The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi/Volume II/March 1897 Memorial

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The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi by Mohandas K. Gandhi
Volume II, 1897, March 1897 Memorial
This text is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before 1923. It is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less, including India, its source country, since 1 January 2009, sixty years after Gandhi's death, pursuant to s. 22, Copyright Act, 1957 of India. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.
 

MEMORIAL TO SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES[edit]

March 15, 1897[1]

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN

HER MAJESTY’S PRINCIPAL SECRETARY OF STATE
FOR THE COLONIES
LONDON

::THE MEMORIAL OF THE UNDERSIGNED INDIANS
RESIDING IN THE COLONY OF NATAL

HUMBLY SHEWETH:

That your Memorialists, as representing the Indian community in Natal, hereby venture to approach you with reference to the Indian question in Natal, with special regard to the demonstration that took place in Durban on the 13th January, 1897, headed by Captain Sparks, a commissioned officer, to protest against the landing of Asiatics on board the s.s. Courland and s.s. Naderi, two Indian-owned ships which arrived in Durban on the 18th day of December, 1896 with about 600 passengers, which culminated in an assault on one of them who was saved from being lynched by the tact of the Durban Borough Police.[2]

The Indian community in Natal has been suffering from various legal disabilities for a very long time, some of which have been made the subject of memorials to Her Majesty’s Government.[3] In those memorials, it has been pointed out that the ultimate extinction of the Indian as a free man is the goal of the Colonists, and that every disability placed on the Indian becomes the forerunner of many more, and that his position is to be so reduced that he cannot exist in the Colony, except as (to quote the Attorney-General of Natal) “a hewer of wood and drawer of water”, till the end of his lifetime. On these and such grounds, it was urged that legislation restrictive of the freedom of the Indians in Natal should not be sanctioned by Her Majesty’s Government. While, whoever, Her Majesty’s Government sympathized with the object of the memorials, they were reluctant to refuse the Royal sanction to some of the Bills objected to in the memorials. The encouragement, obtained from the more or less successful issue of their first and test experiments to carry out the final object, has resulted in the formation by the Europeans, during the last seven months, of anti-Indian associations, and the question has assumed a very acute phase. Under the circumstances, your Memorialists, in the interests of the Indian community in Natal, feel it to be their duty to place a review of the last seven months’ anti-Indian agitation before Her Majesty’s Government.

On the 7th April, 1896, the Tongaat Sugar Company applied to the Immigration Trust Board, indenting for the following Indian artisans—one each: brick-layer, plate-layer, plasterer, house-painter, carriage-builder, wheelwright, carpenter, blacksmith, fitter, turner, iron-moulder, and coppersmith. The Trust Board granted the application. As soon as this information was published in the newspapers, a storm of protest arose of the Colony. Meetings to protest against the action of the Trust Board were advertised for in the local papers, both in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The first meeting was held in Durban, on the 11th day of August, and is reported to have been largely attended, where angry speeches were made. As a result of the agitation, the Tongaat Sugar Company withdrew their application in the following terms: “As our application for the above appears to have met with an opposition entirely unforeseen on our part, we have decided to withdraw it.” The agitation, however, did not die with the withdrawal. Meetings continued to be held and the speakers went beyond the scope thereof. Your memorialists humbly think that the protest against the application was perfectly justified, in so far as the introduction of skilled labour under State protection was contemplated; and that, had the agitation remained within proper bounds, the events that followed might not have taken place. Some of the speakers at those meetings laid stress on the fact that the Indians could not fairly be blamed in the matter, and that it was the Sugar Company that was entirely to blame. The tone, however, of most of the speeches was such as to easily inflame the passions of the audience. The correspondence in the newspapers also was carried on much the same way. Facts were at a heavy discount; the whole Indian question was opened up; and Indians were condemned wholesale. The meetings, in your Memorialists’ humble opinion, amply justified the contention of the Indian community that the Indians are the most hated and misunderstood community in the Colony. They were called “black vermin”. A speaker at one of the Maritzburg meetings said: “A coolie could live on the smell of an oily rag.” One of the audience at that meeting said: “They breed like rabbits, those that are here”, and another added: “The worst of it is we can’t shoot them down.” At one of the Durban meetings, a voice from the audience said, with reference to the application: “If the Indian artisans come, we will go to the Point and stop them.” Another said at the same meeting: “A coolie is not a man.” Thus, it will be seen that the material for the events of January last was being prepared in August, 1896. Another feature of this agitation was that the working classes were induced to take an active interest in the matter.

Hardly had the time for proper reflection over the action of the Trust Board come, when the following telegram appeared in the newspapers, on September 14th, 1896, through Reuter’s agency:

A pamphlet published in India declares that the Indians in Natal are robbed and assaulted and treated like beasts, and are unable to obtain redress. The Times of India advocates an inquiry into these allegation.

This telegram naturally roused the indignation of the Colony, and added fuel to the fire. The pamphlet referred to was a statement of the grievances of the British Indians in South Africa by Mr. M. K. Gandhi, who was appointed by the representatives of the Indian community in South Africa to “represent the grievances the Indians are labouring under in South Africa, before the authorities and public men and public bodies in India”.[4]

It is necessary for your Memorialists to digress a little, and to clear up the position. Your Memorialists have no hesitation in saying that the contents of the telegram are not borne out by the pamphlet. This was admitted by all who read both. The Natal Mercury, on reading the pamphlet, changed the angry attitude it had taken up on seeing the telegram, in the following words:

Mr. Gandhi, on his part and on behalf of his countrymen, has done nothing that he is not entitled to do, and from his point of view, the principle he is working for is an honourable and a legitimate one. He is within his rights, and so long as he acts honestly and in a straightforward manner, he cannot be blamed nor interfered with. So far as we know, he has always done so, and his latest pamphlet we cannot honestly say is an unfair statement of the case from his point of view. Reuter’s cable is a gross exaggeration of Mr. Gandhi’s statement. He enumerates only a number of grievances, but these by no means justify anyone in stating that his pamphlet declares that the Indians in Natal are robbed and assaulted and treated like beasts and are unable to obtain redress. (18th September, 1896)

The Natal Advertiser of the same date says:

A perusal of Mr. Gandhi’s pamphlet, recently published in Bombay, leads to the conclusion that the telegraphic description of its objects and contents was considerably exaggerated. True, Mr. Gandhi complains of a certain amount of ill-treatment of indentured Indians, but there is nothing to warrant the statement that he alleges that the Indians in Natal are robbed, assaulted and treated like beasts. His is rather the old, familiar grievance that the Indian is regarded and treated by Europeans as belonging to a separate class and race, and not one of themselves. From Mr. Gandhi’s point of view this is very deplorable and it is easy to sympathize with him and his compatriots.

To return, although a select few could treat the above telegram at its proper value, the generality kept up their idea of the pamphlet in India derived from the telegram. Correspondence went on in the newspapers, inflaming the Europeans against the Indians. An association, called the European Protection Association, was formed in Maritzburg on the 18th day of September, 1896, at a meeting, according to reports, attended by about 30 persons. Although this meeting was the direct outcome of the action of the Trust Board above referred to, the programme of the Association is very comprehensive.

The principal efforts of the Association, according to The Natal Witness of the 8th October, 1896, will be directed to the further reform of the laws regulating the introduction of Asiatics into the Colony, and special attention will be directed to (a) withdrawal of all State-aid, assistance or countenance from all bodies of persons connected with Indian or other Asiatic immigration; (b) press upon Parliament the necessity of enacting such rules and regulations as will really compel the Indian to leave the Colony at the expiration of his term of indenture; (c) take all steps that may be found advisable for limiting the number of Indians introduced into the Colony; and (d) to endeavour to have the Australian laws as to immigration made applicable to Natal.

Following upon that was established an association in Durban on the 26th day of November, 1896, called the Colonial Patriotic Union. The object of the Union is stated to be “to prevent the further influx of free Asiatics into the country”. The following passages occur in the statement published by the Union:

By preventing the further immigration of Asiatic races into this Colony, the interests of Europeans, natives, and Asiatics now in the country will be protected. The Union will in no way interfere with the introduction of indentured labourers, provided such labourers, with their wives and children, if any, shall be returnable to India on completion of their indentures.

The Union have been canvassing signatures to the following petition addressed to the Government:

We the undersigned inhabitants of the Colony of Natal do hereby most respectfully petition the Government to adopt measures which would prevent the influx of Asiatic races into this Colony: ‘(1) The older and richer British Colonies of Australia and New Zealand have found that this class of immigrant is detrimental to the best interests of inhabitants, and have passed laws having as their object the total exclusion of Asiatics. (2) The disproportion between white and black races is already so great in this Colony that it appears highly injudicious to further increase this disproportion. (3) The continued introduction of Asiatic races is in the highest sense detrimental to the natives of this Colony from the fact that so long as the cheaper Asiatic supply is available so long will the civilization of the natives be retarded, their civilization depending upon their intercourse with the white races. (4) The low moral tone and insanitary habits of Asiatics are a constant source of danger to the progress and health of the European population.’

The Government have declared themselves in entire sympathy with the Union programme. It will be seen that, as your Memorialists feared when the Immigration Law Amendment Bill was passed,[5] which has unfortunately received the sanction of the Home Government, it was simply a step towards further restriction. Whether the Government would bring in a Bill having for its object completion of the indentures in India is another matter. But, your Memorialists humbly submit, the fact remains that the yielding by Her Majesty’s Government to the desire of the European Colonists to establish the principle of compulsory return of the indentured Indians after the completion of their contracts has encouraged them to ask for more. The Indian community is expected to join in a leonine partnership: the Indians are to give all but to receive nothing worth mentioning. our Memorialists earnestly hope that, whatever be the ultimate outcome of the present position, Her Majesty’s Government will never countenance so obviously iniquitous an arrangement and stop further State-aided emigration from India to Natal.

The petition of the Union discloses a sad want of knowledge and grave prejudice on the part of the promoters thereof. Your Memorialists need hardly say that the British Colonies alluded to have not yet been allowed to pass the class legislation of the nature indicated therein. As The Natal Mercury, in a leading article on November 28, reminded the Union, “the fact of the matter is that the Acts in operation in those Colonies are almost solely directed against Chinese.” And, even if such Acts were to come into operation in future, there is hardly any analogy between this Colony and the others. Natal cannot do without the Indian labourers; it would shut the door against Indians above that level. This is hardly consistent. The Australian Colonies, on the other hand, would have this much in their favour that they would, if they could, exclude all Indians without distinction.

The disproportion between white and black races is certainly very great; but, even if the Indians were to be classed amongst black races, they are not responsible for it, for it is caused owing to there being over 400,000 natives of South Africa, as against 50,000 Europeans. The Indians, who number about 51,000, cannot materially affect the proportion even if their number were to increase to 100,000. The petition states that the introduction “of Asiatic races is in the highest sense detrimental to the natives of this Colony,” because of the cheaper Asiatic supply. Now the natives can, if at all, only take the place of the indentured Indians; but the Union does not propose to do away with the indentured Indians. In fact, the highest authorities have stated it as their opinion that the natives cannot, and will not, do the work now being done by the indentured Indians; the very fact that, in spite of all this agitation, the demand for indentured Indians is greater than ever, as seen from the reports of the Immigration Department, proves this; and it is admitted that there is no competition whatever between the free Indians, who alone the Union objects to, and the natives. As to the allegation about the low moral tone and insanitary habits of Indians, your Memorialists need hardly say anything: it simply shows to what extent prejudice has carried the promoters away. Your Memorialists would, however, crave leave to refer Her Majesty’s Government to Dr. Veale’s and other certificates of the same tenor, annexed to the petition with regard to the Transvaal Indian Arbitration, to the effect that class considered, the Indians live better and in better habitations than the Europeans.[6] If, however, the Indians do not attend to sanitation as well as the Europeans, the laws are there to see that they do not neglect the duty of observing the sanitary rules. Be that as it may, these meetings, the correspondence they gave rise to, and the statements made therein, without particular regard to accuracy, kept up and added to the excitement of the populace.

On the 18th of December came the two ill-fated steamers the Courland and the Naderi, the first named being owned by a local Indian firm and the second named by the Persian Steam Navigation Company of Bombay, which was under the agency of the owners of the Courland. In dealing with the events after the arrival of the two ships, your Memorialists disclaim any intention to ventilate a personal grievance. The question, as affecting Messrs Dada Abdulla & Company personally as owners and agents of the ships, your Memorialists would endeavour to avoid, except when it is necessary to refer to it in the interests of the Indian community as a whole. The bills of health received by the steamers at Bombay, at the time of departure, stated that there was a mild form of bubonic plague raging in certain districts of Bombay; the steamers, therefore, entered the bay flying the quarantine flag, although there was an absolutely clean bill of health during the voyage. (App. A and B.) The s.s. Naderi left the Prince’s Dock, Bombay, on the 28th, and the s.s. Courland on the 30th of November, 1896. The steamers, on their arrival, were placed in quarantine by the Health Officer “until 23 days had elapsed since leaving Bombay”. By a proclamation which appeared in a Government Gazette Extraordinary, on the 19th December, 1896, Bombay was declared to be an infected port. On the same day, the owners and agents wrote to the Health Officer, on the strength of a newspaper report, asking the cause of the ships being put in quarantine. (App. C.) No reply was sent to that communication. On the 21st of the same month, a telegram was sent by the owners’ solicitors, Messrs Goodricke, Laughton and Cooke, to the Honourable the Colonial Secretary of Natal with reference to the matter, and asking if His Excellency the Governor would receive a deputation. (App. D.) Reply thereto was received from Maritzburg on the 22nd that there would be no need of a deputation, for reasons stated in Appendix E. But after their solicitors had despatched the telegram, they were informed that His Excellency was in Durban, whereupon they wrote a letter to the Honourable Harry Escombe to much the same effect (App. F), and a reply thereto was received, saying that, while the ministers would be referred to for advice in the matter, if it was so wished, a deputation would be received by His Excellency on the 23rd. (App. G.) On the 22nd the master of the Courland signalled as follows: “Our days have expired; are we out of quarantine? Please consult Quarantine Officer, report we all well. Thanks.” (App. A.) To this a reply was signalled to the effect that the length of quarantine was not decided till then. A similar signal was sent from the Naderi with a similar result. Your Memorialists may here parenthetically remark that the owners and agents were kept absolutely in the dark as to what was going on between the masters of the vessels and the officers on shore. On the 23rd, a reply to signals from the Naderi said: “Quarantine Officer has no instructions yet.” (App. B.) From the solicitors’ letter (App. P), it appears that since the Health Officer had ordered that the ships were to remain in quarantine until 23 days had elapsed after the day of their departure from Bombay, he was suspended or dismissed, and Dr. Birtwell put in his place. On the 24th, Dr. Birtwell and the Superintendent of Water Police boarded the vessels and examined passengers and crew, gave instructions as to disinfection, fumigation and burning of soiled clothing, all mats, baskets and useless articles in the donkey furnace, and imposed 11 and 12 days’ quarantine on the Courland and Naderi respectively. (App. A & B.) In accordance with the instructions, much of the old clothing, mats, etc., were burnt, and fumigation and disinfection carried on. On the 28th, a police officer boarded each vessel with instructions to superintend the use of disinfectants. The following signal was hoisted on the 29th, from the Courland: “Disinfection and fumigation carried out to satisfaction of officer on board.” A similar signal was also sent from the Naderi on the same day. The Courland signalled again: “We are ready, waiting for the Quarantine Officer”, and Dr. Birtwell went, inspected the ships, and declared himself satisfied with the manner in which his orders had been carried out; but placed both the ships under quarantine for a further period of 12 days from that day. Thereupon, the master of the Courland gave the signal that:

By order of the Government, all passengers’ bed clothes having been burnt, request Government renew same at once, as passengers’ lives are in danger without them. Want written instructions how long quarantine is to last, as verbal time changes with every visit of Quarantine Officer. No case of sickness occurring in the interval. Give notice to the Government our ship has been disinfected every day since leaving Bombay.

The following was signalled from the Naderi on the 30th:

Ask Government to supply at once 250 blankets for passengers, instead of those destroyed by Government. Passengers are suffering greatly without them. Otherwise disembark them at once. Passengers suffering from cold and wet; fear sickness in consequence.

These signals were altogether disregarded by the Government.

Happily, the Indian residents in Durban started a Quarantine Relief Fund, whereby blankets were supplied to all the passengers on both the ships, and also foodstuffs to the poor passengers, free of charge, involving an expense of not less than £125.

While this was going on board the ships, the owners and agents were busy protesting against the quarantine and the somewhat capricious, because uncertain, ways in which the same was being enforced. They forwarded a petition to His Excellency the Governor, praying that, for reasons stated therein, the Medical Officer of the Port “be directed to grant pratique to the said vessels”. (App. H.)

Certificates from medical gentlemen were attached to it showing that, in their opinion, the quarantine then intended and afterwards imposed on the ships was unnecessary. (Ann.[7] to App. H.) A telegram was sent by the owners’ solicitors, asking for a reply to the petition (App. I), but none came. On the 24th December, the owners’ solicitors wrote to the acting Health Officer, requesting him to grant pratique to the said vessels on the grounds stated therein. (App. J.) The officer in question the same day wrote in reply:

I am endeavouring to do my duty as Health Officer with due regard to all interests. I am willing to authorize the placing in quarantine on the Bluff[8] at the cost of the ships, all persons intended to be landed, and when this is arranged for, pratique may be given to the ships after my instructions have been carried out. (App. K.)

Your Memorialists respectfully draw your attention to the fact that the Medical Officer fails to state what his instructions are, even in that letter. On the 25th, the owners’ solicitors wrote to the Acting Health Officer pressing for a reply to their question contained in their letter of the 24th. (App. L.) The Health Officer replied the same day that he did not consider it safe to grant pratique to the vessels except on the conditions stated by him. (App. M.) The owners’ solicitors wrote the same day expressing surprise that it did not contain any answer to their question, and pressing for the same, also asking for the exact conditions under which he would grant pratique. (App. N.) On the 26th, the Health Officer replied in the following terms:

If the passengers are not landed into quarantine quarters, 12 days must run after fumigation of ship and precautions as regards clothing, namely, by washing and disinfecting, and the burning of sundry old rags, mats, socks, etc., in accordance with instructions given by me to each Captain, before pratique can be given. If the owners agree to bear the expense of quarantine, then the landing must be preceded by fumigation and precautions as above, and after the landing is effected, the departure of the steamers will be facilitated; but there must be no contact with shore except under proper restrictions. If you want to get the steamers away, the simplest course will be to arrange for the owners to bear the expense of quarantining the passengers on the Bluff for twelve days after fumigation, etc., of the ship, or for any longer period, should such necessity arise. (App. O.)

