Thus the Natal Indian Congress was placed on a permanent footing. I spent nearly two years and a half in Natal, mostly doing political work. I then saw that if I was still to prolong my stay in South Africa, I must bring over my family from India. I like likewise thought of making a brief sojourn in the homeland and of acquainting Indian leaders with the condition of Indian settlers in Natal and other parts of South Africa. The Congress allowed me leave of absence for six months and late the Mr. Adamji Miyakhan, the well-known merchant of Natal, was appointed Secretary in my stead. He discharged his duties with great ability. He had a ffair knowledge of English, which had been greatly supplemented by use. He had studied Gujarati in the ordinary course. As he had mercantile dealings chiefly with the Zulus, he had acquired an intimate knowledge of the Zulu language and was well conversant with Zulu manners and customs. He was a man of very quitequiet and amiable disposition. He was not given to much speech. I have entered into these details in order to show, that to the holding of responsible positions, truthfulness, patience, tolerance, firmness, presence of mind, courage and common sense are far more essential qualifications than a knowledge of English or mere learning. Where these fine qualities are absent, the best literary attainments are of little use in public work.
I returned to India in the middle of the year 1896. As steamers from Natal
were then more easily available for Calcutta than for Bombay, I went on
board one bound for that city. For the indentured labourers were embarked
from Calcutta or Madras. While proceeding to Bombay from Calcutta, I missed
my train on the way and had to stop in Allahabad for a day. My work commenced
there. I saw Mr. Chesney of the Pioneer. He talked with me courteously,
but told me frankly that that histhis sympathiesy were with the Colonials.
He, Howeverhowever, promised that if I wrote anything, he would read it
and notice it in his paper. This was good enough for me.
While in India, I wrote a pamphlet on the condition of Indians in South
Africa. It was noticed by almost all newspapers and it passed through
two editions. Five thousand copies were distributed in various places
in India. It was during this visit that I had the privilege of seeing
Indian leaders, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Justices Badruddin Tyebji and Mahadev
Govind Ranade and others in Bombay, and Lokmanya Tilak and his circle,
Prof. Bhandarkar and Gopal Krishna Gokhale and his circle in Poona. I
delivered speeches in Bombay, Poona and Madras. I do not propose to deal
with these events in detail.
I cannot, however, resist the temptation of describing here a sacred reminiscence
of Poona, although it is not strictly relevant to our subject. The Sarvajanik
Sabha was controlled by the Lokamanya, while Shri Gokhale was connected
with the Deccan Sabha. I first saw the Tilak Maharaj. When I spoke to
him about my intention to hold a meeting in Poona, he asked me if I had
seen Gopalrao. I did not understand whom he meant. He therefore asked
me again if I had seen Shri Gokhale and if I knew him.
“I have not yet seen him. I know him by name and mean to see him,”
“You do not seen to be familiar with Indian politics”, said
“I stayed in India only for a short time after my return from England,
and had not then applied myself to political questions, as I thought it
beyond my capacity,” I said.
Lokamanya then said : “In that case I must give you some information.
There are two parties in Poona, one represented by the Sarvajanik Sabhaadn
and the other by the Deccan Sabha.”
I replied : “I know something about this matter.”
Lokamanya : “ It is easy to hold a meeting here. But, it seems to
me that you wish to lay your case before all the parties here and seek
to enlist the support of all. I like your idea. But if a member of the
Sarvajanik Sabha is selected to preside over your meeting, no member of
the DeccanSarvajanik Sabha will attend it. Similarly, if a member of the
Deccan sabha were to preside, member of the Sarvajanik Sabha would absent
themselves. You should therefore find out a non-partisan as chairman.
I can only offer suggestions in the matter, and shall not be able to render
any other assistance. Do you know Prof. Bhandarkar? Even if you do not
know him, you should see him. He is considered a neutral. He does not
take part in politics, but perhaps you can induce him to preside over
your meeting. Speak to Shri Gokhale about this, and seek his advice too.
In all probability he will give you the same advice. If a man of the position
of Prof. Bhandarkar consents to preside, I am certain that both the parties
will see to it that a good meeting is held. At any rate you can count
upon our fullest help in the matter.”
