more than many other officers, and that a little 
while ago an officer in Birmingham had received a 
silver watch. I added that when 1 received the gifts 
I rather felt that head-quarters would be delighted 
that we had made such an impression on the town, 
and that outsiders were showing appreciation of our 
work. The major told me that I should hear from 
London shortly. On August 4th a telegram ar 
rived for the two lieutenants, who had received silver 
watches from the same committee, summoning them 
to London. There was no communication for me 
that day. These young men had been with the 
Salvation Army for six months, and I had been for 
five years. The young men came to seek my advice. 
I urged them to obey the summons at once. They 
reached London early next morning, and on their 
arrival at the Training Home in Clapton, they were 



Dismissal from the Salvation Army 133 

told that if they did not give up their watches they 
must leave the army. 

On Saturday morning, August 5th, about six 
o clock, my second baby was born, a son. The 
morning post, a few hours later, brought me the fol 
lowing letter from Mr. Bramwell Booth: 

" We understand on Monday, July 3ist, a presentation 
of a gold watch was made to you at Hanley, accompanied 
by a purse containing 5 to your wife, and the same to your 
sister. 

" We can only conclude that this has been done in pre 
meditated defiance of the rules and regulations of the army 
to which you have repeatedly given your adherence, and 
that } T ou have fully resolved no longer to continue with us. 
The effect of your conduct is already seen to have led younger 
officers under your influence iilso astray. 

" Having chosen to set the General s wishes at defiance, 
and also to do so in the most public manner possible, we 
can only conclude that you have resolved to leave the army. 
Anyhow, it is clear that neither you nor your sister can 
work in it any longer as officers, eind the General directs 
me to say that we have arranged for the appointment of 
officers to succeed you at Hanley at once." 

I was greatly upset by this letter. Sonic of the 
statements in it were wholly inaccurate. In the 
first place, I had never given my adherence to any 
rule forbidding the officers of the army to receive 
presents. I knew that at a conference of officers 
the General had made a statement in regard to this 
matter. lie strongly disapproved of the practice, 



I 34 Gipsy Smith 

for the reason that some officers, leaving their stations 
in debt, went off with costly gifts. Moreover, the 
tendency was that while successful officers received 
presents, those who had not been successful got none. 
This, of course, was not conducive to good feeling 
and discipline. I ought to say that throughout 
his speech the General was referring to gifts from 
soldiers of the army at least this was my impres 
sion. It did not apply to presents, such as mine 
had been, from outsiders. Another grossly inac 
curate statement in the letter was that I had led astray 
two younger officers. The two young lieutenants 
accepted their watches without consulting me and 
without receiving any advice from me. 

None of us had ever dreamed that trouble would 
come from these presentations. The letter was 
totally unexpected, and gave me a painful shock. I 
was utterly overwhelmed, and such a communica 
tion reaching me a few hours after the birth of my 
second son, was in the greatest degree depressing. 
The letter was not only inaccurate, it was ungra 
cious. There was no word of appreciation for my 
five years hard work, for I had held some of their 
most important commands, and had succeeded as 
few others of their officers had done. During that 
summer I had often secretly thought that some day 
I might leave the arrtty, but I never gave expression 
to these sentiments except to my wife. I had written 
out my resignation twice, but my wife had prevailed 
upon me not to send it, and so the letters were put 
in the fire. I knew in my own heart that I was not a 



Dismissal from the Salvation Army 135 

Salvationist after their sort. I felt thoroughly at 
home in the Christian Mission, but rather uncom 
fortable and out of place in the Salvation Army. 
I did not like the uniform, I did not care for the titles 
nor for the military discipline. My style was not 
quite Salvationist enough. Still I succeeded, and 
the army gave me a splendid sphere for work and an 
experience which no college or university could have 
supplied me with. But I had never had any desire 
to leave in this abrupt fashion. I had hoped to 
withdraw in the most friendly manner and to re 
main on good terms with the movement and its 
leaders. But this was not to be. My heart was 
heavy as the prospect of parting from beloved 
friends and comrades opened, blank and bare, before 
my soul. 

I took the letter to my wife and read it to her. She 
felt greatly hurt, because she had been very loyal 
to the army and its leaders, but she bore it bravely 
and was very ready to stand by me. My first im 
pulse was to take the letter to the editor of the local 
paper, and then I thought, "No, Sunday is before 
me; I will keep the matter to myself till the end of 
the Sunday services." I determined in this way 
to communicate the news to all those who sympa 
thized with me and my work. There were great 
congregations all day. I required no small amount 
of strength to go through my work, but I was won 
derfully sustained. I preached the gospel as faith 
fully as I could, despite the burden on my heart. 
At the evening service the building was crowded 



i 36 Gipsy Smith 

to suffocation. I had stated at the morning and 
afternoon services that I had a very important in 
timation to make at the close of the evening service. 
I arose in a stillness that could be felt to read the 
letter from Mr. Bramwell Booth. When I had fin 
ished, there was an extraordinary scene. I needed 
all the self-possession and tact that I could summon 
to my aid to quell the anger of the people. They 
began to hiss. But I said, " That is not religion. 
We have preached charity, and now is the time to 
practice what we have preached." And they dis 
persed quietly, but in a state of great excitement. 

In the mean time I had replied to the letter from 
Mr. Bramwell Booth. I concluded my answer thus : 
" I need not say how sorry we all are in reference 
to the steps taken in the matter. You know I love 
the army and its teachings, but, as you wish, I 
shall say farewell on Sunday. But I shall reserve 
the right to say that you have turned us out of the 
Army because we have received the presentations. 
I can hold the world at defiance as regards my moral 
and religious life. If I leave you, I do so with a clear 
conscience and a clean heart. Of course, my sister 
and myself hold ourselves open to work for God 
wherever there is an opening." 

Early the next morning the testimonial committee 
was called, and meetings were held every day of that 
week up to and including Thursday. They sent 
communications to the General, stating how sorry 
they were that my dismissal had arisen out of their 
act, an act which was one of good-will and in loving 



Dismissal from the Salvation Army 137 

appreciation of Gipsy Smith s services. They said 
that if they had known what the result would be, 
they would rather have lost their arms. No good 
was accomplished by the letters, and so a deputation 
was sent to London to see the General. It was ar 
ranged that they should send a telegram to the meet 
ing at Hanley on Thursday night announcing the 
final decision, The place was crowded to receive 
it. The telegram said : " Dismissal must take its 
course/ Immediately there was a scene of the 
wildest confusion. 

At the close of my last Sunday s services as an 
officer of the Salvation Army we found two brass 
bands outside waiting for us. I had no desire for 
demonstrations of this sort, and had no knowledge 
of these elaborate preparations. T\vo big Irishmen 
seized me and lifted me on to their shoulders, my sister 
was politely placed in an arm-chair, and the bands, 
accompanied by great crowds, carried us all round 
the town, and finally took us home. From five thou 
sand to ten thousand people gathered outside the 
house on a piece of vacant land. They shouted for 
me again and again, and I had to address them from 
the bed-room window before they would move away. 

And so ended my connection with the Salvation 
Army. It has given me anything but pleasure to 
set forth the story of my dismissal, but I have felt 
so important and cardinal an event it was in my 
life that it must be told in full. I have not the least 
desire, and I am sure that my readers will believe 
this., to damage in the slightest degree the leaders 



138 Gipsy Smith 

and workers of the Salvation Army. I consider it 
one of the greatest and most useful religious move 
ments of the last century. Its great service to the 
Christianity of our country was that it roused the 
churches from their apathy and lethargy, and awoke 
them to a sense of their duty towards the great 
masses who were without God and without hope in 
the world. I shall always be grateful for my ex 
periences in the Salvation Army, and I look upon 
the dismissal as providential. God overruled it. If 
I had carried out the intention that I had formed 
some time previously and had resigned quietly, 
nothing would have been said or heard about me in 
that connection at any rate ; but the dismissal gave 
me an advertisement in all the papers of the land 
which cost me nothing and procured for me hun 
dreds and thousands of sympathizers. 

I have the warmest feelings of love and admiration 
for General Booth. He gave me my first oppor 
tunity as an evangelist, and he put me in the way of 
an experience which has been invaluable to me. I 
think that William Booth is one of the grandest men 
that God ever gave to the world. His treatment of 
me was always kind and fatherly. I do not myself 
share the frequently expressed view that Mrs. Booth 
was the real founder and leader of the army. Gen 
eral Booth is too gracious and chivalrous, and, be 
sides, he has too profound a sense of what he owes 
to his beloved and lamented wife, to contradict this 
view. But, for my part, I believe that William Booth 
was both the founder and the leader of the Salvation 



Dismissal from the Salvation Army 139 

Army. Catherine Booth was undoubtedly a great 
woman, a great saint, and an able preacher, but even 
as a preacher she was in my opinion greatly inferior 
to the General. I always feel when I read her printed 
sermons that I know very much what is coming, for 
there is a sameness about her addresses and sermons. 
But the General, on the other hand, never gave an 
address or preached a sermon without introducing 
something quite fresh. He is more original and 
more ready than his wife was, and had he given his 
time solely to the pulpit he would have been one of 
the greatest preachers. But for many years he was 
fully occupied in the defence and explanation of the 
methods and aims of the Salvation Army. I have 
heard him talk for nearly a whole day at officers 
conferences in a simply marvellous fashion with 
out intermission, full of ideas, practical and possible, 
and full of common-sense. He was splendidly sec 
onded in his work by Mrs. Booth, and has at the pres 
ent time able coadjutors in his children. The of 
ficers of the Salvation Army are men of intelligence 
and zeal. I have the happiness to number a good 
many of them among my friends to-day. Some of 
them, indeed, were brought to God under my min 
istry. 



CHAPTER XVI 

HANLEY AGAIN 

THE excitement in the Potteries over the dismissal 
was simply indescribable. I received letters of sym 
pathy from all quarters. Among the kindest of 
them was one from the Rev. Thomas De Vine, vicar 
of North wood. Mr. De Vine, writing from Great 
Smeaton, near Northallerton, on August 8, 1882, 
said: 

" MY DEAR SIR, I have just heard in this distant 
place, where I am staying for a little while, seeking rest 
and change after my recent bereavement, of the very severe 
and uncalled-for enforcement of discipline by your com 
mander, and desire to express my deep sympathy with you 
under it, and to urge you to look up to the Great Commander, 
the Lord Jesus Christ, in the interests of whose cause and 
kingdom I believe you to have labored since your coming 
to Hanley, and He will cheer you and comfort you, because 
He knows the spring from which all our actions flow. I 
should be glad if something could be done to retain your 
services in Hanley, where evidently the Lord hath blessed 
you. Were I at home, I could talk on the matter with you. 
Suffer me to commend you to God and the word of His 
grace. " Yours faithfully, 

" THOMAS DE VINE." 




CAPTAIN GIPSY SMITH. OF THE SALVATION ARMY. 



Hanley Again 141 

For about ten days I remained in Hanley, holding 
meetings in the neighboring towns arranged by the 
testimonial committee, in whose hands I was. From 
every one of these meetings I was carried home shoul 
der-high and accompanied by a brass band, a dis 
tance of from one and a half to two miles. There 
was no escaping from these demonstrations. The 
people were simply irresistible. If I took a cab they 
pulled me out of it. I was riding on the crest of the 
wave. But I felt that this excitement could not keep 
on long, that it must soon spend itself. Accordingly, 
I went to Cambridge for a week, in order to secure 
quiet, to realize myself, and to think calmly and 
prayerfully over the situation. I was made to prom 
ise that when I came back I would hold meetings 
on the Sundays, wherever the committee decided upon. 
In my absence at Cambridge the Imperial Circus, a 
building capable of seating over four thousand peo 
ple, was secured for next Sunday s meetings. It had 
been built at a cost of 14,000, but the circus com 
pany had failed, and the structure, which stood on 
three thousand square yards of land, was in the hands 
of the National Provincial Bank. 

When I returned for a Sunday s services the con 
gregations were overwhelming. At these meetings 
the committee made a strong appeal to me to remain 
in Hanley for the sake of the work, of the hundreds 
of people who had been rescued from sin and misery, 
and of the hundreds more who were ready to listen 
to me. Mr. William Brown, a miners agent, very 
well known in the district, made a speech in which 



142 Gipsy Smith 

he asked my sister and myself, " for the sake of the 
suffering poor and the cause of Christ/ to recon 
sider our determination to labor as general evangel 
ists and to confine ourselves to the Potteries and the 
neighboring towns. The committee disclaimed any 
intention of acting in opposition to the work of the 
Salvation Army. I had told the people that since 
General Booth had dismissed me from the army I 
had received letters every morning inviting me to 
conduct special missions in different parts of the coun 
try. I said to the vast congregation that I must have 
time to consider my decision, and intimated that we 
intended leaving Hanley again at once for a week 
to recruit our health. There were at least twelve 
thousand people in these three Sunday meetings. I 
felt that I must really get away from these crowds 
and the excitement. 

In my absence my friends and sympathizers were 
busy. The Rev. M. Baxter, editor of the Christian 
Herald, and the promoter of " The Gospel Army " 
movement, took a leading part, along with the local 
men, in the deliberations. At first there were some 
doubts about taking the Imperial Circus, but Mr. 
Baxter stated that if the committee did not see their 
way to do this, he would himself hire the building 
for religious services. Accordingly the circus was 
secured by the committee for three months. It 
was arranged that two ladies connected with the 
Gospel Army movement should conduct the services 
until I could make my own arrangements. Alder 
man W. Boulton, Mayor of Burslem, a Wesleyan 



Hanley Again 143 

Methodist, was elected president of the committee; 
the Rev. T. De Vine, Vicar of Northwood, and Coun 
cillor Nichols, Wesleyan Methodist, vice-presidents; 
Mr. R. Finch, a Wesleyan local preacher and former 
treasurer of the Salvation Army local corps, was 
elected treasurer; Mr. James Bebbington, correspond 
ing secretary ; and Mr. Hodgson, financial secretary. 
The other members of the committee included Mr. 
Tyrrell, a churchwarden ; Mr. W. T. Harrison, a Con- 
gregationalist ; and Mr. Bowden, a New Connexion 
Methodist, and this year (1901) Mayor of Burslem. 
It was altogether a very strong and representative 
committee, and remains so to this day. 

My committee, you will see, was thoroughly 
representative of the free churches, of the towns 
people, including business men and the hundreds 
of working people who had been converted during 
our stay in the town. Besides, many joined us out 
of mere love of fair play and sympathy with those 
whom they thought to have been uncharitably dealt 
with. I had promised to stay a month, but the 
month grew into four years in all. The fact is, that 
when the month was up the work had become so 
important and so large that I felt it would have been 
sinful to leave it just then. Under the control of 
my strong committee, it went on with an ever-in 
creasing volume and force. The^y paid me 300 
a year for my services. The building for nearly two 
years was crowded every night and at the three 
services on Sunday. We had the largest congrega 
tion outside London. The result of these labors 



144 Gipsy Smith 

is to be found in many homes. In hundreds of 
churches and Sunday-schools to-da3^ all over the 
land and in other lands are found officers, teachers, 
superintendents, class leaders, local preachers, and 
Christian workers who were converted under my 
preaching, while many others who were at that time 
turned unto God have passed in triumphant deaths 
to their reward. Our mission was an inspiration to 
the churches. It will be remembered that when I 
first started my open-air work at lianley the people 
threw pennies to us, thinking that we were laborers 
out of work. But very soon I beheld the leaders of 
the free churches, their ministers even, engaged in 
open-air work. And even the incumbent of St. 
John s, with his white surplice and his surpliced 
choir, began to conduct open-air services in the 
Market Place, marching through the streets, after the 
service was over, to the old church, singing " Onward, 
Christian soldiers." I regard the action of the vicar 
in some ways as the greatest compliment that was 
ever paid to me in lianley. 

It was our custom to meet at 5.30 on Sunday night 
for a prayer meeting, preceding the large public meet 
ing at 6.30. The place of gathering was a large side 
room, which had been used by the circus people 
as a dressing-room, and was situated over the stables. 
Late in October, 1882, three hundred of us were in 
this room, singing praises to God and asking for 
His blessing on the coming service. While we were 
singing a hymn the floor opened in the centre and 
dropped us all down into the stables, a distance of 



Hanley Again 145 

ten or eleven feet. Seventy-five persons were in 
jured; arms and legs were broken, a few skulls were 
fractured, and there were bruises galore. But not 
a life was lost. The people, gathering in the large 
hall, heard the crash and were terrified, but there was 
no panic. Some of the stewards were on the spot, 
giving all the help they could. Doctors were sent 
for, and the injured were taken home in cabs. As 
soon as I could extricate myself from the falling 
debris, it occurred to me that the people in the great 
building would be in fear as to my safety. I rushed 
to the platform, explained in a few simple words 
what had taken place, told the people that all possible 
help and attendance was being rendered to the in 
jured, and begged them to keep calm and cool. And 
then I retired to pass a few minutes of acute agony. 
I was urged to give up the service that night, for 
though my body bore no bruises, my nerves had 
sustained a severe shock. However, I insisted on 
taking my place. 

But our troubles were not yet over. When I reached 
the platform I quietly asked the caretaker to turn 
on the lights full, and he, poor fellow, in his nervous 
ness and excitement, turned them out. Immediately 
there was a scene of confusion and fear. Mr. Brown, 
the miners agent before mentioned, saved the situa 
tion by his presence of mind. He at once began to 
sing "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and sang it with 
great effect, for he was a very good singer. The 
people presently joined in the hymn, and very soon 

all were calm. In the mean time the lights had been 
10 



146 Gipsy Smith 

put full on and the service swung on its way. I 
preached as well as I could, but at the close of the 
service so much had the nervous shock weakened 
me I had to be carried home. Months passed 
away before I really quite recovered. I went on 
with my work, but not without fear and trembling. 
Even now, occasionally, when I am face to face with 
a great crowd, something of the feeling of that night 
comes back to me. 

None of these things not even my dismissal from 
the Salvation Army at all hindered our work of 
saving and redeeming men. The revival swept on 
like a mighty river, carrying everything before it. 
Strangers to the town seldom went away without 
paying a visit to the mission and witnessing for 
themselves the work that we were doing. And so, 
when I visit towns to-day, people frequently say to 
me, "Oh, Mr. Smith, I heard you at Hanley in the 
old days." 

In March, 1883, my friends in Hull invited my 
sister and myself to conduct a fortnight s mission 
in their town. I had many spiritual children in 
Hull, and I was naturally eager to see them. My 
I lanley committee granted me leave of absence. 
We were welcomed at Hull Station by from ten thou 
sand to twenty thousaod people. A carriage, with 
a pair of gray horses, was waiting for us to convey 
us to our hosts. But the people unyoked the horses 
and dragged us in the carriage all over the city. The 
meetings were held in Hengler s Circus, a building 
with accommodation for over four thousand people. 



Hanley Again 147 

This was all too small for the crowds that gathered 
every night. When the fortnight came to an end the 
committee who had arranged the mission determined 
that the work should not cease, and resolved to estab 
lish a local mission of their own. It was settled there 
and then that my sister and Mr. Evens, to whom 
she was shortly to be married, should take charge of 
the Hull Mission, and that they and I should change 
places pretty frequently for a week or a fortnight. 
Mr. Evens, who was by trade a joiner, had been a 
captain in the Salvation Army, and, I may say here, 
has for the last eight or nine years been engaged 
along with his wife in the Liverpool Wesleyan Mis 
sion. For nearly two years our arrangements for 
the Hull Mission continued and worked well. At the 
end of that period Mr. Evens took up the work of 
a general evangelist, and Rev. G. Campbell Morgan, 
who has since acquired a world-wide reputation, 
succeeded him. It was thus I first met Mr. Morgan, 
and from the beginning I formed the highest opin 
ion of him. My expectations of his usefulness and 
eminence have been fully realized, but not more fully 
than I anticipated. After eighteen months good 
service at Hull he settled at Stone; thence he was 
transferred to Rugeley; thence to Birmingham ; 
thence to London. The rest is known to all the world. 
In the summer of the same year I had my first 
experience of foreign travel. I went on a trip to 
Sweden, as the guest of Dr. and Mrs. Kesson and of 
the late Mrs. Poulton. They were members of the 
Hull Mission committee. I had some delightful 



148 Gipsy Smith 

experiences during this pleasant holiday. My first 
Sunday morning in Sweden was spent at Stockholm. 
I went to the meeting of the Salvation Army. The 
captain was a Dane, who had been trained at the 
army home in London. I had not been five minutes 
in the building, where some five hundred people were 
gathered, before they found me out, and asked me to 
sing. I gave them Oh, Touch the Hem of His Gar 
ment." The captain told the people the number of 
the hymn in the Swedish army hymn-book, and while 
I sang in English they took up the chorus in their 
own tongue. There were tears in the e3 7 es of many 
strong men as the sweet hymn found its way to their 
hearts. I sang again in the evening meeting. At 
both services I spoke a few words, which were 
translated to the listeners. 

One day I went to the King s palace and saw the 
splendid furniture and the beautiful rooms. As we 
stood in the corridor the King himself passed down 
and graciously nodded to us. On another occasion 
we went to see the King reviewing his troops. Amid 
all the military show one little incident touched me 
most. A little sweep came running past the spot 
where the King was on his horse. His face was 
black and his feet were bare, but as he passed the 
monarch of Sweden he raised his dirty hand and 
saluted his sovereign. The King smiled upon the 
little fellow and returned the salute. Immediately 
afterwards a dashing officer came galloping up on a 
fine horse. His uniform shone like gold and his 
sword rattled as he careered bravely along. He also 



Hanley Again 149 

saluted his King. The King saluted back with all 
the dignity of a sovereign, but I thought I missed 
the kindly gleam of the eye with which he had greet 
ed the waving of the little sweep s dirty hand, and 
I said to myself: " This King loves the little sweep 
as much as the fine officer. And I love him for it." 
The work in Hanley went on without any abate 
ment of interest, attendance, or result. Having to 
face the same huge congregation so constantly, I 
began to feel acutely the need of wider reading. I 
had read very little outside my Bible until I left the 
army. My time had been fully occupied in teaching 
myself to read and write and in preparing my ad 
dresses. Remaining, at the longest, only six or 
seven months in each place, my need of more ex 
tensive knowledge had not been brought straight 
home to me. But now my stay in Hanley was 
extending into years, and I must have something 
fresh to offer my congregation every time I met it. 
And so I set myself to study. My first reading 
outside my Bible consisted of Matthew Henry s 
Commentaries, the lives of some early Methodists, 
the Rev. Charles Finney s Lectures on Revival 
Sermons to Professing Christians, and The Way 
to Salvation, and the books of Dr. Parker, Dr. 
McLaren, Robertson of Brighton, something of 
Spurgeon and of John Wesley. At this time, too, 
I began to taste the writings of Scott, Dickens, 
Thackeray, Tennyson, Whittier, Byron, Longfellow, 
George Eliot, and just a very little of Carlyle and 
Ruskin. 



150 Gipsy Smith 

I read for two things ideas, and a better grip of 
the English language. As I toiled through these 
pages for my reading was still toiling I lived in a 
new world. What an ignorant child]! felt myself to 
be! I felt confident, too, that some day the people 
would find out how little I knew and get tired of 
coming to hear me. But they were kind and patient 
and put up with my many blunders and limitations, 
for they loved me and they knew I loved them. I 
was to multitudes of them a spiritual father, and even 
to some of them a grandfather. Whenever I was 
announced to preach the people came and God gave 
the blessing. This was my comfort and encourage 
ment. Without these supjxirts I should have utterly 
failed. My soul was possessed of a deep thirst for 
knowledge, and I greedily drank in my fill during 
the few hours I could find for reading. For I had nine 
public sen-ices a week, each preceded by an open- 
air meeting, and I had much visiting to do. Con- 
set] uently the time for reading, even with a view to 
my work, was short. When I look back upon those 
days I humbly and gratefully marvel at the great use 
God was able to make of me, with all my manifold 
imperfections. 

This hard grind at Hanley, and the constant preach 
ing to congregations mainly composed of the same 
people, was an invaluable schooling for me. I was 
getting ready for the wide-world field of evangel 
istic work, not knowing, of course, that this was 
before me. As Moses was forty years in the desert of 
Midian, being trained for the work of leading forth 



Hanley Again 15 i 

the children of Israel, so was I, a poor gipsy boy, 
moulded and disciplined in Hanley during this time 
for my life s work in the churches of England, Aus 
tralia, and America. 

A few words about our church polity if I may 
use this impressive phrase in Hanley may fittingly 
come in here. When I began my work in the town 
the army had not enlisted more than twenty soldiers. 
Before my term as an army officer came to an abrupt 
end we had raised the number to between five hundred 
and six hundred. Our services in the Imperial Circus 
had not continued long before we had enrolled over 
a thousand members, all converted under my ministry. 
We had never any celebrations of communion in the 
circus, but at regular intervals we repaired in a large 
procession to one of the Nonconformist churches, and 
there took communion. I should say that not a few 
persons who were brought to God in the Imperial 
Circus left us immediately after this great event in 
their lives, and joined themselves to the churches 
with which they had been formerly, in some more or 
less loose way, associated. Saving that there was 
no dispensation of the holy communion (except dur 
ing the later part of my stay), we were in all respects 
a regularly organized congregation, with Sunday- 
schools, classes, and the usual societies. I say this 
in order that no one may regard the Hanley work 
simply as a prolonged mission, although it is true 
that all my services were evangelical and most of 
them evangelistic. I was in the " regular ministry " 
during these years at Hanley, if ever a man was. 



152 Gipsy Smith 

In my congregation were seven or eight members 
of the town council. The mayor, the magistrates, 
and all the members of the municipality were in sym 
pathy with us and would do anything for us. The 
mission was a geat fact in the life of the town, a force 
that had to be reckoned with. I do not think I ex 
aggerate when I say that my congregation held in 
the hollow of their hands the fate of any candidate 
for municipal office. I had a devoted, enthusiastic, 
and hard-working band of helpers, who relieved me 
of the great multitude of lesser duties which a church 
has to perform, and left me free for my platform work. 
My people were very liberal. We had a collection 
at each service. The British working-man is not 
at all afraid of the collection-plate. Several times, 
in moments of absent-mindedness, tension, or ex 
citement, I have forgotten to announce the collection, 
but I was promptly reminded of my negligence from 
many quarters of the building. " The collection has 
not been made, sir!" was the cry of many voices. I 
had taught the people that giving was as scriptural 
as praying or hymn-singing, and that the collection 
was part of the worship. 

In October, 1885, the autumnal sessions of the 
Congregational Union of England and Wales were 
held in Hartley. The free-church ministers of the 
town prepared an address of welcome, and arranged 
that a deputation of their number should address 
the Union. I had seen most of the.se ministers come 
into the town and had seen their predecessors depart. 
Although I represented by far the largest congrega- 



Hanley Again 153 

tion in Hanley, a congregation that would have made 
more than half a dozen of most free-church congre 
gations in the town, I was not invited to join the depu 
tation. When the secretary of my church inquired 
the reason why, he was answered, " Oh, he s not an 
ordained minister. " That was to them reason enough 
for passing me over. I was hurt, but I said noth 
ing. 

However, one of these ministers, the Rev. Kilpin 
Higgs, a Congregationalist, was my very good friend, 
and had helped me from my first day in Hanley. I 
suspect that Mr. Higgs had spoken to some of the 
Congregational leaders about this slight to me, for 
after the deputation had addressed the Union and 
before Dr. Thomas, the chairman, replied, Dr. Han- 
nay rose and said : " We cannot allow this interest 
ing occasion to close without recognizing in Gipsy 
Smith a co-worker and a brother. I hear that he is 
in the church. Will he kindly come to the platform 
and address the assembly?" I was sitting in the 
gallery, and so utterly taken aback by this gracious 
invitation that I cannot recall now whether I walked 
up the aisle to the platform or got round by the vestry. 
However, I soon found myself, happy but confused, 
standing among the leaders of the denomination 
and beside the deputation of Hanley free -church 
ministers. I told the delegates that I was not pre- 
ptired to address them, but I ventured to say a few 
words which they graciously received with applause. 
They were acute enough to see that there was some 
little sore feeling between myself and the local free- 



i 54 Gipsy Smith 

church deputation and that I had been slighted. 
After thanking the Union and the chairman for their 
recognition, their brotherly sympathy, and the chance 
to be seen and heard, I turned to the Hanley minis 
ters who were standing beside me and said : 

" Brethren, I did feel hurt that you did not invite 
me to accompany you on this occasion. I know I 
have not been ordained, but I am your brother. I 
have not had the hand of priest or bishop or arch 
bishop laid upon my head, but I have had the hands 
of your Lord placed upon me, and I have received 
His commission to preach the everlasting gospel. 
If you have been to the Cross, I am your brother. 
If you won t recognize me, I will make you know I 
belong to you. I am one of your relations." The 
delegates applauded loudly while I said these words, 
and I continued : " You see what you have done. 
If you brethren had invited me to come with you I 
should have quietly appeared like one of yourselves, 
but since you ignored me, you have made me the 
hero of the day." 

The Christian World published an interesting 
article of some length on this incident, from which 
I may be permitted, without offensive egotism, to 
extract a few sentences: "Few incidents outside 
the serious proceedings of the Congregational Union 
meetings at Hanley excited deeper interest than the 
appearance on the platform of Gipsy Smith. Till 
Dr. Hannay announced him, but few, it may be 
presumed, had ever heard of him. When the young 
man rose, presenting a dark but not swarthy counte- 



Hanley Again 155 

nance, there was nothing, save a flash of fire in his 
black eyes as he gazed round upon the assembly, 
that would have indicated that he came of a gipsy 
tribe, or that he was anything different from an 
ordinary youth of the middle class. He certainly 
had never stood up in such an assembly before. 
His manly tone, his handsome presence, his elo 
quence, and his earnestness procured him a flattering 
reception from the assembly." 

The working people s meeting in connection with 
the sessions of the Union was held on the Thursday 
night in the Imperial Circus, and in this gathering I 
sang a solo. " There can be little doubt/ says the 
writer I am quoting, "that if he did nothing else 
the multitudes would crowd to hear him. Accom 
panied by a small harmonium, he poured forth, with 
great taste and skilful management of voice, which 
was subdued by the deepest emotion, the most ex 
quisite strains of sacred song. The burden of it 
was an exhortation to pray, praise, watch, and work, 
the motive to which was urged in the refrain that 
followed each verse, Eternity is drawing nigh. 
So far as we had the opportunity of judging, the 
young gipsy s speech is as correct as his singing. 
We saw nothing coarse in the young man s manners, 
and heard nothing vulgar in his speech. He is 
doing more good than any other man in Hanley, 
said an enthusiastic Methodist couple with whom 
we fell in of course, they meant as an evangelist 
among the masses. All the ministers we met with 
who had come into personal contact with him were 



I 56 Gipsy Smith 

as astonished at the amount of culture he displayed 
as at the simplicity and force of his address. The 
many ministers and other men of intelligence who 
during last week were brought into personal contact 
with Gipsy Smith would one and all express for him 
the heartiest good- will, coupled with the sincerest 
hope that the grace given to him will be to him as 
a guard against fostering any feeling in his heart 
opposed to humility, and to the manifestation of 
any spirit such as the enemy loves to foster, that 
thereby he may mar a good work." 

