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109. A Newspaper Hoax

Mr. George Slocombe, the well-known British jour­nalist whose able coverage of the Salt Satyagraha movement launched by Gandhiji in 1930 earned him the plaudits of an impartial public, made himself responsible for giving currency to an extraordinary cock-and-bull story regarding Gandhiji. He published, on what he gave out to be "the best of authority", a description of an alleged encounter between the Mahatma and the Prince of Wales (now the Duke of Windsor) at Government House in Calcutta, in the course of which, according to Mr. Slocombe, Gandhiji prostrated himself at the feet of "the future Emperor of India" and implored him to treat Indians with generosity.

Gandhiji's comment on the publication was conveyed to Mr. Slocombe in the course of a letter in which he said, among other things, "Well, Mr. Slocombe; I should have expected you to know better. This does not do credit to your imagination even. I would bend the knees before the poorest scavenger, the poorest untouchable in India, for having participated in crushing him for centuries, I would even take the dust off his feet. But I would not prostrate myself, not even before the King, much less before the Prince of Wales, for the simple reason that he represented insolent might. I may allow myself to be crushed by an elephant but not prostrate myself before him, but should prostrate myself before an ant for having even unconsciously trodden upon it."