Through Different Eyes: Two Perceptions of the Salvation Army in 1886

A. The Salvation Army as a Threat

From The Terra Nova Advocate, 17 February 1886.

To think that sensible men and women will leave their homes and firesides, to attend the performances of three or four girls, whose chief musical ability consists in hammering away on a tambourine ... shows a very bad taste on their part; more particularly when they can attend any of our local concerts, theatricals, bonnet hops, etc., by paying the small amount of twenty cents. Besides, we are of opinion, that more lively and interesting music could be performed, on a tin whistle, or the time-honoured jewsharp than on any tambourine in existence, except in the hands of a bona fide nigger, who made the instrument his chief study from infancy. We advise our people, if they have a thirst that way, to invest in a tinwhistle or jewsharp - failing that, to purchase a tambourine for themselves, and then "whack away" to their heart's content. There is not so much art required.

From The Terra Nova Advocate, 14 August 1886.

A Public Nuisance

Every Sunday morning a crowd calling themselves the Salvation Army, and composed of the dregs of society, parade our streets, yelling like mad people, and making the air hideous with their unearthly screams and doggerel rhymes. After these processionists, congregate a number of youngsters, who keep time by singing "Haul on the bowline," "Kitty is my darling," "Yankee Doodle," &c., in fact one would suppose that pandemonium was let loose. The actors in this disgusting farce go through the performance by swinging and thumping tambourines, blowing mouth organs &c., until one would be almost compelled to turn on the hose, if for no other purpose, to wash their faces and give them something like a clean appearance. Whether a part of the audience is composed of Roman Catholics or not, we cannot say, but if it is, we say that their parents have a great deal to answer for allowing them to come in contact with such people. We are well aware that it is only for amusement that the youngsters join in chorus; but their parents should recollect that the presence of their children is required elsewhere on a Sunday morning, more especially at the hour of ten o'clock, the time appointed for this public nuisance to make its appearance. If a band of good music were to parade our streets on a Sunday, certain people would raise their eyes in pious horror, and inform us that the future of the members composing the band would be the reverse with regard to temperature, to that of a Newfoundland winter. And yet these fanatics, are allowed to parade our streets and attract crowds of mischievous youngsters to their performance, to the utter disgust and annoyance of every right thinking person. We don't wish to say too much just now, but it is well known to us what attracts numbers of our young people to this nightly haunt - this receptacle of blasphemy ..."

We understand that several gentlemen have decided to watch these proceedings, and ascertain the names of Roman Catholics, if any, who attend these performances, and hand the names along for publication. We hope to hear no more of the matter as far as our people are concerned.

B. The Salvation Army by a Member

From The Evening Telegram, 22 February 1886.

An Orderly Procession

Great Attraction at the Salvation Army Barrack

Editor, Evening Telegram
Dear Sir,

The Salvation Army workers had quite a lively time here yesterday. Their "march," in which over fifty couples joined, was an orderly and unmolested one. A large number of disorderly young people, however, who seem to imagine that they can lay claim to every street - and to every street corner in the town - followed the Army by the side-walk and endeavoured to promote disorder by shouts and obscene songs, that certainly does not reflect creditably upon the persons from whom they proceeded. At the evening service the Barrack was densely packed with an attentive audience. The whole service was quite a lively one. Short speaking, short praying and short singing was the order of the meeting and over eighty persons gave "testimonies," I believe, within the space of only one hour. Before the meeting closed there was a general "shaking amongst the dry bones," and the question: "Can those bones live?" was satisfactorily answered by twenty-seven persons - mostly young men and young women - who were drawn to the "penitent form" during the meeting.

A little more vigilance and energy on the part of the policemen who stand outside the Barrack may possibly be the means of preventing injury to some person. I trust the right men will be sent here in the future, and not those who only come to look on with stoical indifference. Surely three or four policemen could keep the barrack door accessible to orderly persons at all times, but some of them make no effort in this direction.

Yours, &c.,


Back to Salvation Army page