The owners’ solicitors wrote in reply the same day, drawing his attention to the certificates given by Drs. Prince and Harrison above referred to, and protesting against the conditions imposed by him. They also protested that, although upwards of eight days had elapsed since the arrival of the steamers, no steps had been taken to disinfect the vessels in the way he had proposed. They further said that their clients refused to be party to any proceedings with reference to placing the passengers in quarantine on shore, as they did not consider his refusal to grant pratique to be a legal action. They, moreover, recorded the facts that his predecessor had “stated as his opinion that pratique could be granted without danger, and that if he were permitted he would do so, but he was thereupon suspended,” and “that Drs. MacKenzie and Dumat, having been privately interviewed by Mr. Escombe on the question, were, at his suggestion, called in by him to give their opinion as to the refusing of pratique.” (App,. P.)

While the correspondence was thus going on between the Government and the owners’ solicitors with reference to the quarantine, and while the passengers on board the two vessels were being subjected to grave inconvenience and hardship, an agitation was being got up in Durban with a view to prevent the landing of the quarantined passengers. The following notice appeared in The Natal Advertiser, for the first time on the 30th December, above the signature of “Harry Sparks, chairman of preliminary meeting”, one of Her Majesty’s commissioned officers:

Wanted every man in Durban to attend a meeting to be held in the large room at the Victoria Cafe, on Monday the 4th January at 8 o’clock for the purpose of arranging a demonstration to proceed to the Point and protest against the landing of Asiatics.

This meeting was ultimately held in the town hall of Durban. Inflammatory speeches were made, and some commissioned officers, besides Captain Sparks, also took part in the animated proceedings. The meeting is said to have been attended by about 2,000 persons, mostly of the artisan class. The following resolutions were passed at the meeting:

That this meeting is strongly of opinion that the time has come to prevent the landing of any more free Indians or Asiatics in this Colony, and now calls upon the Government to take steps to have returned to India, at the Colony’s expense, the Asiatics at present on board the Naderi and Courland, and to prevent any other free Indians or Asiatics being landed in Durban.
Every man at this meeting agrees and binds himself, with a view to assisting the Government to carry out the foregoing resolution, to do all his country may require of him, and with that view, will, if necessary, attend at the Point any time when required.

The following are extracts from the speech of Dr. MacKenzie, the mover of the second resolution, and one of those who, as stated above, were called by Mr. Escombe to determine the period of quarantine:

Mr. Gandhi, (prolonged hissing and hooting) that gentleman came to Natal and settled in the borough of Durban. He was received here freely and openly; all the privileges and advantages which the Colony could afford him were at his disposal. No contracting or circumscribing influence was brought to play upon him any more than on the audience or himself (the speaker), and he had all the privileges of their hospitality. In return, Mr. Gandhi had accused the Colonists of Natal of having dealt unfairly with Indians, and of having abused and robbed and swindled them. (A voice, ‘You can’t swindle a coolie.’) He (the doctor) quite agreed with that. Mr. Gandhi had returned to India and dragged them in the gutters, and painted them as black and filthy as his own skin. (Applause.) And this was what they might call, in Indian parlance, an honourable and manly return for the privileges which Natal had allowed him . .
. . It was the intention of these facile and delicate creatures to make themselves proprietors of the only thing that the ruler of this country had withheld from them—the franchise. It was their intention to put themselves in Parliament and legislate for the Europeans; to take over the household management, and put the Europeans in the kitchen . . . . Their country had decided that they had enough Asiatics and Indians here, and they were going to treat them fairly and well, provided they behaved themselves; but, if they were going to associate themselves with such men as Gandhi, and abuse their hospitality, and act in the way he had done, they might expect the same kind of treatment that was to be meted out to him. (Applause.) However great a misfortune it might be for those people, he could not get over the distinction between black and white.

— The Natal Advertiser, 5th January.

Comment is superfluous. That Mr. Gandhi has done nothing to justify the remarks about him will have been seen from what has preceded. That the Indians want legislative powers and that they want to put the Europeans in the kitchen, are but the products of the gallant doctor’s fertile imagination. These and such utterances would not have been noticed here but for the hold they had on the popular mind. The Government wired the following reply to Capt. Sparks’ telegraphic communication giving the text of the above resolutions:


In reply, I am to state that the Government has at present no power, apart from such as may be conferred by the Quarantine Laws, to prevent the landing in the Colony of any class of Her Majesty’s subjects. I am to state, however, that the closest attention has been, is being, and will be given to this question, the extreme importance of which the Government most completely recognizes. Government is in full sympathy with the consensus of public opinion in this Colony as regards the desirability of preventing the overrunning of the Colony by Asiatics. Government is carefully discussing and considering this question with a view to future legislation; but I am to point out that its action will be thwarted rather than helped by any action or demonstration of the character indicated in the second resolution.

Thus it would appear that the quarantine was meant more to harass the passengers into returning to India than to protect the Colony against the introduction of the bubonic plague. The chairman then telegraphed the Government as follows:

I am instructed by the Committee to thank you for wire, and have now to ask Government to convey to the Asiatics on board the Naderi and Courland the strong popular feeling against their landing, and request them to return to India at the Colony’s expense.

Another meeting, convened by Captain Sparks, was held on the 7th January, again in the Town Hall, when the following resolutions were passed:

That this meeting requests the Government to call a special session of Parliament to take steps to temporarily stop the importation of free Indians, pending the passing of law giving Government these powers; (and) that we proceed by demonstration to the Point on the arrival of the Indians, but each man binds himself to conform to the orders of the leaders.

The speeches at the meeting clearly show that the Government were in full sympathy with its objects, that they would not oppose the mutinous tendency of the meeting, that the imposition of quarantine was nothing but a means to prevent, if possible, the landing of the passengers, and that a special session was to be called in order to pass a Bill indefinitely extending the quarantine. The following are the extracts from the speeches which would illustrate these remarks:

If the Government could not possibly help them, then (a voice, “help ourselves”) they must help themselves. (Loud applause.)

Capt. Wylie, in the course of his speech, is reported to have said:

Now, they must be pleased to know this, that the action that they (the meeting) had taken had been characterized by the members of the Government as having done more for this cause than anything that had yet been done within the Colony. (Applause.)

Thus, perhaps inadvertently but surely inducing the promoters to further action.

But at the same time they have to bear in mind in carrying this thing through they must not do anything rash to frustrate the end they had in view. They must be careful not to blindly jump over the wharf and leave it clear for the others to land. (Laughter.)

Dr. MacKenzie said at the last meeting that:

The Indian Ocean was the proper place for those Indians (Laughter), let them have it. They were not going to dispute their right to the water there. But they must be careful not to give them the right to dispute the land adjoining that ocean. Mr. Escombe treated the Committee at an interview that morning, extending for about two hours, in a fair and reasonable manner. He said the Government were with them, and wished to help them and expedite the matter in every possible way. He said, however, that they must be careful not to do anything that would hamper the Government’s hands. . . . In their argument to him, they replied: ‘If you do nothing, we will have to act ourselves, and go in force to the Point to see what could be done.’ (Applause.) They further capped that with the remark that the Government of the Colony would have to bring a force to oppose them. Mr. Escombe replied that they would do nothing of the sort (Applause); that the Government were with them, but, he continued, if they put the Government in such a position that they might have to go to the Governor and ask him to take over the reins of the Government, they would have to find some other person, (Interruption.)

(This statement, your Memorialists may remark, remains uncontradicted to the present day, and it can easily be imagined what impetus such a statement would give to the movement.)

Some gentleman said ‘extend the quarantine’, that was exactly what Parliament was going to do. (Applause, and cries of ‘sink the ship’.) He heard a naval volunteer say last night that he would give a month’s pay for a shot at the ship; was every man present prepared to pay down a month’s pay to carry out the object of that meeting? (Applause, and cries of assent.) Then the Government would know what they had behind them. One of the objects of the meeting was to convey to the Government the wish that they wanted a special session of Parliament to extend the quarantine. (Applause.) They must bear in mind that hasty legislation seldom reached its end; but there might be such legislation that would give them time, and protect them while they were fighting for proper legislation. They suggested to Mr. Escombe, and it met with his approval, that as the quarantine laws did not give power to extend the quarantine for an unlimited period, they asked that Parliament be called together for one, two, or three days if need be, to pass a law which would enable them to say Bombay was an infected district. We declare it to be such, and until that proclamation was taken off, no Indian could come from Bombay to this Colony.[9] (Loud applause.) He thought that the deputation were quite entitled to infer from the meeting they had with Mr. Escombe that morning, that if they went the right way to work, and did not do anything to hamper the Government, they would get that session of Parliament at the earliest possible date, and thereby prevent the landing of more coolies until they could get time to pass a law which would last for ever. (Applause.)

Dr. MacKenzie:

The men of Durban were unanimous on that point (early Parliament). He said “the men of Durban,” because there were a few old women knocking about the place. (Laughter and cheers.) They had only to take the tone of some of the leaders in the papers, and some of the cautious and sage advice they had been meting out to them to get the type of the man who sticks behind the quill—the sort of man who urged that sort of thing—was the man who presumed to say that the burgesses did not know what was right. . . . All but one man on board these boats, lying outside, had no reason to suspect that they would not be agreeably received as emigrants to this Colony. One man might reasonably be supposed to have some suspicions upon that point. That gentleman (Gandhi)was on board one of the boats, and in what he now said, he did not refer to him. They had the right to shut the Port, and they intended to shut it. (Applause.) They would deal fairly by the people, and by the men on these boats, and to that extent, by that solitary individual. But he hoped there would be a marked difference between the character of the dealing. When they got to the Point they would put themselves under their leader, and do exactly what he told them, if he told them to do anything. (Laughter.)

A document headed as follows was circulated amongst the Durban employees by the Demonstration Committee:

List of names of members, trade or profession mentioned,[10] who are willing to proceed to the Point and resist, by force if necessary, the landing of Asiatics, and to obey any orders which may be given by the leaders.

The following passage from Captain Sparks’ concluding speech, at the meeting of the 7th, gives an idea of the methods adopted by the committee to enlist men to join the Demonstration:

They intended to call upon the merchants of the town to close their places of business to allow the men who wished to take part in the Demonstration to do so. (Applause.) Then they would be able to see who was on their side. Several merchants had already promised to do all they could; others they wanted to show in their true colours. (Cries of “boycott them”.)

At this stage it would be worth while to see what was happening between the owners and the Government to secure the peaceable landing of the passengers. Your Memorialists may here remark that the town, during the first week in January, was in a perfect state of excitement. It was a time of terror and anxiety for the Indian residents, and collision between the two communities was to be feared at any moment. On the 8th January, 1897, the owners and agents of the ships sent a petition to the Government drawing their attention to the state of public feeling that existed in Durban against the landing of Indians, and asking for “the protection of the Government for passengers and property against the lawless acts of any persons whoever they may be,” and signifying their readiness “to co-operate with the Government in taking all the necessary steps for the landing of passengers quietly and unknown to the public in order to render unnecessary any act on the part of the Government which might tend to intensify the excitement” which then existed. (App. Q.) A letter was sent on the 9th January, further drawing the attention of the Government to the circulation of the document hereinbefore referred to for the forcible resistance against the landing of the passengers, as also to the fact that the railwaymen, being employees of the Government, were to take part in the Demonstration, and praying for assurance of the Government that “Government servants will be prohibited from taking any part in the Demonstration”. (App. R.) On the 11th January, the Principal Under-Secretary thus wrote in reply:

Your proposals for the landing of the passengers quietly and unknown to the public is impossible. The Government understand that you have requested the Port Captain not to bring the vessel inside without special instructions.
This action on your part, and your letters now under reply, show that you are aware of the intense feeling throughout the Colony against the landing of the Indians, and they certainly should be informed of the existence and strength of that feeling. (App. S.)

Your Memorialists here cannot help regretting that the Government should have made the concluding remarks in that letter.

Instead of giving an assurance of protection when it is asked, the Government advise the owners, in so many words, to induce the passengers to return. This letter, more than anything else, in your Memorialists’ humble opinion, shows that the Government indirectly countenanced the agitation, and betrayed their weakness, where a strong expression of opinion might have stifled it and produced a healthy confidence in their just intentions in the minds of the Indian community, apart from their policy with regard to the unrestricted immigration of Her Majesty’s Indian subjects. On the 10th January, the Honourable Mr. Harry Escombe being in Durban, Mr. Laughton, of the firm of Messrs Goodricke, Laughton & Cooke, the owners’ solicitors, took the opportunity to interview him, and wrote a letter to the honourable gentleman, embodying the substance of their conference. (App. T.) From that letter it would appear that Mr. Escombe repudiated the statement attributed to him by Mr. Wylie and referred to above. It would also appear that the following propositions were recognized by the Government:

That upon the requirements of the quarantine being carried out, pratique must be granted to the steamers Courland and Naderi; that upon pratique being granted, the steamers were entitled to discharge their passengers and cargo at the wharf, either by the steamers being brought inside, or by means of tugs and lighters; that the Government is responsible for the protection of passengers and cargo from the violence of rioters.

The reply to the letter dated the 11th January (App. U) said that the interview referred to therein was, it was understood, to be regarded as a private meeting, and did not accept as correct Mr. Laughton’s record of what was said by the Honourable Mr. Escombe and Mr. Laughton. On the 12th January, Messrs Goodricke, Laughton and Cooke wrote in reply, explaining how the interview came to be regarded as not private by Mr. Laughton, and in order to avoid misunderstanding, applied for the correction of the alleged inaccuracies committed by Mr. Laughton in recording the interview. (App. V.) So far as your Memorialists are aware, no reply was returned thereto. On the same day the owners wrote to Mr. Escombe in reply to the Principal Under-Secretary’s letter, dated 11th January. (App. S.) Their letter expressed surprise at there being no reference in that communication to the various points brought to the notice of the Government. It contained the following paragraph:

The steamers have now been at the outer anchorage for 24 days, at a cost of £150 per diem to us; and this being so, we trust you will see the reasonableness of your giving us a full answer by noon tomorrow. And we think it right to inform you that failing a definite reply giving us an assurance that we shall be paid £150 per diem from Sunday last, and that you are taking steps to suppress the rioters so as to enable us to disembark the steamers, preparations will be at once commenced to steam into the harbour, relying on the protection which, we respectfully submit, Government is bound to give us. (App. W.)

Mr. Escombe wrote as follows in reply, from the Point, at 10.45 a.m., on the 13th:

The Port Captain has instructed that the steamers shall be ready to cross the bar inwards at 12 o’clock today. The Government needs no reminder of its responsibility for the maintenance of order. (App. X.)

This was the first assurance that the owners received from the Government with regard to the safety of the passengers, and as will appear hereinafter, after all the resources, including threats of violence to induce the passengers to return to India, had been exhausted.

To turn now to the steamers. On the 9th January, the following signal was put up from the Naderi: “ Quarantine finished. When shall I obtain pratique; please reply,” and the Courland put up a similar signal on the 10th. But the pratique was not granted until after the noon of the 11th January, 1897. On the same day a letter was received by the master of the Courland, dated the 8th January, 1897, and signed “Harry Sparks, Chairman of Committee”, which reads:

Neither you nor your passengers may be aware that the feeling in the Colony against the inflow of Asiatics has been running very high lately, and has culminated on the arrival of your ship and the Naderi. Following on that, public meetings have been held in Durban, at which the enclosed resolutions were carried with acclamation. So largely attended were these meetings that all desiring it could not get into the Town Hall. Almost every man in Durban has signed signifying his intention to prevent those on board your ship and the Naderi landing in the Colony, and we are most desirous there should, if possible, be avoided a conflict between the men of Durban and your passengers which will most assuredly happen if they attempt to land. As your passengers are ignorant of the state of feeling, and have come here in ignorance, and we have it from the Attorney-General that if your people are willing to return to India, the Colony will pay the expense. We shall, therefore, be glad to receive and answer from you before the ship comes alongside the wharf, whether the passengers elect to return to India at the Colony’s expense, or to endeavour to force a landing against the thousands of men who are ready and waiting to oppose their landing. (App. Aa.)

The masters of both the vessels, on learning that there was an intense feeling against the landing of the passengers, that the Government were in sympathy with the agitation, and that they practically failed to assure protection to passengers, and that the Demonstration Committee practically represented the Government (as would appear from the Committee’s letter to the master of the Courland, from their unrestricted interference with the passengers on board the s.s. Greek, of the Union Steam Ship Company’s fleet, which arrived on 11th January from Delagoa Bay with some Indian passengers, from the acquiescence of the Port officials in their conduct, as also from the willingness of the Union Steam Ship Company’s management to “obey the orders” of the Committee, etc.), naturally became anxious about the safety of their charge and were induced to parley with the Committee. Consequently, they went ashore on the evening of 11th January, and held consultations with the Demonstration Committee, in the course of which a document was drawn up by the Committee for signature of the captains (App. Wa), which, however, they could not sign, and the negotiations thus fell through.

It might be as well to examine the position of the committee at the time immediately preceding the Demonstration. One of the spokesmen of the Committee, Dr. Mackenzie, observed:

“Their position was the same as at first, viz., that none of the Indians were to land” (Applause).

Another member of the Committee, Captain Wylie, in the course of a speech, in response to “Where is Gandhi?”, said:

“Where they hoped he would remain. ‘Had they’ (deputation sent by the Committee to the steamers) ‘seen him?’ No. The Captain of the Courland had treated Gandhi as he treated the other passengers. (Applause.) He knew their opinion regarding him. There was not much more he could tell them. ‘Have you the tar ready for him? Is he going back?’ It was their sincere hope that the Indians would be going back. If not, then the Committee would want the men of Durban.

The Natal Advertiser (16th January) says “:

When the signal was received that the Courland and Naderi were daring to come into Port, and the trumpeters galloped through the streets and borough shortly after 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning, the general impression was that the poor Indians were in for a rough time if they attempted to land, and that even if they remained on board, afraid to disembark, they would be deafened and scared into hysterics by the hooting, groaning, and the jeering of the assembly. But the end was to be the same as originally intended—”no landing at any price”.