And now invitations to evangelistic work began 
to pour in upon me, mostly from Congregational 
ministers. These invitations I at first uniformly 
declined, but I was prevailed upon to go to London 
in December for a mission at St. James Bible Chris 
tian Church, Forest Hill, of which the pastor was 
the Rev. Dr. Keen. I remember this mission very 
vividly, for it marked the beginning of a new era 
in my life. It opened my eyes to my true gifts and 
capacities, and showed me clearly that I was called 
to the work of a general evangelist, the work in which 
for sixteen years I have been engaged and in which 
I fully expect I shall continue to the end. Dr. Keen 
wrote an account of the mission for the Ilible Chris 
tian Magazine, under the title, " A Tidal- wave of 
Salvation at Forest Hill." On the first Sunday 
evening the building was packed, more persons being 
present than when Charles II. Spurgeon preached 
at the opening of it. On the second Sunday evening 
scores of persons were outside the church doors 



Hanley Again i 57 

three-quarters of an hour before the service was an 
nounced to begin. When I appeared in the pulpit 
every inch of standing ground in the church was oc 
cupied vestries, pulpit stairs, chancel, lobby, and 
aisles. Hundreds of persons had to l)e turned away. 
Dr. Keen concluded his account with these words: 
There has been no noise, confusion, or undue ex 
citement throughout, but deep feeling, searching 
power, and gracious influence. The whole neigh 
borhood has been stirred. Gipsy Smith is remark 
able for simplicity of speech, pathetic and persuasive 
pleading, and great wisdom and tact in dealing with 
souls. His readings of the Word, with occasional 
comments, are a prominent feature in his services, 
and done with ease and effect. In his addresses he is 
dramatic and pungent, while the solos he sings are 
striking sermons in choicest melody. He is a gipsy, 
pure and simple, but God has wonderfully gifted 
him with the noblest elements of an evangelist, and 
made him eminently mighty in the art of soul-win 
ning." 

The mission made a deep impression upon my 
own soul. I perceived clearly that my voice and 
words were for the multitude, that I had their ear, 
and that they listened to me gladly. I now took 
occasional missions, and wherever I was announced 
to preach the people flocked to hear me. I had great 
joy in preaching to the multitudes and some little 
power in dealing with them. The people were calling 
me, the churches were calling me, and, above all, God 
was calling me to this new field of work, in which, 



158 Gipsy Smith 

indeed, the harvest was plenteous and the laborers 
were few. Every day brought me more and more 
invitations to conduct missions, and the conviction 
that here was my life work took such a hold upon 
me that I could not get away from it. After much 
prayer and many struggles I resigned my position 
at the Imperial Circus, Hanley. My people felt the 
blow very acutely, so did my many friends in the 
town, and so did I. But, as I was still to have my 
home in Hanley and give all my spare time to the 
mission, the wrench was not so severe as it might 
have been. 

I cannot conclude this chapter on the dear old Han 
ley days without the deepest emotions of love and 
gratitude to my troops of kind friends in that town, 
and without expressing my thanks to Almighty God 
for His tender guidance of me in those times of 
stress, difficulty, and crisis. Never was more love be 
stowed upon mortal man than was showered on me 
by my friends in Ilanley, and never have I worked 
among a people whom I loved more deeply and more 
devotedly. They were very good to me, and I did 
my best for them. No one knows as I know in my 
heart of hearts how poor the best was, but God was 
pleased to make it His own and to bring forth much 
fruit out of it to His praise and glory. Hanley and 
my Ilanley friends have a peculiarly tender place 
in my heart. The very mention of the name makes 
my spirit rejoice with great joy in God my Saviour, 
who filleth the hungry with good things, while the 
rich those who are conscious of gifts and graces 



Hanley Again I 59 

and powers above the common may be sent empty 
away. Only the resurrection morn shall reveal the 
great things that God wrought in that town by the 
hand of that unworthy servant of I lis who pens these 
poor, faltering lines of praise and love. 



CHAPTER XVII 

MY FIRST VISIT TO AMERICA 

FROM 1886 to 1889 I was busy conducting missions 
among the churches. My experiences from the be 
ginning convinced me that my decision to do the work 
of an evangelist was right. But during these three 
j ears I spent some months full of fear and dismal 
apprehension. In 1886 I was seized by a painful 
and distressing throat ailment, which rendered it 
impossible for me to preach or sing. Sir Morell Mac 
kenzie, whom I consulted, said that the vocal cords 
had been unduly strained. I had been using my 
voice in public singing and speaking without a pro 
longed rest, or any rest at all, for years, and the efforts 
now began to tell on me severely. For about nine 
months I was forced to abstain altogether from singing 
or preaching. I do not desire to spend such another 
nine months again. 

My readers, considering the busy full life I had 
led for years, will easily understand how sore and 
heavy a cross these passive nine months were. It 
was, besides, a severe test of faith. Our little stock 
of savings very quickly diminished, and we had 
started on our last 5 before I was able to take up 
my work again. I was recommended to consult the 
Rev. Mr. Sandilands, the Vicar of Brigstock, who 



My First Visit to America 161 

was a specialist on voice production, and on the 
diseases of the throat to which clergymen and 
other public speakers are subject. I spent a fort 
night in the Brigstock Vicarage. Mr. Sandilands 
treatment was so successful that in a day or two I 
was reading the lessons in church for him. I be 
lieve that the long rest had all but cured me of my 
ailment, but I was nervous and depressed on the sub 
ject, and Mr. Sandilands did me the great service 
of establishing my confidence in my voice. Before 
I had left him I was using my voice for five hours 
every day, and I was soon at work again. Never did 
I feel more thankful. I was busy during the latter 
part of the year in the West of England. An influ 
ential journal in that district made me the subject 
of a leading article, as amusing as it was flattering. 
My literary friends tell me that I must work in as 
many picturesque touches as I can, and that is my 
only excuse for making some extracts from this ar 
ticle. An autobiographer cannot directly write about 
his personal appearance and personal peculiarities, 
nor is he as competent an authority on these sub 
jects as an outsider may be. Yet these are the very 
things, I am told, which perhaps most interest 
readers. 

With these apologies, then, let me say that this 
leader-writer described me as "elegant in form and 
manner, and as genuine and unsophisticated a son 
of nature as ever the mother of us all gave to the 
world." My eyes were described as " rather large, 

darkly hazel, bright and liquid, wells of light and 
II 



1 62 Gipsy Smith 

life/ and my countenance was labelled "agreeable 
and winsome/ " The secret of his power/ continued 
the writer, "is his simplicity, pathos, eclecticism, 
concentrativeness, and intense earnestness. Besides 
these, he is aided by freedom from all the meretri 
cious airs and graces of pedantry which stick like 
excrescences to a studied and unnatural rhetoric. 
He is as simple as a child, as tender as a sister, and 
as mellow and merry as a nightingale." The writer 
concluded by saying that I had the power of main 
taining " that reverence and attention for the truth 
in an unconsecrated building crowded with good, 
bad, and indifferent characters which only a few ec 
clesiastical authorities could maintain in a sacred 
edifice. And a man who in himself can so elevate 
the gipsy as to be deservedly envied by an archbishop, 
is the man for the masses." I confess it had never 
occurred to me in my wildest and most sanguine 
dreams that I might be the envy of an arch 
bishop ! 

The story of my first visit to America begins in 
this wise. In 1886 I made the acquaintance of Mr. 
B. F. Byrom, of Saddleworth, near Oldham, a cotton 
spinner and woollen manufacturer. Mr. Byrom was 
residing in Torquay for the benefit of his health 
while I was conducting a mission there, and that is 
how we came to meet. A close friendship was soon 
formed between us, a friendship to which I owe a 
great deal more than I can ever tell. No man has 
been more fortunate than I in the number and the 
stanchness of his friends. Mr. Byrom took a holi- 




AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-SIX. 



My First Visit to America 163 

day in Palestine and Egypt in the early months of 
1887, and while on his travels became intimate with 
two American Congregational ministers and Dr. 
R. S. Macphail, the well-known Presbyterian min 
ister of Liverpool. He spoke to them about his friend, 
the gipsy evangelist, and told them all that he knew 
about my life and my work. They were deeply in 
terested, and the American ministers expressed a 
strong desire that I should undertake an evangel 
istic tour in their country. Mr. Byrom, on his own 
responsibility, gave some sort of pledge or promise 
that at some future time I should. When he came 
home to England he told me he felt I ought to go ; but 
I was finding abundant and fruitful emplo3 T ment for 
all my energies in England, and I did not feel that 
I was called to go to America. In short, I shrank 
back altogether from the enterprise. In the mean 
time, letters were passing between the two American 
ministers, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Kemp, and Mr. By 
rom. It was Mr. Byrom s firm faith that I should 
not only be made a means of blessing to the American 
churches, but also that the visit would be to me a 
further education and would supply me with help, 
material, and suggestion for my own work in the old 
country. I could hold out no longer, and in the au 
tumn of 1888 I decided to go to America. Mr. By 
rom generously guaranteed me against loss. 

But at the last moment obstacles rose up in front 
of me, like great rocks out of the ocean. When all 
the preparations had been made and my passage 
taken, word came that Mr. Kemp had suddenly 



164 Gipsy Smith 

passed away and that Mr. Morgan had had a diffi 
culty with his people which compelled him to resign, 
and which would prevent him carrying out his pro 
posals on my behalf. And so the way seemed blocked. 
But having once made up my mind to go, I was re 
solved that nothing should hinder me. I had still 
time to secure letters of commendation and intro 
duction from some of the leading Nonconformist 
ministers and other jxjrsons who knew me and my 
work. I felt sure that these would procure me a 
good starting opportunity on the other side. 

Among those who supplied me with letters were 
the Rev. Charles Garrett, Rev. D. Burford Ilooke, 
Rev. S. F. Collier, Rev. Andrew Mearns, Dr. Henry 
J. Pope, Mr. William Woodall, M.P., the Mayor of 
Ilanley (Mr. Henry Palmer), the Ilanley Imperial 
Mission Committee, Dr. Charles A. Berry, Rev. T. 
Kilpin Higgs, M.A., Dr. Keen, and Mr. Thomas W. 
Harrison, Secretary of the Staffordshire Congre 
gational Union. The words that touched my heart 
most were those of my I lanley Committee. " We 
cannot," said the signatories, "allow you to leave 
for America without expressing our deep gratitude 
for the noble work you have done among us dur 
ing the last seven years. You came a stranger but 
soon worked your way into the hearts of the people, 
cind hundreds of the worst characters in the town 
were converted to God. Hundreds of once wretched 
but now happy homes thank God that Gipsy Smith 
was ever sent to our town. The work has spread, 
the churches have been quickened, and at the present 



My First Visit to America 165 

time, in most of the towns and villages of the dis 
trict, successful mission work is carried on." 

I set sail from Liverpool on board the Umbria on 
the igth of January, 1889. A gipsy uncle a brother 
of my mother who, having no children of his own, 
was very fond of me, travelled a hundred miles that 
morning from his wagon to see me off. I took him, 
attired in his gipsy costume, 011 board the vessel, 
and at once all eyes were on him. When the sim 
ple man felt the movement of the vessel and saw the 
water, his eyes filled with tears, and turning to my 
wife he said, " Annie, my dear, I shall never see him 
again." He had never been on a ship before he 
may, indeed, never have seen one and he feared 
that it could not live in the great mighty ocean. The 
thought in his mind was not that he might die before 
I came back, but that I should probably be drowned. 
He asked me, too, if I thought I should have enough 
to eat on the way, and I managed to assure him on 
that point. Presentl} I took farewell of him (the 
tears rolling down his cheeks), my wife, my sister 
and her husband, Mr. Byrom and several other friends. 
I felt as we slowly sailed away that I was venturing 
out on a great unknown, but though my confidence 
in myself was poor and weak enough, I was very 
sure of God. 

The voyage was without incident. I am a poor 
sailor, and during the passage across the Atlantic I 
was deeply moved ! I landed in New York on a mis 
erably wet Sunday morning, a perfect stranger, not 
knowing, to the best of my belief, a single soul on 



1 66 Gipsy Smith 

the whole vast continent. I took up my quarters 
at the Astor House Mr. Byrom had advised me to 
go to a good hotel and sat down to think what I 
should do. I cannot say I was feeling at all happy 
or confident, but I girded up the loins of my mind 
and plucked up some little courage. 

On Monday morning I presented myself at the 
New York Methodist Episcopal Ministers Meeting, 
a gathering which is held on that day every week. 
I had a letter of introduction to the President, Dr. 
Strowbridge, from the Rev. Charles Garrett. I was 
received most cordially by the assembled brethren, 
who all rose to signify their welcome. On Wedfies- 
day morning I went to see Dr. James Buckley, the 
editor of the Christian Advocate. Dr. Buckley was 
absent, but Dr. Clark was acting as editor for the 
time. I explained to him who I was, what was my 
object in coming to America, and asked him to look 
at my letters of introduction. He read a few of them 
and inquired whether I was ready to begin work at 
once. I replied that I was ready, but that I had no 
desire to start right away because I thought a rest 
would do me good and give me time to look round. 
"Well," said Dr. Clark, "Dr. Prince, of Brooklyn, 
was asking me the other day if I knew of a man who 
could help him in some special services." Dr. Prince 
was the pastor of Nostrand Avenue Methodist Epis 
copal Church, the second largest in Brooklyn, a 
brilliant scholar and preacher. Dr. Clark offered 
to send me with a note to Dr. Prince. I was greatly 
pleased and delighted by the editor s kindness, be- 



My First Visit to America 167 

cause Dr. Clark was known to have very little sym 
pathy with the ordinary professional evangelist. 
I flattered myself that he had taken to me. The 
note to Dr. Prince ran thus : " The bearer of this note 
is Gipsy Smith, an evangelist from England. His 
letters are all that can be desired. You were asking 
me about a man to help you in your church. If I 
were in need of a man I would engage him on the 
strength of his papers." Dr. Clark was continuously 
kind and fatherly to me during this American cam 
paign. His little comments on my work in the Chris 
tian Advocate helped me as much as any of the press 
notices I received in America. 

When I went to see Dr. Prince in his handsome 
parsonage, adjoining his church, the door was opened 
by Mrs. Prince. The busy doctor was in his study, 
and his wife faithful guardian of his time and en 
ergies put me through a set of questions before I 
obtained admission. When at last I was ushered 
into the presence of Dr. Prince, I felt somewhat awed 
and hushed. I handed him the note from Dr. Clark. 
He put on his gold pince-nez and, after reading the 
note with a rather severe expression of countenance, 
he took them off, and looking me hard and full in 
the face, said in a decisive voice : 

" Well, brother, I guess I don t want you." 

I returned his gaze calmly, and replied, " Well, 
doctor, I think you do." 

He smiled, pleased rather than offended at my 
"cheek," and I went on. " I am no adventurer. I 
ask you to read these before I leave you," handing 



1 68 Gipsy Smith 

him my letters of introduction. Finally he prom 
ised to talk to some of his official brethren that night 
about the matter at the close of a service which was 
to be held. 

That service was attended by from two to three 
hundred people (of whom I was one), gathered in 
the lecture-hall. I was told that this was the third 
week of nightly prayer-meetings, that a great spirit 
of supplication had taken possession of the Church, 
and that neither the pastor nor the officials felt that 
they dare close the meetings. They were praying 
for a revival. The service that night was most ear 
nest, solemn, and impressive. Dr. Prince came in tow 
ards the close of the meeting and spied me among 
the congregation. Without speaking to me or giv 
ing me any warning he said : " Friends, we have a 
real live gipsy in the house to-night." The people 
at once looked round in search of this presumably 
desperate character, and Dr. Prince continued : " But 
he is a converted gipsy. I will ask him to talk to 
you." I addressed the people very briefly, just long 
enough to know that they were thoroughly inter 
ested and anxious for me to go on. While they 
were bowing their heads for the benediction I slipped 
out. They sought for me, but I could not be found. 

While at breakfast the following morning the col 
ored waiter informed me that Dr. Prince and two 
gentlemen desired to speak to me. They told me 
they wanted my help, and I must go forthwith and 
stay with Dr. Prince in the parsonage, for they be 
lieved that God had sent me across the seas specially 



My First Visit to America 169 

for their Church. And I believe with all my heart 
that it was so. The prayer-meetings had started 
before I left England, and by supplication and con 
secration the people had been getting ready for my 
coming. They did not know it, and I did not know 
it. But God, who brought us together, did. This 
interview took place on Thursday morning, and it 
was arranged that I should begin on the Sunday. 
An announcement to that effect was put in the pa 
pers, including also a few extracts from my letters 
of introduction. The letter which helped me most 
was that from the late Dr. Charles A. Berry, for he 
had only recently refused the call to succeed Henry 
Ward Beecher at Brooklyn. These short news 
paper notices were all the advertisement that was 
employed. 

Mr. Ira D. Sankey, of never-dying Moody and 
Sankey fame, took me for a long drive on the Sat 
urday before my first service. I asked him if he re 
membered that during the campaign at Burdett 
Road, Bow, he was driven out one day to a gipsy 
encampment in Epping Forest. 

" Yes, I remember it very well, and I remember 
meeting the converted gipsy brothers who were do 
ing a good evangelistic work up and down your 
country." 

" One of these brothers, Cornelius Smith, is my 
father, and he is still doing the same work." 

Mr. Sankey was pleased to hear this. 

I further asked him : " Do you remember that 
some little gipsy boys stood by the wheel of the trap 



i jo Gipsy Smith 

in which you were driving, and that, leaning over, 
you put your hand on the head of one of them and 
said, " The Lord make a preacher of you, my boy ?" 

"Yes, I remember that, too." 

"I am that boy." 

Mr. Sankey s joy knew no bounds. 

A little incident illustrating the famous singer s 
true kindness and solicitude on my behalf took 
place on this same drive. In those days I wore a 
frock-coat of unimpeachable cut, I hope, and a white 
shirt and front of unblemished purity and snowy 
whiteness, I know, but no tie. The reason of this 
omission I cannot tell. I suppose I felt that I was 
dressed enough. Said Mr. Sankey to me all at 
once: 

" Brother Smith, why do you not wear a white 
tie?" 

" I really do not know." 

" Well, Brother Smith," said Mr. Sankey, " I guess 
you would do well to buy some to-night, and wear 
one to-morrow." 

Mr. Sankey was very anxious that my first im 
pression upon the people should be as favorable as 
possible, and even a white tie would count for some 
thing. 

The mission was successful from the beginning. 
The Nostrand Avenue Church, which seated fifteen 
hundred people, was crowded at the first service 
and at every service during the three weeks. Be 
tween four hundred and five hundred people pro 
fessed to have found the Lord. The Methodist Epis- 



My First Visit to America 171 

copal churches do not use the inquiry-room. The 
penitents are invited to come forward to the com 
munion rail and there settle the great transaction. 
My way was made in America. I next proceeded 
to the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Sev 
enth Avenue, New York, the church of which Gen 
eral Grant was a member while he lived, and which 
is now the centre of the New York Methodist For 
ward Movement over which the Rev. Dr. Cadman 
presided for so many years. The same scenes were 
repeated here. Then I went to Trenton, New Jer 
sey, where I had the exquisite happiness of meet 
ing a great many persons from the Potteries who 
had settled there, who knew me well, and some of 
whom had been among my personal friends. 

I saw a congregation of colored people for the first 
time in Philadelphia. It was a communion ser 
vice, and about eight hundred of my ebony brethren 
were present. As far as I could observe I was the 
only other-colored person in the audience. The 
opening prayer of the dear old pastor contained 
many passages characteristic, I believe, of his class : 
"0 Lord, thou knowest dat this be a well-dressed 
congregation; help em to remember dat when de 
offerings ob de Lord are made. Lord, bless de 
official bredren. Sometimes at their official meetin s 
they fall out and they quarrel. And, Lord, before 
they take these emblems dis afternoon, Lord, they 
want reconverting. Come down and do it, Lord." 
At this stage, one big black brother, not one of the 
official bredren, cried out in a loud and zealous voice : 



172 Gipsy Smith 

"Amen, amen! Press hard on dat point, bruder; 
press hard dere!" And the pastor went on: "Lord, 
go up into the choir and convert the organist!" The 
organist, who was sitting just behind me, sniffed 
and said, "Umph!" It was whispered into my 
ears that he was the pastor s son-in-law. No one 
took offence at these very direct petitions, not even 
the official brethren, or the choir, or the organist. 
They all heartily responded "Amen." They loved 
and trusted their old pastor, and did not think less 
of him for the faithfulness of his dealings with them. 

I was greatly delighted and impressed by the 
singing of the congregation. I heard the Fisk Ju 
bilee Singers, \vho came to this country and en 
raptured us all, but this negro congregation excelled 
even that famous band in the sweetness and grand 
eur of their performance. I shall never forget how 
they sang the hymn, "Swing low, sweet chariot, 
coming for to carry me home." It seemed to me at 
the moment as if the roof of the church must open 
and the chariot descend into our midst, the singing 
was so grand and yet so artless as natural as a 
dewdrop. I shall carry the memory of that service 
with me into eternity. 

Some of my most interesting experiences during 
this trip befell me in Cincinnati. One little incident, 
trifling in itself one of those trifling things which 
one does not soon forget occurred at the house 
where I was a guest. On the morning after my 
arrival, when I came down-stairs, I found a little 
daughter of the house lying in a hammock swung 



My First Visit to America 173 

in the hall, daintily dressed and waiting to receive 
me. Her father and mother had talked about me to 
her, and she knew I was coming. I talked as sweet 
ly as I could to the little maiden. I said, " What a 
nice girl you are !" She answered nothing. Then I 
said, "What nice hands you have! what beautiful 
hair, what lovely eyes!" Still she did not speak. 
I could not make it out. I knew she was very in 
telligent, because I could see the brightness of her 
spirit in her eyes. I tried once again. "Oh, my," 
I said, " what a nice frock you have ! what a lovely 
dress!" Still not a sound. At last, looking at me 
with impatience, not unmingled with disgust, she 
pushed her little feet prominently out of the ham 
mock and said, "Ain t you stuck on my new slip 
pers?" This was the compliment she was waiting 
for. 

During my stay in Cincinnati I visited a gipsy 
encampment close at hand, the Cumminsville Col 
ony. An account of this visit given in a local pa 
per was so interesting that I reproduce it : 

A ROMANY RYE. 

Gipsy Smith, the Evangelist, in the City. A Romantic 
Scene at the Cumminsville Colony. 

" There was a rare and decidedly romantic scene enacted 
at the gipsy encampment at Cumminsville yesterday after 
noon. Shortly before five o clock a dashing team of bays, 
with bang-tails, landed upon the street leading into the 
centre of the Romany village, with much life. They drew 



174 Gipsy Smith 

behind them a handsome landau occupied by four gentle 
men, and as they came to a halt in front of one of the several 
tents of this nomadic race there was a shout in the weird 
language of the gipsies. Instantly there was a warm 
note of recognition from several men with the brown-hued 
countenance peculiar to that race standing near by, and a 
number of female heads, bedecked with gay colors, a weak 
ness of the Romany woman, appeared from the folds of the 
canvas home. 

" A neatly-dressed gentleman, with dark complexion 
and raven-black hair, leaped from the carriage, hat in 
hand, and for a few minutes the air was full of the nattiest 
kind of conversation in that strange tongue which men 
have for years tried to collect, as he shook hands most 
enthusiastically with those about him. 

The new arrival was Gipsy Smith, the famous British 
evangelist, who twelve years ago gave up the wandering 
life of his family and turned his attention to preaching the 
Gospel in his native land, and is now conducting a revival 
at the Trinity M. E. Church. 

" There was a striking contrast between this civilized 
Romany Rye and the untamed ones that soon gathered 
around him. He was attired in a three-button cutaway 
black coat and black and gray-striped pantaloons, and a 
white tie peeped out from under a turned-down collar. Sur 
rounding him was a motley gathering of men, women, and 
children. All gazed upon him with great curiosity, but he 
soon relieved them, and each eagerly tried to talk with him. 
The young men wore rather shabby attire, with the never- 
absent colored handkerchief about their necks. They 
had but little to say, but one middle-aged, stoutly-built 
man, as fine a type of the gipsy as mortal man ever looked 
upon, was unusually friendly. 

" I belong to the Smiths/ said the evangelist- 



My First Visit to America 175 

What, from England? 

Yes, my father was Cornelius Smith ; and he rattled 
off a list of the James Smiths that completely threw in the 
shade the long line of the same noted family in this country. 

Well! well! replied the big fellow, I am a Lovell, 
and my mother was related to the Smiths. Here is my 
wife/ as he pointed to a matronly-looking female, enveloped 
in a faded calico dress, with a white cloth about her head. 
She took great interest in the stranger, and was soon ques 
tioning him about various members of her family. 

We have been in this country twenty -three years, 
but we hear continually from the old uns. Times among 
us over there wasn t very good. My poor mother stood it 
nearly three years in this country, when she died/ said he 
of the Lovells. 

" Peeping into the tent, the evangelist espied a dark- 
hued woman sitting tailor-fashion upon the ground. She 
was a perfect specimen of the gipsy fortune-teller of romance. 
Her ears were ornamented with lengthy pendants of gold, 
to all appearance ; long braids of rich black hair hung 
over her shoulders. Her head was covered with a wide 
hat with a brilliant red lining, and in her lap was a young 
baby with a complexion the richness of which was in strik 
ing contrast to the dark olive hue of the mother. 

" Laughing loudly, Smith said in Romany tongue, 
What a thorough Gentile baby! 

The mother smiled, and a sturdy man who stood near 
by did not relish the utterance a bit. He was the father, 
and was marked in not having the least resemblance to the 
race. 

" Smith explained that it was the title always given a 
child born of the gipsy wife of a husband not a Romany. 

" Lovell and his wife were the only ones in the colony 
who had ever been abroad, and gradually the talk was 



\j6 Gipsy Smith 

confined to them. The others, naturally retiring gradually 
dropped out of sight and disappeared either into the shambly 
tents or walked away to Cumminsville. The little children 
and there were two-score of them several of whom were 
perfect beauties, with their dark features and curly hair, 
returned to their play, and soon had forgotten the distin 
guished caller. 

Where are all your horses? was asked of Love 11. 
Oh, the camp is lighter this week than it has been for a 
long time. Most of our folks are out on the road, and many 
of our boys and girls will not be back for an hour, was the 
reply. 

Won t you come down and take a bite with us? was 
asked of the evangelist ; and he looked anxiously at the 
iron crane stuck in the ground under which was the smoul 
dering embers of a fire. 

" Oh, yes. 

" Make it Sunday? 

I would like to, but I have three meetings that day. 
All right ; we will try and get some of the boys to come 
down and hear you. 

" Say, Lovell, did you ever hear the people say we dyed 
our faces?" continued the evangelist. 

" Oh, yes. 

" What foolish talk! I can account for the dark com 
plexion. It is due to the long-continued contact with the 
sun and elements. The poor gipsy is a much-maligned 
individual/ 

The trio rehearsed many interesting matters about old 
forests, celebrated Romany retreats in England, and noted 
leaders who had passed to their long rest, and after an 
affectionate farewell the evangelist got into the carriage, in 
which were Dr. Henderson, of Trinity, and T. A. Snider, 
of Clifton, and was driven away. 



My First Visit to America 177 

" He was highly delighted with the visit, and said that 
such meetings gave him new zeal in his work. Referring 
to the baby, he said : A birth in camp is made the occasion 
of great festivities. The new arrival is baptized, a minister 
is always summoned, and the whole ends with a fine meal. 
Just then two gaudily attired gipsy girls passed on their 
way to the camp. 

" Where have they been? 

" Out fortune-telling; and I want to tell you a funny 
part of the talk I held with the women at the camp. I was 
explaining to Lo veil s wife about the death of my mother, 
and said the only thing that she regretted was about her 
telling fortunes, which were all false. It worried her. 

Yes, that is so ; they are all lies, replied she. But 
then/ continued Smith, the women will do it, the money 
temptation being too great for them. 

What did Lovell mean by saying that business was 
bad abroad? 

" Oh, you see, the British government is very severe 
with our women in the matter of fortune-telling, and fines 
and imprisons them. This has driven hundreds of them 
to this country, and there are not as many families over 
there as of old. 

Back I went to New York, where I enjoyed the 
rare privilege of hearing Dr. Talmage in his own 
church. From all I could gather from friendly and 
unfriendly critics, Dr. Talmage is never heard at his 
best in England, either as a lecturer or as a preacher. 
His power over his great audiences in America is 
simply enormous and overmastering, and I felt at 
New York, for the first time, what a priceless gift the 

American churches had in this mighty preacher. 
12 



178 Gipsy Smith 

I could fill many interesting pages, I think, with 
extracts from the American papers concerning me. 
Some of them afforded me the greatest amusement. 
They were all kind and helpful. But though I am 
not shy now, I could hardly read them, even in pri 
vate, without blushing deeply. My readers, I think, 
may be interested with a few specimens of Ameri 
can journalism. One Cincinnati paper said: "Gip 
sy Smith speaks as if composing cable despatches 
at a cost of a dollar a word for transmission. As 
a forest tree laughs at the pruning-knife, so he would 
be spoiled if trimmed into a decent uniformity by 
grammar and rhetoric. His words are vascular; 
cut them and they would bleed. Sometimes, like 
an auroral light, he shoots up a scintillating flame 
of eloquence, and is always luminous. At times 
his voice mellows down until his words weep their 
way to the heart." 

Another journal dealt with me in a more critical, 
yet not unkindly manner. It informed the world 
that I was " not very beautiful, and not of command 
ing presence," but "modest and unassuming." 
The writer further said that I was a very quiet preach 
er, though not an ordained minister of the gospel. 
He informed his readers that I had never read any 
book but the Bible, but that I knew that by heart 
from cover to cover. I wish the last statement had 
been, and even now were true. The writer further 
spoke of General Booth as Field-Marshal Booth. He 
said that I had been presented to such men as Mr. 
Gladstone, John Bright, the Prince of Wales, and 



My First Visit to America 179 

other celebrities ; and while a stanch English patriot, 
I was neither a Jingo nor a Chauvinist. I need 
not say that the journalist gave me too much honor. 
I was never presented to Mr. Gladstone, John Bright, 
or the Prince of Wales. It is true that I have been 
the guest of the last mentioned, but not an invited 
guest. It was in the days when we sometimes stood 
our wagon and pitched our tent on a piece of land 
on the Prince s estate at Sandringham. 

I was quite a known character before I left Cin 
cinnati, and my name was used without my au 
thority, of course as an advertisement by the keepers 
of stores. One advertisement ran thus: 

" He has good taste. 

" Gipsy Smith is creating a great sensation in church cir 
cles just at present, and wherever he holds forth the edifices 
are crowded. He is a great entertainer, and that he is 
posted in city affairs is shown from the fact that when he 
attends a chur^\ festival he always wants the ice-cream 
and strawberries to come from ." 

During this first tour in America I visited Phil 
adelphia. Among other places of interest there, I 
was shown through Girard College, a college for the 
up-bringing and education of one thousand five 
hundred boys. This, I was told, is the wealthiest 
corporation in the whole city. The will of the 

1 Girard College is not a corporation but a part of the estate of 
Stephen Girard, who was, in his time, the wealthiest man in America. 
The city of Philadelphia is trustee for the estate. Note by American 
Editor. 



180 Gipsy Smith 

founder stipulated that no minister of the gospel 
should enter it, but that the highest code of morals 
should be taught. The trustees decided that the 
highest code of morals was taught in the Bible. 
Hence, every day these boys read the sacred scrip 
tures and engage in prayer. I was shown over the 
whole building, but in accordance with the trust 
deeds, I was not permitted to address the boys. 

I had also during this trip a brief interview with 
Mrs. Parnell, the mother of the famous Irish leader. 
The Pigott forgeries had just been exposed, and the 
old lady, very proud of her son, was delighted to 
talk about this matter, and was eager to hear news 
from England. Two American ministers accom 
panied me on this visit, and the old lady at once 
asked impatiently when we entered the room, " Which 
is the one from England?" We talked with her 
only a few minutes, because she soon became ex 
cited, and her friends thought it advisable to bring 
the interview to a close. She was a sweet, gracious 
lady, with a face that bore tokens of much suffering, 
and I shall never forget that interview. 