I then saw Gokhale. I have written elsewhere how I fell in love with him
at this very first sight. The curious may look up the files of Young India1
or Navajivan2 for it. Gokhale liked the advice which lokamanya had given
me. Accordingly I paid my respects to the venerable Professor. He heard
attentively the story of the Indian wrongs in Natal and said, “You
see I rarely take part in public life. Then again, I am getting old. But
what you have told me has stirred me deeply. I like your idea of seeking
the co-operation of all parties. You are youngwrong and ignorant of political
conditions in India. Tell the members of both the parties that I have
agreed to your request. On an intimation from any of them that the meeting
is to be held, I will certainly come and preside.” A successful
meeting was held in held in Poona. The leaders of both the parties attended
and spoke in support of my cause.
I then went to Madras. There I saw Sir (then Mr. Justice) Subrahmanya
Aiyar, Shri P. Anandacharlu, Shri J. Subrahmanyam, the thenm editor of
the Hindu, Shri Parameshvaran Pillai, editor of the Madras Standard, Shri
Bhasyam lyenger, the famous advocate, Mr. Norton and others. A great meeting
too was held. From Madras I went to Calcutta, where I saw Surendranath
Banerji, Maharaja Jyotindra Mohan Tagore, the late Mr. Saunders, the editor
of the Englishman, and others. While a meeting was being arranged in Calcutta,
I received a cablegram from Natal asking me to return at once. This was
in November 1896. I concludedconducted that some movement hostile to the
Indians must be on foot. I therefore left my work at Calcutta incomplete
and went to Bombay, where I took the first available steamer with my family.
s.s. Courland had been purchased by Messers Dada Abdulla and represented
one more enterprise of that very adventurous firm, namely, to run a steamer
between Porbandar and Natal. The s. s. Naderi, a steamer of the Persian
Navigation Company, left Bombay for Natal immediately after. The total
number of passengers on the two steamers was about 800.
The agitation in India attained enough importance for the principle Indian
newspapers to notice it in their columns and for Reuter to send cablegrams
about it to England. This I came to know on reaching Natal. Reuter’s
representative in England had sent a brief cablegram to South Africa,
containing an exaggerated summary of my speeches in India. This is not
an unusual experience. such exaggeration is not always international.
Very busy people with prejudices and prepossessions of their own read
something superficially and then prepare a summary which is sometimes
partly a product of imagination. This summary, again, is differently interpreted
in different places. Distortioan thus takes place without anyone intending
it. This is the risk attending public activities and this is s also their
limitation. While in India I had criticized the Europeans of Natal. I
had spoken very strongly against the three pounds tax on indentured labourers.
I had given a vivid account of the sufferings of an indentured labourer
nameds Subrahmanayam who had been assaulted by his master, whose wounds
I had seen and whose case was in my hands. When the Europeans in Natal
read the distorted summary of my speeches, they were greatly exasperated
against me. The remarkable fact, however, was that what I had written
in Natal was more severe and detailed than what I wrote and spoke in India.
My speeches in India were free from the slightest exaggeration. On the
other hand, as I knew from experience that if we describe an event to
a stranger, he sees more in it that what we intend to convey, I had deliberately
described the South African situation in India less forcibly than the
facts warranted. But very few Europeans would read what I wrote in Natal,
and still fewer would care for it. The case, however, was obviously different
with my speeches and writings in India. Thousands of Europeans would read
Reuter’s summaries. Moreover, a subject which is considered worthy
of being communicated by cablegram becomes invested with an importance
it does not intrinsically possess. The Europeans of Natal thought that
my work in India carried the weight attributed to it by them and that
therefore the system of indentured labour would perhaps come to an end,
and hundreds of European planters would suffer in consequence. Besides,
they felt blackened before India.
While the Europeans for Natal were thus in an excited state of mind, they
heard that I was returning to Natal with my family per s. s. Courland,
that it carried from 300 to 400 Indian passengers, and that s. s. Naderi
was also arriving at the same time with an equal number of Indians. This
inflamed them all the more, and there was a great explosion of feelings.
The Europeans of Natal held large meetings, which were attended by almost
all the prominent members of their community. The Indian passengers in
general and myself in particular came in for a great deal of severe criticism.
The expected arrival of the s. s. Courland and the s. s. Naderi was represented
as an ‘invasion’ of Natal. The speakers said that I had brought
those 800 passengers to Natal and that this was my first step towards
flooding Natal with free Indians. A unanimous resolution was passed that
the passengers of both the steamers including myself should be prevented
from landing in Natal. If the government of Natal would not or could not
prevent the passengers from landing, the Committee appointed at the meeting
was to take the law into their own hands and to prevent the Indians from
landing by main force. Both the steamers reached Durban on the same day.