Long before the owners were informed that the ships were to be brought in that day, the town knew it. The bugles to rally were sounded at 10.30 a.m., the shopkeepers put down their shutters, and people began to flock to the Point, The following is an account of the muster at the Point, taken from The Natal Advertiser:

Shortly before 12 o’clock, the muster on Alexandra Square was completed, and as far as could be ascertained, the sections were as follows: Railwaymen, 900 To 1,000—Wylie, leader; assistants: G. Whelan, W. Coles, Grant, Erlsmont, Dick, Duke, Russell, Calder, Titheridge. Yacht Club, Point Club, and Rowing Club, 150—Mr. Dan Taylor, leader; assistants: Messrs Anderton, Goldsbury, Hutton, Harper, Murray Smith, Johnston, Wood, Peters, Anderson, Cross, Playfair, Seaward. Carpenters and Joiners, 450—Puntan, leader; assistants: H. W. Nichols, Jas. Hood, T. G. Harper. Printers, 80—Mr. R. D. Sykes, leader; assistants: W. P. Plowman, E. Edwards, J. Shackleton, E. Trolley, T. Armstrong. Shop Assistants, about. 400—Mr. A. A. Gibson, J. McIntosh, leaders; assistants: Messrs H. Pearson, W. H. Kinsman, J. Pardy, Dawson, S. Adams, A. Mummery, J. Tyzack, Johns, J. Rapson, Banfield, Etheridge, Austin. Tailors and Saddler, 70—J. C. Armitage, leader; assistants: H. Mulholland, G. Bull, R. Godfrey, E. Manderson, A. Rose, J. W. Dent, C. Dowse. Plasterers and Bricklayers, 200—Dr. MacKenzie, leader; assistants: Horner, Keal, Brown, Jenkinson. Point men, a small section—J. Dick, Leader; assistants: Gimber, Clackston, Poyson, Elliott, Parr. General public, about 1,000—T. Adams leader; P. F. Garbutt, Downard. Native section, 500—Mr. G. Spradbrow and Mr. R. C. Vincent organized the natives, and kept them in order on Alexandra Square, while the Demonstration was going on. They told the natives they had appointed a dwarf native as their leader. They were highly amused with this diminutive chap, who marched up and down in front of their ranks officering them, while they went through a number of exercises with their sticks, and danced and whooped. This proved an excellent diversion to keep the natives out of trouble. Later on, Supt. Alexander appeared on horseback and moved them off the Square.

Your Memorialists cannot do better than quote again from the same paper of 14th a description as to how the steamers were brought in, and what happened then:

Great uncertainty was felt on board the vessels as to what form the Demonstration would assume. Capt. Milne, of the Courland, who exhibited the bolder attitude of the two, was allowed to have his vessel taken in first, although she lay further up the coast than the Naderi. He decided that some efforts should be made to protect his passengers, as he had received no assurance from Government that any steps had been taken to do so. He, therefore, had the Union Jack run up at the forecastle head, the red ensign was placed above the ship’s house flag at the main mast, and the red ensign was also exhibited at the stern. His instructions to his officers were to prevent any demonstrators from coming aboard, if possible, but that, if they did come aboard, to haul down the Union Jack and present it to the invaders, his idea being that no Englishman would seek to molest those on board after this surrender. Fortunately, as matters resulted, it was not necessary to have recourse to this action. As the Courland entered the bay, all eyes were on the look-out to see what form the demonstration was taking. A row of people, extending from the south end of the main wharf to some distance along the north pier, could be perceived, but they seemed to take matters very calmly. The Indians on board did not seem much scared, and Mr. Gandhi and a few others who were on deck, looked on with an unperturbed expression. The main body of the demonstrators, who had thronged the vessels at the main wharf, could not be seen from the incoming steamers. The surprise experienced by those on the embankment when they saw the Courland laid alongside the Bluff Channel moorings, was seen by their actions. They were seen to rush hither and thither, entirely at a loss how to proceed, and soon they all left to attend the meeting on Alexandra Square. This was the last that the vessels were to see of the much-talked-of Demonstration. Meanwhile, Mr. Escombe was pulled alongside the Courland in a rowing boat, which was also occupied by Captain Ballard, Port Captain, Mr. Reid, wharfmaster, and Mr. Simpkins, mooring master. The Attorney-General said: ‘Captain Milne, I want you to inform your passengers that they are as safe under the Natal Government laws as if they were in their own native villages.’ The captain asked if it was advisable for him to allow them to land. Mr. Escombe replied that he (the Captain) had better see him again first. Having made a similar communication to the Naderi, Mr. Escombe was pulled ashore to address the crowd. The Naderi and Courland were laid side by side near to the Bluff passenger jetty, the Courland being nearest to land.

After the above assurance was given by Mr. Escombe, he went to Alexandra Square, Point, where the muster had taken place, and addressed the men who had assembled there, promising an early session of Parliament to deal with the question and requesting them to disperse. Speeches were also made by some members of the Committee, and the crowd ultimately melted away. It might be useful to note here some of the exclamations from the audience at the time these speeches were being made, as also a few passages from the speeches themselves:

“Send them back.” “Why don’t you bring Gandhi ashore?” “Get the tar and feathers ready.” “Send these Indians back.” “The hold of the British on South Africa would not be maintained by slumming them with the miserable refuge of the social gutters of India.” (Applause.) —Dr. MacKenzie. “He was just as game as anybody to take a coolie by the neck and throw him overboard. (Applause.)... Now about that man Gandhi. (Applause.) They might shout about him. He was a particular friend of his, they might depend upon it. (Laughter). Gandhi was on board one of the boats and the greatest service they could do him would be to do him an injury. He believed Gandhi was very anxious to become a hero and a martyr to his cause. The greatest punishment which could be inflicted upon him was to allow him to live amongst them. If he lived amongst them, they would have an opportunity of spitting on him (Laughter and applause), which they would not have if they wiped him out. He (the speaker) would rather hang himself than be spat upon by every man in the street.” —Dan Taylor.

The passengers landed in small batches in ferry boats, about two hours after the crowd had dispersed. As for Mr. Gandhi, the Superintendent of Water Police was instructed by Mr. Escombe to offer to land him and his family quietly at night that day. Mr. Gandhi accepted the offer with thanks. Later on, the same day, Mr. Laughton paid him a friendly visit on board and suggested that they should land together. The suggestion was accepted,[11] and on his own responsibility, at his own risk, and without previously informing the Water Police, [he] landed near Addington with Mr. Laughton at about 5 o’clock. He was recognized by some boys, who followed him and his companion, and as they were proceeding along West Street, the main street of Durban, the crowd became large. Mr. Laughton was separated from him; Mr. Gandhi was kicked, whipped, stale fish and other missiles were thrown at him, which hurt his eye and cut his ear, and his hat was taken off his head. While this was going on, the wife of the Superintendent of Police, who happened to be passing by, bravely afforded protection with her umbrella, and the police, on hearing the yells and the cries, came to the rescue and escorted him safely to an Indian house. But the crowd which had, by this time, become very large, did not leave, and blockading the front of the house, demanded “Gandhi”. As darkness deepened, the crowd continued to swell. The Superintendent of Police, fearing serious disturbance and forcible entry into the house, had Mr. Gandhi removed to the Police Station disguised as a police constable. Your Memorialists do not wish to take any advantage of this incident; it is mentioned here as a part of the events. They are prepared to admit that the assault was the work of irresponsible persons and as such unworthy of notice. But at the same time, they cannot help remarking that had not the responsible members of the Committee incited the populace against him, and had not the Government countenanced the proceedings of the Committee, the incident would never have occurred. This closes the Demonstration.

Your Memorialists now crave leave to examine the immediate causes of the Demonstration. Statements appeared in the newspapers to the effect that there were 800 passengers on board the two ships, all being for Natal; that there were 50 blacksmiths and 30 compositors, and that there was a printing plant on board the Courland, and that Mr. Gandhi —

had made a big mistake in imagining that the Europeans of Natal would sit still while he organized an independent immigration agency in India to land his countrymen here at the rate of 1,000 to 2,000 per month. (The Natal Mercury, 9th January)

The leader of the Demonstration thus explained the cause at a meeting held after the Demonstration:

At the latter end of December he noticed a paragraph in The Natal Mercury to the effect that Mr. Gandhi intended suing the Government on behalf of the passengers on the two ships, the Courland and the Naderi, for damages, by reason of their being placed in quarantine. This made his blood boil with indignation. He was then determined to take the matter up and, meeting Dr. MacKenzie, suggested that a demonstration would be promoted to protest against the landing of these men . . . He concluded: He had been a volunteer and had served for over 20 years . . . He was as loyal as any man there . . . but when they placed the Indian subjects on one side and his home and family on the other, the birthright of his children and the memory of his dear parents and what they had done to make the Colony what it was, he would do the only thing he could, and the only thing they could expect of him. )(Applause.) Rather than this evil, he would be content to hand matters over to the tender mercies of the Transvaal Government—that would be simply a drop in the ocean compared with this evil.— (The Natal Mercury, 18th February)

It was also stated that the Indian passengers, instigated by Mr. Gandhi, and possibly by other lawyers that he may have brought with him, were to sue the Government for damages for illegal detention in quarantine. The Natal Mercury made the following remarks in its issue of the 30th December:

The report that the Indians on board the s.s. Naderi and Courland intend bringing an action against the Government for damages for alleged illegal detention in quarantine, almost confirms the rumour that Mr. Gandhi is on board. His keen legal instincts have scented a splendid brief to occupy him immediately on his release from the durance vile of the quarantine and purifying effects of the carbolic bath. The large sums of money said to have been subscribed for the purpose would naturally go to Mr. Gandhi, whether the case was lost or won, and nothing in fact could suit the gentleman better than such an interesting case to devote his attention to, immediately he got on shore. Probably he has some of the other Indian lawyers he said he intended bringing with him on board, and among them they have persuaded the other Indians on board to sue for damages.

The Natal Advertiser of the 29th December contained the information about the alleged legal proceedings, and it came out with the following, the next day:

The feeling against the wholesale importation of free Indians has steadily increased in Durban, and the recent arrival of 700 more Indians of this class by the steamers Courland and Naderi, would seem to have aggravated the feeling. The announcement that an Indian clique intended to sue the Natal Government for heavy damages for the detention of the steamers in the anchorage, apparently brought the question into more painful prominence still, for yesterday afternoon rumours were quickly circulated in town to the effect that some protestation against the landing of any more free Indians should be made. Some suggestions were made in all seriousness that a mass of Europeans should proceed to the Point on the day fixed for the disembarkation of the Indians from the Courland and Naderi, to actually prevent passengers landing. The method mooted was for the Europeans to form human lines three or four deep, and with locked hands and arms, offer a complete bar to the immigrants. Such, however, was probably merely general talk. The growth of the anti-Asiatic feeling is unquestionable, and is plainly evidenced by the following advertisement, which appears in another column at the head of the signature of Mr. Harry Sparks: ‘Wanted every man in Durban to attend a meeting to be held in the large room at the Victoria Cafe, on Monday evening next, at 8 o’clock, for the purpose of a demonstration to proceed to the Point, and protest against the landing of Asiatics.’

Your Memorialists would beg to draw your attention to the distinction between the causes that led up to the Demonstration and that have been alluded to hereinbefore, and the immediate causes described above. It is quite possible that the Demonstration may not have taken place but for the above-mentioned statements which appeared in the Press. They were, however, absolutely without ground. Even if they were true, your Memorialists submit, the action of the Demonstration Committee could not be justified. As it was, the members of the Committee did an injustice to the European, native, and the Indian communities in the Colony as well as to themselves and Mr. Gandhi: to the European community, because their action created a lawless spirit amongst them; to the native, because the presence of that element at the Point, no matter by whom brought about, tended to excite their passions and warlike spirit, over which, when once aroused, they have little control; to the Indian, because they were subjected to a severe trial, and the bitterness of feeling against them was considerably accentuated owing to the action of the Committee; to themselves, because they took upon themselves the tremendous responsibility of defying law and order, without ascertaining the truth of their statements; and to Mr. Gandhi, because owing to gross misrepresentations, no doubt made unwittingly, about him and his doings, he very nearly lost his life. Instead of there being 800 passengers for Natal, there were only 600 in all, of whom about 200 were for Natal, the rest being for Delagoa Bay, Mauritius, and the Transvaal; and of these 200, over 100 were old residents of Natal who had gone to India and returned, and less than 100 were newcomers, including about 40 ladies, being wives and relations of the Indian residents of Natal; and the remaining 60 were either storekeepers, their assistants, or hawkers. There was not a single blacksmith or compositor on board, neither was there a printing plant. Mr. Gandhi publicly denied, through the interviewer of The Natal Advertiser, that he ever instigated anybody on board to bring an action against the Government for illegal quarantine;[12] and this denial has not been contradicted. Moreover, it is easy to see how the rumour arose. As would appear from what has preceded, the owners and the agents threatened some action against the Government for what they considered to be illegal quarantine and detention. Rumour ascribed such an action to the passengers and The Natal Mercury erroneously inferred that Mr. Gandhi must have had a hand in the matter. He has, moreover, denied through the same channel that there is any organization led by him to swamp the Colony with Indians. And your Memorialists may here assure Her Majesty’s Government that no such organization exists under Gandhi, who was a passenger on the Courland. That he was a passenger by that ship was mere accident. Your Memorialists telegraphed for him on November 13th,[13] and he booked his passage in the Courland, she being the earliest convenient boat for Natal after that date. These denials are easy of verification at any time, and if they are true, then, your Memorialists submit, it behaves the Government of Natal to allay popular feeling by publishing their opinion.

Some of the incidents of the quarantine are worthy of record, as showing that the quarantine was more a political move against the Indians than a safeguard against the introduction of the bubonic plague into the Colony. It was first imposed to complete 23 days from the day of departure of the ships from Bombay. The Committee’s report above alluded to (App. Q) advised 12 days’ quarantine after disinfection and fumigation. No steps were taken to disinfect and fumigate till after the expiry of 11 days after the arrival of the ships at Durban. In the mean while, the signals of distress for water and food were tardily attended to, doctors were said to have been privately interviewed by the Hon. the Attorney-General, and asked to give their opinion regarding the period of quarantine (App. P); passengers’ clothing and beds were burnt, and, though they were to remain on board for 12 days after such destruction, the Government made no provision for the supply of bedding and clothing, in spite of the signals from the vessels. And but for the charity of a few welldisposed Indians in Durban,[14] the passengers would have been obliged to remain, for that period, without proper clothing and any bedding, perhaps with grievous injury to their constitutions. With due deference to the authorities, your Memorialists cannot help observing further that so much was the disregard shown by them for the welfare of the Indian community that even the mails on board the ships were not taken away and delivered before ten days had elapsed after their arrival causing serious inconvenience to Indian merchants. To further emphasize the above contention, your Memorialists would draw your attention to the fact that, even after the pratique was given and the Courland was moored into the channel, she was not allowed a berth at the wharf for some days, while the steamers that arrived thereafter were provided with berths before she was, as will appear from the following:

The Captain of the Courland calls our attention to the fact that although his vessel has been inside the Port since last Wednesday, he has been unable to secure a berth at the main wharf. Several vessels have arrived within the past few days, and although the Courland might have been expected to have prior claim for a berth, the later arrivals have already secured quay berths, while the Courland remains in the stream. The Courland has about 900 tons of cargo to discharge, and requires about 400 tons of coal. The expense of lighterage to and from the Bluff moorings will amount to a considerable sum.—The Natal Advertiser, 19th January, 1897.

Your Memorialists may be permitted to quote from the various newspapers to show how the Demonstration was viewed before and after it took place:

Natal’s present action in connection with the immigration of Indians is not well balanced. To the outside world, the fierceness of the agitation, which has suddenly risen at Durban against the landing of more Indians, is in strange contrast to the fact that Natal has all along been, practically, the one gateway through which these Asiatics have found admittance to South Africa. It was hardly to be expected that the country which had for so long openly encouraged Indian immigration should quite suddenly turn round upon two ship-loads of them awaiting disembarkation at Durban, and ostentatiously threaten to resort to violence to prevent their landing. By going to such an extreme, the people of Durban, who have identified themselves with the agitation, can hardly be congratulated on their attitude. It is altogether unfortunate that they have gone so far, because, whatever happens now, they are doomed to disappointment and humiliation. . . After all is said and done, a large number of the people of Natal know that they have derived very considerable benefit from the presence of the Indian in their Colony. It is surely a fair inference that these continued arrivals of fresh batches of Indians in Natal are the result of the knowledge having reached them that their predecessors had fared well in their new conditions. Now, it may be asked, how could the earlier contingents of Indians have prospered in Natal had they not been, one way or another, assisted by the European settlers? And it may be taken for granted that the Europeans could not thus have assisted the Indian immigrants to prosper had they not, at the same time, been thereby helping on their own prosperity as well. The Indians who come to Natal are of two classes, the indentured and the free. Both these classes have found, despite their superficial antagonism, that the Europeans have been ready to employ or “support” them, and have thereby not merely made them satisfied with their own amelioration but have thus encouraged further arrivals. The indentured Indians are, for the most part, utilized by the European agriculturists; the free Indians who desire to engage in trade are supported by the European merchants, while the remainder are, in one way or another, encouraged to come and to remain in the country for domestic purposes. That the indentured Indian has proved to be an absolute necessity in Natal, owing to the indifferent and unreliable labour procurable from the Kaffir population, is evidenced by the fact that they are employed in thousands as farm and domestic servants, and that further indentures for hundreds more go to India by almost every mail.
“But,” it is often said, “the objection is not to the indentured, but to the free Indian.” In the first place, however, the indentured coolie is destined ultimately to become free. So that, while importing them under indentures, the people of Natal are thus practically ensuring large and continuous contributions to the free Indian population. An attempt has been made, it is true, to compel the return of indentured Indians at the conclusion of their contract, but the law could not be made compulsory. Then, as regards the free Indians, these are engaged either in commerce, agriculture, or domestic service. In none of these directions could they possibly succeed except through the direct help of the Europeans. As regards the Indian trader, he receives his initial “support” from the European merchants. It would probably be difficult to find a single commercial house of any standing in Durban which has not scores of Indians as “clients”. The coolie “farmer” is encouraged and maintained by the Europeans in two ways: he has to rent or buy his land from the original European possessor, and his products are, for the most part, consumed in the European households. If it were not for the coolie marketgardeners and hawkers, the people of Durban (and other parts of the Colony) would find themselves very badly off for many kitchen requisites. Then, with respect to the Indian domestic servants, the only remark necessary is that, as a body, they have proved themselves to be much superior, in capacity, reliability and obedience, to the average Kaffir. It would probably be found, on close examination, that several of those who have associated themselves with the recent agitation have Indians in their employ. Indians are also largely engaged in Government service, while the Government also provides them with the means of education, and consequently of advancement. Seeing, then, that the Europeans are primarily responsible for the benefits that have accrued to those Indians already in the Colony, it has the appearance of unreasonableness on their part to suddenly oppose the landing of any more. But, in addition to all this, there is the Imperial aspect of the question. This is the most formidable of all. So long as Natal remains a part of the British Empire (a circumstance which depends on Britain and not Natal), so long will the Imperial Government insist that the laws of the Colony shall not be repugnant to the general welfare and development of the Empire. India is part of the Empire; and the Imperial and Indian Governments are imbued with a determination to prove to the civilized world that the retention of India by Britain is for the benefit of the Indians. This, however, would not be the case if something could not be done to relieve the congested districts of India of their surplus population. This can only be effected by encouraging the Indians in those parts to emigrate. Britain has not the power nor the wish to force the surplus Indian population upon any country. But she certainly has the power to decline to allow any portion of the British Empire, where her Indian subjects are sought for by one section of the community, to shut its gates against them at the behest of another section of the same community. And so far as Natal is concerned, judging from the number of requisitions that go to India for further supplies of Indian labour, were anything to take place by which that supply was stopped, Natal and not India would be the greater sufferer.—Star, Friday, 8th January, 1897.
We regard the proceedings as, to say the least, premature, and we cannot regard without apprehension a demonstration which is practically in the direction of mob law . . . The Colony must guard against putting itself in the wrong, which would be the effect of any outburst of violence, before it was definitely ascertained whether a constitutional agitation would be successful . . . Meanwhile, we would once more urge upon the leaders of the extreme party to weigh well the responsibilities they are incurring. —The Natal Advertiser, 5th January, 1897.
If the leaders of the extreme party decide that it is necessary, they must incur a heavy responsibility, and be prepared to face the consequences . . . It might emphasize the fact that Natal wants no more Asiatics, but would it not also emphasize the allegations of injustice and unfair treatment which have been brought against the Colonists? —The Natal Advertiser, 7th January, 1897.
Of the two thousand people said to have been at the meeting, we imagine but a small proportion will be ready to do what is illegal. There exists no lawful power by which the quarantined Asiatics can be sent back, or by which others can be prevented coming in, and, further, the British House of Commons would never consent to any law preventing Indian subjects from migrating to any part of the Empire. Although annoying in the present instance, yet it should not be forgotten that recognition of individual liberty is the sheet-anchor of the Constitution. Great Britain herself is suffering acutely from black and yellow competition . . . Many, who are loudest in their condemnation of the Asiatic in the abstract, do not hesitate to support him concretely by buying from him goods they find he sells cheaper.—The Times of Natal, 8th January, 1897.
The leaders of the Demonstration movement assumed grave responsibilities at Thursday’s meeting, and some of the speeches were not marked for mildness. Dr. MacKenzie, for instance, did not exercise as much discretion as he might have done, and his dark hints regarding the treatment of Mr. Gandhi were extremely incautious. The mobilization of people to the point of the disembarkation of the Indians from the Courland and Naderi is to be a “peaceable” one, it is said; but who is to guarantee that no personal harm will befall any of the Indian passengers, after the assembly was worked up? And who will be primarily and morally responsible if harm does attend the Demonstration? One leader, or a hundred leaders, may urge a few thousands of citizens to be calm; but what control would such leaders have over such an assembly, which naturally bears a bitter grudge against all free Indians, intensified against the new arrivals and Mr. Gandhi, by reason of the recent agitations? —The Natal Advertiser, 9th January, 1897.
The present agitation is, primarily, the outcome of the attempt to import Indian artisans by the Immigration Board, which the Press instantly and emphatically denounced . . . But because the Press will not go to extremes and support prematurely drastic measures, it is denounced in unmeasured terms . . . We must not blame the Imperial Government for hesitating to take drastic steps for the exclusion of Asiatics, when we recollect that, up to this moment, the Government machinery of Natal itself was utilized for the very purpose of importing these Asiatics to suit our own purposes. It may be argued that there is not the same objection to the indentured Indians as to the free Indians, which is quite true; but may it not appear to the Imperial Government, and to the Indian Government, too that distinction is made purely in our own interests, and that it is scarcely fair to encourage immigration of one class of Indians for our own benefit, and to clamour for the rigid exclusion of another class, because we imagine they are likely to do us harm?—The Natal Advertiser, 11th January, 1897.
They have a rough and ready diplomacy at Durban. There is none of your concerts of the powers, or diplomatic exchanges. The whole town goes down to the jetty, and announces that if certain of their fellow-subjects exercise their undoubted right to land, their blood will be upon their own head. Individually, they would be glad to buy cheaply from the frugal Indian; but collectively, they distrust themselves and each other. It is a pity that the agitators should have based their objections upon fallacious premises. The real grievance is an economical one based upon experience of which the theory is not generally understood. The soundest and most peaceable way is to form trade protection societies which shall insist upon a minimum price and a maximum wage . . . Durban is not east of Suez, being situated on nearly the same great circle; but the Durbanites seem to enter into the category of those among whom ‘there aint no ten commandments’, to say nothing of the Imperial Statute-book. It is not a method of civilized men to bring about reform by shooting one another in the streets. If the principles of economy are too hard for them, let them at least sail inside the law, which will be found a better friend than rioting, and the ‘thousand armed men’, that one imaginative agitator conjured up. Britain cannot afford to insult the legions of her Indian Empire; nor does she wish to do so, for protection is classed in the Islands in the deadly sense, and free trade comes in somewhere between the first four and the last six clauses of the decalogue. If Durban wishes autonomy, Durban will get it for the asking; but its people cannot expect the British Isles to countenance illegal action, or encourage unconstitutional agitation. —Digger’s News, 12th January, 1897.
The Natalians appear now to have lost their heads; and in their hysterical indignation have become desperate and contemplate violence against the much-maligned ‘coolie’. A demonstration has been organized, headed by a local butcher, and the whole town and Colony has taken up the hue and cry. There is something pathetically quixotic about this demonstrative body, each member of which binds himself to proceed to the quay and resist ‘by force, if necessary’ the landing of the Asiatics. It is furthermore said that those participating in the Demonstration intend to prove that they are in earnest, and that the men of Durban can organize an orderly yet emphatic demonstration in contradistinction to a riotous mob. The opinion is that the Indians would not land, and if the ships do bring them inside, those on board will at once recognize the futility of attempting to land when they see the crowd in opposition. Be that as it may, the present Demonstration resembles more the Knight of La Mancha’s mad tilt against the windmill than the action of soberminded Englishmen. The Colonists have become crazy and fanatical, and have lost much of the sympathy which they otherwise would have enlisted. There is nothing more ludicrous, we are told, than a British community in a state of excitement. In the words of Thomas Hood: ‘Evil is wrought by want of thought, as well as want of art,’ and the Europeans are undoubtedly prejudicing their cause in the action they are now taking.—The Johannesburg Times.
The opposition to the immigration of Indians to Natal is by no means the least momentous incident of Mr. Chamberlain’s term of office. The interests affected are so large, and so intimately concern Great Britain, that it is slight exaggeration to say the settlement of the difficulty is the most serious problem submitted to him during that time. The discarded immigrants are the representatives of a great population which has been taught to believe itself protected and nurtured by those who now refuse to grant a footing in a new land. India has been encouraged to look upon itself as a favoured daughter of the Empire, and, under the quixotic rule of various Viceroys, it has been taught to assert its independence in a way that is unhealthy for the uneducated Oriental to contemplate. Theory has broken down in practice. The frugal Indian, imported because of his power to assist the Colonist in working his country at a profit, has established himself as a dangerous trade competitor, has himself developed into a settler and a producer, and threatens to oust his old employer from the market. The problem which presents itself to Mr. Chamberlain is, therefore, by no means easy of solution. Morally, Mr. Chamberlain is bound to uphold the righteousness of the Indians’ position; economically, he is forced to admit the justice of the Colonists’ claim; politically, it passes the wit of man to decide which side to favour. —Star, Johannesburg, January 1897.
The mass meeting held in the Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, on account of the wet weather, instead of on the Market Square as previously arranged, lacked nothing either in number or enthusiasm. That hall, crowded with the manhood of Durban, the grimy son of toil sitting cheek by jowl with the professional man, showed unanimity among all classes of the population, and gave evidence of a stern determination to stop the organized attempt to flood the Colony with Asiatics Mr. Gandhi had made a big mistake in imagining that the Europeans of Natal would sit still while he organized an independent emigration agency in India to land his countrymen here at the rate of from 1,000 to 2,000 per month. He judged the European character badly in thinking that he would be allowed to work such a scheme with impunity. Despite all his cleverness, he has made a sorry mistake, and a mistake that will most certainly defeat absolutely the object he had in view. As the dominant and ruling race in this British Colony, he has forgotten that we have a trust reposed in us. Our forefathers won this country at the point of the sword, and left us the country as our birthright and heritage. That birthright we have to hand down to our sons and daughters, as it was handed down to us. It was left to us an entailed estate for all of British and European blood, and we should be false to the trust we have received were we to allow this fair land to be overrun with a people alien to us in blood, in habits, in traditions, in religion, and in everything that goes to make up national life. We have also a very serious responsibility as guardians of the welfare of the aboriginal inhabitants of the land. In Natal there are half a million of natives who look to the white man as the child looks to his father, and as a matter of fair dealing, to put the matter in its mildest aspect, we must safeguard, as far as possible, the rights of the natives of Natal, as the legitimate labourers of the Colony. Then, there are Indians already in the Colony. We brought most of them here, and it is only our duty to see that they are not subjected to the disabilities and disadvantages that would follow on such an influx of their countrymen as would make it a difficult matter for them to make an honest living. We have at least 50,000 Indians in the Colony at present—a population in excess of the European— amply sufficient. As regards the attitude of the Government in the matter, that was very ably explained by Mr. Wylie on Thursday afternoon . . .
. . . Dr. MacKenzie said he was thoroughly satisfied with the action of the Government, and all the members of the Committee were with him in that feeling of satisfaction. All, therefore, being in accord on the subject, it is sincerely hoped that the Demonstration will be a peaceable demonstration in every sense of the word. It should be used as an object-lesson to the Indians that the long-open doors of the Colony are about to be shut and that they must not, as hitherto, try to induce their friends and relations in India to follow them. A demonstration in itself, if it is kept well in hand, and if the programme outlined by the leaders is faithfully carried out, can do no harm. Only, as we have already pointed out, crowds are not easily controlled, and therefore, special responsibility attaches to the leaders. The leaders, however, seem confident of their ability to exercise this control, and are determined to carry out their proceeding to the Point, and if all goes well, the Demonstration will be so much more moral backing to the Government. It will also be an illustration of the true earnestness of the movement. Mr. Wylie very truly said that, while they must show the force they possessed, it was the men who could use that force without abusing it who gained their ends. We cannot insist too strongly on the necessity for the most perfect preservation of law and order. Ultimate success depends upon this, perhaps, as much as upon anything else, and we rely upon the good sense and sound judgment of those in charge of the Demonstration to see that the zeal of their followers does not overstep their discretion.—The Natal Mercury, 9th January, 1897.
After all that has been said and done in Durban during the past fortnight, with a view to intimidate the Indian passengers on board the steamships Courland and Naderi from landing, it must be candidly admitted that the Demonstration has come to an ignominious termination. Although the ringleaders of the Demonstration naturally seek to cover their defeat by claiming a victory, the whole affair has proved an utter fiasco so far as its original and avowed intention is concerned. This was nothing more nor less, than to compel the Indians on board the two steamers to return forthwith to India without touching Natal soil. That has not been accomplished . . . By no sudden and ill-considered action on their part, can the people of Natal interfere with the incursion, allowed by their existing laws, of immigrants from any country. It was, of course, possible that the recent Demonstration, got up against the latest arrivals from India, might have succeeded in scaring them away. But, after all, even supposing that had been the issue, it certainly would have brought the demonstrators little to be really proud of. It would have been a sorry victory had a small contingent of defenceless coolies been frightened away from the shores of Natal from fear of bodily maltreatment at the hands of the European settlers, assisted by a gang of whooping Kaffirs only too glad of an opportunity to demonstrate their dislike to their coolie competitors. It is far better that the Demonstration has “eventuated” as it has done. The only regrettable feature about Wednesday’s proceedings at Durban is the assault committed on Mr. Gandhi. It is true that the folks of Natal are highly incensed at his having published a pamphlet, charging them with badly treating their indentured Indians. We have not seen the publication in question, and if its charges are directed against Natalians as a community, then they are unfounded. There can be no doubt, however, as a case recently tried in the Natal courts plainly showed, that cases of extreme ill-usage have occurred on at least one of the estates, and Mr. Gandhi, as an educated Indian, cannot be altogether blamed if he strongly resents such treatment of his fellow-countrymen, and seeks to effect a remedy. As regards the assault on Mr. Gandhi, it does not, however, appear to have been perpetrated by any of the more respectable portion of the crowd, although the youths who sought to do Mr. Gandhi bodily harm were, no doubt, incited to do so by the unguarded utterances of some of the responsible organizers of the Demonstration. It was owing only to the alertness of the police that Mr. Gandhi escaped without serious injury, and perhaps with his life. . . . But South Africa is evidently passing through a stage in its transition which evolves abortive demonstrations as one of its characteristics. The whole country is still in its boyhood, and there is nothing a boy loves more than to refer his disputes to the gory arbitrement of physical force. Looked at in that way, this week’s doings at Durban may be excused with an indulgent smile. But regarded from any other standpoint, it is open to severe condemnation, as tending to retard rather than to advance the ultimate solution of a most complex political and economic question, not merely of importance to Natal, but to England, India, and the whole of South Africa.— Star, Johannesburg, January 1897.
Of what avail, then, was it to forbid a landing to the few hundred immigrants on the Naderi and Courland while the system of trading with Indians is in full swing? Years ago, before the present Act of the Volksraad was in force in the Free State, Arab stores were opened in Harrismith, and at once began to undersell the old-established houses by about 30 per cent. The Boers, who of all men protest against colour, flocked to the Arabs, and, while condemning the principle, were not above pocketing the profit. It is much the same in Natal today. The mention of blacksmiths, carpenters, clerks, printers, etc., as being among the passengers, aroused the “working classes”, and their cause was doubtlessly espoused by those who, in other ranks of life, were feeling the pressure of the ubiquitous Hindoo, and yet, probably, none of these men were mindful of the fact that they themselves are helping to make Natal a desirable objective point for the surplus labour of India. The vegetables, fruits, and fish that adorn a Natal dinner table are grown, caught, and hawked by coolies; the table linen is washed by another coolie, and, in all probability, the guests would be served by coolie waiters and partake of fare prepared by a coolie cook. Let the Natalians be consistent, and begin the work of ostracizing the Indian by dealing with their own poorer classes, in preference to coolies, and leave the question of restrictive legislation to their elected representatives. While Natal remains such a desirable abiding place for the Asiatic, and Natalians continue to profit largely by the cheap labour the dark man brings, the work of minimizing arrivals will certainly be difficult, if not hopelessly impossible, without legislation on the subject—D. F. News, January 1897.
It is fortunate for all concerned in Durban’s demonstration against the landing of Indian immigrants that, beyond the effervescent effects of the stump oratory of Dr. MacKenzie, and the inciting diatribes of Mr. Sparks and his neophyte Dan Taylor, nothing very serious has happened to the fair Colony of Natal, its distracted inhabitants, or the much maligned “coolies”. The pseudo-patriotic organizers of an ill-advised demonstration have attempted to play the Roman fool, and have died on their own swords, Luckily, we say, nothing more serious happened; but the folly of those who took upon themselves the hazardous task of calling the people together and suggesting such unconstitutional conduct was never more apparent during the whole time the hubbub lasted, than in the concluding acts of the Durban mob. Unsuccessful in their attempts to prevent the landing of the coolie immigrants, and doubtless humiliated and smarting under the fact that their Demonstration had been somewhat of a fiasco, the mob, in an ill-temper, turned its attention to Mr. Gandhi, an Indian barrister, whose worst crime, in the eyes of Natalians appears to be that he has interested himself in the cause of his fellows, and gratuitously assumed the position of interpreter for the Indians in South Africa. Up to this point the Demonstration had proved quite a harmless one, and might have been likened unto a Christmas pantomime; but, when Mr. Gandhi unostentatiously landed, and was proceeding quietly into town, with Mr. Laughton, an English solicitor, matters took a barbarous turn. We do not presume to take up the cause of the Indian in South Africa, neither do we champion Mr. Gandhi’s arguments, but the treatment to which that gentleman was subjected is scandalous and calls for censure. Mr. Gandhi was surrounded by a jeering crowd of hydrocephalous entities, and was made the vile object of kicks and cuffs, while mud and stale fish were thrown at him. One cad in the crowd struck him with a riding whip, while another plucked off his hat. As a result of the attack, we are told that ‘he was very much bespattered, and blood was flowing from his neck’. Subsequently, under police protection, Mr. Gandhi was conveyed to the store of a Parsee[15], the building was guarded by the borough police, and, ultimately, the Indian barrister made his escape incognito. No doubt, all this proved grand fun for the canaille, but apart from the morals of law and order, the British love of fair play must be rapidly on the wane in Durban, when Englishmen resort to such ungentlemanly behaviour and brutality towards an unconvicted free man. Downing Street and the Indian Government cannot be apathetic towards the violent attitude which has been adopted by Natalians towards a lawful subject of Britain’s “magnificent dependency”—India—a land which is spoken of as the brightest territorial jewel in the English diadem.—The Johannesburg Times, January 1897.
The illegal methods of intimidation, which the people of Durban have employed to raise their grievance into the magnitude they wish it to occupy, have been justified by the grave importance of the interests at stake and by the results so far achieved . . . Quietly, and without boast or bluster, they have all along had the movement under their aegis and control, although to some of the purblind people in the Colony it has seemed as if the administrative power had been transferred to the leaders of the Demonstration movement.—The Natal Mercury, January 14th, 1897.
It would be a mere affectation to pretend that the Demonstration was a success from the party’s point of view. All the oratory at the Point yesterday, which was couched in a very different key from that at the mass meetings, cannot obscure the fact that the primary object of the Demonstration, the prevention of the landing of the passengers on board the two steamers, has not been achieved. What has been gained could, as we have always maintained, have been equally attained by other means . . . What, we may ask, has been gained by yesterday’s proceedings? If it be said that they have shown the imperative need of doing something to stop the Asiatic invasion, we reply that was shown with equal force by the mass meetings, and was, in fact common cause. If it be urged that the Demonstration showed that the people were in were in earnest, we fear we cannot assent to the proposition, because the assembly dispersed on receiving from the representative of Government exactly the same assurances as they received a week ago. The Government then promised to bring in legislation to deal with the question. Mr. Escombe yesterday repeated the assurance; but he gave no further pledges; he did not agree to a special session of Parliament, nor did he promise to send the Indians back. The Committee in fact, now declare their readiness to leave the whole matter in the hands of Government, without the slightest reason for doing so more than existed a week ago, and while the proclaimed object of the Demonstration is unfulfilled. We are not surprised that a good many persons regard the affair as a mere fiasco—a brutum fulmen—and express the belief that the Durban people will not be very anxious to figure in another such demonstration. . . . The practical abdication by Government of its functions during the week, in favour of the Committee, was so extraordinary as to irresistibly produce a suspicion that it was all prearranged. The self-elected committee virtually constituted themselves a sort of provisional Government as regards this particular question. They regulated the movements of the steamers, and assumed the right to grant or refuse “permission” to persons to land on our shores who had as much title to be here as they had; they even proposed a Danegeld policy, to carry out which the public funds would be requisitioned. All this time Government looked on, made no preparations for the protection of the passengers, and contented themselves with a perfunctory protest. We are not now arguing whether the Committee were justified in their course. They thought they were, but that does not annul the fact that they virtually and quite illegally superseded the Government. A long series of negotiations ensues, during which the public is kept in a constant ferment of excitement, until at last the bugle sounds and all Durban rushes to the Point, prepared to do or die. Then, quite casually of course, at the psychological moment, the Attorney-General “bobs up serenely”, tells the people to be good boys and he will do all that is necessary—”fix your eyes upon your Escombe and he will pull you through”—the Committee declare, they had the least idea of doing anything in opposition to the Government, and are quite willing to leave it in the hands of the Government—cheers for the Queen— blessings all round—everybody goes home happy—Demonstration melts away as quickly as it gathered—while the now forgotten Indians quietly come ashore, just as if there had never been any demonstration at all. Who can resist the suspicion that it was a prearranged and foregone conclusion? It has been asserted by the Captain of the Courland that the Committee led him to believe that they were acting on behalf of the Government; and it has also been stated that Government knew and approved of what the Committee were doing. These statements, if correct, imply a serious imputation of the bona fides either of the Committee or the Government. If the Committee had the sanction of the Government, the latter were playing a double game by countenancing in private proceedings which were disapproved in their published reply. If not, the charge of duplicity must be shifted to the shoulders of the Committee. We should be loth to believe these statements, because it is not by such methods that a great cause is conducted to a successful issue.—The Natal Advertiser, 14th January 1897.
The letter we published yesterday, from the Demonstration Committee to the Captain of the Courland, does not sustain the charge previously made, that the Committee falsely represented themselves as acting on behalf of the Government, although, from its tone, and the reference to the Attorney-General, the Captain may be excused for coming to that conclusion. But it does afford ground for the alternative suspicion that, despite their published warnings against illegal action, the Government were practically in collusion with the Committee. According to this document, the Attorney-General, who had previously admitted that there was no legal means of keeping the Indians out of the Colony, went so far as to pledge the public funds to buying-off policy, at the dictum of a body with no legal status and pursuing illegal methods of intimidation, as is clearly shown by the terms of the letter. When that failed, came the Demonstration, with the opportune appearance of the Attorney-General on the scene. To use the old tag, comment is unnecessary.— The Natal Advertiser, 20th January 1897.
After all the speechifying and the parading, and the bugle-blowing of the past week, the citizens of Durban have fallen short of making history— unless, indeed, the discharge of a rotten potato at the eye of the unspeakable Gandhi may be considered as an historical act. The heroics of mob are apt to sink from the sublime to the ridiculous, and indifferent arguments are often accompanied by equally indifferent eggs . . . For a week the Natal Ministry permitted the situation to develop, without pretence at the feeblest intervention, their policy suggesting and unofficial sanction of the whole business. Then, when the Naderi and Courland are within a few hundred yards of the wharves, Mr. Escombe appears upon the scene, actively intervenes, and the people disperse, to vent their baffled feelings, a few hours later, by upsetting Gandhi’s ricksha, blacking his eye, and savagely assaulting the house in which he is lodged.—Cape Argus, January 1897.
A little explanation is still wanting in regard of the presence of a force of several hundred Kaffirs in the Demonstration. Did it mean that the cause of the white man and the cause of the native are one and the same? Or, what else did it symbolize? There is one thing in regard of which public opinion is unanimous. It may be unjust in the conclusion it has drawn. But the fact remains that people will not believe that the whole business was not a plot between the Government and the leaders of the late remarkable movement, but one in which the self-appointed Committee failed to score. It was delightfully dramatic. The Ministry handed over their powers to a Committee claimed to represent the people. Whatever you do, they said, act constitutionally. The word was passed round and the magic of constitutional action took effect, though not a soul to this moment knows what it means. The Ministry acted constitutionally, and promised not to interpose if the peace were broken. They would only go to the Governor, and ask to be relieved of office. The Committee acted quite constitutionally in organizing a force, including natives, to oppose by force the landing of British subjects in a British Colony. The concluding act of this pretty drama was played at the Point, when the Committee handed back their powers to Mr. Escombe, reinstated the Government, and everyone went home satisfied. The Committee claimed a moral victory, though they had been beaten from pillar to post; the Ministry pirouetted on their “single plank”; and the Indians, who were never to be allowed to land, landed promiscuously as soon as the crowd had dispersed.— The Natal Witness, January 1897.
Nothing of what Mr. Wylie stated to the Durban meeting, as having been said by Mr. Escombe to the deputation, has even been traversed, much less denied. It stands on record, then, that the Ministry, on the slightest appearance of a riot at Durban, had resolved that mob law should be supreme. “We shall say to the Governor that he will have to take the reins of Government into his own hands.” Everyone is aware that we are rapidly nearing another general election, but no one could possibly have thought that any Ministry would have played so low, to gain votes, as to give the population of a large town freedom to break the law.—The Natal Witness, January 1897.
They cannot go on importing indentured Indians by the hundreds and at the same time shut out free Indians; otherwise they will meet with disappointment. —Pretoria Press, January 1897.
According to Mr. Wylie’s report of the interview between the promoters of the anti-Indian agitation and Mr. Escombe, the attitude of the Government in the matter appears to be open to grave animadversion. Plainly, though in covert wording, according to Mr. Wylie’s version, the Committee proposed to do what was illegal, and added: “We presume that you, as representing the Government and good authority of this Colony, would have to bring force to oppose us?” To this Mr. Escombe is represented to have replied: “We will do nothing of the sort. We are with you, and we are going to do nothing of the sort to oppose you. But if you put us in such a position we may have to go to the Governor of the Colony and ask him to take over the reins of this Colony, as we can no longer conduct the Government—you will have to find some other persons.” According to this account, the Government have made a confession of most deplorable weakness. A minister, on being informed that a body of people propose doing what is unlawful, should, without a moment’s hesitation, inform his interviewers that the course of law will in no degree be interfered with, and if the occasion calls for it, that minister should say out bluntly that the law, at all costs, will be supported by all available resources. Mr. Escombe, on the other hand, said in effect that the Government would do nothing to oppose the unlawful action proposed. This playing into the hands of men who speak publicly of the Indian Ocean as being the proper place of the Indian immigrants, shows regrettable weakness in a member of the Government in office.—The Times of Natal, January 1897.