The American people treated me in a very kind 
way, and from the time of this first visit I have al 
ways cherished the warmest feelings towards them. 
They are a religious race, a nation of church-goers. 
Their religious life is marked by a fervor and an 
outspokenness that one would like to see more of 
in our churches at home. The men of America are 
in the main well read, educated gentlemen, with 
whom it is a liberal education to associate. I was 



My First Visit to America 1 8 1 

much struck by the almost sacred regard that is 
paid to prayer-meeting night and the week-night 
services in America. It is to me one of the saddest 
and most depressing features of church life in Eng 
land that the week - night prayer meeting is so 
painfully neglected. Many ministers whose Sun 
day services are attended by congregations of 
from eight hundred to one thousand people, 
find themselves face to face at the weekly prayer 
meeting with a congregation of from a dozen to 
thirty and would be mightily surprised and delighted 
if the attendance should one night reach a hundred. 
It is not so in America. The week-night services 
are almost as well attended as the Sunday services. 
Religious Americans would not think of accepting 
invitations to social functions on that night. 1 Not 
only does absence from the week-night service offend 
the religious feelings, it is also contrary to their 
sense of good form. Many people in this country 
seem to think that it would be bad form to attend a 
prayer -meeting. There is more friendliness, more 
brotherliness, in the church life of America. You 
will see more hand-shaking after one service in Amer 
ica than after ten in this country. In England, 
when the benediction is pronounced, we rush for 
the door; in America they rush for one another. 

1 Most Americans will regret that Mr. Smith s account of the 
American week-night service now holds good in very few instances. 
The picture that he gives of the prayer-meeting attendance in England 
tallies pretty closely with average conditions in America also 
although there are glorious exceptions. Note by American Editor. 



1 82 Gipsy Smith 

They are very good to their ministers. If a worship 
per in an American congregation feels that he has 
derived special benefit from a sermon he tells his 
minister so. 

They have beautiful churches, beautifully fur 
nished. The floors are laid with Brussels carpets 
no shabby strips of cocoanut matting in the aisles 
of American churches. The school-rooms, church- 
parlors, and vestries are all in keeping in this respect 
with the church. I once asked a lady and her hus 
band how it was that they spent so much money 
on their churches in making them luxurious. They 
replied : " We make our homes beautiful ; why should 
we not make the house of God beautiful?" The 
equipment of their Sunday-schools is much superior 
to that of ours. The children are studied in every 
possible way. The schools are often divided into 
many class-rooms, and the children are given seats 
in which they can listen in comfort to what their 
teacher has to say. The Americans, in short, have 
caught the spirit of the age. They believe in adapta 
tion, and they believe that the church ought to have 
the best of everything. We are now learning the 
same lesson in this country. We are giving our 
best men, our finest buildings, and our sweetest 
music for mission-work in the great centres of popula 
tion, and the results are justifying these methods. 



CHAPTER XVIII 



MY tour in America had been somewhat curtailed 
by an affection of the eyes, the result of passing from 
a heated room and they do stew you in their rooms 
in America! to a cold outside atmosphere. My 
Hanley friends gave me a most cordial welcome 
home again. My readers will not forget that during 
all this time I was the honorary head of the Imperial 
Mission, Hanley. My people paraded the town 
with a brass band, braying out jubilantly on account 
of my return, and in the evening welcomed me home. 
The Sunday scholars gave me a handsome Bible. 
While in America I had the pastorates of two fine 
churches offered to me. But I declined them, and 
when I got back among my dear people at Hanley 
I felt so glad I had declined. 

Before my American trip, I had conducted a few 
missions in connection with the great work of the 
Rev. S. F. Collier in Manchester. I found when I 
returned home that Mr. Collier s committee had 
taken over the Free Trade Hall for a great Sunday 
night service. I was invited to work with Mr. Col 
lier for a year. I accepted the call, and removed 
my home from Hanley to Manchester, where I have 
now lived for twelve years. At my first service in 



i 84 Gipsy Smith 

the Central Hall I had an experience that was very 
trying to the temper and mettle. As I was describ 
ing what took place between Christ and the two 
thieves at Calvary, an old gentleman, whose hair and 
beard were almost as white as snow, and who was 
sitting close to the platform, uttered a loud cry of 
dissent. I stopped for a moment, then tried to pro 
ceed, but was again interrupted. The audience 
became excited, then impatient, then angry, and 
voices were heard crying, "Put him out! Put him 
out!" But this I would not have. "No, there is 
nobody going to be put out of this hall this after 
noon. Leave our misguided brother to me. It is 
for such as he that this hall has been opened. When 
this meeting is over I shall go and pray for him. 
Hundreds of you will do the same, and our erring 
brother will be brought into the way of truth." Then, 
to put the audience into a good temper, I told them 
a story of a certain converted prize-fighter. He 
was present at a meeting where a man would per 
sist in interrupting the speaker, and, taking off his 
coat, he was asked what he was going to do. " Oh, 
I am going to ask the Lord to let me off for five 
minutes until I settle with that fellow who is spoil 
ing our meeting." I told the people that I myself 
had for a moment felt a little like that prize-fighter 
that afternoon. Then I offered up a prayer on the 
old man s behalf. That prayer called forth many 
"Amens," the loudest of which came from the old 
man himself. When the service was over, the white- 
haired old gentleman made his way to the platform, 




MY WIFE. 



The Manchester Wesleyan Mission 185 

and shook hands with me in the most friendly 
manner. 

During this year I conducted services occasionally 
at the Free Trade Hall and the Central Hall, besides 
holding special meetings in the various chapels of 
the mission. I was also sent on visits to Lancashire 
and Yorkshire towns in behalf of the mission. My 
year of service was so successful and so helpful, 
both spiritually and financially, to the mission, that 
the committee unanimously invited me to stay a 
second year. And I did. I consider that my con 
nection with the Manchester Mission opened my 
way among the churches in England more effec 
tually than any work I had yet undertaken. I was 
cordially received in many Methodist centres into 
which otherwise I should not have penetrated for 
years to come. But as a fellow-worker, though in 
a humble way, with Mr. Collier, I was received with 
open arms in every Methodist chapel I visited. 

One of my richest possessions to this day is the 
friendship of Mr. Collier. He is my pastor, and I 
do not think any two men in the kingdom have ever 
taken so many meetings together as we have during 
the last twelve years. Mr. Collier preaches in the 
Free Trade Hall to the largest Methodist congrega 
tion in the world. A very able, practical preacher 
he is, too a preacher who makes every man feel 
that he is his friend. As an organizer he is, as far 
as I know, unequalled, and is, to my mind, the wisest 
statesman in the religious life of this country. His 
mission is now the greatest thing of its kind in the 



1 86 Gipsy Smith 

world. I have known, in some degree at least, the 
forward movements in America, Australia, and 
Great Britain, but not one of them can compare with 
the Manchester Mission. Mr. Collier s first congre 
gation consisted of forty-two people. Now fourteen 
thousand persons are gathered every Sunday in the 
various chapels of the mission. The membership at 
the beginning was forty-five; it is now between five 
thousand and six thousand. The income necessary 
for the work is 10,000 a year, and three-quarters of 
this is raised by the mission itself. If the income was 
trebled or quadrupled, Mr. Collier would easily find 
beneficent and profitable use for it. The membership 
of the Manchester Mission includes many persons 
who have had strange careers. There are some con 
verted burglars in the congregation, and I know of 
at least one converted murderer, a man who was 
saved from the hangman s rope solely on account 
of his youth. 

During ten days special services that I conducted 
at the Central Hall we had forty meetings, four a 
day a meeting for business men; an afternoon 
Bible-reading, conducted by the Rev. F. B. Meyer, 
B.A., Rev. G. Campbell Morgan, or other eminent 
minister; an eight-o clock service, and a midnight 
service conducted by Mr. Collier. This midnight 
congregation was the most wonderful assembly of 
people I ever saw. At ten o clock two hundred and 
fifty workers, accompanied by two brass bands, pro 
ceeded from the Central Hall to visit every beer-shop 
in that neighborhood of Manchester, every music- 



The Manchester Wesleyan Mission 187 

hall, and every theatre. At the doors of these places 
bills were distributed announcing the midnight ser 
vice, and as many persons as possible were given 
a personal invitation to attend. The congrega 
tion, numbering from three hundred to six hun 
dred people, consisted of bookmakers, gamblers, 
drunkards, harlots, and thieves. Many of them 
had been found walking the streets after the 
beer - shops and theatres were closed. Not a few 
were drunk, many half - drunk. I do not know 
of anybody except Mr. Collier who could have man 
aged such a congregation. His method was to give 
them a lantern lecture; to seize their attention by 
means of the pictures, and get in the Gospel when he 
could. It was pathetic to observe how a favorite 
hymn thrown on the screen say, " When I survey 
the wondrous Cross" would move these hardened 
drunkards and lost men and women to tears. So 
overcome were some of them that they had to be car 
ried out. The service was so impressive that it actu 
ally sobered not a few of them, at least to the extent 
of making them understand what was being said. 
During that mission six hundred persons passed 
through the inquiry-room. 

Some of those who were won to God during my 
ministry at this time are now Methodist preachers. 
At a mission in Burnley one of the converts was a 
lad called George McNeal. George McNeal became 
the Rev. George McNeal, and, curiously enough, was 
until quite recently the third minister of the Man 
chester Mission, and, as such, my class-leader. It 



i 88 Gipsy Smith 

was Mr. McNeal s duty to take the overflow meet 
ing from the Free Trade Hall, held across the street 
in the Grand Theatre of Varieties. One Sunday 
night, as he was going into the theatre, he saw a 
young man standing at the door smoking a cigar 
ette. 

" Won t you come in? We are going to have a very 
bright service, and we shall be glad to have you with 
us." He replied, "No, that is not for the likes of 
me. I will not come in to-night." Mr. McNeal 
urged him to think better of it and to come in, and 
then himself passed into the theatre. At the close 
of the service one of the workers came to Mr. McNeal 
and said, " There is a young man here who would 
like to speak to you." It was the same with whom 
he had spoken at the door. He was completely 
broken down. This was his story: "I came to 
Manchester yesterday. I have been a traveller for a 
firm in Huddersfield, and I have been tampering 
with my master s money. I knew that by yesterday 
I should be found out, and I had not the courage to 
face the exposure. So I bolted and came here, hoping 
to hide myself and my crime in this great city. But 
God has found me out. What shall I do?" Mr. 
McNeal said, " If you mean to be a Christian you 
must play the man. You must face your master, 
tell him you have done wrong, and throw yourself 
on his mercy." And the young man went away, 
arranging to meet Mr. McNeal next morning at the 
Central Hall. 

Monday morning came and the young man, ful- 



The Manchester Wesleyan Mission 189 

filling his appointment, told the preacher that he was 
fully determined to take his advice, and asked him 
to communicate at once with his employer. Mr. 
McNeal telegraphed. The employer did not answer, 
but took the next train to Manchester. He told Mr. 
McNeal that on Saturday, when he discovered the 
guilt of his employe, he went to the police station 
to obtain a warrant for his arrest, but he was too 
late that day. On Sunday he attended the church 
of Dr. Bruce, which, having been converted at a 
mission conducted by Gipsy Smith in the town, he 
had joined. The sermon was on "Forgiving my 
Brother," and the employer, cruelly wronged as he 
had been, felt that he could not issue the warrant. 
On Monday morning Mr. McNeal s telegram came, 
and he had proceeded at once to Manchester. Mr. 
McNeal told the manufacturer that he, too, was con 
verted under Gipsy Smith, and this created a strong 
bond of sympathy between them. The master and 
employe had a private interview in a room at the 
Central Hall, and as a result the young man was 
reinstated in his former position. He is living to 
wipe out the past and to forget it. 

Rev. S. F. Collier has been kind enough to send 
me the following notes about my work for the Man 
chester Mission: 

" It was in the year 1883 that I first saw Gipsy Smith. 
Wandering down Anlaby Road, in Hull, I came across the 
Wilberforce Hall. Entering in, I was at once attracted by 
the remarkable voice and earnest manner of the speaker. 



190 



Gipsy Smith 



A dark young man was delivering an impassioned appeal 
which stirred the audience to its very depths. On inquiry, 
I found it was Gipsy Smith, of Hanley. 1 did not come into 
personal contact with the gipsy until about three years 
later. Then began a friendship which has been continued 
with increasing warmth and strength to this day. We have 
been on closest terms of intimacy, and probably no two 
men have occupied the same platform together more fre 
quently. I have the highest opinion of him as a man, as 
a friend, and as an evangelist. 

" In the early days of our friendship, Gipsy Smith several 
times conducted services in the Manchester Mission. I 
was so persuaded that he ought to be free to take special 
missions in the large centres, that I urged him to leave his 
settled pastorate at Hanley, and undertake evangelistic 
work in the wider sphere. Gipsy was naturally reluctant 
to leave the place where he had been seven years, and saw 
difficulty in leaving the work of which he had been the 
founder and mainstay. But at last he yielded, and I have 
always felt thankful that I had any share in leading Gipsy 
out into the great work God has enabled him to accomplish 
in Great Britain, America, and Australia. 

" Gipsy joined the staff of the Manchester Mission as 
special evangelist in 1889. Applications soon came to 
hand for his services, and it was not long before it was evi 
dent that the Gipsy was in great demand. For two years 
Gipsy conducted special missions, with intervals, when he 
preached in the large halls of the Manchester Mission. No 
place was large enough to seat the crowd whenever his 
name was announced. 

" It may be of interest to many to read the following 
paragraphs, printed in our magazine, and giving the im 
pression of Gipsy s work at that date : 



The Manchester Wesleyan Mission 191 

Many friends wonder why our special evangelist is 
so seldom with us during the winter months. This is not 
difficult to explain. There is such a great demand for 
Gipsy Smith as special missioner, and he is so richly blessed 
in this work, that the Manchester Mission Committee think 
well to grant many of these requests. So it comes to pass 
that our friend has been conducting missions at Hull, 
Barrow, Droylesden, Norwich, Lynn, Stockport,and Oaken- 
gate during the past four weeks. Showers of blessing have 
come upon the churches connected with these places. The 
letters written by those in authority in the various centres 
tell of immense crowds, great spiritual power, and inquiry- 
rooms full of penitents. At several of the places men and 
women came forward unasked while the evangelist was 
preaching. 

" The speaker is gifted with marvellous power of pathetic 
appeal, mingled with terrible denunciation of sin of every 
kind. He displays a very clear insight into human nature, 
and deals consequently with deceit and hypocrisy. It is 
most refreshing to hear the law of God so faithfully ex 
pounded and enforced in its relation to the atonement. The 
result is that the inquirers dealt with at the services are 
generally in deep penitence over a sense of sin. The chapel 
is filled every night. 

" On Gipsy s return from America, five years ago, it 
was my intention to make arrangements with him as evan 
gelist on our staff. But the thought occurred to me that 
if the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches 
would take up evangelistic work, and engage Gipsy Smith 
as the evangelist, the free-church movement would benefit, 
and with Gipsy as evangelist success would be assured. 
I spoke to two or three of the leaders of the movement, and 
as soon as Gipsy arrived in England made the suggestion 



192 Gipsy Smith 

to him, and begged him to consider the matter favorably. 
The result is well known, and throughout the nation thou 
sands thank God that Gipsy was called to this work. 

" I have watched with the greatest interest Gipsy s in 
creasing popularity, and have rejoiced to see the growth of 
his power as a preacher and his success as an evangelist. 
Above all, one cannot but be struck with the abundant grace 
of God that has kept him true at heart and sound in judg 
ment amid such great popularity. God has bestowed 
on the Gipsy great gifts, and he uses them for the highest 
purpose. 

" As a member of our church Gipsy is highly esteemed, 
and as a preacher every visit is welcomed and greatly 
appreciated. In his own church he is as popular as any 
where. Loyal to the mission, he is ever ready to help it, 
and on many a platform has pleaded on its behalf." 



CHAPTER XIX 

MY SECOND VISIT TO AMERICA 

BEFORE I became connected with the Manchester 
Mission I had made an engagement with friends on 
the other side of the Atlantic that I would soon visit 
them again, and accordingly in August, 1891, I set 
sail on board the Etruria for my second trip to the 
great continent. I was again furnished with many 
valuable letters of introduction. Most of them were 
from friends who had helped me in this way when 
first I crossed the Atlantic, but some were from new 
friends, such as Dr. Bowman Stephenson, Rev. 
Hugh Price Hughes, M.A., Rev. W. L. Watkinson, 
and Rev. Dr. Moulton, who was president of the 
Wesleyan Conference for 1890-91. Mr. Watkin- 
son s letter was particularly characteristic. "I 
earnestly hope," he said, " that your visit to America 
may be made a great blessing to you, and that you 
may prove a great blessing to the American people. 
Your work with us has been deep and genuine, and 
I am persuaded that it will remain. Much evangelistic 
work here of late has been very superficial, but you 
appeal to the conscience and intelligence of the peo 
ple, which renders your ministry specially valuable. 
Nothing will tempt you, I feel sure, to forsake this 
path. Allow me to say how much I appreciate the 
13 



194 Gipsy Smith 

purity of your style and your instinctive taste, and 
nothing is to be gained by compromising this. I 
feel sure that the American churches will be greatly 
edified by you, and I only hope they may not like 
you too well." 

I went straight to the camp meetings at Ocean 
Grove, which are held from August 2 1st to 3 1st, 
inclusive. I had timed my departure from England 
so as to be present at these great gatherings. My 
intention was merely to be a witness of them. Ocean 
Grove is a city with a population of from five thou 
sand to ten thousand people, managed entirely by a 
Methodist association. The banks, post-office, and 
all the institutions of local government are in the 
hands of this society. There is not a beer-shop in the 
town, and if one buys a building-site one is obliged 
to subscribe to a clause providing for the forfeiture 
of the property if the owner is detected selling spirits. 
The gates of the town are closed on Saturday night. 
Neither postman nor milkman is allowed to go his 
rounds on a Sunday, and I believe that while the 
association cannot prevent trains from passing 
through the town on that day, they at least prevent 
them from stopping there. I did not observe a single 
policeman in the place during my visit, and only one 
uniformed official was employed to keep the great 
crowds in order. 

The town was founded by a few Methodist preachers 
who years ago went there for their holidays and 
camped in the woods. Their idea of making Ocean 
Grove a great camp -meeting ground became so 



My Second Visit to America 195 

popular that now it is the largest camp - meeting 
place in the world. In the auditorium, which seats 
nearly ten thousand people, three gatherings are held 
each day during the camp-meetings. Just across the 
road is a building called Ocean Grove Temple, seated 
for about 2,000 people, and here two meetings for 
young people are held daily. The young people 
are of all ages, from thirteen or fourteen up to any 
where under ninety! In the height of the camp 
season, the hotels, cottages, and tents of the town 
are crowded with a population of from seventy thou 
sand to eighty thousand people, from all parts of 
America. I have seen sometimes as many as two 
hundred and fifty ministers on the platform. In 
deed, Ocean Grove is a favorite holiday resort for 
American pastors. People from most cities of 
America at some time or other attend these meet 
ings, and take home with them a zeal and an 
evangelical spirit that spread throughout all the 
churches. The enthusiasm and the fire of Ocean 
Grove live all over the continent, maintaining alert 
the revival spirit. Ministers have told me that but 
for Ocean Grove many a church in America would 
have been closed. 

To me the most interesting feature of the meetings 
were the testimonies. Brief, bright, crisp, and clear 
statements they were from Methodists, Baptists, 
Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, for though Ocean 
Grove is a Methodist institution, the meetings are 
attended by members of all the Churches. The 
Americans, rich and poor, old and young, male 



196 Gipsy Smith 

and female, are more ready than we are to state 
publicly the reasons for the hope that is in them. 
The Ocean Grove audiences consist for the most 
part of well-off people, people who can afford a holiday 
of from a month to six weeks. In 1891, the president 
of the meetings was the Rev. Dr. Stokes, whom I 
had met once before and who had shown me much 
kindness. He introduced me to many of the ministers 
present whom I did not know, explaining who I was 
and why I had come to the States. In this way, 
before I left Ocean Grove I had practically completed 
the programme of my autumn and winter s work. 
I had made a good impression on the ministers by 
two addresses I had given at the Young People s 
Meetings. 

My first mission was in Old Jane Street Methodist 
Episcopal Church, New York, of which the Rev. 
Stephen Merritt was the pastor. Mr. Merritt was a 
truly wonderful man. He carried on his pastorate 
and the business of an undertaker at the same time. 
His work in the latter capacity was very extensive. 
He stood high in the trade, and to him had been 
intrusted the obsequies of General Grant. While 
still a layman, he preached with so much success 
that the bishop of the diocese gave him the charge 
of Old Jane Street. When I was in New York, Mr. 
Merritt was one of the best-known men in that city. 
He had turned the old church into what was de 
scribed as a tremendous converting furnace. My 
mission there was held during the month of Sep 
tember, a very hot month in New York, and yet 



My Second Visit to America 197 

the crowds came and hundreds were turned into the 
Lord. 

One Sunday evening, while the people were gath 
ering, a couple came into the vestry to the pastor 
and asked him to marry them. When the ceremony 
was over, the bridegroom said to the minister, " You 
seem to have a large congregation?" "Yes, we 
have the evangelist Gipsy Smith from England 
here taking a mission for us." " Oh, we have heard 
of him, and I should like to hear him." The upshot 
was that the bride and bridegroom, having no friends 
with them, decided to stay for the service. The 
marriage ceremony took place at 7.30, and within 
two hours the newly married couple knelt with a 
number of others at the communion-rail, and gave 
themselves to Jesus Christ. And so they com 
menced their new life under the very best of all bonds. 

At Washington I attended the (Ecumenical Con 
ference, and for the sake of the venerable William 
Arthur, who introduced me, and who was the most 
revered man in the conference, I was allowed to sit 
in the body of the hall, was treated as an honored 
guest, and was invited to a great reception at the 
Arlington House. That night I was introduced to 
Frederick Douglas, the great negro orator, who, in 
that assembly, seemed to tower above everybody 
else. I told Mr. Douglas that I had read the story 
of his life and was charmed by it. He was great 
ly pleased, congratulated me on my success as an 
evangelist, and wished me God-speed. 

My readers may remember that my first mission 



198 Gipsy Smith 

in America was held in Nostrand Avenue Methodist 
Episcopal Church, then under the pastorate of Dr. 
Prince. I worked at this church again during my 
second visit, when the reins of government were in 
the hands of Rev. Arthur Goodenough. I was told 
that many of those who had been converted during 
my former mission were now splendid workers in 
the church and in the Sunday-school. 

One night, as soon as I got into the pulpit, my 
eyes fell upon a gipsy and his wife. At the close of 
the service I went to speak to them. Gipsies are 
always delighted to meet one another. We had never 
met before, but we were tachino romany chals (true 
gipsy men), and that was enough. I found that 
they had pitched their tents a little outside Brooklyn, 
and I made an appointment to visit them. They 
were a fairly well-to-do couple. Six ladies of the 
church begged to be allowed to accompany me, 
and I had great pleasure in taking them to the gipsy 
camp. The gipsy wife had prepared for us a nice 
little tea in the tent. There were only three cups 
and three saucers in the "house/ and some of us 
had to drink our tea from cups and some from sau 
cers. My lady friends were fascinated and charmed 
with the novelty of the experience, and with their 
handsome host and hostess, for they were a hand 
some pair indeed. The gipsies were more than de 
lighted to have as guests in their tent a romany rashi 
(a gipsy preacher) and his friends. It marked a 
red-letter day in the experience of the ladies and of 
the gipsies. I have made it a practice whenever 




ALBANY, MY ELDEST SON. 



My Second Visit to America 199 

I am in the neighborhood of a gipsy encampment 
to pay it a visit. One reason for this is that I never 
know whether I may not discover some of my rela 
tives there. 

The greatest mission I conducted in New York 
was at Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church, 
Harlem, of which the Rev. James Roscoe Day, 
D.D., was the pastor. The church was seated for 
two thousand three hundred people. All the seats 
were let, and Dr. Day was accustomed to preach to 
crowded congregations every Sunday. The pastor 
and his officers had thoroughly prepared my way, 
and the members of the church seemed to rally round 
me almost to a man. Night after night for a whole 
month the building was crowded. There were many 
conversions, including whole families. Little chil 
dren and old men knelt side by side seeking the 
same Saviour. Sunday scholars for whom their 
teachers and parents had sent up many prayers to 
heaven were brought to the saving knowledge of 
the truth, and were led to confess their Lord. This 
month passed away all too quickly. I would gladly 
have prolonged the mission, but I had made other 
engagements that I was bound to fulfil. On leaving 
this church a set of embossed resolutions, signed by 
Dr. Day and all the twenty-four members of the 
official board, was presented to me. " We believe 
Gipsy Smith/ wrote the signatories, "to be an 
evangelist particularly called by God to his work, 
the possessor of rare gifts as an expounder of the 
truth and as a winner of men. We believe our mem- 



2oo Gipsy Smith 

bership has been greatly quickened spiritually, and 
through our brother s instrumentality many souls 
have been added to the church." I was handsomely 
remunerated for my services here, and the ladies 
sent a gift of 20 to my wife, in England the wife 
who had so generously allowed me to cross the 
Atlantic to help and bless them. 

My work in New York was not at first looked 
upon with friendly eyes by all the Methodist Epis 
copal ministers of the city. During my mission 
in the Harlem church I attended the usual Monday 
meeting of the New York Methodist ministers in 
company with Dr. Day. Dr. Day told his brethren 
something of the revival at his church, saying that 
it was a revival on old-fashioned Methodist lines. 
Whereupon a certain Dr. Hamilton rose and said: 
" I do not believe in evangelists. I have been in the 
ministry many years, and I have never had an evan 
gelist in my church, and I never shall have. When 
the wind blows the dust blows, and when the wind 
settles the dust settles. I believe in hand-picked 
fruit, in conversions which result from the ordinary 
work of the ministry. But I am glad to see Gipsy 
Smith present this morning, and I shall be glad to 
hear him." The brethren called out loudly for 
"Gipsy Smith! Gipsy Smith!" I had no desire to 
address the ministers, and unless called upon by 
the president I had no right to do so, but the cries 
for me were persistent, and I was invited to have 
my say. I began : " Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, 
and brethren, If I were at home in England, among 



My Second Visit to America 201 

my brethren and the ministers who know me, who 
have watched me, and who know my manner of work, 
I would venture to reply to Dr. Hamilton. But as 
I am a stranger in a strange land, and your guest, 
I prefer to be silent. If I am only a gipsy boy, I 
know what belongs to good breeding." Then I sat 
down. 

The brethren present shouted in American fashion, 
"Good, Brother Smith! Good, good, good!" and 
urged me to go on. "Very well," I said, "very 
well, if you will hear me, you shall. It may be a 
very smart thing to say that when the wind blows 
the dust blows, and when the wind settles the dust 
settles, but it is not a Christ-like thing to say of a 
brother and his work," and, turning to Dr. Hamilton, 
"if God has given to the church evangelists it is 
because you need them. What God has called clean, 
do not you call common." There was a cry of, 
"Good, good, that s so, Brother Smith!" "Well," 
I added, "you say you believe in hand-picked fruit; 
so do I. It fetches the highest price in the market; 
but what are you to do when the fruit is too high for 
you to reach it, and you have no ladder? Every 
body knows, too, that some of the best fruit is on the 
top of the tree. Are you going to lose that fruit 
because you are not tall enough or strong enough 
to get it? I won t! I will ask the first godly brother 
who comes along to help me to shake that tree, and 
we will get the fruit though we bruise it in the getting. 
I would rather not have said this. I do not believe 
in defending myself, or setting myself against my 



202 Gipsy Smith 

brethren in the ministry. I have tried always to 
be the pastor s help, and I never allow myself in public 
or in private to say one disparaging word of my 
brethren. It hurts and grieves me when I hear a 
pastor speaking disdainfully of the work of the 
evangelist, remembering as I do that God has given 
to the church some apostles, some prophets, some 
evangelists, as well as pastors and teachers." It was 
plain that the ministers were with me and not with 
Dr. Hamilton. On the following Sunday afternoon 
Dr. Hamilton was a member of my congregation. 
In due course we both appeared together at the minis 
ters meeting on Monday. He told me that he had 
greatly profited by my sermon of the day before, 
and said he liked it so much that were he going to 
preach from the same text, he would incorporate some 
of my sermon into his own discourse. 

To me the most memorable incident of my two 
weeks mission at Old Bedford Street, New York, 
was the conversion of a Roman Catholic priest. 
As I was speaking one night to the penitents at the 
communion-rail a man with a handsome, clean 
shaven face looked up to me through the tears that 
were streaming down his face, and said, "Do you 
know who I am?" I said, " No, sir." He answered, 
" I am a Roman Catholic priest. My church has 
failed to give me what I am hungry for." My theme 
that night had been "Jesus, the only Cure." The 
priest said to me, " I am seeking the Cure, the only 
Cure!" I remembered that I had seen in the audience 
the Rev. Father O Connor, an ex-priest, well known 



My Second Visit to America 203 

in New York for his work among Catholics. I called 
him to my help, feeling that he would be better able 
to deal with this man than I could, and when I told 
him what I had just heard at the communion-rail, 
he said: "Yes, I know all about it. I brought him 
here." The priest had been ignorant of the plan of 
salvation, but there and then, renouncing his church 
and his old religion, he gave himself to Jesus Christ. 
The next day I dined with him at the Rev. Father 
O Connor s. I discovered that the priest, having 
become dissatisfied with his church and his pro 
fession, had gone to Father O Connor and sought 
his aid. Father O Connor said to him, "Come and 
live with me, and see how my wife and children 
live, and what simple faith in Christ has done for 
us." The priest went to stay at Father O Connor s 
house, and at his suggestion came to my meeting. 
He sent in his resignation to the bishop, and soon 
was preaching Christ as the only way of salvation. 
Not a few Roman Catholics have been converted at 
my missions, but this man was the only priest, as 
far as I know, who came to God under my ministry. 
This was the last mission of this visit. 

I called on Mrs. Bella Cook, the author of Ri/ted 
Clouds, at New York, and each time I visited Amer 
ica I have gone to see her. Mrs. Cook has been 
bedridden for thirty-five years. She lives in a hum 
ble little cottage. When she first rented it, it stood 
in the fields, and the cattle were grazing about the 
doors. Now it stands in the backyard of a large 
store. Mrs. Cook, though she suffers much pain, is 



204 Gipsy Smith 

always active. Hundreds of people come to see 
her, and there have been the greatest and most sacred 
transactions in her room. She lives by faith. She 
has no money, except what the Lord sends her, and 
she wants for nothing. Many rich people make 
Mrs. Cook the dispenser of their charity. The last 
time I called upon her was on the eve of Thanks 
giving Day, and she was sending out the last of two 
hundred turkeys to make the Thanksgiving dinner 
of some poor family. I asked her if she had peace 
in the midst of all this loneliness and suffering. 
"Peace!" she said, "peace! I have the Author of 
peace." "How do you live?" I asked. "How 
do the angels live?" she answered; "my Father 
knows my needs, and supplies them." Her face 
was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Al 
though she is advanced in years she has no wrinkles 
or blemish of any sort. The peace of Heaven plainly 
rests upon her. She lives in the cloud that over 
shadowed the disciples and their Lord on the Mount 
of Transfiguration. 

The more I knew of America, the more I came to 
love her and her people. I was greatly struck during 
this visit by the entire absence of drink from the 
tables of the houses where I stayed or visited. Writ 
ing now, after five trips, I can say that I have never 
seen drink in any shape or form on any private table 
in America. The home-life of America has a great 
charm for me. I should think that the Americans 
are the most hospitable people under the sun. There 
is no touch of reserve or suspicion in their kindness. 



