In the Congress at last. The immense pavilion and the volunteers in stately array, as also the elders seated on the dais, overwhelmed me. I wondered where I should be in that vast assemblage.
The presidential address was a book by itself. To read it from cover
to cover was out of the question. Only a few passages were therefore
After this came the election of the Subjects Committee. Gokhale took
me to the Committee meetings.
Sir Pherozeshah had of course agreed to admit my resolution, but I
was wondering who would put it before the Subjects Committee, and
when. For there were lengthy speeches to every resolution, all in
English to boot, and every resolution had some well-known leader to
back it. Mine was but a feeble pipe amongst those veteran drums, and
as the night was closing in, my heart beat fast. The resolutions
coming at the fag-end were, so far as I can recollect, rushed
through at lighting speed. Everyone was hurrying to go. It was
eleven o'clock. I had not the courage to speak. I had already met Gokhale,
who had looked at my resolution. So I drew near his chair and
whispered to him: 'Please do something for me.' He said: 'Your
resolution is not out of my mind. You see the way they are rushing
through the resolutions. But I will not allow yours to be passed
'So we have done?' said Sir Pherozeshah Mehta.
'No, no there is still the resolution on South Africa. Mr. Gandhi
has been waiting long,' cried out Gokhale.
'Have you seen the resolution?' asked Sir Pherozeshah.
'Do you like it?'
'It is quite good.'
'Well then, let us have it, Gandhi.'
I read it trembling.
Gokhale supported it.
'Unanimously passed,' cried out everyone.
'You will have five minutes to speak on it, Gandhi,' said Mr. Wacha.
The procedure was far from pleasing to me. No one had troubled to
understand the resolution, everyone was in a hurry to go and,
because Gokhale had seen the resolution, it was not thought
necessary for the rest to see it or understand it!
The morning found me worrying about my speech. What was I to say in
five minutes? I had prepared myself fairly well, but the words would
not come to me. I had decided not to read my speech but to speak ex tempore.
But the faculty for speaking that I had acquired in South Africa
seemed to have left me for the moment.
As soon as it was time for my resolution, Mr. Wacha called out my
name. I stood up. My head was reeling. I read the resolution
somehow. Someone had printed and distributed amongst the delegates
copies of a poem he had written in praise of foreign emigration. I
read the poem and referred to the grievances of the settlers in
South Africa. Just at this moment Mr. Wacha rang the bell. I was
sure I had not yet spoken for five minutes. I did not know that the
bell was rung in order to warn me to finish in two minutes more. I
had heard others speak for half an hour or three quarters of an
hour, and yet no bell was rung for them. I felt hurt and sat down as
soon as the bell was rung. But my childlike intellect thought then
that the poem contained an answer to Sir Pherozeshah.1 There was no
question about the passing of the resolution. In those days there
was hardly any difference between visitors and delegates. Everyone
raised his hand and all resolutions passed unanimously. My
resolution also fared in this wise and so lost all its importance
for me. And yet the very fact that it was passed by the Congress was
enough to delight my heart. The knowledge that the imprimatur
of the Congress meant that of the whole country was enough to