The reader will remember that bubonic plague made its first appearance
in India in 1896. In their effort to prevent our landing the Government
of Natal were hampered by legal difficulties as the Immigration Restriction
Act had not yet come into being. Otherwise their sympathies were entirely
with the committer of Europeans referred to above. The late Mr. Escombe,
a member of the Government, took a prominent part in the proceedings of
that Committee. It was he who instigated them. There is a rule in force
at all ports that if a case of contagious disease occurs on board a steamer,
or if a steamer is coming from an infected port, it is detained in quarantine
for a certain period. This restriction cancan be imposed only on sanitary
grounds, and under orders from the Health Officer of the port. The Government
of Natal abused their power by enforcing the above rule for political
purposes. Although there was no contagious disease on board, both the
steamers were detained for beyond the usual time limit, for as many as
twenty-three days. Meanwhile, the Committee of Europeans continued their
activities. Messers Dada Abdulla, who were the owners of the s. s. Courland
and the agents for the s. s. Naderi, were subjected to a severe hectoring
by them. Inducements were offered to them if they agreed to take back
the passengers, and they were threatened with loss of business if they
refused to do so. But the partners of the firm were no cowards. They said
they did not care if they were ruined; they would fight to the bitter
end but would not he coerced into committing the crime of sending away
those helpless but innocent passengers; they were no strangers to patriotism.
The old advocate of the firm, Mr. F.A. Laughton, K.C., was also a brave
As luck would have it, the late Shri Mansukhlal Hiralal Nazar, a Kayastha
gentleman from Surat and a nephew of the late Mr. justice Nanabhai Haridas,
reached Africa about the same time. I did not know him, nor was I aware
of his going. I need scarcely say that I had no hand in bringing the passengers
who arrived by the s. s. Naderi and the s. s. Courland. Most of them were
old residents of South Africa. Many again were bound for the Transvaal.
Threatening notices were served by the Committee of Europeans even upon
these passengers. The captains of the steamers read them out to the passengers.
The notices expressly stated that the Europeans of Natal were in a dangerous
temper, and said in effect that if in spite of the warning the Indian
passengers attempted to land, the members of the Committee would attend
at the port and push every Indian into the sea. I interpreted this notice
to the passengers on the s. s. Courland. An English-knowing passenger
on board the s. s.Naderi did the same for his fellow-passengers. The passengers
on both the steamers flatly declined to go back and added that many of
them were proceeding to the Transvaal, that some of the rest were old
residents of Natal, that in any case every one of them was legally entitled
to land and that the threats of the Committee notwithstanding, they were
determined to land in order to test their right to do so.
The Government of Natal was at its wits’ end. How long could an
unjust restriction be enforced? Twenty-three days had passed already.
Dada Abdulla did not flinch, nor did the passengers. The quarantine was
thus lifted after 23 days and the steamers were permitted to steam into
harlabour. Meanwhile, Mr. Escombe pacified the excited Committee of Europeans.
At a meeting which was held, he said: “The Europeans in Durban have
displayed commendable unity and courage. You have done all you could.
Government has also helped you. The Indians were detained for 23 days.
You have given sufficient expression to your sentiments and your public
spirit. That will make a profound impression on the Imperial Government.
Your action has made the path of the Government of Natal easy. If you
now prevent by force a single Indian passenger from landing, you will
injure your own interests and place the Government in an awkward position.
And even then you will not succeed in preventing the Indians from landing.
The passengers are not at all to blame. There are women and children among
them. When they embarked at Bombay, they had no idea of your feelings.
I would therefore advise you to disperse and not to obstruct these people.
I assure you, however, that the Government of Natal will obtain from the
Legislative Council the requisite powers in order to restrict future immigration.”
This is only a summary of Mr. Escombe’s speech. His audience was
disappointed, but he had great influence over the Europeans of Natal.
They dispersed in consequence of his advice and both the steamers came
A message reached me from Mr. Escombe advising me not to land with the
others but to wait until evening me not to land with the others but to
wait until evening when he would send the Superintendent of Water Police
to escort me home, and adding that my family were free to land at me home,
and adding that my family were free to land at any time. This was not
an order according to law, but was by way of advice to the captain not
to allow me to land and of warning to me of the danger that was hanging
over my head. The captain had not the power forcibly to prevent me from
landing. But I came to the conclusion that I should accept this suggestion.