My Second Visit to America 205 

They are eager to serve others, and they are also 
eager to acknowledge the services of others. It is 
quite a common thing for a member of a congrega 
tion to go to the minister at the close of the service 
and say, "Thank you for that sermon; it has done 
me good." I am sure that this helps the American 
ministers to do their work better, and I am equally 
sure that if English preachers got more of this encour 
agement their people would save them many heart- 
pangs, and would help them to preach better. 

About five hundred friends and converts came 
down to the steamer to see me off. As the stately 
ship sailed away they sang, "God be with you till 
we meet again!" I was never more eager to get 
home in my life. I had been parted from my wife 
and children for seven months it seemed more 
like seven years to me. As we sailed up the Mersey 
I thought to ni3 r self that no city ever looked so grand 
as Liverpool did that day. Very soon I was in the 
midst of my friends in the dear homeland, glad to 
have been away, more glad to have got back. 



CHAPTER XX 

WITH THE CHILDREN 

I HAD been away from my wife and three bairns 
for the long period of seven months. How sweet 
and merry their faces seemed to me on my return! 
Naturally they interest me more than another man, 
but still I hope some of their quaint sayings and 
doings may amuse my readers. That is my excuse 
for a few anecdotes about them. 

Mr. Collier was having a great bazaar in connec 
tion with his mission work. My wife and I took 
our children to the function, and there I encountered 
my good friend Mr. Byrom a bachelor he then was. 
My daughter Zillah was hanging around me, and I 
was delighted with her love and sweet attentions. 
But I was afraid that she might worry my bachelor 
friend, unaccustomed to children; so I took some 
money out of my pocket, and displaying it in the 
palm of my hand said to my little girl, " Zillah, take 
what you like and go and spend it!" Her big, dark 
eyes filled with tears. She looked up wistfully at me, 
and said, "Daddy, I don t want your old money; I 
want you! You have been away from us for seven 
months; do you know it?" I felt that my little girl 
had justly rebuked me, and I felt at that moment 
how different she was from many people in the world 



With the Children 207 

who are willing to have the gifts of God, and yet do 
not recognize Him as the Father. I also called to 
mind these lines: 

" Thy gifts, alas! cannot suffice, 

Unless Thyself be given: 
Thy presence makes my paradise, 
And where Thou art is heaven." 

One day, when we were living in Hanley, my two 
boys came home for dinner at half-past eleven in 
stead of half-past twelve. I asked them what they 
had been doing. 

"Oh, we have been playing." 

"Yes, you have been playing truant. I never 
played truant in my life." 

"No/ said Albany, the elder, "because you never 
went to school!" 

"My boys, you will have to be punished." 

I loved my boys, and I was a very young father, 
and I did not well know how to begin, so I said: 
"Albany, you go to one room, and Hanley, you go 
to another. You will have to stay there all day and 
have bread and water for dinner." The youngsters 
marched off, Albany singing, " Well work and \vait 
till Jesus comes." Hanley followed in silence. He 
was too deeply ashamed of himself to speak or sing. 
When dinner-time came, some bread and water was 
taken up to them. Albany ate his eagerly and asked 
for more. Poor Hanley did not touch it. He could 
not bear to look at it, and his dinner stood on the 
table beside him all day. Presently Albany fell 



208 Gipsy Smith 

asleep, and began to snore loudly. Hanley could 
not sleep. As darkness came on he heard my step 
along the landing and called me to him. For I had 
quietly climbed the stairs a good many times that 
afternoon to see what my boys were doing. The 
punishment was more to me than to them. When 
I reached him I made a grab at him and lifted him 
up, bed-clothes and all; for my young father s heart 
was full of tenderness towards my boy. 

Weeping bitterly, he said to me : 

"If you will forgive me this once, I will never 
play truant any more." 

"Forgive you?" I said, at the same time trying to 
keep back his tears as they fell. " Yes, I forgive you 
fully." 

Then he said, "Do you really love me?" 

"Yes, you know I do." 

" Are you quite sure?" 

"Yes, I am quite sure." 

"Well, then," said Hanley, "take me down to 
supper." 

The boy naturally expected that I should show 
my love by my deeds. This is what our God expects 
from us. " If ye love Me, keep My commandments." 

Albany and his mother on one occasion were 
among my congregation at a mission service. That 
night I sang, " Throw Out the Life-line. " Albany and 
I went home hand in hand. He stopped me under 
neath a lamp. He said, "Father, I believe that I 
am converted." 

"How do you know, my son?" 



With the Children 209 

"Well, while you were singing Throw Out the 
Life-line/ I seemed to get hold of it." 

The boy had been deeply impressed, and for a 
time he really tried to be a good boy. When the 
day came for our going home he was full of his con 
version. When the cab pulled up outside the door 
of our house he jumped out in hot haste, rang the 
bell, and when the maid came to the door at once 
asked to see his sister and his brother. " Hanley," 
he said, "I am converted!" Hanley was always a 
bit of a philosopher. He looked at his brother quiet 
ly for a moment and said, "Are you? I think I 
shall tell your schoolmaster; for he has had a lot 
of trouble with you." Then plunging his little 
hands deep down into his pockets he meditated in 
silence for a few seconds. " No, I won t ; I will leave 
him to find out, because if you are really converted 
the schoolmaster will know it, and so shall we." 

Albany, at another mission service, was sitting 
beside his aunt, Mrs. Evens, and seeing some people 
going forward to seek the Lord, he said: 

"Aunt Tilly, can I be saved?" 

"Oh yes, of course you can." 

"Shall I go and kneel down there?" 

"Yes, my boy, if you are in earnest and really 
mean what you say." 

Forthwith he marched boldly forward and knelt 
down at the penitent-form. He came back to his 
aunt and said: 

"I have been down there. I have knelt and it is 
all right now. Of course it is; I am saved." 
14 



21 o Gipsy Smith 

A few days later entering the house, I found a 
great commotion was proceeding. Albany and the 
maid had fallen out, and he was giving her a very 
lively time. His brother said to me, "Albany says 
he was converted a few days ago; see him now!" 
I called the little rebel to me and said 

"Albany, what is the matter?" 

" I am in a fearful temper." 

" So it seems, but you must not get into a temper. 
They tell me you went forward to the penitent-form 
the other night: were you saved?" 

"Yes." 

"I am afraid, then, you are a backslider to-day." 

"No, I am not; I am not a slider at all." 

" But when people are converted their temper gets 
converted, too. Come, let us consider the matter. 
How do you know you were converted? Where 
were you converted?" 

The poor little fellow looked at me for a long time 
in deep puzzlement, casting his eyes up to the roof, 
then down to the floor, and round the room, racking 
his little brain to discover in what part of him con 
version took place. At last an inspiration visited 
him. "Daddy, I am saved all round my head!" I 
am afraid that Albany s case is the case of a great 
many people; their religion is in their heads; and 
that means that it is too high. 

My children were always holding meetings in our 
home, the audience consisting of tables and chairs. 
One night I had come home from a service as the 
children were being sent to bed. They came to bid 



With the Children 211 

me good-night. But they had arranged a little ruse 
for getting to stay up longer. I was reading in my 
room, and as they approached me I heard Albany 
say to his brother, "Hanley, let us have a meeting." 
"All right/ says Hanley. The meeting started as 
soon as they came into my room. Albany gave out 
the hymn, "Jesus loves me, this I know," saying, 
" Brother Gipsy Smith will play the accompaniment." 
After the hymn was sung, he said, " Brother Gipsy 
Smith will pray." Glad was I of this opportunity 
given to me by my children to pray with them and 
for them. I knelt down and besought God to take 
them into His keeping, and to make them His. After 
that we sang a hymn. Albany then said, " We 
shall now have Brother Hanley Smith s experience." 
Hanley at once rose and said 

" I am only a little sparrow, 

A bird of low degree, 
My life s of little value, 

But there s One who cares for me." 

When Hanley sat down Albany called upon me, 
saying, " Now we shall have Brother Gipsy Smith s 
experiences." I spoke a few words to my children, 
and I can truthfully say I never spoke more earnest 
words in my life. I told them what God had done 
for me, how he had taken me out of the gipsy tent 
and made me a herald of His own gracious Gospel. 
And I added that these and even greater things He 
would do for them if they surrendered their lives to 
Him. Zillah was not present at this meeting, and 



21 2 Gipsy Smith 

the only person who yet remained to speak was Al 
bany. After my little sermon Albany stood up, and 
with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, said: 
"Friends, the meeting is over!" 

Zillah usually took part in these meetings as the 
soloist, but she would never sing unless she was 
property and ceremoniously introduced to the chairs 
and tables as Miss Zillah Smith: "Miss Zillah Smith 
will now oblige with a solo!" 

On one occasion Albany, sitting beside his mother 
at a mission meeting, saw a man kneeling at the 
penitent-form, but only on one knee. " That man 
won t be saved," said Albany; "he is not earnest 
enough, or he d get down on both knees." 

Albany and Ilanley one night were preparing 
their lessons for school, and were engaged in a pars 
ing exercise. The word to be parsed was "Oh!" 
Ilanley said it was an interjection, Albany said it 
was an "indigestion." I interfered in the contro 
versy, and asked Ilanley if he knew the difference 
between interjection and indigestion. " Of course 
I do," in tones of indignation; "a pain in the stom 
ach!" 

I always have on the mantelpiece of my study a 
spray for the throat and nose. One night Hanley 
came into my room, and picking up the bottle, said, 
" I think I will have some of this to-night." " What 
is the matter with you," said Albany, " have you got 
banjo or guitar?" The boy had heard me speak of 
catarrh. 

We had observed that Albany, on taking his seat 




HANLEV, MY YOUNGER SON. 



With the Children 213 

in church, always bowed his head, like his elders, 
and seemed to be engaged in prayer. One day we 
persuaded him, after much coaxing, to tell us the 
words of his prayer : " For what \ve are about to re 
ceive, Lord, make us truly thankful!" 

My two boys went to school at Tettenhall College, 
Wolverhampton, and attended, as all the boys of 
the college did, Dr. Berry s church on Sunday. I 
once conducted a ten-days mission in that town, 
and my sons were allowed by the headmaster to spend 
the two Sundays with me. They sat beside me on 
the platform during an afternoon meeting, and in 
telling some simple little story about my home life I 
referred to the fact that my boys were beside me 
and that they attended a school in Wolverhampton. 
On the way home Albany said to me, " Look here, 
if you are going to make me conspicuous like that, 
I m not coining any more. I don t like to be made 
conspicuous in public." While we were drinking 
tea Albany kept nudging me, asking me what I was 
going to preach about at Queen Street that night. 
"Our chapel, you know"; and saying, "remember 
it must be one of your best sermons to-night." My 
stern monitor was about fifteen years of age at this 
time. The boys said "good-night" to me before 
they entered the church, because they had to return 
to school immediately the service was over. When 
I had finished my sermon Albany leaned over the 
pew in front of him and was heard to say to one of 
his school chums Dr. Berry s son or nephew it 
was "I think he has made a good impression!" 



214 Gipsy Smith 

And presently the boy who did not want to be made 
conspicuous walked up the pulpit steps before the 
whole congregation to kiss his daddy "good-night." 
I said, "Hallo, who s making me conspicuous now? 
You must not make me conspicuous!" But the 
boy \vas too proud of his father to take any notice 
of my little sally. 

It is the sweetest joy to me that my children have 
a great love for my people. They are never happier 
than when visiting the gipsies. A meal in the tent 
has a great charm and delight for them. This love 
for the gipsies is a natural growth in their lives. I 
have never sought to drill it into them. The natural 
outcome of love for their father has been love for 
their father s folk. Zillah was recently chosen to 
recite Tennyson s " Revenge " at the Exhibition Day 
of the Manchester Girls High School. She was 
asked to appear in costume, and, as her own idea, 
chose the garb of a gipsy girl. Zillah was not al 
ways fond of this character. When she was a little 
thing I sometimes called her "little gipsy girl," 
and she would answer quite hotly and fiercely, " No, 
Zillah not gipsy girl; gipsy daddy!" 

Nor was Albany, in his earliest school-days, proud 
of being the son of a gipsy. One afternoon he brought 
home from school a boy whose nose was bleeding 
profusely. The following conversation ensued: 

"What is the matter?" I asked. 

"I ve been fighting." 

"So I see. I m ashamed of you," 

"I m ashamed of myself," 



With the Children 215 

"What were you fighting about?" 

" That thing called me gipsy kid ! 

"But, my son," I said, earnestly, "it is quite 
true you are the son of a gipsy. Your father 
is a real live gipsy and you ought to be proud 
of it. It is not every boy who has a gipsy for his 
father." 

"Oh, that s all right, I know all that, but I was 
not going to have that thing call me gipsy kid - 
not likely!" 

One day, when Zillah was about nine years of 
age, she was walking with me to church. I found 
two little lambs straying upon the road. I knew 
where they came from, and I put them back into 
the field, saying as I did so, almost to myself, "All 
we, like sheep, have gone astray." 

"I think," said Zillah, "that will be a good text 
to preach from." 

"How would you treat it?" I asked. 

" I think I would begin by saying God was the 
shepherd and we were the sheep, and that He has a 
fold, and we have got out of it. Then I should try 
to make it very plain that Jesus comes to find the 
sheep and bring them back again to the right place, 
just as you did just now." 

I think that was a very beautiful speech for a girl 
of nine. 

At a certain church where I was conducting a 
mission there was a very sour-looking office-bearer, 
so sour that he kept everybody away from him. 
The church was crowded at every service, but the 



2i 6 Gipsy Smith 

aisle of which he had charge was always the last 
one to be filled up. The people went to him as a 
last resort. Zillah, who attended the services, noticed 
the man, and said to me one night: 

"Daddy, is Jesus like that man?" 

"No, my dear/ I said, for I could not libel my 
Lord to please an official. " Why do you ask?" 

" Because if He is, I shall run away ; but if He is 
like somebody I know, I shall put my arms round 
His neck and kiss Him." 

Children kno\v when Jesus is about. They seldom 
make a mistake. 

My sister, Mrs. Evens, has a boy who was ac 
customed when he was little to go to meetings. He 
thought the world of his uncle, and the greatest 
punishment that could be inflicted upon him when 
he had done wrong was to tell me about it. By-and- 
by he got into the habit of saying to his parents, 
when they did anything to displease him, "I will 
tell my uncle about you." On one occasion his 
mother and he were \vaiting for Mr. Evens in the 
vestry of a church in which he was taking a mission. 
Bramwell, as he is called, had been naughty, and his 
mother said to him : 

" Your uncle must know, and you are not far from 
him now." 

" Oh, mother/ said little Bramwell, " will you really 
tell him?" 

"You know very well, Bramwell, if you are a 
naughty boy he must be told." 

"Mother, can I be saved?" 




MY DAUGHTER, ZILLAH, IN GIPSY COSTUME. 



With the Children 217 

"Yes, my son, certainly you can if you are in 
earnest." 

"Will you kneel down and pray for me?" 

"Yes, I will." 

Just as she got on her knees the vestry door opened, 
and a little boy, with whom Bramwell had not been 
able to get on well, entered. At once he rose, and 
pushing his little fist in the face of his enemy, said, 
"Go away; can t you see I am getting saved?" 

Bramwell was like not a few; he wanted to be saved 
on the sly. But the whole object of his manoeuvre 
was to gain time, and by contriving to be converted, 
as he thought, to induce his mother not to tell me of 
his naughtiness. 

Children have more sense than we give them credit 
for. One night I observed a little girl walking up 
and down the inquiry-room as if in search of some- 
bod}*, but her search seemed fruitless. I asked 
her whom she was looking for. " I am looking for 
nobody," she answered. "I have come in to see 
how 3 r ou convert them." 

A little girl, eight years of age, attended my mis 
sion at Bacup. She was deeply impressed, and 
rose to go towards the inquiry-room, but was dis 
suaded therefrom by her parents. I was their guest, 
and in the morning the little maiden told me that 
she was trusting Jesus as her Saviour, but she had 
not gone into the inquiry-room. I said, "Never 
mind that. It is all right if you are trusting." But 
I saw she was uneasy. When I addressed the con 
verts at the close of the mission she was present. 



2i 8 Gipsy Smith 

I told them that they would never regret the step 
they had taken, by which they had definitely and 
publicly committed themselves to God. The little 
girl told her school-mistress that she had become 
a Christian, but she had not entered the inquiry- 
room. 

"That does not matter/ said the teacher. 

"Oh, yes, it does," persisted my sweet maiden; 
"I should like to have come out publicly!" 

Several months later I was conducting a mission 
at Rawtenstall, in the same Rossendale Valley. If 
the impression on that little girl s spirit had been 
merely superficial, it would have passed away during 
that period. But when she heard that Gipsy Smith 
was conducting a mission at Rawtenstall, she per 
suaded her parents to allow her to attend, accom 
panied by a maid. When I invited the penitents to 
come forward, she at once walked into the inquiry- 
room. It was for this purpose that she had come to 
Rawtenstall. Her soul was not satisfied until she 
had made a public confession of her Lord. The 
thoughts of children are often much deeper than 
we imagine. Their hearts and spirits are often 
exercised in a way we know not of. 

A mother coming home from one of my meetings 
went in to see her little girl of six or seven. 

"Where have you been, mother?" 

"I have been to hear Gipsy Smith, my dear." 

"Who is he?" 

"Gipsy Smith is an evangelist." 

" Oh," said the little girl, her eyes lighting up with 



With the Children 219 

joy, "I know; that is the man who led Pilgrim to 
the Cross, where he lost his burden." 

The answer was so beautiful, and in the deepest 
sense so correct, that the mother said : 

"Yes, my child, that is right." 

Children are often told very wild and foolish things 
about the gipsies. The little son of a house where 
I was going to stay heard about it and said : 

" Is Gipsy Smith going to live here, mother?" 

"Yes." 

"Is he a real gipsy?" 

"Yes." 

"I mean, is he one of them real live gipsies that 
have tents and wagons and live in them?" 

"Well, he used to be." 

"Oh, well, I am not going to stay here; I m off 
to my granny s!" 

And I never saw him. 

Accompanied by a lady, I was one day walking 
up a street in a provincial town where I was con 
ducting a mission. A little boy on the other side of 
the road shouted, "Aunty, aunty!" The lady did 
not hear, and the boy, though he kept calling, re 
mained at a safe distance. At length I asked her 
if that boy was calling to her. She looked round 
and said, "Oh, yes; that is Sydney," and beckoned 
Sydney towards her. 

Sydney approached shyly, keeping as far from 
me as possible and clinging tenaciously to his aunt. 

"Sidney," .she said, "this is Gipsy Smith." 

"How do you do, Sydney?" I said. 



22O Gipsy Smith 

Sydney looked up at me with some wonder and 
more fear in his eyes. I expect he was astonished 
to find me so well dressed. 

"Sydney/ I said, "are you afraid of me?" 

"0 h, no; but it isn t true, is it?" 

"What isn t true?" I asked. 

" That you are one of them gipsies that get hold 
of little boys and takes away all their clothes?" 

"No, I am not; no, certainly not," I said. 

" I thought it was not true," said Sydney, drawing 
a deep sigh of relief. 

"Who told you that story?" I asked. 

"Nurse." 

Nurses should be instructed never to tell children 
fables of that sort, or anything that frightens the 
little ones. Prejudices poison. 



CHAPTER XXI 

MY MISSION TO THE GIPSIES 

MY readers may remember that Mr. B. F. Byrom 
had met Dr. Simeon Macphail in Palestine and had 
spoken to him about my work. This, later on, led 
to an intimate friendship between me and Dr. Mac 
phail, who has been very kind and helpful to me; 
indeed, it was to Dr. Macphail that I owed an invita 
tion to conduct a fortnight s mission in Edinburgh 
in May, 1892. The place of meeting was Fountain 
Bridge Free Church (now United Free Church), of 
which the minister was the Rev. George D. Low, 
M.A. 1 This was my first visit to Edinburgh and 
to Scotland. The church was too small for the 
crowds who came to hear me, and on the last night 
of the mission, when I gave the story of my life, the 
meeting was held in St. George s, of which the re 
nowned Dr. Alexander Whyte is the minister. Dr. 
Whyte was good enough to preside at the lecture, 
and at the close he said to me : " I have heard many 
great men in that pulpit, but I have never felt my 
heart so moved as it was to-night by your story. I 
do not envy the man who listened to it with dry eyes." 

1 Mr. Low s congregation has so grown in numbers that a 
new and larger church has been erected for it, called the Candlish 
Memorial United Free Church. 



222 Gipsy Smith 

I can never forget Dr. Whyte s smile. It is so ob 
viously the effluence of a rich, noble, generous 
soul. It suggests a quarter of an acre of sunshine. 
Mr. Low contributed an account of the mission to 
the British Weekly of June 23d. He said : 

"My friend, the Rev. Simeon R. Macphail, M.A., of 
Canning Street, Liverpool, when visiting me in March 
spoke of Gipsy Smith, but when he proposed a fortnight s 
mission to be conducted by him in my church at the end of 
May and the beginning of June, the proposition did not 
commend itself to me. Evangelistic services in summer, 
and just as the sittings of the General Assemblies were 
concluding, were not likely to prove a success. Mr. Mac 
phail urged me to close with the offer, saying that once Gipsy 
Smith was on the spot he would speedily make his way 
among us. And so we arranged to invite him. 

" From the outset the attendance was encouraging, and 
it soon became manifest that a man of no ordinary power 
had come. The numbers speedily increased until the church 
was full, a large proportion of the audience being young 
men. On the evening of the second Sabbath, every inch of 
available space was occupied and many failed to get admis 
sion. So far as I know, nothing like it has been seen in Ed 
inburgh for many years. 

" Gipsy Smith is a born orator with great dramatic fire, 
of singular intensity of spirit. His voice is tuneful and 
flexible, and lends itself readily to the expression of every 
mood of mind and every form of discourse. He is specially 
effective when he illustrates and illuminates some point, 
or some Gospel truth, by an incident simple, tender, pathetic, 
from his old gipsy life, to which he frequently alludes as 
one proud of his origin. His addresses are Scriptural, as 
might be expected from one who is an unwearied and res- 



My Mission to the Gipsies 223 

olute student of the Bible. In manner he is simple, un 
affected, gentlemanly, and I can speak the more confidently 
regarding this as he lived under my roof while in Edinburgh, 
and gained the esteem and affection of every member of my 
household by his sunny, gracious personality. His sing 
ing, which is of great purity and excellence, adds greatly 
to his power. From first to last no fewer than one hundred 
and fifty professed their faith in Jesus Christ. 

" Gipsy Smith has agreed to come back again to Edin 
burgh, and we shall hail his return. Meantime we rejoice 
lhat his first visit has been so signally owned of God. 
Many in my own congregation and beyond it will never 
cease to thank God for his fortnight s mission at Fountain 
Bridge." 

Out of this visit to Edinburgh grew my mission 
to the gipsies. I had long had it in my heart to do 
something for my people, but the opportunity had 
never come to me. I could not myself undertake 
the responsibility of the work, nor could I very well 
lead the way. Still, I had always hoped to see the 
time when some missionary would live among my 
people in a parsonage on wheels, teaching the chil 
dren, and preaching the Gospel to them and their 
parents. My last service was on Monday night. 
I was to leave Edinburgh early on Tuesday morning. 
I remember it was a miserably wet day, raining in 
the determined and pitiless way that rain has in 
Edinburgh. In the midst of the rain, a lady drove 
up to Mr. Low s manse and asked to see me. I should 
like very much to give her name, but I am not per 
mitted to do so. She had heard me in Dr. Whyte s 



224 Gipsy Smith 

church the night before. Owing to illness, that 
was the only service that she had been able to attend. 
For some years she had been deeply interested in 
the gipsies, and God had been continually urging 
her to do something for them. I asked her how she 
first came to be interested in my people. " Some 
years ago," she said, " I was living near a great 
Lancashire town, and I devoted all my leisure to 
visiting the homes of the poor. I was one day sum 
moned to a gipsy wagon where a poor woman lay 
very ill. I read the Bible to her, I prayed with her, 
and she seemed grateful." The name of the spot 
where the gipsy encampment which the lady visited 
was situated was familiar to my ears. I asked the 
lad} 7 some further questions. I discovered that the 
poor woman was no other than my aunt, my mother s 
brother s wife. The distinguishing mark by which I 
recognized her was the big scar on her forehead that 
had been observed by the lady, and the way in which 
she dressed her hair to hide it. I felt my heart open 
in love and gratitude to one who had so kindly served 
one of my own folk. The upshot of the conversation 
was that the noble Scotch lady said to me : " If you 
will take charge of a mission to the gipsies, I will 
give you the first wagon, the parsonage on wheels 
for which you asked in your lecture last night." 
And so was formed the Gipsy Gospel Wagon Mis 
sion. 

Dr. Alexander Whyte was good enough to become 
one of the directors, so also was Dr. Simeon Macphail, 
of Liverpool. The Rev. S. R. Collier, among all his 



My Mission to the Gipsies 225 

multitudinous activities, finds time to manage the 
mission, and my friend, Mr. B. F. Byrom, is the 
honorary treasurer. The principal support of the 
mission has been the collections that are taken at 
the close of my lecture on the story of my life. We 
also get a few subscriptions and a few donations. 
Our first wagon missioner, who is still with us, was 
Mr. Wesley Baker, an excellent man and a good 
evangelist. lie generally has an assistant for com 
pany and fellowship. A lonely life in a wagon 
would become almost unbearable. The wagon has 
travelled all over the country and has been especially 
useful in the New Forest and at Blackpool. Evan 
gelistic work among the gipsies is slow and hard. 
My people have quick eyes, quick ears, and ready 
tongues. But for years nay, for centuries their 
hearts have been blinded to the things of God. There 
is hardly a race on the face of this globe to whom 
religion is so utterly foreign a thing. The gipsies 
are slow to comprehend the plan of salvation, and 
even when they have understood they are slow to 
use it, because, for one thing, their trade is declining ; 
they are depending more and more on the fortune- 
telling, and they know very well that if they become 
Christians that lying practice must cease. Despite 
these difficulties, Mr. Baker and his assistants have 
done good work. They have been cheered by not a 
few conversions, and they have done not a little to 
give the children some smattering of an education. 
The manner of their life makes anything more than 
this impossible. However, I am fully confident that 
15 



226 Gipsy Smith 

the Gipsy Gospel Wagon Mission is the leaven that 
will, in course of time, leaven the whole lump. 

I have only just received a report from Mr. Wesley 
Baker concerning some work at Blackpool which 
may give my readers an idea of what the Gipsy 
Mission is doing. "Some five or six weeks ago/ 
writes Mr. Baker, " Algar Boswell came down to 
our tent and signed the pledge. Since then he has 
been most happy, and he has made up his mind to 
take Christ as his Saviour, intending to make a 
public confession last night. But in consequence 
of the sudden death of a relative, who left Blackpool 
last Tuesday intending to winter at Sheffield, he was 
called away yesterday morning, and, of course, could 
not be with us. Before he left home he said to his 
wife : Now, Athalia, you go down to the tent to 
day and tell Mr. Baker how sorry I am not to be 
able to attend the last services. Tell him not to 
be discouraged, as their faithful work is not without 
results, as I mean to give up this kind of life and 
serve God. Some of the gipsies stayed last night 
until near ten o clock, but Athalia did not get the 
blessing. She came down this morning in great 
distress. We had prayer with her, and she herself 
prayed most earnestly, and just before twelve the 
Lord saved her. We are expecting Algar back this 
afternoon, and he and his wife are coming down 
to-night, when we hope to have a prayer-meeting 
with them. 

" Algar has had a most remarkable dream. Pie 
dreamt that he was falling into a deep pit, and after 



My Mission to the Gipsies 227 

struggling for some time, he saw our wagon coming 
along. It stopped close to where he was, and making 
a great effort, he succeeded in getting hold of it at 
the back. Just then Mr. Zebedee and I went to him, 
took him by the hand, and lifted him out of his misery. 
We placed him on a rock and told him to stay there. 
At this point he woke up. It was two o clock in the 
morning. He roused his wife and children and 
related his dream to them." 



CHAPTER XXII 

AMERICA AGAIN 

ACCOMPANIED by my wife, I sailed for the United 
States again in August, 1892, arriving in time for 
the Ocean Grove camp meetings, August 2ist to 3ist. 
We crossed the Atlantic in the midst of a dreadful 
storm. I spent a good many hours of the time in 
the music-room singing hymns to the passengers, 
who were most attentive. 

I was heartily welcomed at Ocean Grove, for now 
1 was no stranger, but a brother beloved. Just as I 
was about to address the people a minister said to 
me : " Now, Brother Smith, you have got a crowded 
meeting. You have a bigger congregation than the 
bishop held. Go and spread yourself!" I looked at 
this man hard for a moment and said, " I am not 
going to spread myself at all. I am going to lift up 
my Lord!" and I began my address by telling the 
people what this minister had said to me. We are 
only too apt to draw too much attention to ourselves. 
We do not sufiiciently hide behind the Cross. At the 
close of the sermon about three hundred people were 
on their knees some seeking to be filled with the 
Spirit, some offering thanks to God for victory over 
besetting sin, some backsliders begging to be restored, 
and many sinners seeking God for the first time. 



America Again 229 

When I reached the house at which I was a guest, 
I saw a lady and her husband seated on the veranda 
waiting for me. Said the lady : 

" I wish to speak to you about my soul. I am 
very anxious. I have been seeking Christ for ten 
years." 

"Well/ I said, "there is something wrong, surely. 
It does not take a seeking Saviour and a seeking 
sinner ten years to find one another if the sinner is 
in earnest." 

She replied : " I have heard all the best preachers 
in America. I have travelled from city to city with 
all the leading evangelists, until I almost know their 
sermons by heart; but I cannot find what I want. 
I have read all the best books I can get hold of, and 
sometimes at the bottom of a page my hopes have 
been high, and I have thought I shall find what my 
soul desires when I turn over this leaf, but I have 
not found it yet." 

I showed her where she had failed. The best 
preachers, the best evangelists, and the best books 
could not give her what she was seeking. She must 
take her eyes away from these completely. " Were 
I you," I said to her, " I would refuse to hear another 
sermon or read another book, or even another chapter. 
I would go home now and shut myself up alone with 
God and settle the matter there, for it is not men nor 
meetings nor methods that you need, but an inter 
view with the Son of God. And like the woman who 
touched the hem of His garment, when you pass 
through the crowds and get to Jesus your present 



230 Gipsy Smith 

troubles will be all over, and rest and peace will 
come." She went away and did as I advised her. 
The next day I saw her with beaming face. I asked 
her how it was with her, and she replied: 

" I struggled and wrestled to win it, 
The blessing that setteth me free, 
But when I had ceased from my struggles, 
His peace Jesus gave unto me." 

I was well known to many of the ministers at the 
Ocean Grove camp meetings, and before they were 
over I had practically completed my programme for 
this visit. Among my audience at Ocean Grove 
was a famous negress preacher, Amanda Smith. 
Once or twice she called out in the midst of my ad 
dress, "That s hit the bull s-eye, Brother Smith; 
hit it again!" Her face the while was shining like 
ebony. There was another colored sister in whose 
heart I had won a place. She sat next to my wife 
on the platform, not knowing that she was my wife. 
Turning to Mrs. Smith, she said : " I like that young 
man. I ve taken quite a fancy to him. I think he 
promises very well. I think I will get him to come 
along with me conducting missions among my 
people. We should make a very good team." "Oh, 
indeed/ said Mrs. Smith, much amused; "do you 
know he is my husband?" "Oh, if he is, he is all 
right for that, and you are all right, too." 