The above extracts speak for themselves. Almost every newspaper has condemned the Demonstration, and they further go to show that the Government countenanced the action of the Committee. Your Memorialists may here remark that the leaders of the Demonstration have since denied that there was any “collusion” between the Government and themselves. Nevertheless, the fact remains, and it is patent from the above extracts, that had the Government contradicted the statement made by Mr. Wylie as to the conversation between Mr. Escombe and himself, and publicly declared that the passengers were not only entitled to the protection of the Government, but that it would be given to them, the Demonstration would never have taken place. As the Government organ itself has said, the Government “had the movement under their aegis and control” while it was developing. Indeed, it seems from that article that they were rather anxious that such a Demonstration should take place, if only the crowd could be managed properly and kept under sway, so that it may serve as an object-lesson to the passengers. To say the least, such a method of intimidation being sanctioned or countenanced by a Government in a British Colony is, with the greatest deference to the Natal Government, a new experience, opposed to the most cherished principles of the British Constitution. The after effects of the Demonstration, in your Memorialists’ humble opinion, cannot but be disastrous to the welfare as well of the whole Colony as of the Indian community, who claim to be as much a part of the British Empire as the European British subjects. It has already intensified the estranged feelings between the two communities. It has lowered the status of the Indians. All this, your Memorialists humbly submit and hope, cannot and will not be viewed with unconcern by Her Majesty’s Government. If those who are responsible for the upkeep of the harmony of the British Empire and justice between the various sections of the subjects assist in creating or encouraging division and ill feeling between them, the task of persuading those sessions to keep in harmony, in face of conflict of diverse interests, must be ever so much more difficult. And if Her Majesty’s Government grant the principle that the Indian British subjects are to have freedom of intercourse with all Her Majesty’s Dominions, then, your Memorialists venture to trust that there will be some pronouncement from the Imperial Government that would preclude the possibility of such deplorable partiality on the part of Colonial Governments.

The following remarks by The Natal Advertiser of January 16, about the behaviour of the Indian community during the crisis are worthy of record:

The behaviour of the Indian population of Durban during the excitement of the week was all that could be desired. They must have felt sore at the attitude of the townspeople towards their fellow-countrymen. But there was no attempt at retaliation; and by their quiet, peaceable behaviour, and faith in Government, they certainly contributed to the preservation of public order.

Your Memorialists would have refrained from any further reference to the incident in connection with Mr. Gandhi, but for the fact that, since he acts as an interpreter between the two communities in Natal, any misapprehension with regard to his position may seriously damage the Indian cause. Sufficient has been said herein to justify what he did in India in the name of the Indians in South Africa. But, for further explanations as to the matter, your Memorialists hereby refer Her Majesty’s Government to Appendix Y, wherein are collected certain extracts from newspapers. Your Memorialists have been praying Her Majesty’s Government, in the memorials that have preceded this, to define the status of Indian British subjects outside India, and humbly submitting that, in virtue of the gracious Proclamation of 1858, that status should be equal to that of Her Majesty’s all other subjects. Indeed, it has already been defined by His Excellency the Marquis of Ripon, in a despatch with reference to the Colonies, to the effect that “it is the desire of Her Majesty’s Government that the Queen’s Indian subjects should be treated upon a footing of equality with all Her Majesty’s other subjects”, but so many changes have since taken place that a formal pronouncement has evidently become necessary, especially in view of the fact that laws have since been passed in the Colony which are in conflict with that policy.

Another incident of the Demonstration, your Memorialists submit, is worth noting, viz., the massing of natives at the Point. It has already been alluded to above; but the following letter from Mr. G. A. de Labistour, a leading burgess of the town to the Town Council, and the remarks thereon of The Natal Mercury, the Government organ, would give a better idea of the gravity of the situation:

‘Gentlemen—I was one of many burgesses who viewed with concern the rowdy behaviour of the natives who took part in the Demonstration yesterday. Along the Point Road several parties of natives, brandishing sticks and shouting at the top of their voices, had taken possession of the pavement, and at the Point about 500 or 600 boys, mostly Togt boys, all armed with sticks and singing and shouting, congregated with, apparently, the avowed object of committing a breach of the peace. Particulars of this deplorable matter are easily available.
The evil effect on the natives in general of yesterday’s proceedings will be accentuated, and race hatred fostered, unless steps are at once taken to show that your honourable body, as custodians of law and order in this town, will not countenance conduct of this sort. It can easily be understood that the massing or congregating together of a body of natives, such as that at yesterday’s Demonstration, is a source of great danger to the town, as, for instance, was the case on the occasion of the massing of natives on the racecourse in their feud with the police some time ago.
I submit that the native element in yesterday’s Demonstration has cast on the fair name of Durban a blot which it is your duty to at once wipe out, and I venture to say that your taking up the matter with a vigorous hand will be viewed with satisfaction by the majority of your burgesses. I respectfully suggest that, as a first step, the Corporation should cause an enquiry to be made as to who is responsible for the massing of these natives, their behaviour and control on the occasion alluded to; and, further, that to prevent a repetition of such conduct, special bye-laws be passed, in case those at present in force are found insufficient to cope with the evil.
This is rendered all the more necessary as no reference was made by the Honourable the Attorney-General to the rowdy and dangerous element created by the facts referred to. I, however, feel confident that his regrettable omission to do so only arose from the fact that he did not witness what I and others saw. The Togt boys are easily traceable, I should think; others were servants of members of the Committee, one of them especially having taken advantage of the occurrence to advertise his firm by sending down his store boys, each armed with two or three sticks, with his firm’s name appearing in glaring letters on their backs.
Mr. Labistour’s letter to the Corporation, drawing attention to the danger incurred in the massing of a body of natives armed with sticks for the purposes of the Demonstration on Wednesday, and calling on the Town Council to enquire into the matter, should not be overlooked. We believe the Demonstration Committee were not in any way responsible for the native impi being at the Point; but the natives did not go down there of their own initiative, and it would be as well if the matter were fully investigated and the onus thrown upon the individuals who took upon themselves so grave a responsibility. As Mr. Labistour quite properly remarks, the native element at the Demonstration was a blot on the fair name of Durban, and might have been productive of the most dire results. There is no love lost between the Indian and the native as it is, and to bring together a band of natives and incite them against the Indians may even yet be productive of serious trouble. The native has no reasoning powers in a matter of the kind. His passions are like tinder and his instincts are warlike. The slightest provocation, and he is all aflame and ready for anything where there is shedding of blood. An even more disgraceful incident was inciting the natives to attack Indians after Mr. Gandhi landed and was lodged in Field Street. Had the police not been on the alert and succeeded in dispersing the natives, Wednesday night would have ended in one of the most disgraceful riots any British Colony ever witnessed, in so far that a savage warlike race had been set upon a more civilised, peaceful people by men of a higher race than either. The disgrace would have clung to the Colony for many a long day. Instead of arresting the four kaffirs who flourished their sticks and whooped in Field Street on Wednesday evening, the white men who brought them there and encouraged them ought to have been brought up before the magistrate and fined as heavily in proportion as the Kaffirs were fined. It was rather hard on the kaffirs to make them scapegoats for really obeying the orders of men who ought to have known better. To call in the natives in a matter of the kind is to exhibit to them a weakness which, above all things, should be avoided, and we trust there will never be a repetition of so dangerous and disgraceful a practice as exciting the racial prejudices of so inflammatory an element as the natives.—The Natal Mercury, 16th January, 1897.

It would perhaps assist Her Majesty’s Government in coming to a conclusion if certain facts were placed before them pertaining to the matter. The demand for restriction of free immigration of Indians has been based on the supposition that, of late, there has been a very large influx of Indians into the Colony, irrespective of any organization. Your Memorialists, however, have no hesitation in saying that the alarm is not justified by facts. It is not correct to say that more Indians have come to the Colony during the last year than during the last but one. Formerly, they came by the German boats as well as by those of the B.I.S.N. Co. Since the latter boats transshipped their passengers in other boats at Delagoa Bay, the Indians came in small batches and were, naturally, not much noticed. Two Indian merchants bought steamers last year and established a fairly regular and direct service between Bombay and Natal. Most of the Indians wishing to come to South Africa availed themselves of this service, and thus, instead of being divided into small batches, they came all at once, and thus drew attention. Moreover, no one seemed to take any notice of those that returned to India. From the following list it will be clear that there has not been a material addition to the free Indian population; certainly not in any way large enough to justify the alarm. It is also worthy of note that the European immigration is and has almost always been in excess of the free Indian immigration.

A return signed by Mr. G. O. Rutherford, Acting Protector of Immigrants, shows that from August last to January seven steamship firms deported 1,298 free Indians from the Colony; the same companies introduced 1,964 Indians in the same time, most of the immigrants coming from Bombay.—The Natal Mercury, 17th March, 1897.

There is no foundation for the statement that there is any competition between European and free Indian artisans. Your Memorialists can speak from their own knowledge that there are very few Indian mechanics and artisans in the Colony, such as blacksmiths, carpenters, bricklayers, etc., and those that are, are inferior to the European. (The Indian artisans of high order do not come to Natal.) There are a few tailors and goldsmiths in the Colony, but they minister to the wants only of the Indian community. As to the competition between the Indian and European traders, it has been well said, in some of the extracts quoted above, that, if there is any competition, it is rendered possible by the large support given by the European merchants. But the very fact that the European merchants are willing, nay anxious, to support Indian traders, shows that they do not compete with them to any appreciable extent. They, really speaking, act as middlemen and begin where the Europeans leave. The Commissioners, who were specially appointed to report upon Indian matters nearly 10 years ago, thus report as to the Indian traders:

We are convinced that much of the irritation existing in the minds of European Colonists against the whole Indian population of the Colony has been excited by the undoubted ability of these Arab traders to compete with European merchants, and specially with those who have chiefly directed their attention to the supply of articles, notably rice, largely consumed by the Indian immigrant population. . . .
We are of opinion that these Arab traders have been drawn to Natal by the presence therein of those Indians who have been introduced under the immigration laws. Rice is the chief food of the 30,000 Indian immigrants now in the Colony; and these astute traders have so successfully devoted their tact and energy to the supply of that article that the price to all consumers fell from 21s. per bag in former years to 14s. in 1884 . . . It is said that kaffirs can buy from Arabs at from 25 to 30% lower rates than those obtaining six or seven years ago . . .
It does not lie within the scope of our Commission to discuss at length the restrictive measures which some desire to impose upon Asiatics or “Arab” traders. We are content to place on record our strong opinion, based on much observation, that the presence of these traders has been beneficial to the whole Colony, and that it would be unwise, if not unjust, to legislate to their prejudice. (The italics are your Memorialists.) . . . Nearly all of them are Mahomedans, either total abstainers from alcoholic liquors or drinking them in moderation. They are thrifty by nature and submissive to the law.