I sent my family to residence of my old friend and client, Parsi Rustomji,
instead of to my own place, and told them that I would meet them there.
When the passengers had disembarked, Mr. Laughton, counsel for Dada Abdulla
and a personal friend of mine, came up and met me. He asked me why I had
not yet landed. I told him about Mr. Escombe’s letter. He said that
he did not like the idea of my waiting till evening and then entering
the city like a thief or offender, that if I was not afraid, I should
accompany him there and then, and that we would walk to the town as if
nothing had happened. I replied : “I do not think I am afraid. It
is only a question of propriety whether or not I should accept Mr. Escombe’s
suggestion. And we should also consider whether the captain of the steamer
is responsible in the matter.” Mr. Laughton smiled and said : “What
hasd Mr. Escombe done for you that you must needs heed his suggestion?
And what reason haves you to believe that he is actuated by kindliness
and not by some ulterior motive? I know more than you what hasd happened
in the town, and what hand Mr. Escombe had in the happenings there.”
I interrupted him with a shaking of the head. “We might assume,
“continued Mr. Laughton, “that he is actuated by the best
of motives. But I am positively of opinion that if you comply with his
suggestion, you will stand humiliated. I would, therefore, advise you,
if you are ready, to accompany me just now. The captain is our man, and
his responsibility is our responsibility. He is accountable only to Dada
Abdulla. I know what they will think of the matter, as they have displayed
great courage in the present struggle. I replied : “Let us then
go. I have no preparations to make. All I have to do is to put on my turban.
Let us inform the captain and start.” We took the captain’s
Mr. Laughton was an old and well-known advocate of Durban. I had come
in intimate contact with him before I returned to India. I used to consult
him in difficult cases and often to engage him as my senior. He was a
brave and powerfully built man.
Our road lay through the principal street of Durban. It was about half
past four in the evening when we started. The sky was slightly overcast
and the sun was not to be seen. It would take a pedestrian at least one
hour to reach Rustomji Sheth’s place. The number of the persons
present about the wharf was not larger than what is to be usually seen
there. As soon as we landed, some boys saw us. As I was the only Indian
who put on a turban of particular type, they at once recognized me, began
to shout ‘Gandhi’, ‘Gandhi’, ‘thrash him’,
’surround him’, and came up towards us. Some began to throw
pebbles at us. A few elderly Europeans joined the boys. Gradually the
party of rioters began to grow. Mr. Laughton thought that there was danger
in our going on foot. He therefore hailed a rickshaw. I had never sat
in a rickshaw before, as it was thoroughly disgusting to me to sit in
a vehicle pulled by human beings. But I then felt that it was my duty
to use that vehicle. I have experienced five or seven times in my life
that one, whom God wishes to save, cannot fall even if he will. If I did
not fall I cannot take any credit for it to myself. These rickshaws are
pulled by Zulus. The elderly Europeans and the boys threatened the rickshaw
puller that if he allowed me to sit in his rickshaw they would beat him
and smash his rickshaw to pieces. The rickshaw boy, therefore, said ‘Kha’
(meaning ‘no’) and went away. I was thus spared the shame
of a rickshaw ride.
We had no alternative now but to proceed to our destination on foot. A
mob followed us. With every step we advanced, it grew larger and larger.
The gathering was enormous when we reached West Street. A man of powerful
build took hold of Mr. Laughton and tore him away from me. He was not
therefore in a position to come up with me. The crowd began to abuse me
and shower upon me stones and whatever else they could lay their hands
on. They threw down my turban. Meanwhile a burly fellow came up to me,
slapped me in the face and then kicked me. I was about to fall down unconscious
when I held on to the railings of a house nearby. I look breath for a
while and when the fainting was over, proceeded on my way. I had almost
given up the hope of reaching home alive. But I remember well that even
my heart did not arraign my assailants.
While I was thus wending my way, the wife of the Superintendent of Police
at Durban was coming from the opposite direction. We knew each other well.
She was a brave lady. Although the sky was cloudily and the sun about
to set, she opened her sunshade for my protection and began to walk at
my side. The Europeans would not insult a lady, especially the wife of
the old and popular Superintendent of Police, nor would they hurt her.