At one of the meetings, the Rev. Charles Yatman, 
the evangelist, and a well-known character in Amer 
ica, came up to the platform while I was on my feet, 



America Again 231 

and sat down on my chair. When I had finished 
reading the lesson there was no chair for me. Mr. 
Yatman pulled me on to his knee, where I sat in full 
view of the audience while the notices were given 
out and the collection was taken. Presently I began 
to preach, and while in the heat of my discourse I 
heard a crashing noise behind me, and observed 
that the congregation was chuckling. Mr. Yatman 
had fallen through the chair, and lay all of a heap on 
the platform. The people laughed loudly when I 
turned round to look at him. I said, " It is very re 
markable that that chair did not collapse when both 
of us were on it; but now that you alone occupy it, 
you crash through it!" Turning to the audience, 
who were convulsed with merriment, I said, " A good 
many more of you will fall before I am through. 
He is the first one. Who is the next?" 

I need not give a detailed account of all the mis 
sions I conducted during this tour. But there are 
some striking incidents still strong and clear in 
my mind which will probably be of interest to my 
readers. I conducted a mission at Lynn, Massa 
chusetts, about twenty miles from Boston, at the 
church of Dr. Whittaker, an able, kindly, scholarly 
man. At the close of one of the services, when I 
had come down from the pulpit, a mother walked 
up the aisle towards me, leading her little boy. 
" Will you shake hands with my boy, sir?" 
" Yes, certainly, but why do you want me to do so?" 
"I think if the Lord spares him to gro\v up to be 
a man it will be nice for him to say, I shook hands 



232 Gipsy Smith 

with a gipsy whom God had saved, and taken out of 
his tent to be a preacher. That gipsy led my moth 
er to Christ/ I think that by shaking hands with 
you the incident will be fastened on his mind for 
ever." 

So I held out my hand to the little fellow, and he 
pushed his left hand to me. 

"My boy, is there anjHhing the matter with your 
right hand? Is it well and strong like this one?" 

"Yes, sir." 

" Well, then, I will not shake hands with the left. 
I must have the right one." 

Still he kept his right hand behind his back, and 
the only thing which moved in his face were his 
eyes, which seemed to grow bigger and bigger. He 
seemed firm, and I had to be firmer. Pointing to a 
group of people, I said : " You see those people? They 
are waiting for me, and unless you are quick I shall 
go to them before we have shaken hands." When 
he thought I was really going he pulled his little 
right hand from behind his back and pushed it tow 
ards me. But now it was shut. I said, "Open 
your hand." He seemed very loath indeed to do so, 
but after much coaxing the tight, obstinate little 
fingers gave way and his hand opened. There in 
the palm lay three or four marbles. The little fellow 
could not take my hand because of his playthings. 
And many a man misses the hand that was pierced 
because of his playthings. " Little children, keep 
yourselves from idols," or, as the Scot said, "Wee 
bairnies, keep yersels frae dolls." 



America Again 233 

A Lynn newspaper gave the following descrip 
tion of my personal appearance. As it is a charac 
teristic piece of American journalism I quote it : 

GIPSY SMITH. 

" A short, wiry, thick-set gentleman, with an elastic, 
springy step, dressed in common every-day suiting, sans 
style, sans shimmer, sans everything save the stamp of 
store trade goods ; a head well rounded and finely formed ; 
a face of fair finish and clear countenance, brown as the 
berries of the autumn bush ; a heavy, dark moustache, 
backed by half-cut, well-trimmed English whiskers ; dark 
eyes that glisten like diamonds with the zeal of religious 
enthusiasm ; a magnificent head of hair, black as the raven s 
wing, and strikingly suggestive of the nomadic race that 
gave him birth all this paints a fair pen-picture of the 
man who, for over two hours and a half, riveted the atten 
tion of fifteen hundred people in the Lynn Common Church 
on Thursday evening." 

I conducted a most successful mission at Wharton 
Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, 
of which Dr. Vernon was pastor. My work was 
easy there, because all the people were in sympathy 
with it. Not infrequently an evangelist finds that a 
section of the church members, while not definitely 
opposing, hold aloof, and do not countenance the 
work. Only those who have experienced it can 
realize the hindering power of this. But at Old 
Wharton Street it seemed as though every man, 
woman, and child in the church had resolved on 
having what Americans call a good time. The 



234 Gipsy Smith 

presidential election took place during this mission, 
and it was thought at first that meetings would be 
useless on that day. On the night of the election 
America, at least in the big cities, goes wild. Huge 
canvases are stretched outside the newspaper offices 
blazing forth the returns every few minutes. The 
people are all in the streets that night. However, 
we decided to meet as usual, and to everybody s 
astonishment we had a larger crowd than at any 
other meeting during the mission. 

When I think of Old Wharton Street my mind at 
once recalls a beautiful story of a young girl there. 
She was a bright creature, fond of society, fond of 
pleasure. The story begins some weeks before my 
mission. A dance was to be held at a friend s house, 
and the girl was anxious to go to it. Her mother 
said, " Lilly, if you get converted and join the Church 
you may go to the dance." Shortly after this Lilly 
joined the Church, and she said to her mother, " Now 
that I have joined the Church, mother, I may go to 
the dance, may I not?" "Oh, but, my dear, you 
have joined the Church, it is true ; but you are not 
converted. You know very well that you are not, 
and we can see verj T well that you are uot." 
Nothing more was said on that occasion. Presently 
I came to the church to conduct a mission, and Lilly 
was persuaded to attend. One night her proud, 
wayward heart was subdued and broken in peni 
tence, and she gave herself to God. There was still 
a week or two before the dance. Her mother knew 
of the great change in her daughter s life, and she 



America Again 235 

noticed also that Lilly had ceased to speak about 
the dance. One day she said, " Lilly, what about 
this dance; it comes off next week. Are you going?" 
"Oh, mother dear/ said the sweet girl, throwing 
her arms round her mother s neck and shedding 
tears of joy, "I have given my heart to the Lord, 
and I have no longer any desire to go to the dance." 
Mother and daughter both shed happy tears of grati 
tude to God. 

Most of my missions in America were under the 
auspices of Methodist Episcopal Churches, but at 
Yonkers, on the Hudson, I held a really united cam 
paign. All the ministers of the place, except the 
incumbent of the Episcopal Church, joined to invite 
me. I was altogether nearly a month in Yonkers, 
and this mission is among the greenest spots in my 
life. My wife and I spent one of the happiest months 
of our lives away from home, that is in Yonkers. 
Hundreds passed through the inquiry-room, rich 
and poor. An amusing little incident occurred one 
night. Three ladies rose from their places near 
the pulpit and asked for prayer. They did not come 
into the inquiry-room at the close of the meeting, 
and I stepped down to ask them the reason why. 
"Oh no, we could not go there; we could not think 
of it," said one of them. 

"Are you a Christian?" I asked. 

"No, sir; I m an Episcopalian." 

One night, a boy of ten came into the inquiry- 
room; the next night he brought his mother, and 
the night after they two brought the grandfather. 



236 Gipsy Smith 

I made some very valuable friends at Yonkers, in 
cluding Dr. Hobart and Dr. Cole. When I left, the 
ministers presented me with an address, inscribed 
"To the Rev. Rodney Smith." "We love you," 
they said, "with the love of brothers, and we are 
sure we shall meet when our work and yours is done, 
and love you through eternal years in heaven." 
Dr. Hobart wrote to me some time after the mission 
that he had on his books the names and addresses, 
of sixty people who had joined the church as the 
result of the mission, and that he could account for 
every one of them. 

The Yonkers Gleaner published an interesting 
article on this mission, from which I may quote: 

GIPSY SMITH. 

" Gipsy Smith is a notable evangelist, notable for what 
he is, as a warm-hearted, frank, honest, effective preacher. 
He knows how to persuade men. He deals with great 
truths. His views of truth are in accord with the best 
thoughts of those who have had advantages far greater 
than his. He is an instance of what great wisdom can be 
gotten from the Scripture by a man who is truly converted. 
It tells us again by example that in the Scriptures the man 
of God is thoroughly furnished unto every good work. 
We honor him as a man sent of God to gather harvests. 

" But he is notable for what he will not do. He did not 
condemn the ministry nor the churches, though he spared 
not the sins that were found in them. He did not get mad 
when inquirers were slow to make themselves known. 
He did not assume to decide who were saved and who were 
not. He did not put a drop of vitriol on the end of his sen- 



America Again 237 

tences concerning the wicked or the unfaithful, as if he 
rather enjoyed the opportunity to say hell. He did not 
spend a whole evening discanting on the sex or gender of 
the Holy Spirit, though he holds no uncertain opinion about 
it. He did not preach a sermon on the unpardonable sin 
(! !), as a flaming sword to drive people into the inquiry- 
room. He did not for once make an effort to be funny ; he 
is too much in earnest. He did not appeal for money, and 
did not hurt his cause by telling stories that slurred sacred 
things. He came in love; he spoke in earnest. He was 
full of sanctified common sense. He won our hearts, he 
did us all good. May choice blessings follow his efforts!" 

I paid a second visit to Calvary Methodist Epis 
copal Church, New York, and had again the pleasure 
of working under my friend, Dr. Day. The church 
seated two thousand three hundred people, and it 
was crowded every night during the best part of a 
month. I was incapable of work for a few days by 
reason of a throat affection. This visit is always 
associated in my mind with a certain splendid young 
fellow whom I encountered there. He was an intel 
ligent and lovable man, popular with everybody, but 
he was not on the Lord s side. He was too good to 
be on the other side, but still he was there ; and there 
are many like him. Nobody can tell what the Church 
loses, and what such men themselves lose, because 
they do not declare themselves publicly for God and 
take up their stand boldly. This young fellow came 
to many of the services. One day I met him on 
Broadway. 

" Will you be at church to-night?" 



238 Gipsy Smith 

" No, I have a long-standing engagement to keep." 

"Well, then, will you pray for me?" 

He looked at me aghast, staring hard for a few 
moments. 

"Do you know what you are asking? You are 
asking a man to pray for you a man who has not 
prayed for himself for years!" 

"Never mind; will you pray for me to-night?" 

" Oh well, you know I would do anything for you, 
anything I could, but to pray for you to pray for 
you!" 

" Yes, that is what I want. That is the service I 
want 3 T ou to do for me." 

" I wish you would ask me something else. You 
know, of course, that if I promise to do it, I 
will." 

"Yes, that is why I am so eager to get you to 
promise. I know you will fulfil it." 

" But you know, as I say, I have not prayed for 
years. I should not know what to say." 

"Oh, I will tell you what to say," and I took out 
a scrap of paper and wrote, "0 God, bless Gipsy 
Smith to-night, and help him to preach Thy gospel 
in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that sinners may 
be converted. For Christ s sake." Then I said, 
"Will you kneel down and say these words for me 
to-night?" 

He stood as still as a rock for a minute or two, 
and as silent as the grave. Then suddenly gripping 
my hand, he said passionately, "I will!" and turning 
round abruptly, went away. 



America Again 239 

On the following night, naturally, I kept a sharp 
look-out for this fellow, and great was my joy when 
I saw him come into church. He walked straight 
up to me, with a gracious smile on his fine face. 

"You knew what you were up to. You knew 
what 3 T ou were doing, you did." 

"Well," I said, "did you fulfil your promise?" 

" Yes, but when I knelt down to pray for you I 
felt that I was the meanest man in America. I 
had neglected my God and Father for years. In 
the distress of my heart I could not utter the words 
of the prayer that you wrote for me. I cried, God 
be merciful to me a sinner/ and He was merciful, 
and He saved me. And then I prayed for you." 

We ministers and evangelists must cultivate the 
greatest skill in throwing the gospel net. In the 
work of saving men we need to use all the brains 
we have, and think for God as earnestly and as 
thoroughly as we think for our business. 

Among the congregation at Calvary Methodist 
Episcopal Church was an intelligent, educated man, 
who several times asked for prayers on his behalf, 
but he did not seem to get any further forward. He 
was earnest, he was sincere, but no light, no joy, 
came into his soul. I was grieved to the heart to 
witness his distress. I had a talk with him, and 
discovered that he had been a backslider for years. 
He said: 

"1 have given myself fully to Christ as far as I 
know, and I have cut myself off from every sinful 
thing. I have asked Christ in sincerity and in truth 



240 Gipsy Smith 

to restore to me the joy of His salvation, but still 
there is no happiness in my heart. I do not under 
stand myself." 

" What were you doing in the church when you 
turned your back on God?" 

" I was at the head of a large class of Sunday- 
school children, and I gave it up in a temper." 

"Ah, that explains everything. You wickedly 
threw up your duty. You must begin work again 
at once and start where you left off." 

After some persuasion he said he would. I lost 
sight of him for a few days, but when he returned 
he said to me : " I did as you told me, and all the 
old joy has come back." 

I believe there is a great lesson in this incident 
for many Christians who have been disappointed in 
the spiritual life. They sing: 

" Where is the blessedness I knew 
When first I saw the Lord?" 

My answer is, " It is where you left it. You have 
been dropping some of your Christian work. Go 
back to it, and you will find the blessing there. God 
is the same. It is you who have changed." 

I had been a guest of General Macalpine and Mrs. 
Macalpine at Sing Sing for a few weeks. This 
was just before the General became a member of 
the Cleveland Cabinet. His wife was a Brandreth, 
a member of the well-known family of manufac 
turing chemists. Mrs. Macalpine suggested that I 
should hold drawing-room meetings at Fifth Avenue, 



America Again 241 

New York. I gladly consented. These meetings 
were held in one of the largest mansions of the city. 
There was no advertising, but personal letters were 
sent to the aristocratic ladies of New York, inviting 
their attendance. At the first meeting one hundred 
and seventy-five ladies, including many of the exclu 
sive four hundred, gathered at eleven o clock to hear 
a gospel address by a converted gipsy. Mrs. Rocke 
feller and her daughter, Mrs. Russell Sage, and many 
other well-known ladies, were present. 

My first sermon was on "Repentance." I did 
not try to adapt myself in any way to the rank of 
my congregation. I only remembered that they were 
sinners needing a Saviour. It was just an ordinary 
service, lasting for an hour and a quarter. At the 
close one of my congregation said to me, " If what 
you say is religion, I know nothing about it." An 
other lady, who was weeping bitterly, sought my 
counsel. "God has spoken to you," I said, "obey 
Him; follow the light." 

A \ady, who had quite recently lost her husband 
and her child, thanked me at the close of one of the 
services, and said, " Remember that in every con 
gregation, however small, there is always somebody 
with ti broken heart." 

The original plan was for six meetings, but a 
seventh was held at the request of the ladies, at which 
the men were invited to join their wives, mothers, 
and sisters. I remember that Mr. Rockefeller him 
self was among the congregation. I have had many 

communications from America regarding these draw- 
16 



242 Gipsy Smith 

ing-room meetings, giving conclusive testimony 
to the lasting good that was wrought by them. 

During my mission at Tarrytown, on the Hudson, 
I was helped by my sister, Mrs. Evens, and her hus 
band. We had splendid gatherings for a month 
in the church of Dr. McAnny, a beautiful preacher, 
not perhaps of the most popular type, but winning, 
poetical, and eloquent. I should almost say that 
there were too many nosegays in his sermons, but 
in the midst of all the beauty of his discourse there 
was a strong evangelical note. 

One night we had a curious and rather trying 
experience. The service had been powerful until 
the end, but when the penitents were invited to come 
forward to the communion-rail, no one moved. This 
has happened several times in the course of my min 
istry. It means, I think, that God desires first of all 
to test our faith, and in the second place to humble 
us, to make us realize keenly that the power is in 
His hands. However, when the benediction was pro 
nounced the people still sat in their seats. They would 
neither go away nor come forward. I concluded that 
God was working in their hearts, and that His Spirit 
was striving against their hardness and obstinacy. 
I began to sign a hymn, " The Saviour is calling 
thee, sinner," with the refrain, "Jesus will help if 
you try." I do not think I had concluded the first 
verse before a young man, seated in a back pew, 
arose and walked up the aisle to the communion- 
rail. While I was still singing, thirty or fort} more 
followed him. The fact was, that many of the peo- 



America Again 243 

pie had been eager to come, and that each was look 
ing to the other to lead the way. The people were 
calling out in their hearts, as they are always doing, 
for a leader. I often wonder, in the midst of such 
experiences, how far it is safe to go in constraining 
people, and I have come to the conclusion that we 
may legitimately go a long way farther than any 
of us have yet gone. Our duty is to bring the people 
to Christ, and to do so we must use every expedient. 

The Tarrytown mission deeply stirred the little 
town. All the stores, and even the saloons, were 
closed one night, in order that those employed in 
them might have an opportunity of attending the 
meetings. I write in October, 1901, and only a few 
weeks ago I met at Truro a lady who was converted 
in this mission at Tarrytown. 

My visit to Denver, Colorado, will live in my mem 
ory forever. It meant a journey of two thousand 
miles across the continent, occupying three nights 
and two days. American travelling is a luxury, 
but you have to pay for it. The railway journey 
over this great territory impressed me just as much 
as did my voyage across the Atlantic, and I enjoyed 
it vastly more, because I am a poor sailor. One 
cannot take such a journey without being impressed 
by the enormous and almost exhaustless possibil 
ities of the country. It is easy to use the words 
"exhaustless possibilities," but to realize it, to have 
it, so to speak, burned into one s mind, one has only 
to undertake a long journey in the States. Some 
of the country was flat and dull, but other parts of 



244 Gipsy Smith 

it were richly wooded. We passed through miles 
and miles of magnificent forests. Colorado is very 
high, and is often for months without rain, but it 
is irrigated from the Rockies, and so great is the 
natural fertility, that people say, "You tickle the 
earth, and it smiles into a harvest." 

Forty years ago Denver was inhabited by Red 
Indians, and overrun by buffaloes and other wild 
animals. It has now a population of about two 
hundred thousand, with magnificent residences, 
stores, and churches, and is called the Queen City 
of the West. The town lies on a plateau five thou 
sand feet above the sea-level. The air is dry, brac 
ing, and wholesome. Mrs. Smith, who was suffer 
ing somewhat from bronchitis, was cured at once 
when we entered Denver. On the other hand, the 
air had such an effect on my voice that I could 
speak all right, but I could not sing. However, the 
people told me that they could not get good singers 
to visit Denver on account of this peculiarity of the 
air. It was very flattering to me to be told that I was 
suffering from the same disability as affected emi 
nent sopranos, baritones, etc. 

I owed my invitation to Denver to Mr. and Mrs. 
Thomas, English people from Torquay, who had 
settled in the Far West. During my stay in the 
town they were kindness itself to me. The mission 
was held in a church which had cost 50,000 to build, 
and which possessed an organ worth 6,000. The 
pastor was the Rev. Dr. Mclntyre, and he was ac 
customed to address a congregation of two thousand. 




THREE GENERATIONS. 
My Father, Myself, and My Younger Son. 



America Again 245 

I preached every night for a month to daily increas 
ing crowds. Five hundred people knelt at the com 
munion-rail as penitents, one of whom was a China 
man. Only the other day he sent me his photo 
graph and a five-dollar bill as a thank-offering for 
the blessing he had received from the gipsy preacher. 
The church at Denver was very generous to me, 
more generous than any other church in America. 
Our travelling expenses, amounting to 50, were paid 
for us, and our services during the month were hand 
somely recognized. If one serves the American 
churches well, they treat you well. I have been 
five times to America, and I have never once made 
a fixed arrangement with regard to the financial 
side of my missions. I have trusted entirely to the 
generosity of those for whom I have worked, and 
only in one instance have I been disappointed. 

The sheriff of Denver sat near the platform at 
one of the services. He pointed out to me a young 
man who had risen to ask for prayer, but whom I 
had not seen. "Get that man out while he feels 
like it!" he said. Of course, I took that to be the act 
of a Christian man. The morning after, I called on 
the sheriff and began to talk with him about the 
man. There was another man in the room who had 
been at the meeting and had sat next to the sheriff. 
Presently I observed that they were exchanging 
significant glances, and I asked what it meant. 

"Oh," said the sheriff, "you are talking to me as 
if I were a Christian man, and I am not." 

"I am amazed," I said. "Did you not the other 



246 Gipsy Smith 

night urge me to get hold of a man who seemed anx 
ious to come out. If you are not a Christian, why 
did you do that?" 

He answered thus : " When I was a boy I attended 
some revival meetings in our town. My father was 
a Methodist local preacher for thirty years. During 
the service my boyish heart was moved, and I wanted 
so much to be a Christian. I left my father s pew 
and began to w r alk to the communion-rail. He saw 
me on the way and came to meet me. 

" What do you want, my son? 

" I am going to the Communion-rail to seek re 
ligion. 

" Wait till you get home and I will talk to you 
about it/ 

"My young desire was crushed. Obedient to my 
father I went back to my seat. When we reached 
home he talked to me and prayed with me, but I did 
not get religion, and I have not got it yet. It has 
been my firm conviction that if I had been allowed 
to go to the altar that night I should not only have 
found Christ as my Saviour, but I should have been 
in the ministry. And so, whenever I have seen a 
man or a woman, a boy or a girl, showing a desire 
to seek God I have given all the encouragement I 
could." 

Mr. Andrew C. Fields was my host at Dobbs Ferry, 
where I conducted a short mission. At one of the 
services, as I was telling the story of Zaccheus, and 
had got to the words, " Zaccheus, come down," Mr. 
Fields, who sat on a camp-stool at the back of the 



America Again 247 

church, collapsed on the ground in a heap. In that 
position he remained until the end of the discourse. 
At Dobbs Ferry I had the weird experience of hear 
ing my own voice through the phonograph. I do 
not want to hear it again. It gives me an uncom 
fortable feeling that years after my body is mould 
ering in the grave my voice may be alive, speaking 
through this dread instrument. Mr. Fields took 
me to Albany, the capital of New York State, where 
I was received by the Governor. I was introduced 
to the legislative assembly of the State, and was re 
quested by the president to open the session with 
prayer. I expect I shall have a long time to wait 
before a similar invitation is extended to me from 
Westminster. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

GLASGOW 

I CONDUCTED a great mission campaign in Glas 
gow from September, 1893, to the end of January, 
1894. The mission was arranged by a committee 
of twelve free church ministers, and the work was 
carried on in almost as many churches. The cam 
paign was interrupted for a short time by the Christ 
mas holidays, and by a short vacation that I took. 
During this visit to Glasgow 1 met the late Professor 
Henry Drummond, who was very kind to me. When 
he arid I first conversed together I had been working 
for seven weeks in seven churches, and I told him 
in reply to n question, that I had not given the same 
address twice. This statement seemed to impress 
him greatly. lie asked me some questions about 
my life, and how I prepared my discourses. I was 
attracted at once by the sweetness of his spirit and the 
graciousness of his manner and disjxxsition. Henry 
Drummond at once appealed to the best in you. I 
have met many great ministers and preachers in 
my life, but never one in whose company I felt more 
at ease than Henry Drummond s. There was no 
subduing awe about him. One would laugh at 
oneself for being afraid of him, yet he conveyed to 
one s mind an unmistakable impression of greatness. 



Glasgow 249 

The late Dr. Bruce attended my mission services, 
and took part in one of them. I was told that never 
had he done such a thing before. Dr. Bruce was 
well-known for his frankness of speech, and, ad 
dressing his students, he described the inquiry- 
room work as tomfoolery. "But," said he, " you 
must all go and hear the gipsy. That man preaches 
the gospel." Perhaps the most memorable part of 
my campaign was that in the Free College Church, 
of which Dr. George Reith was the pastor. Dr. 
Reith wrote an account of the mission for his church 
magazine. He said : We have seen nothing like 
it since the visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey in 
1874. The speaking was remarkable. We have 
seldom, if ever, listened to a long series of addresses 
of the kind so admirable in every respect; effective, 
pointed, and free from sensational appeals. . . . 
Our friend, Gipsy Smith, has left memories of a 
singularly pleasant kind, and what is of more im 
portance, his presentation of the gospel of our Lord 
will not soon be forgotten by those who heard it." 
People of all kinds attended the services old, young, 
and middle-aged the fashionable inhabitant of 
the West-end, the middle-class citizen, the artisan, 
the domestic servant, the school- boy, school-girl, 
and soldier. A member of Dr. Keith s congregation 
wrote in the magazine that " the gipsy s illustrations 
are usually well chosen and apposite. One evening 
we observed a fashionable young lady sitting per 
fectly unmoved through the service, until a touching 
little story at the close did its work unlocked at 



250 Gipsy Smith 

least a spring of emotion. . . . Judicious man 
agement of the inquiry-room is admittedly one of 
the most difficult and delicate departments of evan 
gelistic work, but we are sure no one who remained 
to confer with Gipsy Smith would ever regret having 
done so." 

It took a long time to break down the caution 
and reserve of the Scotch character, but once it was 
broken down it broke down completely. Three 
thousand people passed through the inquiry-room. 
A large proportion of these were men. Some of 
them, indeed, were remarkable triumphs of God s 
grace. The history of the conversion of some of 
these men was curious. At first they would be mere 
ly interested in the services. Then they would be 
impressed, and perhaps convicted of sin, and so 
they were led to follow me from church to church, 
until, in some cases, they had been listening to me 
for quite seven weeks before they fully resolved to 
give their lives to God. At one service, and that 
the most fruitful, there was no sermon, because the 
people began to go into the inquiry-room imme 
diately after the hymn. I have no doubt that many 
of them had already made up their minds, and really 
came to the meeting with the intention of taking 
their stand publicly. We spent that whole evening 
in simply saying to the people, " Come, come!" I 
think that God taught us a great lesson that night. 
We are so apt to think that this must be done, and 
that that must be done, and that a certain fixed 
course of procedure must be followed, or else we 



Glasgow 251 

must not look for results. Too often I fear our 
rules and regulations and orders of service simply 
intrude between men s souls and their God. We 
all need to be taught when to stand aside. 

The figures do not indicate with anything like 
completeness the total results. When the ministers 
of the city came to visit the individual inquirers, 
they often found that in the same house there were 
three or four other persons who had been brought 
to God during the mission. When a Scotsman is 
once set on fire, he blazes away at white heat. And 
so it came about that among the best workers during 
the closing week of the mission were the converts 
of the early weeks. I have never met people in my 
life who could sing Sankey s hymns better than the 
folks of Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

The farewell meeting of the mission was held in 
the City Hall, one of the largest public buildings in 
Glasgow. It was crammed to suffocation. The 
North British Daily Mail gave a good account of 
the services, heading its article, " A Glasgow Pen 
tecost." The platform was crowded with Glasgow 
ministers, many of whom made very cordial speeches 
of thanksgiving and congratulation. The Rev. 
David Low said that he had seen nothing approach 
ing the mission since 1873, when Mr. Moody first 
came to this country. I was greatly cheered by the 
statement of my friend, Rev. J. J. Mackay, now of 
Hull, that never had he a worker more delightful 
to co-operate with than Mr. Gipsy Smith. He was 
as simple and natural as a gipsy boy. My heart 



252 Gipsy Smith 

was full of gratitude to God for the great things He 
had done for us in Glasgow, and to my warm-hearted 
Scotch friends for their exceeding great kindness. 
I think it was that night that I enjoyed a little rub 
at them for their comical and absurd attitude for 
so it seemed to me towards instrumental music. 
They would not let me have an instrument at the 
morning service nor at the afternoon service, but I 
might have one for the evening service. The idea 
was, I believe, that the morning and afternoon ser 
vices were attended by staid, sober, decorous Pres 
byterians, who regarded instrumental music as a 
desecration of the regular services in the sanctuary. 
The evening services in Scotland are always more 
of an evangelistic character, and are intended more 
particularly to reach the outsiders and the non-church 
goers. I suppose it was thought that instrumental 
music would please these people, and would not of 
fend their less sensitive, less decorous consciences. 
Since 1894, however, things have greatly changed, 
even in Scotland, and most of the Presbyterian 
Churches, I am told, have now organs or harmon 
iums. I do not believe for a moment that the result 
has been a diminution in the solidity and gravity 
of the Scotch character. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

AUSTRALIA 

DURING the last weeks of my stay in Glasgow, 
my friend, Mr. J. L. Byrom, J.P., brother of Mr. B. 
F. Byrom, suggested that I should take a tour round 
the world, spending most of the time in Australia, 
and coming back by way of America. He most 
generously bought my ticket for the whole journey, 
a valuable gift. Accordingly I set sail from Til 
bury Docks on board the P. and 0. liner, Rome, in 
April, 1894. We sailed vid, the Suez Canal, and 
landed at Adelaide on May 22d. We were five 
weeks on the sea, and a more dreary, profitless five 
weeks I do not think I have ever spent in my life. I 
was heartily glad to get on shore again. I am a 
bad sailor, and I was infinitely tired of the sea. Be 
sides, the people on board were the most godless set 
of beings that I have ever mingled with. They 
spent most of their time in drinking and gambling, 
and all the forms of worldliness that they could de 
vise. I have seen them make a pool on Sunday 
morning on the running of the ship, and then go 
in to prayers. 

The voyage was marked by two incidents which 
still remain in my memory. Some of us went ashore 
at Port Said. This town is the most desperately 



254 Gipsy Smith 

wicked place on earth, and we were warned by the 
captain that we must go about in groups. It was 
not safe for any one of us to go alone. The place 
is simply infested with pestering vendors of all sorts 
of trifles. They knew the names of a few eminent 
English people, and we were addressed as Mr. Glad 
stone or Lord Salisbury, or Lord Rosebery, or by 
the name of some other English notable. The ven 
dor who pursued me called me Mr. Gladstone. His 
attentions were unlimited. He followed me up and 
down I do not know how many streets, pressing me 
to buy some cigarette holders. I told him that I 
did not smoke, but that had no effect on him, because 
he did not seem to understand me. Then I acted 
out my dislike of smoking. I feigned to be putting 
a cigarette in my mouth, and then taking it out and 
throwing it away with an expression of disgust. At 
last it dawned upon the Arab what I had been trying 
to say, " Ah, oh, eh, umph ! You a tottle-ottler ! I 
spend all my speak on you for nothing \" He walked 
away, looking at me with infinite scorn, but I felt 
much relieved. 

We were diverted at Aden by the feats of the small 
diving boys. The passengers amused themselves 
by throwing pieces of money into the water, and 
seeing the boys dive for them. A coin does not 
take a straight course to the bottom. Its pathway 
is rather a wriggling one, and the art of the boys 
is to get hold of the money while it is still on its course 
to the bed of the ocean. They are exceedingly smart 
little fellows. One of them clambered up the side 



Australia 255 

of the ship like a monkey, and taking ten three 
penny pieces out of the right side of his mouth, held 
them up, saying, "Big money for that, please I" 
He meant: "Give me half a crown for it." When 
he was given his half-crown he took ten more three 
penny pieces from the left side of his mouth and asked 
for another half-crown. The person who had obliged 
him before could not do so again, and so I, who was 
standing by, was asked to accommodate him. I 
took six half-crowns out of my right pocket, and 
before I had brought my left hand to the right, he 
had whisked off four of them, and dived again into 
the sea. His smartness was much admired, and 
I was greatly chaffed at being so cleverly done. 
"You are a fine gipsy, you are!" said the people. 
The Sunday before we landed, while I was dress 
ing for dinner in my state-room, there was a knock 
at my door. A deputation of ladies came to request 
me to give a little lecture to the passengers that even 
ing. I knew they did not desire to hear the gospel. 
I knew they had been rude to the good old bishop 
on board the ship, who had lovingly and tenderly 
remonstrated with them on their gambling. "It 
does grieve me," he said, "to see gentle girls gam 
bling like old men. They had actually that morning 
raffled tickets by auction round the old bishop s 
chair. The fact is that they were somewhat tickled 
at having a gipsy travelling with them, first class. 
They were curious to know all about me, and I had 
taken care not to satisfy their inquisitiveness. Ques 
tions were often put to me with the intention of draw- 



256 Gipsy Smith 

ing me on. But a gipsy is usually a shrewd fellow, 
and I was not to be caught. This had annoyed them, 
and suggested to them the device of getting me to 
deliver a lecture to them. Accordingly I graciously 
declined the invitation, adding : " Most of you are 
going to Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, or other 
of the large towns of Australia. Now I shall be 
preaching in these towns, and my meetings will be 
advertised. If you will come and hear me I shall be 
very pleased." They went away feeling sore and 
balked. But the incident greatly raised my reputa 
tion, even among those who had been maliciously 
trying to draw me. 