Mr. Saunders, one of the Commissioners, says in his additional report:

So far as concerns free Indian traders, their competition and the consequent lowering of the price of articles of consumption by which the public benefits (and yet, strange to say, of which it complains), it is clearly shown that these Indian shops have been and are most exclusively supported by the larger firms of white merchants who thus, practically employ these men to dispose of their goods.
Stop Indian immigration if you will, if there are not enough unoccupied houses now, empty more by clearing out Arabs or Indians, who add to the productive and consuming power of a less than half-peopled country, but let us trace results in this one branch of the enquiry taking it as an example of others, trace out how untenanted houses depreciate the value of property and securities, how after this must result stagnation in the building trade, and those other trades and stores for supplies dependent on it. Follow out how this leads to a reduced demand for white mechanics, and with the reduction in spending power of so many, how fall of revenue is to be expected next, need of retrenchment, or taxation, or both. Let this result and others far too numerous to be calculated on in detail be faced, and if blind race sentimentalism or jealousy is to prevail, so be it.

At a meeting lately held in Stanger, one of the speakers (Mr. Clayton) said:

Not only the coolie labourer, he said, but the Arab storekeeper had been of benefit to the Colony. He knew it was an unpopular view to take, but he had looked at the question from every point of view. What did they find? The erven round the Market Square were bringing in a good percentage through the presence of Arab storekeepers. The owners of land had been benefited by the coolies taking up land that would never be taken up by anybody else. At the auction sale, the other day, erven abutting on the Market Square fetched a price that would have been out of the question years ago. The Indians had created a trade—a trade that would never have been brought here by the old system of storekeeping. He was quite willing to admit that here and there an European storekeeper had been ruined by the Indians, but their presence here was better than the old days when a few storekeepers had the monopoly. Wherever they met with an Arab, they always found him amenable to law. They had heard it said that the Colonists should not give away their birthright— that the Indians should not be allowed to enter upon the possession of their lands. He was pretty confident that his children, rather than have to work any land he might be able to leave them, would prefer to let it to Indians at reasonable rents. He did not think that that meeting was justified in coming to a wholesale condemnatory resolution of the Asiatics.

A regular correspondent of The Natal Mercury thus writes:

We brought the coolies here as a necessity, and, undoubtedly they have been a great help towards the progress of Natal. . . .
Twenty-five years ago, in the towns and townships, fruit, vegetables, and fish could hardly be bought. A cauliflower sold for half a crown. Why did not farmers go in for market gardening? There may have been some laziness, but on the other hand, to grow wholesale was useless. I have known the case of cart-loads of fruit, etc., sent a long way, but in good condition to the city, unsaleable. The party who would give half a crown for a stray cauliflower would naturally demur to give a shilling for one, when he saw a wagon-load of them. Here we needed an industrious class of hawkers who could live cheaply and find pleasure and profit in supplying these wants, and we got it in the time-expired indentured coolie. And for waiters and cooks, public or private, the coolie has supplied the want, for in these matters the mass of our natives are awkward, and when not, as soon as carefully taught, are off to their kraals.
The free coolie labourer, if an artisan, will work longer hours and take a lower wage cheerfully than the European mechanic, and the coolie trader will sell a cotton blanket three half-pence cheaper than the white storekeeper. That is all.
Surely the great economic cry of supply and demand, your patriotic league of British subjects, your glorious cry of Free Trade, which John Bull pays through the nose for to show his faith in, all forbid this outcry.
Australia has forbidden coloured immigration. The strikes and band smashes do not make that a grand example. Coolies wear lighter clothes and slippers than Europeans; anyway, that is an advance on our location native, and, many years ago, boots were rarely seen on white men or women on farms, or children even among the uppish classes of the city, except when they went to the park or meeting. Their feet seemed none the worse, though bad for shoemakers. Coolies don’t eat meat or drink beer, etc. Again, I dare say, bad for butchers and licenced victuallers. Depend upon it, all these things will find their level, but to force by Act of Parliament (beyond what decency and sobriety call for the common weal) what people are to eat and drink and wear is tyranny, not beneficent legislation. Crowds of white immigrants are kept out.

Are they? With our native population, unless you can shunt the whole lot, white men will not work for a mere living wage in this Colony. They would rather be loafers.

We cannot get out of it. Ours is a black Colony, and much as I like our natives in their proper place, and the coolies [sic], too, who is more willing to keep it [sic] in his, the While man’s role is and must be to be boss. Stop at that, I do not want to talk of how poor farmers cannot afford to pay their fashionable friends, the town artisans, their price, and are very glad to put up with even indifferent work by an off-coloured mechanic; but I would appeal to the skilled workmen to be content to regulate their own tariffs, and not be afraid of indifferent opposition—a good man is always worth his full value— but avoid, because they are numerically strong in the towns, a class agitation, a race quarrel. It is the same with the good tradesmen, and though the owners of country stores may have to cut their prices finer, they won’t be ruined. Four hundred gallons of treacle for cash per week isn’t bad. Talk of the federation of the Empire, and we are tabooing our fellow-subjects of India, whose warriors have fought shoulder to shoulder with ours, whose armies have upheld the honour of the flag on many a gory field! There are plenty of European stores in India, and well patronized and flourishing, too.

It is, in your Memorialists’ humble opinion, because the Indians sell the wares for the European merchants, that there are so many large European houses which afford employment to hundreds of European clerks and assistants. Your Memorialists submit that an industrious and frugal class of men, as the Indians are admitted to be even by their most virulent opponents, cannot but on the whole add to the general prosperity, wealth, and consequently material happiness of the place they go to. The Star sums up the situation with regard to the Uitlanders in the Transvaal—the class of people who so inconsistently object to the presence of the Indians in South Africa, in the following words:

South Africa is a new country. It should therefore be open to all. Poverty should be no bar to admission. The vast majority of those now in affluence, came here originally with only the proverbial half-crown in their pockets. By all means let us keep the population reputable; do so however, by the just and stringent enforcement of local laws against vagrancy and roguery, and not by the arbitrary exclusion of new arrivals before it is possible to know whether under the better conditions of a new country they might not take their place amongst useful citizens of the land.

These remarks with the necessary changes are word for word applicable to the Indian community; and if the position there taken up is correct and acceptable with reference to the Uitlanders, much more, your Memorialists venture to submit, should it be in the present case.

The Natal Government, in virtue of their promise to the Demonstration Committee, propose to introduce the following three Bills into the Honourable Legislative Assembly, which sits on the 18th instant:

QUARANTINE[16]: (1) Whenever any place has been proclaimed, under Law 4, 1882, as an infected place; the Governor-in-Council may, by a further Proclamation, order that no person shall be landed from any ship coming from such place. (2) Any such order shall also extend to a ship having on board passengers who have come from a proclaimed place, notwithstanding that they may have embarked at some other place, or that the ship has not touched at the proclaimed place. (3) Any such order as aforesaid shall be in force until revoked by a further Proclamation. (4) Any person who shall land in contravention of this Act, shall, if practicable, be at once returned to the ship in which he came to Natal, and the master of such ship shall be bound to receive such person on board, and to convey him from the Colony at the expense of the owners of the ship. (5) The master and owners of any vessel from which any person shall be landed in contravention of this Act shall be liable to a penalty of not less than one hundred pounds sterling for each person so landed, and the vessel may be made executable by a decree of the Supreme Court in satisfaction of any penalty, and the vessel may be refused a clearance outwards until such penalty has been paid and until provision has been made by the master for the conveyance out of the Colony of each person who may have been so landed.

LICENCES[17]: (1) Any Town Council or Town Board may, from time to time, appoint an Officer to issue the annual licences (not being licences under Act 38, 1896) required in the Borough or Township by wholesale or retail dealers. (2) Any person appointed to issue licences for wholesale or retail dealers under Law 38, 1884, or any like Stamp Act, or under this Act, shall be deemed to be a “Licensing Officer” within the meaning of this Act. (3) A Licensing Officer shall have discretion to issue or refuse a wholesale or retail licence not being a licence under Act 38, 1896; and a decision come to by a Licensing Officer as to the issue or refusal of a licence shall not be liable to review, reversal, or alteration by any court of law or otherwise than is in the next section provided. (4) There shall be a right of appeal[18] from the decision of a Licensing Officer to the Colonial Secretary as regards licences issuable under Law 38, 1884, or other similar Act, and in other cases to the Town Council or Town Board, according to the circumstances, and the Colonial Secretary, or, as the case may be, the Town Council or the Town Board, may direct that the licence, the subject of appeal, shall be issued or cancelled. (5) No licence shall be issued to any person who, when thereto required, fails to show to the satisfaction of the Licensing Officer that he is able to fulfil the conditions of the Insolvency Law 47, 1887, Section 180, sub-section (a), as regards the keeping of such books of account in the English language as are usual and proper in the business to be carried on. (6) No licence shall be issued in respect of premises which are unfit for the intended trade, or unprovided with proper and sufficient sanitary arrangements, or not affording sufficient and suitable accommodation for salesmen, clerks, and servants, apart from the stores or rooms in which goods and wares may be kept.[19] (7) Any person who shall carry on any wholesale or retail trade or business, or who shall allow licensed premises to be in a condition which could disentitle him to a licence, shall be deemed to have contravened this Act, and shall be liable to a penalty of £20 for each offence, to be recovered by any Licensing Officer in the Court of the Magistrate.

TO RESTRICT IMMIGRATION[20]: (1) This Act may be known as “The Immigration Restriction Act, 1897.” (2) This Act shall not apply to: (a) Any person possessed of a certificate in the form set out in the Schedule A[21] to this Act annexed, and signed by the Colonial Secretary or the Agent-General of Natal or any officer appointed by the Natal Government for the purposes of this Act, whether in or out of Natal. (b) Any person of a class for whose immigration into Natal provision is made by law or by a scheme approved by Government. (c) Any person specially exempted from the operation of this Act by a writing under the hand of the Colonial Secretary. (d) Her Majesty’s land and sea forces. (e) The officers and crew of any ship of war of any Government. (f) Any person duly accredited to Natal by or under the authority of the Imperial or any other Government. (3) The immigration into Natal, by land or sea, of any person of any of the classes defined in the following subsections, hereinafter called “prohibited immigrant”, is prohibited, namely: (a) Any person who, when asked to do so by an officer appointed under this Act, shall fail to himself write out and sign, in the characters of any language of Europe, an application to the Colonial Secretary in the form set out in Schedule B[22] of this Act. (b) Any person who is unable to satisfy an officer appointed under this Act that he is possessed of available means of subsistence of his own to the value of not less than twenty-five pounds.[23] (c) Any person who has been assisted in any way by any other person in respect of his passage to Natal.[24] (d) Any idiot or insane person. (e) Any person suffering from a loathsome or a dangerous, contagious disease. (f) Any person who, not having received a free pardon, had been convicted[25] of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanour involving moral turpitude, and not being a mere political offence. (g) Any prostitute, and any person living on the prostitution of others. (4) Any prohibited immigrant making his way into or being found within Natal, in disregard of the provisions of this Act, and shall be liable, in addition to any other penalty, to be removed from the Colony, and upon conviction may be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding six months, without hard labour. Provided such imprisonment shall cease for the purpose of deportation of the offender, or if he shall find two approved sureties, each in the sum of £50, that he will leave the Colony within one month. (5) Any person appearing to be a prohibited immigrant within the meaning of Section 3 of this Act, and not coming within the meaning of any of the sub-sections (d), (e), (f), (g) of said Section 3 shall be allowed to enter Natal upon the following conditions: (a) He shall, before landing, deposit with an officer appointed under this Act the sum of £100. (b) if such person shall, within one week after entering Natal, obtain from the Colonial Secretary or a magistrate a certificate that he does not come within the prohibition of this Act, the deposit of £100 shall be returned. (c) If such person shall fail to obtain such certificate within one week, the deposit of £100 shall be forfeited, and he may be treated as a prohibited immigrant. Provided that, in the case of any person entering Natal under this section, no liability shall attach to the vessel or to the owners of the vessel in which he may have arrived at any port of the colony. (6) Any person who shall satisfy an officer appointed under this Act that he has been formerly domiciled in Natal, and that he does not come within the meaning of any of the subsections (d), (e), (f), (g) of Section 3 of this Act, shall not be regarded as a prohibited immigrant. (7) The wife and any minor child of a person not being a prohibited immigrant shall be free from any prohibition imposed by this Act. (8) The master and owners of any vessel from which any prohibited immigrant may be landed shall be jointly and severally liable to a penalty of not less than one hundred pounds sterling, and such penalty may be increased up to £5,000 by sums of £100 each for every five immigrants after the first five, and the vessel may be made executable by a decree of the Supreme Court in satisfaction of any such penalty, and the vessel may be refused a clearance outwards until such penalty has been paid, and until provision has been made by the master, to the satisfaction of an officer appointed under this Act, for the conveyance out of the Colony of each prohibited immigrant who may have been so landed. (9) A prohibited immigrant shall not be entitled to a licence to carry on any trade or calling, nor shall he be entitled to acquire land in leasehold, freehold, or otherwise, or to exercise the franchise, or to be enrolled as a burgess of any borough or on the roll of any township, and any licence or franchise right which may have been acquired in contravention of this Act shall be void. (10) Any officer thereto authorized by Government may make a contract with the master, owner, or agent of any vessel for the conveyance of any prohibited immigrant found in Natal to a port in or near to such immigrant’s country of birth, and any such immigrant with his personal effects may be placed by a police officer on board such vessel, and shall in such case, if destitute, be supplied with a sufficient sum of money to enable him to live for one month according to his circumstances of life after disembarking from such vessel. (11) Any person who shall in any way assist any prohibited immigrant to contravene the provisions of this Act[26] shall be deemed to have contravened this Act. (12) Any person who shall assist the entry into Natal of any prohibited immigrant of the class (g) in Section 3 of this Act, shall be deemed to have contravened this Act, and shall, upon conviction, be liable to be imprisoned with hard labour for any period not exceeding twelve months. (13) Any person, who shall be instrumental in bringing into Natal an idiot or insane person without a written or printed authority, signed by the Colonial Secretary, shall be deemed to have contravened this Act, and, in addition to any other penalty, shall be liable for the cost of the maintenance of such idiot or insane person whilst in the Colony. (14) Any police officer or other officer appointed therefore under this Act may, subject to the provisions of Section 5, prevent any prohibited immigrant from entering Natal by land or sea. (15) The Governor may, from time to time, appoint and, at pleasure, remove officers, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act, and may define the duties of such officers, and such officers shall carry out the instructions from time to time given to them by the Ministerial head of their department. (16) The Governorin- Council may, from time to time, make, amend and repeal rules and regulations for the better carrying out of the provisions of this Act. (17) The penalty for any contravention of this Act, or of any rule or regulation passed thereunder, where no higher penalty is expressly imposed, shall not exceed a fine of £50, or imprisonment, with or without hard labour, until payment of such fine, or in addition to such fine, but not exceeding in any case, three months. (18) All contraventions of this Act or of rules or regulations thereunder, and suits for penalties or other moneys not exceeding £100, shall be cognizable by magistrates.

Schedule A[27] is a blank certificate that the person whose name is to be filled in “is a fit and proper person to be received as an immigrant in Natal”. Schedule B[28] is a form of application to be filled in by a person claiming to be exempt from the operation of this Act.

They will, perhaps, soon be before Her Majesty’s Government for consideration. In that case, your Memorialists may have to approach you regarding the measures.[29] For the present, they will content themselves with saying that, while none of the Bills openly show their object, they are all aimed at the Indian community. If, therefore, her Majesty’s Government accept the principle that restrictions may be put upon the Indian community in the British Colonies, it will be infinitely better that it were done so openly. That seems to be the feeling in the Colony also, as will appear from the extracts quoted below.

Referring to the Immigration Restriction Bill, The Natal Advertiser of 12th March, 1897, says:

It is not an honest and straightforward measure for the reason that it attempts to disguise its real object, and, because it can only be acceptable if it is enforced in a partial manner. If its provisions are strictly enforced against European immigrants, it would be an injury to the Colony. If, on the other hand, it is enforced only against Asiatics it would be equally unjust and unfair in another direction. . . . If it is an anti-Asiatic Immigration Bill the Colony wants, let us have an anti-Asiatic Immigration Bill . . . So far we can approve of the position taken up by the Demonstration Committee; their tactics, however, were not particularly effective . . . It was also another mistake to drift, as Dr. MacKenzie did, into tall talk about fighting for his rights, and “cocking the rifle at the British Government”. We can assure the worthy doctor that expressions like these only disgust right-thinking Colonists.

The Natal Witness, of the 27th February, thus remarks:

There is nothing more repugnant to an Englishman’s feelings than to have recourse to stratagems and chicanery to gain an object, and this Bill to restrict immigration is a flagrant attempt to compass an end by subterfuges. The Colony loses its self-respect and the respect of others in resorting to such means.

Referring to the exemption of the indentured Indians from the operation of the Bill, The Times of Natal of 23rd February writes:

The provision indicates the inconsistency of the Colony generally. All know that the indentured Indians settle in the Colony, and yet all, or, at any rate, a big majority of the electorate, are resolved to have indentured Indians. This inconsistency is remarkable and shows unmistakably how divided is public opinion on the whole subject. Indians are objected to on the score of their ignorance; also because they compete as clerks and artisans, and also because of their commercial rivalry. It may be remembered that, during the recent commotion at Durban, a section of the demonstration was about to proceed to a ship which had just arrived with some Indians from Delagoa Bay, for the purpose of preventing their landing, when some individual called out that the Indians were merchants, and this satisfied the mob. That incident in itself was sufficient to show how sectional is the antagonism to the immigration of the coolie.

The most fatal objection, however, against those Bills is that they are intended to check an evil which does not exist. Nor is this all. There will be no finality to the anti-Indian legislation, if Her Majesty’s Government do not intervene on behalf of the Indian British subjects residing in the Colony. The Corporations have applied to the Government for powers to enable them to remove Indians to locations, to refuse to issue licences (this is practically covered by one of the Bills quoted above), and to refuse to sell or transfer immovable property to the Indians. It is believed that the Government have not returned an encouraging reply to the first and the last proposals; still, the proposals are there; and there is no guarantee that, because the Government feel disinclined to entertain the proposals at present, for reasons best known to them, they will remain in the same mood for ever.

In conclusion, your Memorialists pray that, in view of the events narrated and the restrictive legislation forecasted above, a timely pronouncement of the policy with reference to the status of the Indian British subjects, or a confirmation of the despatch referred to above, be made so as to remove and prevent restriction on Her Majesty’s Indian subjects residing in the Colony of Natal, or grant such relief as may meet the ends of justice.

And for this act of justice and mercy, your Memorialists shall, as in duty bound, ever pray.

