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70. Gandhi's Famous Customs Declaration

[Editor's Note: In the course of history there have been two customs declarations which have become the stuff of legend. The first is that of Oscar Wilde, (1856-1900) the celebrated Irish poet, playwright and man of letters, and the second that of Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948) who was the architect of India's freedom through non-violence.
In 1881 Wilde visited America on a lecture tour. When he alighted at the sea port of Boston, the customs officer on duty asked if Wilde had anything to declare. The eccentric poet thereupon came out with his most quoted retort: "I have nothing to declare except my genius."
While Wilde's declaration is well-known and often quoted, much less known but even more witty was Mahatma Gandhi's customs declaration.]

On August 29, 1931 Gandhiji sailed from Bombay by the S. S. Rajputana as the sole delegate of the Indian National Congress to attend the Second Round Table Conference which was being held in London. He disembarked at the French sea port of Marseilles in order to catch the train to London. The French customs officer on duty asked Gandhiji whether he had anything to declare. The Mahatma promptly replied:
"I am a poor mendicant. My kit consists of two spinning wheels, a few jail utensils, a can of goat's milk, four loin clothes, two towels — and my reputation which cannot be worth much."

Mahatma, Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Vol.3, by D. G. Tendulkar, p. 14