My fellow-passengers were mostly rich people, 
but some of them were neither courteous nor kind. 
I was amused one day by the remark of an insolent 
young fellow. " I suppose, Mr. Smith," he said, 
"the society on board is very different from what 
you are accustomed to?" I answered, " If you mean 
that it is inferior, it is different." The supercilious 
youth said no more to me. On another occasion, 
when we were having some little innocent sports on 
deck, a general and myself were elected as judges. 
Two young men, who were competing in an obstacle 
race, were disqualified before they started which 
meant that the race must be re-run. I told them 
they had disqualified themselves, but they persisted 
in running. When the contest was over I declared 
it was no race. A captain in the army, who con 
sisted mostly of legs, and who was a friend of one 
of the competitors, said, "Who are you, you little 



Australia 257 

under-sized piece of humanity?" "Captain," I said, 
" my brains are not in my legs." From that moment 
the gallant captain treated me with the utmost respect. 
My arrival in Adelaide was quite unheralded. My 
coming had not been trumpeted abroad, and my 
sole human equipment consisted of my letters of 
introduction from Dr. McLaren, of Manchester, and 
other free church leaders. Dr. McLaren had been 
particularly kind to me in connection with this visit. 
He called me to his house before I left, and spoke 
to me about the various places I should visit. When 
I arrived in Adelaide the Methodist General Con 
ference was in session, and I at once placed my letters 
of introduction before the secretary. He received 
me rather coldly, and, indeed, my reception by the 
assembly was anything but hearty and encouraging. 
Thomas Cook, the well-known Wesleyan evangelist, 
after conducting a month s mission at Pirie Street 
Church, Adelaide, had left for the interior of the 
colony. I had made up my mind to preach in Ade 
laide, the first city of Australia I touched, and I 
naturally wanted a mission in a Methodist Church. 
The Methodist ministers were not at all anxious to 
have me. " Why did you not tell us you were com 
ing?" "Why did not your pastor write to inform 
us of your visit to the colonies?" I told them that 
personally I disliked long preliminary booming, 
that I desired to begin quietly, to stand on my own 
merits, and that, besides, my trip to the colony was 
as much for rest and education as for work. I first 
approached the superintendent minister of Pirie 
17 



258 Gipsy Smith 

Street Church, and suggested that I should hold a 
mission there. My idea was that that would help 
those who had declared for Christ during the mission 
that Mr. Cook had just conducted. No, they would 
not have that at all. Then Mr. Cook had planned 
to take a mission in Archer Street Church, and had 
not been able to fulfil his engagement. I saw Mr. 
Lloyd, the minister, and Mr. Drew, a leading layman, 
and I suggested that I should hold a mission there. 
They both said that it would never do. The dis 
appointment that the people had suffered when Mr. 
Cook failed them would make it useless for me to 
try to take his place. I said, " If I am not afraid to 
face this disappointment, I think you ought to give 
me a chance." I suggested that they should tele 
graph to Mr. Cook and see what he said. " Mind 
you, I am no fraud, no adventurer. I shall abide 
by Mr. Cook s answer." But they were not willing . 
to do this. It was suggested that I should go on to 
Melbourne to the Forward Movement and conduct 
a mission there. My Adelaide friends were good 
enough to say that if that mission was successful 
they would invite me to their town. I said, "No, 
I am going to preach in Adelaide if I preach in the 
street. If my own Methodist Church won t take 
me in, there are other churches that will." When 
I said this I was not speaking without my book, 
because I knew that Franklin Street Bible Christian 
Church, of which Chief- Justice Way was a member, 
was open to me. I had met Chief- Justice Way in 
America. He knew me and my work. When I told 



Australia 259 

my Wesleyan Methodist friends that this church 
was open to me they said, " Well, suppose you go 
there for a mission, and if we want you afterwards, 
will you come to us?" "Yes," I said, "I will." 
I was somewhat discouraged by this rather freezing 
reception, but I did not get angry. I felt confident 
that God had sent me to Australia, and that presently 
all would be well. 

I called on the minister of Franklin Street Bible 
Christian Church, and told him that I knew Gipsy 
Smith was in the colony, that he was willing to con 
duct a ten days mission for the Bible Christians, 
and that he was prepared to start work on Sunday. 
It was now Thursda} 7 . The minister asked me what 
authority I had to speak for Gipsy Smith, and I re 
plied by saying, "Look into my face and see if you 
can discover any sign of dishonesty." And he took 
my word for it, and without any evidence produced, 
he accepted my statements. We went off together 
to see the editors of the two newspapers in the city 
to arrange for notices of the mission. When we 
were discussing the matter I took my letters of in 
troduction from my pocket, and, handing them to 
the editor, said, " Perhaps these may be of some use 
to you." The minister looked at me gaspingly, and 
said, "Are you Gipsy Smith?" I confessed that I 
was, whereupon the old man embraced me tenderly. 

Franklin Street Church was seated for about seven 
hundred or eight hundred people, and it was crowded 
every night during the ten days of the mission. 
Sixty or seventy boys from the Way College, who all 



260 Gipsy Smith 

attend the church, passed through the inquiry-rooms. 
The great things that were being done in Franklin 
Street were soon known all over the city, and when 
the ten days were up Archer Street Church, the con 
gregation that Mr. Cook had disappointed, was ready 
for me. My feet had been established on a rock in 
Adekiide. I preached for six weeks in the city to 
ever - increasing congregations. If my Wesleyan 
Methodist brethren had received me with warmth and 
cordiality, I should perhaps have stayed only a fort 
night in the town, but I stayed six weeks, because 
I was determined before I left to make myself thor 
oughly felt. 

During my stay in Adelaide I visited the prison 
and preached to the convicts, addressing them as I 
should have addressed an ordinary congregation. 
I sang to them : 

There s a hand held out in pity, 
There s a hand held out in love, 
It will pilot to the city, 
To our Father s house above. 
There s a hand held out to you, 
There s a hand held out to me." 

Some of the poor fellows wept bitterly. I always 
feel very tenderly towards convicts. When I look 
at one, I say to myself, like the old Furitan, " There 
am I, but for the grace of God." Besides, I always 
reflect that there are a great many persons outside 
prisons who are worse than those inside. 

Mr. Drew, a leading layman of Archer Street 
Church whom I have already referred to, was a di- 



Australia 261 

rector of the Children s Hospital, and persuaded 
me to tell the story of my life on behalf of the insti 
tution. Chief-Justice Way presided over an assem 
bly which crowded the Town Hall, the largest build 
ing in the city. All the tickets were sold several 
days before the meeting. After deducting all ex 
penses, about 100 was handed over to the hospital. 
The authorities, in gratitude, decided that for five 
years two of the little cots should bear the name 
" Gipsy Smith s Cot." I was very glad to be of some 
help to the little sufferers as well as to the older sinners. 
Chief-Justice Way did all he could to make my 
visit to the town, of which he is a distinguished orna 
ment, bright and pleasant. The Chief- Justice is 
one of the most able men on the Australian conti 
nent, and one of the most esteemed. His opinions 
always command the grecitest attention and respect. 
Before I left Adelaide he invited me to a farewell 
breakfast, but, unfortunately, I could not attend. I 
took the liberty of sending him my photograph, and 
in return he sent me the following letter : 

" CHIEF-JUSTICE S CHAMBERS, ADELAIDE, 

" June, 29, 1894. 

" MY DEAR MR. GIPSY SMITH, Thanks for the like 
ness. It is excellent. I was sorry you could not come 
to breakfast, but I know how busy you must be preparing 
for your departure. 

" Pray accept the enclosures with my kind regards 
and best wishes for your happiness and usefulness. 

" Believe me, 

" Yours faithfully, 

" S. J. WAY." 



262 Gipsy Smith 

When the Chief-Justice came to England in 
the Diamond Jubilee year I had some further com 
munication with him. He told me that my work 
in Australia was not, and never would be, forgot 
ten. 

The last meeting I attended in Adelaide was the 
service which Mr. Cook returned to hold as his fare 
well to the colony. Pirie Street Church was packed 
to the doors, and a more enthusiastic service could 
hardly be conceived. Many letters and telegrams 
were sent from places where Mr. Cook had held mis 
sions. Next morning, Mr. Cook and I left Adelaide 
by the same train, he for Melbourne and I for Ball- 
arat. The railway station was crowded with people 
who had come to say good-by to us. 

By this time news had reached me from England 
that my wife was very seriously ill. Inconsequence 
I had to shorten my visit considerably, and my plans 
were altogether altered. I could not get a boat for 
three weeks yet, and I spent this agonizing period in 
work at Ballarat, Melbourne, and Sydney. I joined 
Mr. Cook in the midst of his wonderful mission at 
Melbourne in connection with the Forward Move 
ment. I had written to him telling him that my 
wife was seriously ill, that my plans were changed, 
that I was on my way to Sydney, and that I should 
like to spend a Sunday with him. He replied by 
telegraph, asking me if I would take his service on 
Sunday morning, and I gladly consented. It was 
the closing Sunday of his mission. Mr. Cook, in 
his interesting book, Days of God s Right Hand, 



Australia 263 

quotes the following account of that wonderful day s 
services from a Melbourne paper : 

" Gipsy Smith took the morning service to relieve Mr. 
Cook. The building was quite full, an event which has 
not happened for many a long year at a morning service. 
The whole sermon bristled with tersely-put truth, straight 
home-thrusts and earnest appeals, varied in a most natural 
and easy manner by irresistible flashes of humor and the 
tenderest pathos. The description of the punishment of his 
two boys for playing truant, the callousness of the elder, 
and the contrition, repentance, and forgiveness of the 
younger, how he reassured himself again and again of the 
fact of his forgiveness, and then abandoned himself to the 
enjoyment of the restored favor of his father, brought tears 
to almost every listener. After the sermon, Mr. Smith 
sang Throw Out the Life-line. He has a beautiful voice, 
which, moderated and controlled by the heart-feeling be 
hind it, finds a response in the hearts of those who listen 
which words would fail to elicit. About two hundred stood 
for consecration at the close of this service. 

The afternoon meeting was for men only ; and a mag 
nificent sight it was, towards three o clock, to see the great 
building packed more than full with men, many standing 
for want of a possible chance to sit down. Gipsy Smith 
sang The Saviour is my All in All ; and then Onward, 
Christian Soldiers/ from that audience, was something 
to remember. The Rev. Thomas Cook gave the address, a 
straight-out piece of personal dealing from end to end. At 
the conclusion, Mr. Smith sang, Can a Boy Forget His 
Mother s Prayers? and eighteen sought and found the 
Saviour. 

" At the evening service the church was filled to over 
flowing in every available spot long before the time of the 



264 Gipsy Smith 

meeting ; so the Conference Hall was again opened, and 
soon also crowded out ; no more could be packed in either. 
Rev. J. W. Tuckfield opened the Conference Hall meeting 
while Gipsy Smith sang in the church. As soon as this 
was over he took charge of the meeting in the hall, and 
sang the same piece again : Come, the Dear Master is 
Calling. God has given every one of you/ he said, a 
square chance for heaven. He has called you by a thou 
sand loving entreaties, by bereavement, by special in 
vitations, such as these meetings, and now He calls you by 
the lips of a poor gipsy boy, who, although he never went 
to school, has crossed the Jordan and given himself to 
Christ. At the close of this service, sixteen found the 
Saviour." 

So great was the impression made upon the people 
by these services that they besought me to conduct 
more services for them. I told them that I was in 
Mr. Cook s hands. It was his mission. He must 
direct. I would only do just what he wished. The 
outcome of my friends importunity \vas an arrange 
ment that I should conduct noonday services on 
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On each of these 
three days I had a congregation of over two thousand 
people, a large majority of whom were men lawyers, 
merchants, and workmen. The crowning gathering 
was on the Thursday night, when I told the people 
the story of my life. The meeting was announced 
to commence at 7.30, but by four o clock the place was 
crowded, and there were two or three times as many 
people outside. Wherever a window could be reached 
from the ground that window was broken, and what- 



Australia 265 

ever could be found to stand upon was seized and 
utilized. Thirty fainting people were carried into 
the manse, next door to the church. Mr. Edgar, 
the minister, told me, when on a visit to Manchester, 
that he had paid over 7 for broken glass! Had I 
been on the spot I should have begun my lecture 
as soon as the place was full, but not anticipating 
this extraordinary enthusiasm, I had gone into 
the country to spend the day with some friends, ar 
ranging to return in time for my lecture. The crowd 
bore the long wait of three-and-a-half hours with 
great patience and good-humor, but it was deemed 
advisable to put up speaker after speaker to give 
addresses in order that the audience might be kept 
orderly and interested. 

I spent the last week in Australia at Sydney, in the 
Centenary Hall, the head-quarters of the Forward 
Movement. The hall seated two thousand five hun 
dred people, and was the largest building I preached 
in in the colony ; but it was far too small for the 
crowds who came to the services. A great burden of 
sadness was bearing me down, but God was my 
strength and my salvation, and I preached the gospel 
as well and as faithfully as I could. Another cable 
gram reached me at Sydney : " Wife very seriously 
ill. Come home at once." I sailed on the 20th of 
June. Two thousand people came down to the boat 
to see me off, and sang, " God be with you till we 
meet again." I had been barely three months in 
Australia. 

My impression of Australia was that there were 



266 Gipsy Smith 

untold possibilities for Christian work in the country. 
Many of the people are from England from home, 
as they say and the moment you begin to talk to 
them about the old country they are homesick. Their 
hearts become tender and receptive. There are 
not a few people in Australia who have been shipped 
there by their friends in England, so that they may 
redeem their careers and stand erect on their feet 
again. Such people gain from their new life not 
only new opportunities, but fresh susceptibility to 
moral and religious influences. They make the 
material among which good evangelistic work can 
be done. They come to your meetings, and because 
you are from home, you make a particular appeal 
to them. You are a link between them and the 
people they have left behind, and they think you 
are speaking to them in the name of their friends in 
the old country. It seemed to me easy to get the 
Australians to attend evangelistic services. It fell 
that my visit immediately followed their great finan 
cial collapse, and it may be that their distress and 
difficulties made their hearts more hungry for the 
gospel. 

It came to my knowledge later that three days 
after I left Sydney it was announced in a Ballarat 
paper that my wife was dead. Archer Street Church, 
Adelaide, in which I had conducted a mission, held 
a memorial service for her. The Methodist papers 
in Australia copied the paragraph from the Ballarat 
paper, and in due course it found its way into the 
Methodist Recorder. Rev. S. F. Collier at once wrote 



Australia 267 

to the editor contradicting the statement. By this 
time my wife was much better, but a lie once set 
travelling is very difficult to overtake. The news 
of my wife s death spread so wide and so fast, that 
I have in my home at Manchester a whole drawer- 
full of letters of sympathy and condolence. I never 
read them, but Mrs. Smith did and replied to them 
all. There are people to this day who think I am a 
widower. Not so long ago I conducted a mission at 
Chatham where, as my readers will remember, I 
labored in the early days of the Christian Mission. 
I called at the house of a lady who had been very 
friendly with my wife and myself in those far-off 
days, and I told her that I was just going to the station 
to meet my wife, who was coming from Manchester, 
and that I should bring her to tea. "All right," 
said the lady, in cold, indifferent tones, "do as you 
like/ I could not make it out. I wondered whether 
an estrangement had arisen between my wife and 
her Chatham friend. Later in the day I again called 
at this house, making the same statement. "Very 
well. Do as you like. I do not care." I went to 
the station and brought my wife to this house. When 
the two met, the Chatham lady lifted her hands in 
amazement and exclaimed, "Good heavens! I 
thought you were dead!" 

Of course, I knew nothing of the rumor concerning 
my wife s death. Travelling vid, the Fiji Islands 
I reached British Columbia, and thence proceeded 
by way of Montreal to New York. A cable from 
home was awaiting me, saying that my wife was 



268 Gipsy Smith 

better, and that there was no need to hurry to Eng 
land if work demanded my stay in America. Ac 
cordingly I paid a short visit to Ocean Grove, and 
conducted a month s mission in Indianapolis. A 
local paper said : " No adequate idea of the sermons 
of Mr. Smith can be conveyed by literal reports of 
his words, which are apt in forcefulness, illustration, 
and analogy, for he preaches with greater force and 
effectiveness by gesture, manners, and intonation of 
voice." Here I met ex-President Harrison in his 
own home. I found him a courteous, high-toned 
Christian gentleman, deeply interested in all work 
for the salvation of men and of the nation. On 
returning to the vestry at the close of one of the ser 
vices, there was an old retired minister, with white, 
flowing locks and a grave, dignified appearance, 
waiting for me. As I sat down in the chair, he put 
his hands on my head. I thought he was going to 
give me a father s blessing. But to my surprise he 
began to run his fingers through my thick hair and 
to feel about for bumps. 

"Are you a phrenologist?" I said. 

"No, not quite; but I am trying to discover the 
secret of your success." 

" Well, sir, you are feeling too high. You must 
come down here," placing my hand upon my heart. 

At the Sunday morning service, immediately in 
front of me sat Dr. Clyne, a throat specialist, who 
was related by marriage to the pastor of the church. 
The doctor could see that I was having trouble with 
my throat, and he sent a message to me through the 



Australia 269 

pastor saying that he wanted to see me at his office 
next morning. The doctor in fifteen minutes gave 
me an amazing amount of information about my 
throat. He told me that I had pockets in the tonsils, 
which were in a chronic state of inflammation, and 
that these pockets needed to be drained out. I was 
to come to him when the mission was over, and he 
would set the matter right. In the mean time he 
attended almost every service of the mission. On 
the morning after the mission ended he performed 
an operation on the tonsils by means of an electric 
battery, deadening the pain with cocaine. The 
only unpleasant sensation was the smell of the singe 
ing produced by the electricity. I asked him for his 
bill, for I would gladly have paid whatever he had 
asked, provided, of course, it had been within my 
means. He was a great surgeon, and his fees were 
heavy. In reply to my question he looked at me 
quietly for a moment, and said, in deeply moved tones : 
Sir, two of my boys have been converted during 
your mission. Will you give me your bill for that? 
Can I ever pay you for bringing those boys to Christ? 
How much is that going to be worth to me? I can 
not preach, but if I can help you to preach with ease 
and comfort to yourself, I have a share in your busi 
ness." Presently the boys came in. The father 
had given each of them a new Bible, and the lads 
asked me if I would inscribe their names in them. 

I reached home on November 23d. My tour 
round the globe had occupied eight months. 



CHAPTER XXV 

MY FATHER AND HIS TWO BROTHERS 

LET me interrupt my personal narrative for a 
little to tell my readers some things about my father 
and his two remarkable brothers that will, I think, 
interest them. 

My father, Cornelius Smith, though in his seven 
tieth year, is still hale and hearty. He lives at Cam 
bridge, and, even in the fulness of his years, spends 
most of his time in religious work. There are few 
evangelists better known in the Eastern counties. 
When he goes to a place that he has not visited be 
fore, he always begins his first discourse by saying : 
I want you people to know that I am not my son, 
I am his father." 

I wrote my father s first love-letter. This is how 
it came about. My readers will remember that my 
mother died when I was very young. My father 
married again, some time after his conversion, but 
his wife died in less than a year. When, twenty- 
two years ago, the last of his daughters (now Mrs, 
Ball) was about to get married and to leave him all 
alone in his tent, my father came to me in very dis 
consolate mood, saying : 

"What shall I do now?" 

" Will you live with me if I get married?" I said. 



My Father and his Two Brothers 271 

" No, I d rather not; I ve always had a little corner 
of my own." 

" Well, why don t you get married yourself?" My 
father was forty-seven at this time, and he looked 
younger. 

"Oh, come now, whom could I marry?" 

" Well, I think I know a lady who would have 
you." 

Who?" 

Mrs. Sayer." 

My father looked both surprised and delighted. 

" How do you know that?" he asked. 

" Well, when I was working at the Christian Mis 
sion, Whitcchapel, and you used to come to see me, 
Mrs. Sayer often came too, and she was forever hang 
ing about me, for you were always in my neighbor 
hood. One day I said to her, Do you want any 
skewers or clothes-pegs to-day, lady? She was 
taken aback, seemed to guess what I meant, and 
smacked me in the face. 

" Well," said my father, " it is strange that I have 
been thinking about Mrs. Sayer too. It is some 
years since first I met her, and I ve seen her only 
very occasionally since, but she has never been out 
of my mind." 

" Shall I write to her then for you?" 

"Yes, I think you had better." 

My father outlined what he desired me to say in 
proposing to Mrs. Sayer, and after I had finished 
the letter I read it to him. He interrupted me sev 
eral times, remarking, " Well, I did not tell you to 



272 Gipsy Smith 

say that, did I?" and I replied, " But that is what you 
meant, is it not?" Soon after Mrs. Sayer, who at 
that time was a captain in the Salvation Army, and 
had been previously employed by Lord Shaftesbury 
as a Bible-woman in the East End, and my father 
were married. It has been one of the chief joys of 
my life that I had something to do with arranging 
this marriage, for it has been a most happy union. 
In the year of this marriage my father s brother, 
Woodlock, died, and two years later the other brother, 
Bartholomew, died. " The Lord knew/ my father 
has said, when he took away my dear brothers 
that I should feel their loss and feel unfit to go to 
meetings alone; so my wife was given to me. And 
the Lord is making us a great blessing. Our time 
is fully spent in His work, and wherever we go souls 
are saved and saints are blessed." 

When my father was converted he did not know 
A from B. But by dint of much hard battling, at a 
time of life, too, when it is difficult to learn anything, 
he managed to read the New Testament, and I doubt 
whether anybody knows that portion of Scripture 
better than my father does. I do not know any 
preacher who can in a brief address weave in so many 
quotations from the New Testament, and weave 
them in so skilfully, so intelligently, and in so deeply 
interesting a manner. My father has an alert mind, 
and some of the illustrations in his addresses are 
quaint. During my mission at the Metropolitan 
Tabernacle he spoke to the people briefly. His 
theme was "Christ in us and we in Christ," and he 




THE CONVERTED GIPSY BROTHERS. 

Bartholomew, My Father, Woodlock. 



My Father and his Two Brothers 273 

said, Sonic people may think that that is impossi 
ble; but it is not. The other day I was walking by 
the seaside at Cromer, and I picked up a bottle with 
a cork in it. I filled the bottle with the salt water, 
and, driving in the cork, I threw the bottle out into 
the sea as far as my right arm could send it. Turn 
ing to my wife, I said, Look, the sea is in the bottle 
and the bottle is in the sea. So if we are Christ s, 
we are in Him and He is in us." 

Before my conversion, while I was under deep 
conviction of sin, I used to pray, "0 God, make me 
a good boy; I want to be a good boy; make me 
feel I am saved." In my young foolishness of heart 
1 was keen on feeling. My father had heard me 
pray, and had tried to meet my difficulty, but with 
out success. However, it chanced that one afternoon 
we were invited to drink tea at the house of a friend 
in a village where the three brothers were holding 
a mission. Attached to the house was a beautiful 
large garden, containing many heavity laden cherry- 
trees. My father was as merry and whole-hearted 
as a boy, and not ashamed of liking cherries, and 
we all went out to pick the fruit. Presently I was 
amazed to observe my father gazing up steadfastly 
at the cherries and saying, in a loud, urgent voice, 
as he kept the inside pocket of his coat wide open, 
"Cherries, come down and fill my pocket! Come 
down, I say. I want you." I watched his antics 
for a moment or two, not knowing what to make of 
this aberration. At length I said : 

"Daddy, it s no use telling the cherries to come 

is 



274 Gipsy Smith 

down and fill your pocket. You must pluck them 
off the tree." 

My son," said my father, in pleased and earnest 
tones, " that is what I want you to understand. You 
are making the mistake that I was making just now. 
God has offered you a great gift. You know what 
it is, and you know that you want it. But you will 
not reach forth your hand to take it." 

My father was frequently engaged by a gentle 
man in Norwich, Mr. George Chamberlain, to do 
evangelistic work in the vicinity. At the time of 
this story there was an exhibition of machinery in 
connection with the agricultural show then being 
held in the old city. Mr. Chamberlain gave my 
father a ticket of admission to it, saying, Go, Cor 
nelius, see what there is to be seen; it will interest 
you. I m coming down myself very soon." When 
Mr. Chamberlain reached the ground he found my 
father standing on a machine, with a great crowd, 
to whom he was preaching the gospel, gathered 
round him. He gazed upon the spectacle with de 
light and astonishment. When my father came 
down from this pulpit, Mr. Chamberlain said to him : 

" Well, Cornelius, what led you to address the i^eo- 
ple without any previous arrangement, too, and 
without consulting the officials? I sent you here to 
examine the exhibits." 

"That s all right," said my father; "but the fact 
is I looked round at all the latest inventions, and I 
did not see one that even claimed to take away the 
guilt and the power of sin from men s hearts. I 



My Father and his Two Brothers 275 

knew of something that could do this, and I thought 
these people should be told about it. There were 
such a lot of them, too, that I thought it was a very 
good opportunity." 

My father was on one occasion preaching in the 
oj>en air to a great crowd at Leytonstone. A coster 
passing by in his donkey-cart shouted out: "Go it, 
old party ; you ll get arf a crown for that job !" Father 
stopped his address for a moment, looked at the coster, 
and said, quietly, " No, young man, you are wrong. 
My Master never gives half-crowns away. He gives 
whole ones. Be thou faithful unto death, and I 
will give thee a crown of life." The coster and his 
" moke " passed on. 

I have said before that the three gipsy brothers, 
after their conversion, always travelled the coun 
try together. Wherever they went they never lost 
an opportunity of preaching. And their preaching 
was very effective, for the people, knowing them 
well, contrasted their former manner of life lying, 
drinking, pilfering, swearing with the sweet and 
clean life they now led, and saw that the three big, 
godless gipsy men had been with Jesus. They be 
held a new creation. When they came to a village 
the three big men my father was six feet, broad in 
proportion, and he was the smallest of them ac 
companied by their children, took their stand in the 
most public place they could find and began their 
service. The country folk for miles around used 
to come in to attend the meetings of the three con 
verted gipsy brothers. Each of them had his special 



276 Gipsy Smith 

gift and special line of thought. Uncle Woodlock, 
who always spoke first, had taught himself to read, 
and of the three was the deepest theologian if I 
may use so pretentious a word of a poor gipsy man. 
He was very strong and clear on the utter ruin of 
the heart by the fall, and on redemption by the blood 
of Christ, our substitute. Over the door of his cot 
tage at Leytonstone he had printed the words, " When 
I see the blood I will pass over." It was very char 
acteristic. 

After Woodlock had made an end of speaking, 
the three brothers sang a hymn, my father accom 
panying on his famous "hallelujah fiddle/ Uncle 
Bartholomew never to the day of his death could 
read, but his wife could spell out the words of the 
New Testament, and in this way he learned by heart 
text after text for his gospel addresses. His method 
was to repeat these texts, say a few words about 
each, and conclude with an anecdote. My father 
came last. It was his part to gather up and focus all 
that had been said, and to make the application. 
He had a wonderful power in the management of 
these simple audiences, and often melted them into 
tears by the artless pathos of his discourses. But 
the most powerful qualification these evangelists had 
for their work was the undoubted and tremendous 
change that had been wrought in their lives. Their 
sincerity and sweetness were so transparent. It was 
as clear as daylight that God had laid His hand upon 
these men, and had renewed their hearts. 

Until the marriage of which I have told in this 



My Father and his Two Brothers 277 

chapter, my father lived in his wagon and tent, and 
still went up and down the country, though not so 
much as he had done in his younger days. I told 
him that he could not ask Mrs. Sayer to come and 
live with him in a wagon. She had never been 
used to that. lie must go into a house. I suggested 
that he should buy a bit of land, and build a cottage 
on it. "What!" he said, "put my hard-earned 
money into dirt / However, he came round to my 
view. The three brothers each bought a strip of 
territory at Leytonstone and erected three wooden 
cottages. But they stood the cottages on wheels! 
Uncle Woodlock was not so fortunate in his wife 
as the other two brothers. She was not a Christian 
woman, and she had no respect and no sympathy 
for religious work. When Woodlock came home 
from his meetings his wife would give him her opin 
ion, at great length and with great volubility, con 
cerning him and his preaching. The poor man 
would listen with bowed head and in perfect silence, 
and, when she had finished her harangue, he would 
say, "Now, my dear, we will have a verse," and he 
would begin to sing, "Must Jesus Bear the Cross 
Alone?" or, "I m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord!" 
or, "My Jesus, I love Thee." Uncle Barthy s wife 
was a good, Christian woman, and is still on this 
side of Jordan, adorning the doctrine of the gospel. 
When I was conducting the simultaneous mission 
campaign at the Metropolitan Tabernacle she came 
to hear me. The building was crowded, and the 
policeman would not let her pass the door. "Oh, 



278 Gipsy Smith 

but I must get in/ she said; "it s my nephew who 
is preaching here. I nursed him, and I m going 
to hear him." And she was not baffled. 

The brothers were not well up in etiquette, though 
in essentials they always behaved like the perfect 
gentlemen they were. They were drinking tea one 
afternoon at a well-to-do house. A lady asked 
Uncle Woodlock to pass her a tart. "Certainly, 
madam/ said he, and lifting a tart with his fingers 
off the plate handed it to her. She accepted it with 
a gracious smile. When his mistake was after 
wards pointed out to him, and he was told what 
he ought to have done, he took no offence, but he 
could not understand it at all. He kept on answer 
ing : " Why, she did not ask me for the plateful ; 
she asked for only one!" 

Woodlock and Bartholomew have now gone to be 
for ever with the Lord who redeemed them, and 
whom they loved with all the strength of their warm, 
simple, noble hearts. 

Uncle Woodlock was the first to go home. The 
three brothers were together conducting a mission 
at Chingford in March, 1882. At the close, Wood- 
lock was detained for a few minutes in earnest con 
versation with an anxious soul. My father and 
Bartholomew went on to take the train for Stratford, 
leaving Woodlock to make haste after them. Wood- 
lock, in the darkness, ran with great force against 
a wooden post in the pathway. It was some time 
before he was discovered lying on the ground groan 
ing in agony. To those who came to his help he 



My Father and his Two Brothers 279 

said, " I have got my death-blow ; my work on earth 
is done, but all is bright above ; and I am going home." 
His injuries were very severe, and though his suf 
fering was great, he never once lost consciousness. 
My father stayed by him all night, while Uncle 
Earthy returned to Stratford to tell the families about 
the accident. When morning dawned, Woodlock s 
wife came to see him, and then he was removed to 
his own little home in Leytonstone, where he breathed 
his last. Within an hour of his departure he turned 
to his weeping relatives, and said : " I am going to 
heaven through the blood of the Lamb. Do you 
love and serve Jesus? Tell the people wherever 
you go about Him. Be faithful: speak to them 
about the blood that cleanses." Then, gathering 
himself up, he said : " What is this that steals upon 
my frame? Is it death?" and quickly added: 

" If this be death, I .soon shall be 
From every sin and sorrow free. 
I shall the King of Glory see. 
All is well! " 

He had been ill for twenty-eight hours. He lies 
buried in Leytonstone church-yard, awaiting the 
resurrection morn. He was followed to his grave 
by his sorrowing relatives and over fifty gipsies, 
while four hundred friends lined the approach to 
the church and bury ing-place. The parish church 
had a very unusual congregation that day, for the 
gipsy people pressed in with the others, and as the 
vicar read the burial service, hearts were deeply 



280 Gipsy Smith 

touched and tears freely flowed. At the grave, the 
two surviving brothers spoke of the loved one they 
had lost, and told the people of the grace of God 
which had redeemed them and their brother, and 
made them fit for the inheritance of the saints in 
light. Woodlock was a hale man, only forty-eight 
years of age. 