ABDUL CARIM HAJEE ADAM
(DADA ABDULLA & CO.) AND
THIRTY-ONE OTHERS


1^ This was printed and forwarded to the Natal Governor for transmission on April 6; vide "Petition to the Natal Governor", 6-4-1897.
2^ The reference is to the attack on Gandhiji.
3^ For the various previous Memorials to the addressee.
4^ Vide "The Credentials", p. 1.
5^ This was on July 7, 1894; vide Letter to Dadabhai Naoroji”, 14-7-1894.
6^ Vide “Petition to Lord Rippon”, before 5-5-1895, Appendix A.
7^ These are marked Ha and Hb.
8^ This is the bush-clad hill-point of Durban harbour, commanding a vantage view of the bay, where passengers could be lodged in quarantine quarters. Vide “Memorial to Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 15-3-1897, Appendix O.
9^ A Bill was, in fact passed by the Natal Legislature a little later. Vide "Petition to Natal Legislative Assembly", 26-3-1897 and Appendix A to "Petition to Secretary of State for the Colonies", 2-7-1897.
10^ Vide “Memorial to Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 15-3-1897, of Asiatics, and to obey any orders which may be given by the leaders.
11^  Vide “Letter to Attorney-General”, 20-1-1897.
12^ Vide “Interview to The Natal Advertiser”, 13-1-1897.
13^ Gandhiji received the telegram on November 13; vide “Letter to The Englishman” 13-11-1896.
14^ Vide “Memorial to Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 15-3-1897.
15^ Rustomji, an Indian Parsi, better known as Parsi Rustomji
16^ Vide “Petition to Natal Legislative Assembly”, 26-3-1897 and “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix A.
17^ For the law in regard to licences as finally enacted, vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix C.
18^ The final provision in the Act for appeal against the decision of the Licensing Officer differed slightly from that in the Bill given here; vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix C.
19^ The corresponding clause 8 in the Act as passed on May 9, 1897, had the following words added: ‘in cases where premises are used for both purposes’; vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix C.
20^ For the Immigration Restriction Act, in the form in which it received the Governor’s assent, vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
21^ Vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
22^ Vide “Memorial to Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 15-3-1897 and “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
23^ This was later amended to refer to “paupers”; vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
24^ This was subsequently deleted; vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
25^ The act qualified this by adding: ‘within two years’; vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
26^ In Section 11,12 and 13 of the Act as passed, the reference to the offences was modified by adding the word; ‘wilfully’; vide pp. “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
27^ Vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
28^ Vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897, Appendix B.
29^ When the three Bills were passed later, a petition was, in fact, presented to Mr. Chamberlain; vide “Petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies”, 2-7-1897.

(APPENDIX A)[edit]

Copy [January 25, 1897] By this public instrument of protest, be it hereby made known and made manifest unto all whom it may concern that on this the twenty-fifth day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven (1897), before me, John Moore Cooke, of Durban, in the Colony of Natal, Notary Public, and in the presence of the subscribed witnesses personally came and appeared, Alexander Milne, master Mariner and Commander of the steamship Courland, of the burthen of 760 tons or thereabouts and of 120 nominal horse-power, belonging to this Port, and now lying in the inner harbour of this said Port of Natal, who did solemnly declare and state as follows, that is to say: That the said steamer, laden with a cargo of general merchandise and carrying 255 passengers, left the Port of Bombay on the 30th day of November last, and dropped anchor in the outer anchorage of this port, at 6.34 p.m., on the 18th day of December, 1896.

Before leaving Bombay the crew and passengers were inspected and counted, and a bill of health and port clearance was granted.

Throughout the voyage, the passengers and crew were absolutely free from sickness of any description whatsoever, and every day during the said voyage, the cleaning, ventilating, and disinfecting of the passengers’ quarters was strictly attended to, and upon arrival here the said appearer handed to the Health Officer of this port the usual documents as to the health of all on board and in reply to the said appearer’s enquiries, the Health Officer informed him that the said vessel would be placed in quarantine until 23 days had elapsed since leaving Bombay. On the 19th December, the said appearer signalled the shore: “I am getting short of water and must endeavour to get some.” Cleaning and disinfecting of ship strictly attended to.

On the 22nd December, the appearer again signalled the shore as follows: “Our days have expired, are we out of quarantine? Please consult Quarantine Officer, report we all well; thanks”, to which the following reply was received: “Length of quarantine not decided yet.” During each of these four days of quarantine, the said appearer’s vessel was cleaned and disinfected and quarantine regulations were strictly adhered to.

On the 23rd December, the following was signalled by the said appearer:

“Distressed for want of water, want grass for horses. Perfect health on board, inform owners, use every exertion to relieve us from quarantine”, to which a reply was received as follows: “From owners: condense water, hope to hear relief from quarantine this afternoon; send hay off tomorrow morning; have you a mail?”

On the 24th December, the Health Officer boarded, and ordered that all old mats, dirty rags and old clothes be burnt; that the holds were to be fumigated and whitewashed, and all clothes to be hung up and disinfected; that food stuff was to be kept from coming in contact with passengers, and all the passengers’ wearing apparel was to be dipped in carbolic acid, that the passengers themselves were to be washed in a weak solution of carbolic acid, and every effort was to be used to keep the vessel clear of sickness. He also said, the quarantine would be 11 days from this date. On the 25th December, a large quantity of passengers’ sleeping mats were burned; all passengers’ quarters, water-closets and urinals whitewashed and disinfected.

On the 26th December, the passengers were washed and their clothing apparel dipped in diluted carbolic acid. The following was signalled to the shore: “Distressed for want of water send at once, also fresh provisions and stuff, according to order of Quarantine Officer. Is there anything to prevent landing horses, Quarantine Officer having visited us. Perfect health on board, and Quarantine Officer’s orders being executed. Relieve us quickly, passengers much distressed at delay. Thanks.” On the 27th December, the appearer hoisted the signal: “Are you sending order of yesterday?”, in reply to which the following signal was displayed at the signal station: “Have arranged to supply water 9 a.m. tomorrow.” “ Distressed for want of water” was then signalled by the said appearer and kept flying for 2 hours. As usual, cleaning and disinfecting of the ship throughout was strictly attended to. On the 28th December, the following signal was made: “Send everything wanted in order of Saturday, also letters, likewise information respecting landing horses.” At 11 a.m. the steam tender Natal came alongside, and put on board carbolic acid for disinfecting and sulphur for fumigating purposes. The police officer also boarded to superintend the use of the above-mentioned disinfectants. A quantity of fresh water was also put aboard. The ship was thoroughly fumigated with burning sulphur, the upper and lower decks thoroughly washed with carbolic acid, and the same disinfectant was used throughout the ship. All bedding, mats, bags, baskets, and all other material likely to propagate disease was burned in ship’s furnaces. On the 29th December, the upper and lower decks were washed with carbolic acid, and the same disinfectant used freely throughout the ship. The following signal was hoisted by the said appearer: “Disinfection and fumigation carried out to satisfaction of officer on board. Please inform Quarantine Officer at once.” At 10 a.m., four hours later, the said appearer signalled the shore: “We are ready, waiting for Quarantine Officer.” At 2.30 p.m. the steam tender Lion came alongside and put the Quarantine Officer aboard, who, after inspecting the ship throughout, expressed himself as being perfectly satisfied with the manner in which his orders had been carried out, but said that the vessel should have to remain in quarantine for a further 12 days from this date. At 3 p.m. the following signal was hoisted: “By order of the Government, all passengers’ bed-clothes having been burnt, request Government to renew same at once, as passengers’ lives are in danger without them. Want written instructions how long quarantine is to last, as verbal time changes [with] every visit of Quarantine Officer. No case of sickness occurring in the interval. Give notice to Government our ship has been disinfected every day since leaving Bombay. Want 100 fowls and 12 sheep.” Cleaning and disinfecting of the ship strictly attended to. On the 30th December, the said appearer signalled as follows: “Reply to our signal of yesterday. Passengers wish to disembark, will pay their own expenses in quarantine.”

On the 31st December, the said appearer again signalled the shore as follows: “Do you intend this year to answer my signals of Tuesday and yesterday?” Cleaning and disinfecting of ship strictly attended to as usual.

On the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th January, 1897, the ship was regularly every day ventilated, cleaned and disinfected throughout, and all quarantine regulations strictly observed.

On the 9th January, the cleaning and disinfecting was repeated. At 5.30 p.m. the said appearer received a letter per the Natal from the owners through Mr. Gandhi, advising not to remove the steamer without express instructions from them, as it was dangerous to the lives of the Indian passengers. Not even after receiving pratique was the steamer to be moved.

On the 10th January, the following signal was hoisted: “Quarantine having again expired, wish to disembark at once four European passengers. Also send water and fresh provisions. Want instructions as to landing horses. Send fodder. Report we all well.” These signals were all understood at the Station on shore and the Answering Pennant hoisted in reply to each. Cleaning and disinfecting repeated as usual. On the 11th January, the Health Officer visited the ship and granted pratique. At 1.30 the tender Natal put on board 4,800 gallons of water. Four European passengers landed per Natal after hoisting signal, “My European passengers refused a passage on shore by the Natal. Please give instructions.” At 4 p.m. signals were hoisted on shore, but could not be made out owing to haziness. Cleaning and disinfecting as well as ventilating of holds strictly attended to. A letter was received, signed by Harry Sparks, “Chairman of Committee”, and is hereto annexed and marked “A”,[30] and copies of which are annexed to the duplicate original and protocol hereof. Certain enclosures were said to be made therewith, but were never received by the said appearer.

On the 12th January, cleaning and ventilating, etc., having been repeated at 4.30 p.m., “Captain will be off tomorrow” was signalled from the shore. On the 13th January, at 7.10 a.m., the Government tug Churchill came alongside with Pilot Gordon, who ordered the said appearer to heave short the cable, and to be ready to go inside at 10.30 a.m., this being a distinct order from Government, through the Port Captain. The said appearer having received instructions from the owners of the said Courland not to move without orders from them, requested Pilot Gordon to notify the owners that he was entering the harbour on Government orders. At 11.50, the Pilot came off in the tug Richard King, the vessel was got under way and taken across the bar. At 12.45, the Port anchor was let go and the vessel moored head and stern to buoys. At 1.15, Mr. H. Escombe, the Attorney- General for the Colony, came alongside with the Port Captain, and requested the said appearer to inform the passengers that they were under the protection of the Natal Government, and that they were as safe here as they would be in their own Indian villages. At 3 p.m., orders were received from the Port Captain to inform passengers they were free to land.

And the said Alexander Milne did further declare that, since the arrival of his said vessel in the inner harbour of this Port, on the 13th January, till the afternoon of the 23rd instant, his said vessel has been obliged to continue moored in the stream, instead of obtaining a berth at the wharf, while other vessels have arrived, and accommodation has been found for them at the said wharf. And that the Port Captain has refused to explain to the said appearer the reason for such treatment. On the 16th January, the said Alexander Milne appeared before the Notary, Frederic Augustus Laughton, at Durban, aforesaid, and cause his protest to be duly noted.

And the appearer protests, and I, the said Notary do also protest against the aforesaid acts of the Government, or Government officials, and all loss or damage occasioned thereby.

Thus done and passed in due form of law at Durban, Natal, the day, month and year first before written in the presence of the witnesses hereunto subscribing.

As Witnesses: (Sd.) ALEXANDER MILNE,
(Sd.) GODFREY MILLER QUOD ATTESTOR
(Sd.) GEORGE GOODRICKE (Sd.) JOHN M. COOKE,
NOTARY PUBLIC

30^ Vide the following Appendix.

(APPENDIX Aa)[edit]

Copy
January 8, 1897
CAPTAIN MILNE
s. s. Courland

DEAR SIR,

Neither you nor your passengers may be aware that the feeling in the Colony against the inflow of Asiatics has been running very high lately, and has culminated on the arrival of your ship and the Naderi.

Following on that, public meetings have been held in Durban, at which the enclosed resolutions were carried with acclamation. So largely attended were these meetings that all desiring it could not get into the Town Hall.

Almost every man in Durban has signed signifying his intention to prevent those on board your ship and the Naderi landing in the Colony and we are most desirous there should, if possible, be avoided a conflict between the men of Durban and your passengers, which will most assuredly happen if they attempt to land. As your passengers are ignorant of the state of feeling, and have come here in ignorance, and we have it from the Attorney-General that if your people are willing to return to India, the Colony will pay the expense.

We shall therefore be glad to receive an answer from you before the ship comes alongside the wharf, whether the passengers elect to return to India at the Colony’s expense or to endeavour to force a landing against the thousands of men who are ready and waiting to oppose their landing.

Yours truly,
(Sd.) HARRY SPARKS
CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE

(APPENDIX B)[edit]

Copy
[January 22, 1897]

By this public instrument of protest, be it hereby made known and made manifest unto all whom it may concern that, on this the twenty-second day of January, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, before me, John Moore Cooke, of Durban in the Colony of Natal, Notary Public, and in the presence of the subscribed witnesses, personally came and appeared Francis John Raffin, Master Mariner and Commander of the steamship Naderi, of the burthen of 1,168.92 tons or thereabouts, and of 160 nominal horse-power, belonging to the Port of Bombay and now lying in the inner harbour of this Port, who did solemnly declare and state as follows, that is to say:

That the said steamer, laden with a cargo of general merchandise and carrying 350 passengers, left the Port of Bombay on the 30th [28th?] day of November last and dropped anchor in the outer anchorage of this Port at noon on the 18th day of December, 1896.

Before leaving Bombay, the crew and passengers were inspected and counted and a bill of health and port clearance was granted.

Throughout the voyage, the passengers and crew were free from sickness save the saloon cook who suffered from swollen feet but who, on being examined on the 19th December by the doctor, was reported to be suffering from a complicated disease of the liver and kidneys of which he died on the 20th December, and upon arrival here, the said appearer handed to the Health Officer of this Port the usual documents as to the health of all on board, and in reply to the said appearer’s enquiries, the Health Officer informed him that the said vessel would be placed in quarantine for five days in order to made 23 days from the time of leaving the Port of Bombay. On the following day the decks, passengers’ and crew’s quarters were washed and disinfected.

On the 20th December, the decks, passengers’ and crew’s quarters and the ship were washed down and thoroughly disinfected fore and aft.

On the 21st December, the ship was washed down, and all the water-closets, latrines, etc., were thoroughly disinfected and quarantine rules strictly observed.

On the 22nd December, the decks were washed and the water-closets, latrines, etc., were disinfected.

The five days imposed upon the ship by the Health Officer having expired, during which time the ship was in quarantine, and the rule of quarantine having been strictly observed, the said appearer signalled the shore station as follows: “What was decided about quarantine, answer will oblige”, to which the following reply was received, “Length quarantine not yet decided.”

On the 23rd December, the decks were washed down and all water-closets and latrines disinfected, and the said appearer again signalled the shore as follows: “What about quarantine?”, and received the following reply, “Quarantine Officer has no instructions yet.”

On the 24th December, the decks were washed and the water-closets disinfected, and on that day, the Health Officer and Police Superintendent came on board, whereupon the crew and passengers were mustered and inspected, the ship thoroughly disinfected, in which carbolic acid and carbolic powder were liberally employed. The passengers’ soiled clothing and all mats, baskets and useless articles were destroyed in the donkey furnace by the Health Officer’s instructions and a further term of twelve days’ quarantine imposed. The quarantine regulations have been strictly observed up to this date.

On the 25th December, the decks and between decks were washed down with a solution of carbolic and water, in the proportion of 1 to 20, as recommended by the Health Officer.

On the 26th December, the decks were washed and the water-closets disinfected, and quarantine rules strictly observed.

On the 27th December, main deck and between decks were washed and disinfected with a solution of carbolic and water in the proportion of 1 to 20.

On the 28th December, the decks and between decks washed with carbolic solution and the water-closets whitewashed and, up till this date, day by day, quarantine rules were strictly observed. Passengers’ beds, bedding, and all soiled clothing destroyed in ship’s furnaces, and all the passengers’ clothing hung on lines on main and between decks, and nine sulphur fires placed, all hatches closed and fires kept burning till 6.30 p.m. Forecastle, saloon, and second-class cabins, waterclosets and alleyways treated in a similar manner. Passengers and crew were washed in the solution, decks washed down, and all passengers’ accommodation washed with carbolic and water, and clothing placed in the solution.

On the 29th December, the following was signalled to the shore:

“Disinfection completed to the Officer’s satisfaction.” The Health Officer inspected the ship and declared himself satisfied with the disinfection carried out, and imposed twelve days’ quarantine on the ship and crew from this date.

On the 30th December, the following was signalled to the shore: “Ask Government to supply at once 250 blankets for passengers instead of those destroyed by Government; passengers are suffering greatly without them, other wise disembark them at once. Passengers suffering from cold and wet, fear sickness in consequence.”

On the 9th January, the following was signalled to the shore by the said appearer: “Quarantine finished. When shall I obtain pratique? Please reply.”

On the 11th January, the Health Officer boarded and granted pratique, the Quarantine flag was hauled down, and the appearer asked permission to land, and was told that he was not allowed to do so, in the presence of the Police Officer and Pilot. The Natal came along with the Pilot who boarded and filled in the papers and port documents, and left orders for the said Francis John Raffin to be ready to enter the harbour, if signalled from shore.

On the 12th January, there were no signals from the shore.

On the 13th January, the Churchill came alongside with Government order to be ready to go inside at 10-30 a.m. At half past twelve, the appearer’s vessel dropped anchor and moored alongside the steamship Courland. At 2.30, orders were received from the Port Captain to inform passengers that they were free to land. And the appearer protests, and I the said Notary do also protest against the aforesaid acts of the Government or Government officials, and all loss or damage occasioned thereby.

Thus done and passed in due form of law at Durban, Natal, the day, month and year first before written in the presence of the witnesses hereunto subscribing.

As Witnesses: (Sd.) F. J. RAFFIN
(Sd.) GEORGE GOODRICKE QUOD ATTESTOR
(Sd.) GODFREY WELLER [MILLER?] (Sd.) JOHN M. COOKE
NOTARY PUBLIC

(APPENDIX C)[edit]

Copy
DURBAN,
December 19, 1896

TO
THE HEALTH OFFICER
PORT NATAL

S. S. “NADERI”

DEAR SIR,

Have read in this morning's Mercury that the above vessel had no sickness on board, and hence we are very much surprised to find her put in quarantine station.

We shall be much pleased to know the cause of her being put in quarantine.

Will esteem it as a great favour for an early reply.

Yours truly, (Sd.) Dada Abdoolla & Co.

