Page:Mahatma Gandhi, his life, writings and speeches.djvu/52

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awoke and found themselves called upon to register themselves anew by giving thumb impressions. Thus all Asiatics were placed on a level with convicts. And yet these light-hearted legislators and their compatriots were by profession the flock of an Asiatic whose injunction to his disciples was to go forth amongst the children of men as lambs amongst wolves! Who will dare to say that in the dealings of the western nations with 'coloured' races this spirit has ever been much in evidence? How else could these colonials, have so merrily blackened a whole continent which has been the home of the oldest civilisations and has given to humanity its greatest prophets and saviours? But in this case also the Asiatic lambs were destined to give a glorious object-lesson to the wolves.

The object of the new measure was apparently to prevent unlawful immigration from what they regarded as the pariah continent. Now the Indian Community throughout South Africa and their leaders were quite willing that reasonable restrictions should be placed on all future immigration though on abstract considerations of justice they could have insisted upon the right of the