Two years later Uncle Earthy followed his brother 
Woodlock into the kingdom of glory. He died in 
his own little home at Leytonstone, but most of the 
days of his illness were spent in Mildmay Cottage 
Hospital. All that human skill could devise was 
done for him, but he gradually grew weaker, and 
asked to be taken to his own home. A few hours 
before he passed into the presence of God he called 
his wife and children around him, and besought 
each of them to meet him in heaven. In his last 
moments he was heard to say, " There! I was almost 
gone then they had come for me!" When asked 
who had come, he replied, "My Saviour." Turning 
to his wife, he said : " You are clinging to me ; you 
will not let me go; and I am sure you do not want 
me to stay here in all this pain. I must go home; 
I cannot stay here. God will look after you. He 
knows your trouble, and He will carry you through." 
The poor woman was expecting a baby in a few 
months. My father tried to comfort her, and to 
teach her resignation to the will of God. 

"Tell the Lord," he said, "that you desire His 
will to be done." 

She said, "Oh, it is so hard!" 



My Father and his Two Brothers 281 

" Yes/ answered my father, " but the Lord is going 
to take Bartholomew to Himself. It will be better 
for you if you can bring yourself to submit with 
resignation to His will." 

Those gathered round the bedside then knelt 
down. The dying saint sat up in bed with his hands 
clasped, looking at his wife, while she poured out 
her soul before the Lord and told Him her trouble. 
God gave her the victory. She rose from her knees 
exclaiming, "I can now say, Thy will be done!" 
She gave her husband a farewell kiss. Immediately 
he clapped his hands for joy and said : " Now I can 
go, can t I? I am ready to be offered up. The time 
of my departure is at hand. Lord, let Thy servant 
depart in peace. Receive my spirit, for Jesus sake!" 
And so Bartholomew s soul passed into the heavenly 
places. The whole bed-chamber was filled with glory. 
Uncle Barthy rests in Leytonstone church-yard 
beside his brother Woodlock. In death they are 
not divided. 

It is strange, rather, that my father, the eldest of 
the three brothers, should live the longest. It is 
seventeen years since the death of Uncle Barthy. 
My father is like a tree planted by the rivers of water, 
still bringing forth fruit. When I go to see him 
I kneel at his feet, as I used to do when I was a boy, 
and say : " Daddy, give me your blessing. All that 
I am I owe, under God, to the beautiful life you lived 
in the old gipsy wagon." And with a radiant, 
heavenly smile on that noble old face, he answers, 
with tears of joy in his eyes, "God bless you, my 



282 



Gipsy Smith 



son! I have never had but one wish for you, and 
that is that you should be good." Some time ago, 
when I was conducting a mission at Torquay, I 
talked to the people so much about my father that 
they invited him to conduct a mission among them. 
And then they wrote to me: "We love the son, but 
we think we love the father more." They had found 
that all that I had said about my father was true. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

LONDON, MANCHESTER, AND EDINBURGH 

BEFORE setting out on my trip round the world 
I had made a promise to the Rev. Andrew Mearns, 
secretary of the London Congregational Union, 
that I would undertake three months evangelistic 
work in the metropolis. Accordingly, on the iyth 
of December, Mr. B. F. Byrom, who was fixing my 
engagements at the time, accompanied me to London 
to settle the final arrangements with Mr. Mearns. 
When we entered the Memorial Hall on the morning 
of the 1 8th Mr. Mearns handed me a telegram. I 
opened it and read these words : Mrs. Smith seri 
ously ill. Come home at once." When I left my 
wife the night before she seemed to be in good health, 
busy making preparations for a happy Christmas with 
us all at home together. I returned to Manchester 
at once. She had been seized with dreadful hemor 
rhages, which, beginning at ten o clock on the night 
of the iyth, had continued at intervals till eleven 
o clock on the evening of the i8th. The doctors, 
on leaving me at three o clock in the morning of the 
1 9th, said that she was practically a corpse that it 
was simply impossible for her to live. When they 
returned next morning and saw how greatly improved 
she was they said, "This is a resurrection." The 



284 Gipsy Smith 

prayers offered for her and for me by hundreds of 
Christians all over the country had been answered. 
Slowly but surely she regained her health, though 
it was five or six months before she was quite well 
again. 

My work for Mr. Mearns in London called me 
away from my wife early in January. I am not 
skilled in the formation of diplomatic circumlocu 
tions, and therefore I must say frankly that I do 
not look back upon this work in London with any 
real satisfaction. I was sent to several churches 
which were practically deserted. Indeed, my work 
was mostly among weak causes in a few instances 
causes without a pastor or any organized band of 
workers. And most of the missions were only for 
a week. It took one quite a week to make oneself 
felt in these localities, and just when one was be 
ginning to get a good hold of the people one had to 
leave and go elsewhere. Good was done, I am sure, 
and in every case before the week was finished we 
had crowded congregations. But it was surely 
unwise to send me to chapels which were without 
pastors, because there was no one to look after any 
converts that God gave us. In this campaign I 
worked at ten or eleven places. The right plan 
would have been the selection of six or seven of the 
strongest churches and a fortnight s mission in each. 
In a live church, with a capable minister and a com 
petent band of workers, something great might 
have been accomplished. To send a missioner to 
some deserted, disorganized chapel, situated perhaps 



London, Manchester, and Edinburgh 285 

in a godless wilderness, and then expect valuable 
results in a week is like sending a man to gather 
apples in the Sahara desert. 

In this three months campaign there was a short 
break which I spent at Manchester. Dr. McLaren 
had taken the keenest interest in my trip round the 
world, and as soon as I returned home I went to 
see him. Immediately he said to me, " I want you 
to have a mission in my church. I cannot commit 
myself yet, for I have not consulted my office-bearers ; 
but I do not want you to fix up any engagements 
for the week February loth to iyth, 1895, until you 
hear from me." These words quite took my breath 
away. I was overwhelmed. I did not know what 
to say. The honor that Dr. McLaren proposed to 
do me was too great. There had never before been 
a mission in Union Chapel. When I could find 
utterance I stammered out: "Oh, Dr. McLaren, 
I can never conduct a mission in your church. I 
can never stand in your pulpit." "Nonsense!" 
said Dr. McLaren, in his characteristically emphatic 
arid decisive manner. You must. I won t listen 
to that sort of thing. Keep these dates clear until 
I consult my office-bearers." I felt I must give in. 
There was no withstanding Dr. McLaren. I knew 
him, trusted him, loved him. He had won my heart 
years ago, and he had allowed me to call him my 
friend. I knew that the invitation was given only 
after much prayer and thought. Dr. McLaren is not 
a man to settle anything hastily or precipitately. I 
feel it is impossible for me to make my readers un- 



286 Gipsy Smith 

derstand how terrible was the responsibility this 
invitation imposed upon me. I was deeply exer 
cised in my spirit on account of my unworthiness. 

The formal invitation from Dr. McLaren and the 
deacons of Union Chapel reached me about the 
end of November. Never did a church enter with 
more thoroughness into the necessary preparatory 
work. The Rev. J. E. Roberts, B.A., B.D., the 
co-pastor, superintended the organizing arrange 
ments with great skill, and toiled day and night 
for the success of the mission. He was ably sup 
ported by Mr. Alister McLaren, Dr. McLaren s son, 
and many other workers. Thousands of visits were 
made to the people. I was told that in three days 
a hundred ladies made over six thousand visits. I 
know that the workers called at our house three 
times during the week of the mission urging my 
wife and myself to attend. We faithfully promised 
to do so. Thousands of printed invitations to the 
services were issued, all of them signed by Dr. Mc 
Laren and Mr. Roberts, a fact which lent weight 
and power. 

The mission opened on Sunday, February loth. 
Dr. McLaren preached in the morning from Acts 
ix. 31, and at the conclusion of his discourse spoke 
thus: 

"It has been to me a very sore trial and a very 
bitter pill that the condition of my health withdraws 
me almost entirely from active participation in this 
work, to which I have been looking forward with 
so much pleasure. I hope that instead of my with- 



London, Manchester, and Edinburgh 287 

drawal, which, as most of you know, is rendered im 
perative by medical advice, frightening anybody, 
it will rather, if I may appeal to your affection, make 
you all feel the more need for you to gather round 
my dear friend, Gipsy Smith, who is going to con 
duct these services. I have the fullest confidence 
in him and in his work, and the warmest anticipations 
of large spiritual blessings to flow from the services. 
I appeal especially to the members of my own church 
and congregation, that they will do what they can 
by their sympathy, their attendance, and above all 
by their earnest prayers, to make this coming week 
a week long to be remembered in the history of this 
church." 

My testing-time came in the afternoon. I had 
had a sore conflict with the Evil One throughout 
the whole of the preceding week. The tempter 
whispered: "Your methods will never do for Union 
Chapel. Do you know that that is the most brainy 
and the most cultured congregation in England? 
These people have listened to the prince of preachers 
for many years. They have never had a mission 
such as you propose to conduct in their church. They 
do not understand it. Don t you try your methods 
there. They will not have them. If you insist 
on the methods that you adopt in other places the 
people will not come and listen to you. You will 
have the church to yourself." This struggle with 
Satan was very real. My heart and mind were 
sore distressed, but God gave me the victory. As 
I proceeded from the vestry into the church, I paused 



288 Gipsy Smith 

for a moment on the first step of the pulpit stairs 
and said to God: "Oh, my Lord, Thou hast given 
me all I am and all I have. Thou hast set Thine 
approval on my poor, weak methods. I place my 
self and my methods in Thy hands. In this church 
I will be true to what I believe Thou hast been pleased 
to use." Throughout this mission I adopted my 
ordinary style of discourse and of dealing with peo 
ple, and I never heard one sound of disapproval. 
The whole church was with me. 

People from all parts of Lancashire, who had for 
long been desirous of hearing me, but had suspected 
something sensational, thronged into Manchester to 
attend these meetings, for were they not in Dr. Mc 
Laren s church, and did not that mean that they 
must be safe? Many Church of England people, 
too, waited upon my ministry. In the inquiry-rooms 
ten or twelve Anglican churches were represented. 
Altogether six hundred people professed to give 
themselves to God. 

The last Sunday was a crowning triumph. So 
great were the throngs that the roads were blocked, 
and even the trams were brought to a standstill. The 
conductors were shouting : " This way for Dr. Mc 
Laren and Gipsy Smith." Alister McLaren went 
out to pacify the people, who were becoming some 
what tumultuous. He lost his hat, and was him 
self unable to get into the church. 

A remarkable scene took place at the closing ser 
vice on Monday night. Turning to Mr. Roberts, 
the co-pastor, who sat beside me, I said : " I am going 



London, Manchester, and Edinburgh 289 

to close now." "Wait a minute/ he said; "there 
are others who ought to come out." I asked the 
people to be seated, and then said: "I know some 
of you are saying something like this to yourselves, 
I owe all I am to Dr. McLaren all that I possess 
of mental grasp and spiritual desire. He is my 
pastor. I have grown up under him. Is it quite fair 
to him that when I settle the most momentous question 
of my life I should do it at the invitation of a stranger? 
Is it loyal to my pastor? I respect that feeling. I 
want you to be loyal to Dr. McLaren. But will you 
remember for one moment at whose invitation I am 
here? It was Dr. McLaren who brought me here. 
He was anxious about you. That was why he asked 
me to come and help him to beseech you in Christ s 
stead to be reconciled unto God. I do not think any 
thing would gladden Dr. McLaren s heart more than 
to learn that in this mission, which he arranged for 
you, the desire of his heart had been accomplished. 
He is ill. You know it. Do you think that any 
thing could be a greater joy and comfort to him than 
the receipt of a telegram saying that you had at last 
intelligently and honestly given yourself to Jesus 
Christ?" In less than five minutes fifty of the bright 
est and best young people in the congregation walked 
into the inquiry-room. 

So ended, as far as I was concerned, one of the most 
remarkable missions of my life. I have always 
felt that this campaign in Dr. McLaren s church 
set the hall-mark upon me as an evangelist. I have 
needed no further recommendation to many min- 
19 



290 Gipsy Smith 

isters than that I have had a mission at Union Chapel. 
As a consequence I have reached hundreds of people 
who from ignorance have had no sympathy with 
evangelistic methods. The mere fact that I have 
worked with Dr. McLaren has induced them in the 
first place to come and hear me, and afterwards, 
in many cases, to take their place among my closest 
friends. 

The Rev. J. E. Roberts, B.A., B.D., has kindly 
sent me the following notes concerning that mem 
orable mission : 

" I think that I may confess now that the mission which 
was held by Gipsy Smith in Union Chapel six years ago 
was awaited with some apprehension by the members of 
the church and with much curiosity by outsiders. It was 
the first mission of any importance ever held in connection 
with the church. And the choice of Gipsy Smith as the 
missioner gave rise to many questionings. Gipsy Smith 
was not known then so widely as he is to-day. And people 
did wonder whether it was wise to ask him to conduct a 
mission from Dr. McLaren s pulpit. 

" Anyhow, the workers determined to do their best. 
Gipsy Smith had been asked by the advice of Dr. McLaren, 
and they worked earnestly and prayerfully to make the 
mission an apt instrument for God s Spirit to use. Never 
was a mission prepared for more faithfully or more will 
ingly. The services were advertised thoroughly. Largely 
attended prayer-meetings preceded the mission. And 
then came the opening night. At once it was seen that 
the mission would be a great success. Crowds flocked 
to the chapel. The Gipsy preached and sang with per 
suasive power and pathos. From the first a considerable 



London, Manchester, and Edinburgh 291 

number entered the inquiry-rooms. Here was a large 
staff of specially selected and trained workers. But they 
were fully occupied, dealing with the numbers who were 
seeking salvation. 

"It is impossible to say how many of the five hundred 
persons who passed through the inquiry-rooms have stood 
the test of time. They came from every church and chapel 
in the neighborhood. In our own church we reaped large 
results. Many of the converts were gathered into classes, 
where they were further instructed in the principles of 
church membership. None were proposed for membership 
until three months had passed. Then great numbers were 
added to the Church, of whom the large proportion have 
continued steadfastly in the Church doctrine and breaking 
of bread, and prayer. Some of our best workers to-day were 
converted under Gipsy Smith. 

" Our missioner left delightful memories in our midst. 
He became a dear friend to many. His subsequent use 
fulness in an ever-widening sphere has given us great 
joy, but no surprise. He is ever a welcome visitor at our 
services. And he seldom comes to any service without 
being gripped by the hands of several whom Christ found 
during the mission through his agency. We love him, 
and we thank God for him, and we pray God to bless him 
yet more abundantly." 

I will not weary my readers by giving them details 
of the various short missions that I conducted in 
English provincial towns during 1895. But I will 
note one or two incidents that seem to me to be of 
more than ordinary interest. 

During this year I began to receive invitations for 
mission work from Free Church councils. At 



292 Gipsy Smith 

Bilston, upon the invitation of the local council, I 
conducted a ten days campaign at the Wesleyan 
Church, the church in which Dr. Berry afterwards 
died. I am told that the doctor whose funeral the 
great preacher was attending dated his decision for 
Christ from my mission in Wolverhampton. But 
this is anticipating. My host at Bilston, Mr. Bussey, 
was a very excellent man. Of his nine children, 
seven passed through the inquiry-room. The eldest 
son is now a local preacher in Bilston, and conducts 
missions with blessed results. Among the other 
converts was the organist. 

I had an amusing experience at Swansea. At the 
beginning of my career as an evangelist a young 
Welshman taught me a verse of a Welsh hymn. At 
one of my Swansea meetings, making the most of 
my knowledge of Welsh, I sang this verse. It was 
the only verse I knew. But, when I had started the 
people at hymn-singing, I could not stop them. My 
Welsh accent must have been good, because I was 
asked by some zealous patriots if I would preach in 
Welsh. "No," I said, reflectively, "I think I prefer 
English." 

At the close of 1895, I worked for six weeks in 
Edinburgh in connection with various free churches. 
The Rev. John Morgan, of Viewforth, in whose 
church I had labored, contributed to the British 
Weekly an interesting account of this campaign, 
from which I quote: 

" Great crowds have gathered to hear the Gipsy preach 
and sing. All who have been associated with him bear 



London, Manchester, and Edinburgh 293 

grateful testimony to his marvellous success. His re 
markable personality contributes not a little to this result. 
There is a romance associated with his name and history. 
His gift of song also adds greatly to the charm and fascina 
tion. 

" In private the Gipsy has the mien and bearing of a 
Christian gentleman, and those who have had him sojourn 
ing with them can best give their testimony as to his meek 
ness and modesty, as also to the geniality and true man 
liness of his character. He is regarded with the greatest 
respect and affection by all who have come to know him 
intimately, and has made himself a universal favorite in 
the family circle. 

" There are multitudes among us to whom Mr. Smith s 
visit this winter will be ever memorable as the beginning 
of days to them, and many more to whom his bright, 
hearty, happy Christian spirit has strikingly commended 
his gospel message, and conveyed the marked and unmis 
takable impression of a true evangelist endued with rare 
spiritual power. 

" On New Year s Day Mr. Smith is to sail for New York, 
and many friends will follow him with genuine sympathy 
and earnest prayer during a lengthened evangelistic tour in 
America. He may rest assured that a very cordial welcome 
awaits him whenever he shall again revisit Edinburgh." 

I heard the Rev. Andrew Murray, the well-known 
South African, at the Synod Hall, Edinburgh. At 
his meetings I made my first acquaintance with a 
hymn which I have often since used with great ef 
fect "Moment by Moment." 

I stayed during part of my visit with the Rev. 
Thomas Crerar, whose wife is the sister of Profes- 



294 Gipsy Smith 

sor Henry Drummond, and I became very friendly 
with their little baby girl. She was just learning to 
speak, and called me "Gippo." She spoke of sugar 
as "lulu." She would tap the sideboard door with 
her little hands and say, " Lulu, lulu." But neither 
her parents nor her nurse would let her have any. 
However, she completely overcame me, and when 
we two were alone, I used to give my little sweet 
heart a small piece of "lulu." Some weeks after 
my departure from Edinburgh, I sent Mr. Crerar 
a photograph of myself. When baby saw it, she 
clapped her fat, chubby, little hands, screaming with 
delight, "Gippo, lulu, lulu!" "You rascal!" wrote 
Mr. Crerar to me. " We have found you out." 

When I first visited Edinburgh and stayed with 
Rev. George D. Low, M.A., his youngest boy, a 
little fellow in kilts, was taught to pray, " God bless 
Gipsy Smith." He was still a small boy and in the 
same garb when I returned, and in the meanwhile 
he had kept up that simple prayer. He had become 
fired with ambition as a preacher, and was accus 
tomed to hold forth in his nursery. My little friend 
prepared his sermons regularly on Friday. The 
maids and his mother formed his usual Sunday- 
evening congregation. He stood on a table with 
a clothes-horse, covered with a white sheet, in front 
of him. Only his little head was to be seen peeping 
out above this pulpit. The collection at the door 
of the nursery were for my Gipsy Wagon Mission. 
On the occasion of my second visit he had a meeting 
on the Saturday a soiree. There was a large at- 



London, Manchester, and Edinburgh 295 

tendance. The little minister said, in a stern, solemn 
tone : " I notice that when T have a soiree, I can get 
my church filled ; but you do not come to the preach 
ing on Sunday." His text on the Sunday evening 
was, "It is I. Be not afraid/ and a beautiful little 
sermon he preached. He said that "when Jesus 
comes to us it is not to frighten us, it is to take away 
the frightening, and it is to bring to us a sort of feel 
ing that makes us feel sure, sure." 

The closing meeting of this Edinburgh campaign 
was for ministers, workers, and inquirers, and was 
held in Free St. George s (Dr. Whyte s). There was 
an overflowing congregation, at least two-thirds of 
which consisted of young converts. Rev. Dr. Mac- 
phail, of Pilreg, Edinburgh, a noble specimen of 
a Highland Christian gentleman, presided. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

MY FIFTH VISIT TO AMERICA 

I SAILED for New York on New Year s Day, 1896. 
I had arranged to go straight to Boston and conduct 
a mission there. This was the only fixed item on 
my programme. I felt that this would be an im 
portant mission, and that I ought not to entangle 
myself with promises of other work until I saw what 
God was going to do by our hands in that city. 

The mission was held in the People s Temple, at 
the time the largest Protestant church in the city, 
seating two thousand five hundred people, and pos 
sessing school premises which could be added to the 
church, bringing up the accommodation to three 
thousand. Mr. James Boyd Brady was the pastor. 
As I was driving to the house of my host I passed 
the People s Temple, and I observed a great placard 
on the building, announcing me as " Gipsy Smith, the 
greatest evangelist in the world." My first words 
to the congregation that greeted me at my first ser 
vice were to disclaim any responsibility for the an 
nouncement in front of the church: "I do not feel 
that I am the greatest evangelist in the world, and 
you do not believe it. That being so, we will have 
it taken down." I believe in advertising, but the 
placard in question was a ridiculous and undigni- 



My Fifth Visit to America 297 

fied extravagance of statement. I felt hurt and an 
noyed as soon as I saw it. My repudiation of it did 
not a little to win my way into the esteem and af 
fection of the Bostonians. It soon became manifest 
that a blessed work of grace was being done. The 
mission was the talk of the city. Those who had 
known Boston the longest said they had never seen 
anything like it. The Boston papers wrote about 
our work in their best style. I was described as 
the greatest of my kind on earth, "a spiritual phe 
nomenon, an intellectual prodigy, and a musical and 
oratorical paragon/ It seems that in appearance 
I at once suggested an Italian impresario, that in 
costume I would have made a good double to Jean 
de Reske, and that my language might serve as a 
model for a high churchman! 

Several incidents of this mission are, I think, 
worthy of record. On the morning after the first 
meeting I was aroused from sleep very early. I 
was told that there was at the door a man in a very 
excited state who wished to see me. I requested 
that he should be brought to my room. He rushed 
in, waving wildly a copy of the Protestant Standard, 
which had devoted half a page to our meeting. 
What have you come to Boston for?" he demanded, 
angrily. " Can you not leave me alone?" I per 
ceived that my visitor was an old Pottery man, who 
years before had heard me preach many times. He 
had deserted his wife and children, and was now 
living a very sinful life. In the interval, during 
moments of acute shame and remorse, he had writ- 



298 Gipsy Smith 

ten to his wife in the hope of finding her, but his ef 
forts had been unsuccessful. Either he received no 
reply or his letters were returned, and he did not know 
whether she was dead or alive. His conscience 
seemed to tell him that I had come to Boston to dis 
cover and accuse him. "Why can you not leave 
me alone?" he asked. " Can you not stay at home?" 
This man had not been at the meeting. But as he was 
returning from night duty at a large restaurant, he 
had come across a copy of the Protestant Standard, 
and had learned that I was in the city. I spoke to 
him faithfully about the old days, his present con 
dition, his sin and w r ant, and he promised to come 
to the next meeting. To my joy I observed him 
among the first who came forward to give them 
selves to Christ. It was a sincere, absolute sur 
render, a real conversion. He gave me the name 
of his wife s parents and the address of the house 
where he knew her to be living last. I wrote to my 
brother-in-law, Councillor Ball, of Hanley, giving 
him all the particulars I could gather. He published 
an announcement in the local papers and set the 
police at work, with the result that the wife and fam 
ily were found. After years of separation she and 
her children crossed the Atlantic to find the husband 
and father. She was welcomed with all the old 
love and the new love that had come to him from 
the Lord. They are now living happily together, 
doing a noble work for the Christ who saved them. 
One night, going to church, I jumped into a car. 
Sitting beside me was a lady with a pair of opera- 



My Fifth Visit to America 299 

glasses in her hand. She was not going to church. 
People do not take opera-glasses to church. I sup 
pose they think that they see enough of the parson 
without them. Presently a lady on her way to my 
meeting entered the car and said to me, What are 
you going to preach about to-night, Mr. Smith?" 
"Wait and see," I answered. If you tell the people 
what you are going to talk about, they can fortify 
themselves. Glorious surprises are what we need 
in our preaching more and more. Some men will 
never be saved unless they are taken off their guard. 
However, I said to my questioner, We shall have 
nearly three thousand people to-night, and whether 
we preach or not we shall certainly pray. And the 
burden of our prayer will be, Lord, send down 
upon us the Holy Ghost." "Sir, sir," said the 
lady with the opera - glasses, are you not afraid 
something will happen if you pray like that?" "Oh, 
not at all/ I said, "not afraid ; we hope something 
will happen. We are going to church because we 
expect something w r ill happen." 

When the month was finished it was evident that 
we could not stop the work. It would have been 
a sin so to do. Fortunately, having a presentiment 
that this was going to be a great and noble mission, 
I had kept myself free from other engagements. The 
four weeks extended into seven. On the fifth Sunday 
morning I preached to a crowded congregation on 
"Be filled with the Spirit," and at the close of the 
sermon a memorable, and indeed indescribable, scene 
was witnessed. Dr. Brady rose, and, in tones of 



300 Gipsy Smith 

deep emotion, said, "The sermon this morning has 
been for my own soul. I feel my need of the ex 
perience of which our brother has been speaking, 
and I am going down to that communion - rail for 
myself. I am going there to seek my Pentecost. 
I shall never be able to rear the young souls that 
have been brought to God during this mission un 
less I am filled with the Spirit." Presently between 
two hundred and three hundred people from all parts 
of the church were kneeling at the communion-rail 
on both sides of their pastor. When we dispersed 
we all felt that we had seen strange things that day. 

During this week I addressed the divinity students 
of the Methodist College on "Soul-winning." I had 
also the distinction of being invited to speak to the 
students of Harvard University, an invitation which 
is only given on very rare occasions. The one hour 
of the day I was free was from 6.30 to 7.30, the dinner 
hour of the students, but they were willing to set 
that aside in order to hear me, and we had a happy 
meeting. 

As a result of the mission eight hundred persons 
were received into the church on probation. I was 
three times asked to become pastor in succession 
to Dr. Brady when his term of the pastorate was 
fulfilled. The people were willing to free me during 
three or four months every year for evangelistic 
work, to give me an assistant and a handsome salary. 
But I did not see my way to accept their offer. 

My next mission was held in the Metropolitan 
Episcopal Church at Washington, of which Dr. 



My Fifth Visit to America 301 

Hugh Johnstone was then pastor. When the Presi 
dent of the United States is a Methodist he attends 
this church, as do also almost all the Methodist 
Congressmen. Dr. Milburn, the blind man eloquent, 
and chaplain to the Senate, is also a member of 
the Metropolitan congregation. Dr. Milburn and I 
became good friends. I chanced to mention in 
the course of an address that I was not ordained. 
At once the old man rose, and, placing his hands 
upon my shoulders, said, "I will ordain you without 
a question." 

Dr. Milburn told me the interesting story of how 
he became chaplain to the Senate. As a young man 
he had been preaching in the far West, and was 
returning to the East on one of the river steamers. 
Among the passengers were a number of Senators 
and members of the House of Representatives who 
spent their time in gambling and in fearful swearing. 
Dr. Milburn (Mr. Milburn he then was) was invited 
to conduct a religious service in the saloon on Sun 
day morning, and the Congressmen were among 
his congregation. He rebuked them sternly and 
faithfully for their gambling and swearing, and 
asked if their conduct was such as became men who 
were the representatives and the lawmakers of the 
nation. After the service Dr. Milburn retreated 
to his cabin. The men whom he had rebuked were 
wild fellows from the South and West. He expected 
every moment to receive a visit from some of them, 
bearing a challenge. He had reckoned on this 
likelihood before he had preached his sermon. Pres- 



302 Gipsy Smith 

ently there was a knock at the door. " Here it 
is," said Dr. Milburn to himself; "sure enough, 
what I expected. They have come to challenge 
me. I expect I shall get a severe handling. May 
God help me to be faithful/ Several tall, awkward, 
fierce-looking men stalked in. But there was no 
fight in them. They ranged themselves up before 
the doctor, meekly confessed that they had deserved 
his rebuke, thanked him for his sermon, and asked 
him if he would allow them to nominate him as chap 
lain to the Senate. Dr. Milburn was as delighted as 
he was surprised, and readily consented to be nom 
inated. Thus he was elected to the post which he 
has filled with such conspicuous ability and dignity 
for nearly sixty years. 

Dr. Johnstone entered into the work most heartily. 
He sank himself entirely in order that I might have 
the best possible chance. The church, which holds 
fifteen hundred people, was crowded at the very first 
service. An amusing and somewhat awkward inci 
dent occurred. I was preaching on Lifting the lame 
man at the gate of the Temple." The church has no 
pulpit, only an open rostrum, with not even a rail 
in front. "If/ I said, "you want to lift anybody, 
you must stand on solid ground yourself/ and 
thereupon I stepped off the platform, falling a dis 
tance of three or four feet. I flatter myself that 
I have always been rather quick in extricating my 
self from an awkward situation, so after I had risen 
I said to the people, " That was not as solid as I 
thought. You are witness to this, that I fall some- 



My Fifth Visit to America 303 

times, but " marching quietly back to the rostrum 
"I get up again." Next day a Washington paper 
stated that Gipsy Smith illustrated his own sermons. 
The mission lasted for three weeks. Every night 
the communion - rail was crowded. It was a very 
pleasant thing to see eminent doctors, business 
men, and Congressmen kneeling by the side of the 
anxious inquirers, encouraging and directing them. 

Dr. Milburn presented me to President Cleveland 
at the White House, told him about me and my work, 
and invited him to my lecture on my life story. The 
President said that if they had known sooner, he 
and his wife would gladly have come, but that their 
present arrangements made it impossible. 

I was taken by my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Washburn, 
to Mount Vernon to see the room in which Washing 
ton died, and the tomb in which he is laid. At the 
sepulchre we came aross an old colored man who 
had formerly been a slave. Mr. Washburn asked 
him if he had read about Gipsy Smith, the evangelist. 

"Oh yes!" 

"Well/ said Mr. Washburn, pointing to me, 
"that is the man." 

"Oh, is that the man?" inquired the old negro. 
Whereupon he came up to me and said, "My young 
brudder, I loves de Lord, tool" 

"That is right!" 

"I preaches, too." 

"Good!" 

"I preaches nearly every Sunday to my people." 

"I hope you have a good time?" 



304 Gipsy Smith 

"Oh yes, I have, and let me tell you this when 
next you preaches just you give the people what 
they need, not what they axes for." 

For the second time I took a journey across the 
continent to Denver and preached to great crowds 
in the Colosseum, a building seated for between 
three and four thousand people. Everywhere I 
found striking and enduring results of my former 
mission there. Converts were standing well, and 
many were good workers in the churches. I was 
the guest of my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. 

The feature of the mission was the restoration of 
a large number of backsliders. Many persons had 
come out to Denver from the Eastern States with 
their certificate of church membership in their 
pockets, but they had never produced them and 
had gradually drifted a\vay from church connection. 

Twelve j^ears ago Denver was growing at the rate 
of two thousand people a month. The Rocky Moun 
tains, twenty miles off, are rich in minerals gold, 
silver, copper, and lead. The climate is most de 
lightful and most healthful. The doctors in the 
Eastern States send their consumptive patients to 
Denver, where they are often restored to health. 
Many fortunes have been made in Denver and many 
lost. On the occasion of my first visit a rich man 
in the town offered to pay me a handsome salary, 
to provide me with a permanent railway car sump 
tuously fitted up in which I might travel across 
the country, accompanied by a troupe of singers, 
conducting evangelistic meetings in the great towns. 