They must avoid injuring her while aiming blows at me. The injuries, therefore,
which I received after she joined me. The injuries, therefore, which I
received after she joined me, were not serious. Meanwhile the Superintendent
of Police came to know of the attack upon me and sent me. The police surrounded
me. The police station was on our way. When we reached there I saw that
the Superintendent of Police was waiting for us. He offered me asylum
in Police Station, but I declined the offer with thanks and said, “I
must reach my destination. I have faith in the fair play of the citizens
of Durban and in the righteousness of my own cause. I am thankful to you
for sending the police party for my protection. Mrs. Alexander too has
contributed to my safety.”
I reached Rustomji’s house without further trouble. It was nearly
evening when I reached there. Dr. Dadibarjor, the medical officer of the
s. s. Courland, who was with Rustomji Sheth, began to treat me. He examined
my wounds. There were not many of them. One blind wound in particular
was very painful. But I was not yet privileged to rest in peace. Thousands
of Europeans gathered before Rustomji Sheth’s house. After nightfall,
hooligans also joined the crowd. The crowd sent word to Rustomji Sheth
that if he did not hand me over to them, they would burn him and his house
along with me. Rustomji Sheth was too good an Indian to be daunted. When
Superintendent Alexander came to know how matters stood, he quietly joined
the crowd with a number of detectives. He sent for a bench and stood upon
it. Thus under the pretence of talking to the crowd, he took possession
of the entrance to Rustomji’s house so that none could break and
enter it. He had already posted detectives at proper places. Immediately
on arrival, he had instructed a subordinate to disguise himself as an
Indian trader by putting on Indian dress and painting his face to see
me and deliver to me the following message: “If you wish to save
your friend, his guests and property, and your own family, I advise you
to disguise yourself as an Indian constable, come out through Rustomji’s
godown, steal through the crowd with my man and reach the Police Station.
A carriage is awaiting you at the corner of the street. This is the only
way in which I can save you and others. The crowd is so excited that I
am not in a position to control it. If you are not prompt in following
my directions, I am afraid the crowd will raze Rustomji’s house
to the ground and it is impossible for me to imagine how many lives will
be lost and how much property destroyed.”
I gauged the situation at once. I quickly disguised myself as as constable
and left Rutomji’s house. The Police Officer and I reached the Police
Officer and reached the Police Station in safety. In the meantime Mr.
Alexander was humouring the crowd by singing topical songs and talking
to them. When he knew that I had reached the Police Station, he became
serious and asked:
“What do you want?”
“We want Gandhi.”
“What will you do with him?”
“We will burn him.”
“What harm has he done to you?”
“He has vilified us in India and wants to flood Natal with Indians.”
“What if he does not come out?”
“We will then burn this house.”
“His wife and children are also there. There are other men and women
besides. Would you not be ashamed of burning women and children?”
“The responsibility for that will rest with you. What can we do
when you make us helpless in the matter? We do not wish to hurt anyone
else. It would be enough if you hand over Gandhi to us. If you do not
surrender the culprit, and if others are injured in our endeavour to capture
him, would it be fair on your part to blame us?”
The Superintendent gently smiled and informed the crowd that I had left
Rustomji’s house, passed through their midst, and reached another
place already. The crowd laughed loudly and shouted, “It is a lie,
Itit is a lie.”
The Superintendent said : “If you will not believe your old Superintendent
of Police, please appoint a committee of three or four men from amongst
you. Let others promise that they will not enter the house, and that if
the committee fails to find Gandhi in the house, you will peacefully return
to your homes. You got excited today and did not obey the police. That
reflects discredit on you, not on the police. The police therefore played
a trick with you; it removed your prey from your midst and you have lost
the game. You certainly cannot blame the police for this. The police,
whom you yourselves have appointed, have simply done their duty.”
The Superintendent addressed the crowd with such suavity and determination,
that they gave him the promise he had asked for. A committee was appointed.
It searched Rustomji’s house through and through, and reported to
the crowd that the Superintendent was right and had beaten them in the
game. The crowd was disappointed. But they kept their word and dispersed
without committing anyd mischief. This happened on January 13, 1897.
The same morning after the quarantine on the steamers had been removed,
the reporter of a Durban newspaper had seen me on the steamer. He had
asked me everything. It was quite easy to dispose of the charges against
me to his satisfaction. I showed to him in detail that I had not indulged
in the least exaggeration. What I had done was only my duty. If I had
failed to discharge it, I would be unworthy of the name of the man. All
this appeared in the newspapers the next day. Sensible people among the
Europeans admitted their mistake. The newspapers expressed their sympathy
with the standpoint of the Europeans in Natal, but at the same time fully
defended my action. This enhanced my reputation as well as the prestige
of the Indian community. It was proved that the Indians, poor as they
were, were no cowards, and that the Indian traders were prepared to fight
for their self-respect and for their country regardless of loss.
