Page:Mahatma Gandhi, his life, writings and speeches.djvu/54

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Legislative Council passed the new measure after the farce of a discussion. Infinitely more important to us are the proceedings of another meeting held in that very city and at the very time when the bill was being rushed through the council. It is an immense gathering, consisting of several thousands of Indians of all classes and creeds. A great spirit animates all. Impassioned speeches are made denouncing the new law. But now at the close the great throng rises up and shouts a solemn 'Amen.' It is the vow of passive resistance that he has thus been administered. Those thousands had decided not against the new bill but against the new Act. They had decided also that henceforth they were to be the masters of their own fate and not General Smuts or Botha or the Legislative Council. And the onlooker may well have whispered to himself, "To-day we have been present at the lighting of a fire which will never go out."

It was a momentous step. But Mr. Gandhi on whom the burden of leadership now lay heavily was eager to take any step that promised an alternative solution. And accordingly a deputation under his leadership and