My Fifth Visit to America 305 

When I returned to Denver ill fortune had overtaken 
him, and he was earning his living by keeping a 
restaurant in New York. The decline in the value 
of silver has seriously diminished the prosperity 
of Denver, but I believe that in years to come it will 
be one of the great cities of the world. 

The physical peculiarity of the place is the re 
markable clearness of the air. With the naked 
eye you can see a two-hundred-mile stretch of the 
Rocky Mountains. A good story is told to illustrate 
the trick that this clarity of the atmosphere plays 
with one s estimates of distance. A tourist living 
in a hotel at Denver rose early in the morning and 
told the waiter he would take a walk to the Rockies 
and back before breakfast. 

"You will never do it/ said the waiter; "it is 
twenty miles to the Rockies." 

"Nonsense/ said the tourist; "don t you try to 
fool me; they are just across the fields there." 

"All right," said the waiter; "you know best. 
But I tell you it is too far for you." 

The tourist set out, crossed the fields, walked on, 
and on, and on, and still he did not come to the Rock 
ies. A party was sent out in search of him. They 
discovered him standing on this side of a stream, 
stripping off his clothes in order that he might swim 
over it. 

"Why," said the leader, "what are you doing? 
You can step across that stream." 

"Oh," said the tourist, with a knowing wink, 

"you won t take me in again. I know how decep- 
20 



306 Gipsy Smith 

live your distances are in this darned State ; I know 
I shall have to swim over this." 

I can tell one or two good little stories about this 
American tour. At Boston I lived with a couple 
whose only child was a little boy who slept in a cot 
in his parents bedroom. In the night he fell out of 
bed, and at once his two loving parents, hearing his 
cry, jumped up to place him in his cot again, and 
met over his prostrate form. At breakfast his father 
teased him about this accident. He said, " Johnnie, 
do you know why you fell out of bed last night?" 

"No, father, I don t." 

"Well, the reason is this: you slept too near to 
where you get out." 

The youngster received this explanation in silence. 
Pondering deeply for a few minutes, he suddenly 
exclaimed, "Father, the reason you gave for my 
falling out of bed last night was not the right one. 
I know why I fell out." 

"Well, my son, why did you?" 

"Because I slept too near where I got in." 

When addressing young converts I always draw 
a moral from this story. If they desire to remain 
in their Christian life let them get well in. 

Mrs. Margaret Bottome, the founder of the King s 
Daughters, during this visit told me a story which 
illustrates the same point. She was walking along 
the front at a seaside place. A young friend enjoy 
ing himself in a small boat beckoned to her and 
asked if she would like a sail. Mrs. Bottome said, 
"Yes," and the boat was brought in to the side. 



My Fifth Visit to America 307 

Mrs. Bottome, in essaying to step in, touched the 
boat with her left foot and at once it skidded off some 
distance into the water. Back again the young fel 
low rowed. This time Mrs. Bottome touched the boat 
with her right foot and again it sped off some dis 
tance. When the youth brought his boat alongside 
the third time, he exclaimed to Mrs. Bottome, " Why 
don t you come in, all of you?" 

If young converts wish to maintain their religious 
life strong, fresh, and secure, they must throw the 
whole of themselves into it; they must hold nothing 
back. 

I met Miss Fanny Crosby, the well-kno\vn hymn- 
writer, at New York. Many of her compositions 
appear in the Free - Church Mission Hymnal, but 
her identity is there disguised by her married name, 
Mrs. F. J. Van Alstyne. Miss Crosby is seventy 
years of age, a very tiny woman, and quite blind. 
At one of my meetings, sitting on the platform be 
side me, she heard me sing a hymn of hers : 

" Like a bird on the deep, far away from its nest, 

I wandered, my Saviour, from Thee, 
But Thy dear loving voice called me home to Thy breast, 
And I knew there was welcome for me." 

When I had finished Miss Crosby said : " Brother 
Smith, I did not know there was as much in that 
song. You have broken me all up." Speaking 
about her blindness, she said, " I would not see with 
these natural eyes if I might, because I should miss 
much that I already see." 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

SOME FRESH STORIES ABOUT PETER MACKENZIE 

I REACHED England again on the i8th of May, 
1896. From that date until September, 1897, when 
I began my work as the first missioner of the National 
Free Church Council, I was occupied in conducting 
brief campaigns in different parts of England. Let 
me note some interesting points in connection with 
this period. 

At Consett the miners were so moved that they 
started to hold prayer meetings down a coal-pit in 
the month of June, too, when it was very hot. I 
worked at Norwood Grove Congregational Church, 
Liverpool, with the Rev. E. R. Barrett, B.A., the 
pastor. We had a most fruitful week. Two years 
after this date Mr. Barrett told me that he had never 
had a communion service since the mission at which 
some persons \vho dated their a\vakening from my 
visit were not admitted to church membership. 

One of the most notable missions of my life was 
conducted at Wolverhampton in October, 1896. Dr. 
Berry was the life and soul of the enterprise. He 
gave up all other engagements in order to be present 
at the meetings. The annual Mayor s dinner fell 
due during this campaign, and Dr. Berry was in 
vited to attend. His reply was that the most im- 




TAKEN DURING MY MISSION IN WOLVERHAMPTON. 
October, 1896. 



Stories About Peter Mackenzie 309 

portant thing in creation to him at that moment was 
the mission. What would his people think of him if 
he were feasting at the Mayor s banquet while sinners 
were being converted? All the other ministers of 
Wolverhampton loyally supported Dr. Berry. The 
mission had been arranged by the local Free Church 
Council, and I am sure that it did a great deal tow 
ards bringing Dr. Berry to the point of supporting 
the engagement of a free -church missioner. No 
man ever stood by me more sympathetically than 
Dr. Berry, whether in the meetings or out of the 
meetings, in his study or in my lodgings. I have 
for years had a great longing for a peaceful period 
of calm study, and I chanced to say to Dr. Berry, 
" I wish I could sit down and do nothing but study 
for a year." He retorted, "Yes, and then you would 
be spoiled. Just you go on with your work and do 
as much reading as you can." We had eight hundred 
inquirers. One hundred and forty of the converts 
elected to join Dr. Berry s church. Dr. Berry sum 
moned a church meeting, and, choosing one hundred 
and forty of his best members, put a young convert 
into the charge of each. The member was expected 
to visit the new convert, and report to Dr. Berry every 
week or two for two, three, or four months. I heartily 
commend this plan. It is good for the young con 
vert and good for the church member. 

In accordance with my custom, I told the story 
of my life on the closing night. All the tickets were 
sold long before the meeting. The crowd who had 
been unable to get tickets gathered outside the build- 



310 Gipsy Smith 

ing in the hope of squeezing their way somehow into 
the hall. They knew there was a little standing 
room. The policemen were utterly unable to keep 
the people in order. They sought to charge the 
crowd, but the crowd charged them. They pinned 
them against the walls and knocked their helmets 
about in all directions. 

My mission at Dewsbury was conducted under 
the shadow of the great name of Peter Mackenzie. 
I enjoyed the intimate friendship of Peter, who was 
a sunbeam in the lives of thousands. I met him 
for the first time, sixteen or seventeen years ago, on 
the platform of Hull station. Both of us had been 
preaching in the town. We were leaving in the same 
train, though not in the same compartment, because 
our destinations were different. I told him that a 
great work of grace had been accomplished in Hull. 
" Glory to God!" he shouted, " I will send you a goose 
at Christmas." Three months passed away. I had 
forgotten all about the goose and Peter s promise, 
but he had not forgotten. He sent me the following 
letter: 

" HONORED AND DEAR SIR, I have had no time to 

purchase a goose. But I send you 10s. and a photo of 
yours truly, which when you receive you will have goose 
enough. PETER MACKENZIE." 

I met him again at Crewe some time after I had ad 
dressed the Congregational Union at Hanley. Said 
he to me, " What a lot of steam we should waste if 
we stopped the engine every time a donkey brayed 



Stories About Peter Mackenzie 3 1 1 

and went to inquire into his bronchial tubes." He 
bought a rose at the station and put it into my coat. 
Then he hailed a newspaper boy, and shouted to 
him, "Penn orth o Tory, penn orth o Liberal, a 
penn orth o fun/ Then, handing the papers to 
me, he said, "Here is your train; read how my 
Father is ruling the world." 

Peter came to Hanley, while I was there, to preach 
in the Wesleyan Chapel, and to lecture in the Im 
perial Circus on "The Devil: his Personality, Char 
acter, and Power." The lecture was announced 
over the town in black letters on a huge green poster. 
As I was passing along the street a half-tipsy man 
accosted me, and pointing to the placard said, " What 
nonsense! There s no such person as the devil." 
I asked him what he had been doing of late. "Oh," 
he said, "I have been drinking. I have had a six 
weeks spree. I ve had a fearful time the blues ter 
ribly." "Oh, indeed," I said; "what do you mean 
by the blues?" "Don t you know? little uns." 
"Little uns?" "Yes, little uns. Don t you know 
what I mean? little devils, scores of them." " Well," 
I said, " don t you think, now, that if there are lots 
of little uns, there must be an old un too?" When 
I seconded the vote of thanks to Peter for his lecture, 
I told this story. Rising from his seat and waving 
his chair over his head, he shouted, " Glory, glory 
I ll tell that all over the country." 

When Peter was brought home ill to Dewsbury, 
the Wesleyan minister of the town, Mr. Martin, 
called to see him. "I am very sorry, sir," he said, 



312 Gipsy Smith 

"to find you in bed and so ill." "Yes, yes," said 
Peter, "I am in the dry-dock, undergoing repairs." 
Mr. Martin heard that Peter had become much worse, 
and again called on him. " Ah," said Peter, " Father 
is going to send down the angel and let old Peter out 
of prison." A few days later he died. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

AS THE NATIONAL COUNCIL S MISSIONER 

ON my return from my last trip to America, my 
pastor, the Rev. S. F. Collier, remarked to me that 
the position I ought to fill was that of recognized 
free -church evangelist. He said that he intended 
to suggest this to some leaders of the National Free 
Church Council. Dr. Pope met me one day in Man 
chester and made the same remark. Not long after 
these conversations, I received a letter from the Rev. 
Thomas Law, the General Secretary of the National 
Council, asking me to meet him at the Central Hall, 
Manchester. I believe that Mr. Law had developed 
in his own mind, and had suggested to the commit 
tee, a great scheme of evangelism to be undertaken 
by the National Council, and that, in this connection, 
his thoughts had been turned towards me. I did 
not gather from this first interview that Mr. Law at 
that time was empowered to invite me to become 
the free - church missioner. I understood that he 
merely desired to ascertain my views on the matter. 
I agreed with him that official connection with the 
National Free Church Council would certainly be a 
great strength to me and would open up to me a wider 
field. I talked the matter over with my wife, and she 
advised me to accept the position if it was offered 



314 Gipsy Smith 

me. I had not sought it. It had come to me, At a 
second interview with Mr. Law I consented to be 
come the National Council s missioner. It was ar 
ranged that I should begin work on the 1st of Sep 
tember, 1897. 

I have now been in the service of the National 
Council for over four years, and, all being well, I 
hope to end my days as their missioner. I consider 
my present sphere of operations the biggest and 
most important field I have ever touched. When 
it is properly worked it will do more to break down 
local prejudices and to bring Christians and churches 
together than anything has done for ages. I owe a 
debt of gratitude to Mr. Law for the wisdom and 
discretion he has displayed in arranging my mis 
sions at centres which give me the best opportunity, 
and also for his kind thought and care for my health 
and comfort. 

Between my engagement and the commencement 
of my work for the National Council, there was an 
incident in my life of which I am particularly proud. 
In 1897, the Wesleyan Methodist Conference was 
held in Leeds, and I took two conference appoint 
ments preaching in the Coliseum twice on Sunday 
to over six thousand people. I believe that I have 
the distinction of being the only la3 T man who has 
ever taken a conference appointment. When the 
official plan was first published, my name was 
omitted. As I had hesitated to accept the invitation 
of the Rev. S. Chadwick to preach these discourses, I 
concluded, when the plan came out without my name. 



The National Council s Missioner 3 1 5 

that he had managed to do without me. I wrote to 
Mr. Chadwick to that effect. He wired back that I 
was advertised all over Leeds. The explanation of 
the omission was that, a layman never having taken 
a conference appointment before, the Plan Committee 
did not know whether they ought to announce the 
fact, and thought the safest thing was to take no 
notice of the lay evangelist. There was a short 
debate at the conference on this matter, in which 
Mr. Chadwick, Mr. Price Hughes, and Mr. Watkin- 
son, pointing out the absurdity of the omission, took 
part. Their conclusive argument was that if a man 
was fit to preach, he was fit to be announced. 

I could write a volume about my work for the 
National Free Church Council. It has been greatly 
blessed, and it is full of interesting and encouraging 
incidents. Let me tell a few anecdotes. When I 
was conducting a mission at Lancaster I overheard 
two men discussing my career. One of them was 
somewhat deaf, and like most deaf people, spoke 
very loud. My life story, according to this deaf 
man, was this: "When Gipsy Smith was a little 
chap quite a kid, you know they sold him to 
a rich old bloke with plenty of brass. This old chap 
was religious-like, taught the Gipsy to read the 
Bible and be good, you know; and then the old chap 
died and left the Gipsy all his money plenty of 
brass! Oh, lots of brass! Then Gipsy took to 
preaching, and they called him Gipsy Smith/ be 
cause he was a gipsy when he was a kid. He is a 
splendid preacher. He preaches just for the love 



316 Gipsy Smith 

of it. He need not do it. lie has plenty of brass; 
the old chap left him such a lot. Now, that s the 
man. I am going to hear him." When I appeared 
before my congregation in the evening I saw this 
man and his wife sitting immediately in front of me. 
I told the people the story of my career that I had 
overheard. The author of this strange romance 
listened with his mouth wide open. I said, "That 
story is not true, and if you will come to this church 
on Monday night, you shall hear the true story." 
The man and his wife were converted during this 
mission. 

My wife and I, with some friends, were spending 
a week at the seaside. I had wandered a little bit 
away from them. An Italian girl, who made her 
living by singing and playing to the people, evidently 
mistook me for a countryman of hers. I was dressed 
in a velvet jacket, and beaver hat. She began to 
talk to me in what I took to be Italian. I told her 
that I was not an Italian, but a gipsy, and that she 
must speak in English. 

"Gipsy!" she said. "Tent?" 

"Yes." 

"Woods?" 

"Yes." 

"Wild?" 

"Yes." 

"You lie." 

Presently my wife came up to me, and the Italian 
girl said to her : " You go away ; this is my young 
man." I explained to my new sweetheart that the 



The National Council s Missioner 3 1 7 

lady she was sending away was my wife. In broken 
English, she asked Mrs. Smith the same questions 
she had put to me, whether I had been brought up 
in a tent, lived in the woods, and run wild? She 
replied, "Yes." Then said the Italian girl, "Where 
did you catch him?" 

I asked a number of Sunday-school children one 
day what a gipsy was. A little boy replied: "A 
man who goes round and round and round to see 
what he can find." Not at all a bad definition of 
many gipsies. 

A pretty incident occurred during my mission in 
Cheltenham. A sweet, beautiful young lady, who 
was converted one night, brought with her, two or 
three nights later, her dearest friend, a deaf and 
dumb girl. As my sermon proceeded I saw the 
new convert interpreting to her friend what I was 
sa3 7 ing. This deaf and dumb girl was the first 
person to rise for prayer. Presently the two went 
into the inquiry-room. "Will you please help my 
friend? She is seeking the Saviour," said the new 
convert. The inquirer being deaf and dumb, none 
of the workers was of any use, and so we told the 
young lady that she was the proper person to bring 
her friend to Christ. The two went away happy in 
their Saviour. 

It was during a mission at Taunton that I learned 
the hymn "Count Your Blessings," which through 
its use at my services has become exceedingly popu 
lar in many parts of England. At the request of Mr. 
Tom Penny, my host, I visited the infirmary. Most 



318 Gipsy Smith 

of the patients had been carried out onto a lawn 
for a sun-bath. I spoke a few words to them, and 
then Mr. Penny said : " Before Mr. Smith goes, won t 
you sing something for him?" "Yes, sir/ said a 
little girl. " What will you sing?" said he. " Count 
Your Blessings," was the reply. Immediately I 
was deeply touched and impressed. Here was I in 
full enjoyment of health and of many priceless bene 
fits of God, yet I had never counted my blessings 
it had never occurred to me so to do. I felt sure that 
thousands of others had been guilty of the same 
omission. I reflected that the Psalmist must have 
been thinking of this disposition of our hearts when 
he sang, "Forget not all His benefits." Many 
of us, alas! are never so happy as when we are talk 
ing about our miseries. The sweet song fastened 
itself upon my heart and soul. I sing it at my meet 
ings very frequently. The hymn attained extraor 
dinary vogue during my mission campaign at the 
Metropolitan Tabernacle. Wherever one might go 
in the streets, in the trams, in the trains some one 
was humming or whistling or singing, " Count Your 
Blessings." The boys pushing their barrows along, 
the men driving their horses, and the women rocking 
their cradles all these had been caught by the truth 
and melody of the hymn. 

My last mission for the nineteenth century was 
conducted at Luton. The inquirers numbered 1,080, 
rather more than one in every forty of the popula 
tion. Rev. W. Henry Thompson, the Wesleyan 
minister of the town and the chairman of the dis- 



GIPSY CORNELIUS SMITH 

Atro Morn[f> er 

GIPSY SMITH 




MY MOTHER S GRAVE IN NORTON CHURCHYARD. 



The National Council s Missioner 319 

trict, said to me that the people in Luton never ask 
"Where are the new converts?" They have no 
need to put the question. The new converts are 
everywhere in the Sunday services, the week-night 
services, and Christian Endeavor meetings. Said 
Mr. Thompson to me, " I have never been connected 
with a revival which left such a genuine crop of new 
converts as yours." As I have said elsewhere, to me 
the most memorable incident of this mission was the 
restoration of my sister, Lovinia (Mrs. Oakley), who 
had been a backslider for years. Her health has not 
been good, and a week or two ago I visited her. I told 
her I was going to put her into my book. She said 
"Yes, all right; tell your readers I am holding out, 
and that I may soon be in the presence of my Lord. 
I do not fear the great day. I have placed my trust 
in Jesus Christ." 

During the mission at Luton, my brother-in-law, 
Mr. Evens, was sent for to conduct the overflow 
meetings. On the Saturday I took him to the place 
of my mother s death and burial at Baldock, about 
twenty miles off. I pointed out to him almost the 
exact spot in Norton Lane where she lay sick unto 
death, and together we trod the path along which her 
coffin must have been carried to the grave, with my 
father following as the sole mourner. When we 
stood by the grave, I said to my brother-in-law : " I 
have been feeling for some time that I should erect a 
stone here." "I am rather surprised," he answered, 
"that you have not done so before." "Yes, indeed, 
but I have made up my mind to do it now." Alder- 



320 Gipsy Smith 

man Giddings, the Mayor of Luton, presided at 
my lecture on the Monday evening. When I reached 
the part where I tell of the death and burial of my 
mother, he turned to Mr. Evens, who was sitting 
beside him on the platform, and asked, " Is there a 
stone over that grave?" "No," he replied. "Well, 
I will put one up; that is my business." At the 
close of the meeting he told me of his decision. The 
incident seemed to me a remarkable comment on the 
text : " Before ye call I will answer. While ye are 
yet speaking I will hear." 

The ojxming weeks of the twentieth century were 
made forever memorable in the history of the evan 
gelical free churches of England by the simultaneous 
mission. From the beginning of the Federation 
movement a movement which commands the sup- 
jx)rt of all the leaders in the free evangelical churches 
of England and Wales, and has succeeded in weld 
ing these churches together into one mighty army 
evangelistic work has had a prominent, and indeed 
a foremost place. Most of the local councils, which 
now number nearly eight hundred, have at one time 
or another held united missions with conspicuous 
success. It occurred to the Rev. Thomas Law, the 
general secretary of the National Council, that no 
better way of inaugurating the new century could 
be devised than that these councils should at the 
same time be engaged in an earnest endeavor to 
reach the masses outside the churches. It was im 
possible to conduct the campaign with literal simul 
taneity. The work in London extended from Jan- 



The National Council s Missioner 321 

uary 26th to February 6th; in the provinces, from 
February i6th to February 26th; and in the villages 
from March 2nd to 6th. This great enterprise was 
crowned with the richest spiritual blessing. 

I worked at the Metropolitan Taberncicle during 
the London campaign. The vast building was 
crowded at every service, and more than twelve 
hundred persons passed through the inquiry-rooms. 
I had the great joy of my father s presence with me 
every night. Mr. William Chivers, whose mother 
bought clothes-pegs from me when I was a boy, 
brought my father from Cambridge to London with 
him as his guest, and entertained him during the 
week. Several other relatives came up to that mis 
sion some aunts and cousins that I had not seen 
for twenty years or more. My father was in his 
element. It was the crowning experience of his 
life. Mr. Meyer afterwards said that it was beauti 
ful to witness on the old man s face the exact cor 
respondence of sympathy with the emotions that 
filled the heart of the younger man as he proceeded 
with his discourse. It was hard to tell which the 
sermon cost more, the father or the son. One night 
as we two got into a cab, my father was full of un 
controllable joy. Jumping up, he said, " I tell you, 
my dear, I seemed to creep right into your waistcoat 
to-night." That was his vivid and characteristic 
way of expressing the perfection of his sympathy 
with me. My father, uninvited, assumed control 
of the inquiry-room workers at the Tabernacle, but 
so gracefully and so sweetly did he do it that the 



322 Gipsy Smith 

workers quite willingly submitted to his direction, 
feeling that it was only what should be. 

The Rev. Thomas Spurgeon, the pastor of the 
Tabernacle, was present at nearly every service, 
and a few days after the mission he wrote the fol 
lowing notes about it : " From the outset Gipsy Smith 
secured the ear of the people, and soon he had the 
joy of winning their hearts for Christ. He empha 
sized the need of repentance, and the necessity for 
the new birth. He denounced every form of evil, 
and warned men to flee from the wrath to come. He 
preached a full and free salvation, and illustrated 
all with thrilling incidents culled largely from his 
own wonderful experience. It was evident at each 
service that he had spoken to good purpose. The 
demonstration of the Spirit was never lacking. No 
sooner was the address over than scores were ready 
to testify as to their desire to be saved, and to respond 
to a singularly persuasive appeal to come along 
into the inquiry-rooms. One friend, who has been 
in the thick of many such movements, assures me 
that better work was never done before, so evident 
was the breaking down, and so manifest the breaking 
in of the marvellous light. We were all constrained 
to say, This is the finger of God. Writing in 
October, 1901, Mr. Spurgeon said: "Converts re 
sulting from Gipsy Smith s mission are still appear 
ing and asking to be united with God s people. Those 
who have already joined us seem to be of the right 
sort, and these later applicants are bright examples 
of Christ s power to keep and save. Writing eight 



The National Council s Missioner 323 

months after the mission, I can only confirm my 
original verdict of it full of real power and bless 
ing." 

Rev. F. B. Meyer, B.A., has also kindly sent me 
the following note about my work at the Tabernacle : 

" I shall never forget one evening when the father 
of the evangelist was present on the platform, and 
seemed to be adding the force of his own devout, 
fervent spirit with every word uttered by his son. 
Our beloved friend enjoyed unusual liberty that 
night. It seemed as though the fragrance and music 
of his own early life were being wafted like a fresh 
breeze to the audience, which alternately was melted 
in tears or stirred to enthusiasm. 

" We are still continually hearing of blessing which 
was not recorded at the time, and the secretary tells 
me that he has received many satisfactory reports 
from clergymen and ministers of the neighborhood 
of the cases handed over to their care. It is believed 
that nearly every church in the locality received 
some new converts, while the quickened life of many 
Christians testifies to the benefit they received. 

" It is interesting to see the evangelical nature of 
our friend s spirit and work. He attracts around 
him ministers of all denominations, and even Chris 
tians of the Established Church are drawn to him. 
God has greatly gifted him, and we can only believe 
and pray that he may be spared for many years, 
like a stalwart reaper, to go through the harvest 
field of the churches, gathering in myriads of souls." 

This seems a fitting place to say that my missions 



324 Gipsy Smith 

in London in connection with the National Council 
have all been blessed with gratifying success. Per 
haps the two most notable were those at Marylebone 
and Paddington. Dr. Monro Gibson contributed 
an account of the former to the British Weekly, from 
which I may make the following extract: 

There is a charm about Gipsy Smith s personality 
which wins from the outset, and prepares for that response 
to his earnest appeals which has been marked in every 
service. He is more expository than any other evangelist 
whom I have heard, and neither his exegesis nor his the 
ology would do discredit to a graduate of our theological 
schools. There is an air of culture even in style which 
is nothing less than marvellous to those who know the 
story of his life, and of which I cannot give any other ex 
planation than that he is a graduate of the same school 
which prepared John, the fisherman, for his literary work. 
But the great factor is the power from on high with which 
he speaks, and which, manifest the first evening, was in 
creasingly so as the days passed on. There has been 
much quickening among Christians, and a goodry number 
giving evidence of having been turned from darkness to 
light." 

Dr. Clifford gave his impressions of the Padding- 
ton mission in a long article published in the Chris 
tian World. He said : 

" It has been a most helpful time; there is not a church 
in the council that has not been represented among the 
visitors in the inquiry - room. Members and ministers 
thankfully testify to the quickening they have received. 



The National Council s Missioner 325 

The message of the evangelist goes straight to the heart 
of the gospel, and his methods are as sane as his gospel 
is clear. He has no fads. He is not the victim of vagaries. 
He does not air any visionary theories. He knows his 
work and does it. He does not quarrel with pastors and call 
it preaching the gospel. He is their helper. Exhaustless 
resources of pathos are his. There is a tear in his voice. 
He moves the heart of his audience to its utmost depths. 
But he never forgets that man has an intellect, and thinks 
and reasons ; and when the hearer is most roused to cross 
the Rubicon he holds him in thought as to the meaning 
of the step he is taking, tells him that going into the in 
quiry - room important as that is as a definite and dis 
tinct choice of discipleship to Christ is only a beginning, 
and must be followed by a resolute, patient, and thorough 
going obedience to Christ, the newly accepted Master. 
His humor is irresistible. It is one of his sources of power, 
for humor is human. It is one of the elemental forces of 
life, and it never fails to attract. He suffers no conven 
tions to stand between him and it. He despises conven 
tionality, and is as incapable of dulness as he is of ob 
scurity. Every hearer sees what he is aiming at, and knows 
and feels that he is seeking the highest good. Hardly for 
a moment does he seem to lose touch of God or of his au 
dience, and after a broad flash of humor instantly swings 
back into a direct and searching appeal, or else ascends 
in prayer not less direct and still more earnest. 

" The ethical rings out in his teaching with terrible 
resonance. Most of his strength is derived from the di 
rectness of his appeals to the conscience. He searches the 
heart, exposes the subtle devices with which we shirk our 
responsibilities as Christians, and compels us secretly to 
admit, if not to confess, our sins. The value of the mission 



326 Gipsy Smith 

to the avowed disciples of Christ is not less than to those 
who are constrained to make the great decision." 

I worked at Birmingham during the provincial 
campaign of the simultaneous mission. Alderman 
Edwards, the Mayor, who is a prominent Congre- 
gationalist, postponed the mayoral banquet in order 
that it should not interfere with the mission and 
appeared by my side as often as possible. I was 
greatly helped by the best choir (conducted by Mr. 
Thomas Facer) and by the strongest band of work 
ers and stewards that I have ever had anywhere. 
The town-hall was crowded every evening; indeed, 
sometimes we could have filled it thrice over. Dr. 
Clifford, my colleague in this campaign and no 
better colleague could a man have delivered a 
series of noon-day addresses on " Be ye reconciled 
unto God," which made a profound impression. His 
meetings were attended by from one thousand to one 
thousand five hundred people. When the last lec 
ture was delivered, I was moved to propose a vote 
of thanks to Dr. Clifford, and to urge that the dis 
courses should be published. At the evening service 
Dr. Clifford sat by my side, except when he was con 
ducting overflow meetings in Carrs Lane Chapel. I 
felt in every service that he was praying for me 
and supporting me by his deepest sympathy. One 
night the first three rows in the town -hall were 
filled entirely by men, and not one of them had a 
collar on. At the close they all went into the in 
quiry-room. As the mission proceeded the crowds 



The National Council s Missioner 327 

grew. People came and stood two hours or more in 
the hope of getting in. The local papers stated that 
even Joseph Chamberlain could not draw such crowds 
as were attracted by Dr. Clifford and Gipsy Smith. 

On the second Sunday of the mission the people 
began to gather in the morning for the afternoon 
service. Five minutes after the doors were opened 
the place was crowded. There were more persons 
outside seeking admission than there were inside 
the hall. Those who could not get in did not go 
away. They simply waited for the evening meeting, 
which was announced to start at seven. So large 
were the crowds that we began the service at five 
o clock. Four policemen carried me into the hall 
over the heads of the people. An unaided attempt 
to force my way through the crowd was hopeless. 
Dr. Clifford was preaching that night at Carrs Lane. 
He had a rather curious experience. The policeman 
at the door refused him admission. 

"I want to go in," said Dr. Clifford. 

"Are you a seat-holder?" 

"No, I am not." 

"Well, you cannot get in." 

"I think there will be room for me in the pulpit." 

"I am not so sure of it." 

"But I am Dr. Clifford; I am going to preach." 

"Oh, are you? I have let in two or three Dr. Clif 
fords already." 

In the end Dr. Clifford succeeded in establishing 
his identity to the satisfaction of the officers of the 
law, and was permitted to enter. 



328 Gipsy Smith 

One thousand five hundred persons passed through 
the inquiry-rooms during the mission. 

Rev. J. H. Jowett, M.A., has kindly supplied me 
with the following note concerning the Birmingham 
campaign : 

" Perhaps the most marked impression that remains in 
my mind, when I recall the great mission of last February, 
is the marvellous power of the missioner s self-restraint. 
There was nothing of the scream in the meetings! The 
sensational was entirely absent. I always felt that the 
leader was perfectly self-possessed, and that in his heart 
there dwelt the quietness which is the fruit of a steady faith 
in the Lord. In the final appeals the missioner himself was 
overlooked in the mighty sense of the presence of God. The 
moving power was not so much a voice as an atmosphere. 
Hard hearts were melted in the constraint of an all-pervad 
ing spiritual power. It was not only the ignorant and un 
cultured who were won ; those whose minds had received 
mental illumination were also wooed into the light of life 
I have in my congregation young fellows of no mean ability 
who were led into definite decision for the Christ." 






POSTSCRIPT 

I TRUST that what I have written will interest 
my readers. I have had a life very different, I think, 
from that of most of my fellows, but a life which 
God has greatly blessed, and I think I may add, 
with all reverence, greatly used. It has been full 
of trials and difficulties. I have been often troubled, 
but never distressed; often perplexed, but never in 
despair; often cast down, but never destroyed. Any 
afflictions that have visited me have been but for a 
moment, and have worked a far more exceeding 
weight of glory. I have sought to keep the eyes 
of my heart open to the things which are not seen, 
for the things which are seen are temporal, but the 
things which are not seen are eternal. 

I have had rich and strange experiences. I have 
lived in many houses, the guest of many sorts and 
conditions of people. I have been presented to two 
Presidents of the United States, dined with bishops 
and archbishops, and slept with two Roman Catholic 
priests. In my study hangs a letter from her late 
Majesty the Queen, and one from a royal duchess, 
but the dearest things in my house are two pictures 
which adorn the walls of my bedroom. One is the 
picture of the wagon in which my mother died, and 



330 Postscript 

the other a picture of a group of gipsies. I never 
sleep in that room without looking at these pictures 
and saying to myself : " Rodney, you would have 
been there to-day but for the grace of God. Glory 
be to His name for ever." 



THE END