Thus though the Indian community had to suffer hardship and though Dada
Abdulla incurred big losses, the ultimate result, I believe, was entirely
beneficial. The community had an opportunity of measuring their own strength
and their self-confidence increased in consequence. I had a most valuable
experience, and whenever I think of that day, I feel that God was preparing
me for the practice of Satyagraha.
The events in Natal had their repercussion in England Mr. Chamberlain,
Secretary of State for the Colonies, cabled to the Government of Natal
asking them to prosecute my assailants and to see that justice was done
Mr. Escombe, who was Attorney- General with the Government of Natal, called
me. He told me about Mr. Chamberlain’s cable. He expressed his regret
for the injuries I had sustained, and his pleasure that the consequences
of the assault were not more serious. He added, “I can assure you
that I did not at all intend that you or any other member of your community
should be injured. As I feared that you might possibly be hurt, I sent
you word to say that you should land at night. You did not like my suggestion.
I do not wish to blame you in the least that you accepted Mr. Laughton’s
advice. You were perfectly entitled to do what you thought fit. The Government
of Natal fully accepts Mr. Chamberlain’s demand. We desire that
the offenders should be brought to book. Can you identify any of your
I replied : “I might perhaps to able to identify one or two of them.
But I must say at once before this conversation proceeds that I have already
made up my mind not to proceeds that I have already made up my mind not
to prosecute my assailants. I cannot see that they are at fault. What
information they had, they had, they had obtained from their leaders.
It is too much to expect them to judge whether it was correct or otherwise.
If all that they heard about me was true, it was natural for them to be
excited and do something wrong in a fit of indignation. I would not blame
them for it. Excited crowds have always tried to deal out justice in that
manner. If anyone is to blame it is the Committee of Europeans, you yourself
and therefore, the Government of Natal. Reuter might have cabled any distorted
account. But when you knew that I was coming to Natal, it was your duty
and duty of the Committee to question me about the suspicions you entertained
with regard to my activities in India, to hear what I had to say and then
do what might appear proper in the circumstances. Now I cannot prosecute
you or the Committee for the assault. And even if I could, I would not
seek redress in a court of law. You took such steps as seemed advisable
to you for safeguarding the interests of the Europeans of Natal. That
is a political matter, and it remains for me to fight with you in the
political field and to convince you and the other Europeans that the Indians
who constitute a large proportion of the population of the British Empire
wish to preserve their self-respect and safeguard their rights without
injuring the Europeans in the least.”
Mr. Escombe said, “I quite understand what you say, and I appreciate
it. I was not prepared to hear that you were not willing to prosecute
your assailants. I would not have been displeased in the least had you
prosecuted them. But since you have signified your determination not to
prosecute, I do not hesitate to say not only that you have come to a right
decision in the matter, but you will render further service to your community
by your self-restraint. I must at the same time admit that your refusal
to prosecute your assailant will save the Government of Natal from a most
awkward position. If you so desire, the Government will see that your
assailants are arrested but it is scarcely necessary to tell you that
it would irritate the Europeans and to give rise to all manner of criticism,
which no Government would relish. But if you have finally made up your
mind not to prosecute, you should write to me a note signifying your intention
to that effect. I cannot defend my government merely by sending Mr. Chamberlain
summary of our conversation. I should cable to him a summary of your note.
I am not, however, asking you to let me have the note just now. You had
better consult your friends. Consult Mr. Laughton also. And if after such
consultations you still adhere to your resolution not to prosecute, write
to me. But your note should clearly state that you, on your own responsibility,
refuse to prosecute your assailants. Then only can I make use of it.”
I said : “I had no idea that you had sent for me in this connection.
I have not consulted any one on the subject, nor do I wish to consult
any one now. When I decided to land and proceed with Mr. Laughton, I had
made up my mind that I should not feel aggrieved in case I was injured.
Prosecuting my assailants is therefore out of the question. This is a
religious question with me, and I believe with you that I shall serve
my community as well as myself by this act of self-restraint. I propose,
therefore, to take all the responsibility on my shoulders and to give
you the note you ask for here and now. “
I then obtained some blank paper from him, wrote out the desired note
and handed It over to him.