(APPENDIX D)[edit]

Copy
December 21, 1896

(TELEGRAM)

FROM
LAUGHTON

TO
COLONIAL SECRETARY
MARITZBURG

The two steamers Courland and Naderi left Bombay twenty-eighth and thirtieth ultimo,[31] and arrived here Friday last. No sickness on board, but each put in quarantine under proclamation signed same day, and printed day after. Am preparing petition to His Excellency on behalf of owners and wish to introduce deputation and appear as Counsel to urge exceptional nature case under the laws, and seeking exemption from quarantine. Loss to owners combined, by detention, one hundred and fifty pounds per day, and the Naderi under charter party for freight Mauritius to Bombay. Will His Excellency receive deputation Wednesday next?

GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

31^ This should be the other way round. The Courland left on the 30th and the Naderi on the 2th November.

(APPENDIX E)[edit]

Copy

(TELEGRAM)
FROM
PRINCIPAL UNDER-SECRETARY

TO
F. A. LAUGHTON, ESQ.
DURBAN

22nd.—Yours of yesterday.—I am directed to reply that the petition in question will be referred by the Governor for advice of ministers, and there will, therefore, be no need of deputation to and argument before His Excellency.

(APPENDIX F)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 21, 1896

TO
THE HONOURABLE HARRY ESCOMBE

SIR,

I have the honour to enclose a copy of a telegram which I today despatched to you at Pietermaritzburg, not knowing that His Excellency the Governor was at Durban.

The Courland, s.s., and Naderi, s.s., left Bombay on the 28th and 30th ultimo,[32] and on their arrival here on Friday last, were placed in quarantine under a proclamation dated the same day and published in a Gazette Extraordinary dated the day after, although there had been no sickness of any sort on board the respective steamers during their respective voyages.

Under the Law 4 of 1882, it is enacted that it shall be lawful for His Excellency, with the advice of his Executive Council, from time to time, to make such orders and rules as may be deemed necessary to meet exceptional cases, and to determine whether, and under what circumstances, any ship or vessel may be partially or wholly, exempted from the operation of law, and a petition is being prepared to His Excellency with the object of showing that such exceptional circumstances exist, and I am desirous of introducing a deputation to His Excellency to present the petition, and of myself appearing before His Excellency as Counsel for the shipowners in support of their petition.

The vessels are being detained at an expense to the respective owners of one hundred and fifty pounds per diem, and they are, therefore, anxious to appear before His Excellency on as early a day as he will be pleased to appoint. I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient servant,

(Sd.) F. A. LAUGHTON

32^ This should be the other way round. The Courland left on the 30th and the Naderi on the 2th November.

(APPENDIX G)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 22, 1896

DEAR MR. LAUGHTON,

The Governor desires me to say that, although in such a matter of administration as quarantine, he will, of course, refer to ministers for advice, he will, if it is still wished, receive a deputation tomorrow in Pietermaritzburg, of gentlemen interested in the Subject.

Yours faithfully,

F. A. LAUGHTON, ESQ. (Sd.) HARRY ESCOMBE

(APPENDIX H)[edit]

Copy

TO

HIS EXCELLENCY THE HONOURABLE SIR WALTER FRANCIS HELY-HUTCHINSON, KNIGHT

COMMANDER OF THE MOST DISTINGUISHED ORDER OF SAINT MICHAEL AND SAINT GEORGE, GOVERNOR AND COMMANDER-IN CHIEF IN AND OVER THE COLONY OF NATAL; VICE-ADMIRAL OF THE SAME, AND SUPREME CHIEF OVER THE NATIVE POPULATION:

THE HUMBLE PETITION OF DADA ABDOOLLA & CO., OF THE TOWN OF DURBAN, OWNERS OF THE “COURLAND” (S.S.) AND REPRESENTING THE OWNER OF “NADERI” (S.S.) FOR A RELEASE OF THE SAID STEAMERS FROM QUARANTINE

SHEWETH,

That the said Naderi and Courland respectively left Bombay on the 28th and 30th ultimo, with 356 and 255 passengers respectively, of all classes, on board, and bound respectively for this port, where they arrived respectively, on the 18th instant, at 2 o’clock p.m., and 5.30 o’clock p.m.

That the respective Medical Officers, on board the said respective vessels, reported to the Government Health Officer, on their arrival here, that there was then, and during the respective voyages from Bombay there had been, no sickness whatever on board the said vessels, yet the said Government Health Officer of the Port refused pratique, alleging as a ground therefor a Proclamation of Your Excellency. That the Proclamation referred [to] is dated the 18th instant, and was published in a Gazette Extraordinary, dated the 19th instant.

That your Petitioners submit as follows:

(a) That a proclamation is a “publication by authority, or notice public,” and that the said Proclamation not being published until the 19th instant, could not apply to said steamers which had actually arrived on the 18th instant.

(b) That by a strict construction of the words contained in Section 1 of Law 4, of 1882, the Proclamation could only apply to steamers which, after the notification of the said Proclamation both left and arrived here from the infected Port.

(c) That the crowding of large numbers of passengers on steamers of the description of those aforesaid is conducive to illness and epidemic.

(d) That from the certificates of medical men hereto annexed, it will appear that the passengers could be landed without any danger to the community.

(e) That in consequence of the acts aforesaid your Petitioners are sustaining damage averaging one hundred and fifty pounds per diem. Wherefore, your Petitioners pray that the Medical Officer of the Port may be directed to grant pratique to the said vessels, or that such relief may be granted in the premises as is meet. And your Petitioners will ever pray, etc.

(Signed) DADA ABDOOLLA & CO.

(APPENDIX Ha)[edit]

Copy
DURBAN,
December 22, 1896

MESSRS GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

GENTLEMEN,

Please find replies to your interrogations:

1st. How long after contraction would the symptoms of bubonic fever or plague be manifest?

The period of incubation varies from a few hours to a week (Crook-shank’s, 4th Edition, 1896). I have killed guinea pigs in 24 hours by inoculating with the cultivation.

2nd. Would you expect the disease to exist on a ship 18 days after leaving the infected port, meanwhile no sickness on board?—No.

3rd. What would be the effect of keeping 350 Indians cooped up in a small steamer at the outer anchorage for a considerable time during this hot weather?—Most disastrous to the Indians.

Your sincerely,

(Signed) J. PERROTT PRINCE, M.D.

(APPENDIX Hb)[edit]

Copy

December 22, 1896

DEAR SIR,

For your information regarding the plague now prevalent in Bombay, I will answer your questions seriatim.

Firstly, the incubation period is generally considered to be from 2 to 8 days, though Sir Walter Broadbent considers the period from a few hours to 21 days. Twenty-one days appears to be the outside limit the disease can require to make itself manifest after contraction.

Secondly, in my opinion, if there was beyond doubt a clean bill of health during a 21 days’ voyage, there would be no danger of the disease in that boat. Thirdly, the keeping closely packed of a large number of persons in a confined space is always liable to lead to ill health, and therefore to be avoided if possible.

I am,

Faithfully yours,

(Signed) N. S. HARRISON,

M.D., B.A., CANTAB.

(APPENDIX I)[edit]

Copy

(TELEGRAM)

FROM
LAUGHTON

TO
COLONIAL SECRETARY

MARITZBURG

Anxiously awaiting reply re. quarantine. Both steamers are signalling for water forage and provisions.

(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

(APPENDIX J)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,

December 24, 1896

TO
DANIEL BIRTWELL, ESQ., M.D.,
ACTING HEALTH OFFICER
PORT OF NATAL

SIR,

We are instructed by Messrs Dada Abdoola & Co., of this town, owners of the Courland, s.s., and representing the owners of the Naderi, s.s., to bring to your notice that these vessels with 255 and 356 passengers on board respectively, have been lying in the outer anchorage, bound from Bombay to this Port, since Friday last, the 18th instant, without pratique being granted to them by you, although the respective masters have been ready and willing, and still are, to sign a declaration in terms of Law 3, 1858, testifying to the perfect state of health of all on board the said respective vessels throughout the voyage, and to do all things necessary to meet the requirement of the law.

We are instructed to request you immediately to grant pratique to the said vessels to enable them to enter the harbour and discharge their passengers and cargo.

In case you should refuse to grant our request, we shall be glad if you will inform us of the grounds of your refusal; and as this is a matter of the utmost urgency, we shall feel obliged by giving us [sic] your reply at your earliest convenience.

We are,

Sir,

Your obedient servants,

(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

(APPENDIX K)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 24, 1896

TO
GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

GENTLEMEN,

Your letter of today to hand. I am endeavouring to do my duty as Health Officer with due regard to all interests.

I am willing to authorize the placing in quarantine on the Bluff, at the cost of the ships, all persons intended to be landed. And when this is arranged for, pratique may be given to the ships after my instructions have been carried out.

Yours obediently,

(Signed) D. BIRTWELL
AG. MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH

(APPENDIX L)[edit]

Copy

Durban,
December 25, 1896

TO
DR. BIRTWELL, ESQ., M.D.
ACTING HEALTH OFFICER

SIR,

We have your letter of yesterday, but before replying thereto, we would draw your attention to the fact that you have given us no reply to the question contained in our letter of yesterday. On receipt of an answer thereto, we shall be in a position to answer your letter of the 24th inst.

In view of the fact that each day’s detention of the vessels represents a loss of £150, and great risk to the health, if not the lives, of passengers, we trust we shall receive your reply during the morning, and you shall have ours immediately thereafter.

We are,
Dear Sir,
Your obedient servants,
(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

(APPENDIX M)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 25, 1896

TO
GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

GENTLEMEN,

In reply to your of December 25th to hand, in which you state that I have given no reply to the question contained in your previous letter in reference to my refusal to grant pratique, etc., I beg to state that I do not consider it safe to grant pratique to the vessels except on the conditions stated by me.

Yours obediently,
(Signed) D. BIRTWELL,
ACTING MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH,
DURBAN PORT

(APPENDIX N)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 25, 1896

TO
D. BIRTWELL, ESQ., M.D.
ACTING HEALTH OFFICER

DEAR SIR,

We have your letter of today wherein you state, with reference to your refusal to grant pratique, that you do not do so because you do not consider it safe to do so except on the conditions stated by you.

In reply, we beg to draw your attention to the fact that you still give us no reply to the question contained in our letter to you, of yesterday .

In order that there may be no mistake between us, we beg to draw your attention to the Law, by which you will see that pratique can be refused on certain grounds, and we ask you to state your grounds in this case.

We venture to express surprise at your evident reluctance in answering a question which our clients are so clearly entitled to put.

We are,
Dear Sir,
Your obedient servants,
(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKS

[PS.]
We also ask for the exact conditions which you make for the granting of pratique, as, if you have given them to us, it must be very imperfectly so.

(APPENDIX O)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 26, 1896

TO
GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

GENTLEMEN,

I have your letter of December 25th, 1896. I cannot let any risk to the Colony be run by giving pratique to the steamers without proper precautions.

If the passengers are not landed into quarantine quarters, 12 days must run after fumigation of the ship and precautions as regards clothing, namely, by washing and disinfecting, and the burning of sundry old rags, mats, sacks, etc., in accordance with instructions given by me to each Captain, before pratique can be given. If the owners agree to bear the expense of quarantine, then the landing must be preceded by fumigation and precautions as above, and after the landing is effected, the departure of the steamers will be facilitated; but there must be no contact with shore except under proper restrictions. If you want to get the steamers away, the simplest course will be to arrange for the owners to bear the expense of quarantining the passengers on the Bluff for twelve days after fumigation, etc., of the ship, or for any longer period, should such necessity arise.

As regards any legal points connected with the matter, please write to the Clerk of the Peace, as I have nothing to do with them.

Yours obediently,

(Signed) D. Birtwell

(APPENDIX P)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
December 26, 1896

TO
D. BIRTWELL, ESQ., M.D.

DEAR SIR,

We have your letter of today, We have three times asked you for your reasons for refusing pratique to the steamers Courland and Naderi and each time you have evaded the question. We must, therefore, take it that you refuse to give them. We have been informed by the Principal Under-Secretary that you have informed the Government that you base your refusal on the fact that the bubonic plague is prevalent at Bombay, and that there is danger of infection if pratique is granted to these steamers, and unless we hear from you to the contrary, we shall take it that this is your reason. Presuming this to be a good ground in law, it would certainly have to be based on reasonable grounds.

Dr. Crookshank, in his recent edition on bacteriology, says “that the period of incubation varies from a few hours to a week.” Drs. Prince and Harrison, in their respective reports which we annexed to our clients’ petition to the Government, say much the same, and you, we are informed, give the period of twelve days. It is now 26 and 28 days respectively since the vessels left Bombay, and they have now, and have had, ever since the commencement of their respective voyages, an absolute clean bill of health; and yet, despite these facts, you declare it as your intention to refuse pratique until a period of twelve days have [sic] elapsed after you have disinfected the passengers and ships. Our clients instruct us to protest against such a course, and to inform you that you will be held responsible for all loss caused to them by reason of your refused pratique, and also for the injury to the health of the passengers, which is likely to ensue from being confined to the steamers for a lengthened period.

We are, likewise, instructed to draw your attention to the fact that the steamers have now been at the outer anchorage for upwards of eight days, and that it would appear from your letter of today that no steps have been taken to disinfect them, although on Thursday morning last you informed the writer that you would probably do it that afternoon; for this delay you will also be held responsible.

With regard to placing the passengers in quarantine on shore at the expense of the owners of the vessels, we have to inform you that our clients regard your refusal of pratique as an illegal action, and they will, therefore, be no party to your proceedings, further than to request you, without one hour’s unnecessary delay, to take such steps as you may think proper for what you are pleased to call disinfecting the vessels. Moreover, the course you suggest would not decrease the damage to our clients because they would be unable to land the ships’ cargo.

We beg to record the fact that the Health Officer, on the arrival of the steamers, stated it as his opinion that pratique could be granted without any danger, and that, if he were permitted, he would do so, but he was thereupon, suspended by the Government, and you appointed in his place.

Also that Drs. MacKenzie and Dumat, having been privately interviewed by Mr. Escombe on the question, were at his suggestion (as he informed the writer) called in by you to give their opinion as to refusing the pratique.

We are,

Sir,

Your obedient servants,

(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

(APPENDIX Q)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,

January 8, 1897

TO
THE HONOURABLE THE COLONIAL SECRETARY
MARITZBURG

SIR,

We have the honour to bring the following facts to your notice. We are the owners of the Courland s.s., and we represent the owners of the Naderi s.s., which steamers left Bombay for this port on the 30th November last,[33] and arrived here, respectively, on the 18th ultimo at 5.30 p.m. and 2 p.m., having on board, respectively, 255 and 356 of Her Majesty’s Indian subjects. On the following morning, a Gazette Extraordinary was issued by the Government, containing a Proclamation of the Governor, proclaiming Bombay an infected port.

The above steamers had absolutely clean bills of health on arrival, and during the whole of their respective voyages, but they were refused pratique on grounds which the Acting Health Officer of the Port refused to give, but which, we presume, were given to us by telegram from the Principal Under-Secretary, dated the 24th ultimo, as follows: “That the Medical Committee has advised Government that the period of incubation of the bubonic plague being sometimes as much as twelve days, the quarantine should be of that period after all chances of disinfection [sic] have been destroyed, and Committee has also recommended the thorough disinfection of immigrants and their clothing, and the burning of all old rags and dirty clothing. Government has approved the Committee’s Report, and has instructed the Health Officer to act upon it, and not to grant pratique to the ships until he is satisfied that the conditions of the Report have been fulfilled.”

The steamers lay at anchor in the outer anchorage from the 18th ultimo, until the 28th ultimo, without any steps whatever being taken to disinfect them, but on the 29th ultimo, we believe, disinfection was completed, in terms of the above mentioned report of the Medical Committee.

This delay in disinfection cost the owners of the steamers one hundred and fifty pounds per diem, or a sum of £1,650.

Relying on the assurance contained in the Principal Under-Secretary’s telegram of the 24th, that pratique with all its privileges would be granted to the steamers if they were placed in the hands of the Health Officer, for the purpose of undergoing the requirements of the Medical Committee’s Report, steamers were so placed in his hands to great injury (1) to the passengers, as all their beds bedding and much of their clothing was burned, and for several nights, many of them were left to sleep on the boards; (2) to us as owners, inasmuch as our steamers have been detained during the days of quarantine at an expense of £150 per diem; and (3) to the friends and countrymen of the passengers, who have supplied their wants by furnishing beds, bedding, clothing and food during the detention.

During the last few days, two meetings of excited European townspeople have been held at Durban, called together under the following notice which appeared in several issues of The Natal Advertiser:

“Wanted every man in Durban, to attend a meeting to be held in the large room at the Victoria Cafe, on Monday evening next, the 4th January, at 8 o’clock, for the purpose of arranging a demonstration to proceed to the Point and protest against the landing of Asiatics, Harry Sparks, Chairman of Preliminary Meeting.”

The two meetings were largely attended, and in spite of the unlawful objects of such meetings clearly indicated in the above notice, the Town Hall of Durban was opened for such meetings.

We quite recognize the right of Her Majesty’s subjects to ventilate their grievances in public meetings, provided the objects of such meetings are legal, and as regards the first of the said two meetings held on the 4th instant, we would draw your attention to the report of it which appeared in the Mercury and The Natal Advertiser of the 5th instant, by which you will see that, in spite of declaration by certain speakers to the contrary, violence to the passengers or to some of them was contemplated in the event of the Government not granting their request, and in the event of the passengers being landed.

But as regards Dr. Mackenzie, who formed one of the Medical Committee upon whose report the steamers were placed in quarantine, and who, as on of such Committee, is supposed to have given his opinion with impartiality and fairness, we would venture to bring to your notice extracts of a speech which he delivered to such meeting in proposing the following resolution, that is to say:

“Every man at this meeting agrees and binds himself, with a view to assisting the Government to carry out the foregoing resolution, to do all his country may require of him, and with that view will, if necessary, attend at the Point at any time when required.”

The following are extracts of Dr. MacKenzie’s speech taken from the report of a gentleman employed by us:

“Mr. Gandhi had dragged their reputation about in the gutters of India, and painted them as black and filthy as his own skin. (Laughter and applause.)”
“They would teach Mr. Gandhi to come to the Colony of Natal, to take everything that was fair and good in it, and then to go out of it and blackguard them whose hospitality he had been enjoying. They would teach Mr. Gandhi that they read from his action that the coolies were not satisfied with what they (Colonists) had given him, and that he intended to get something more, and gentlemen, he would get something more. (Laughter and applause.)”
“As the United States sent back some Chinamen to China, and even some people back to Glasgow, because the Yankees did not think them good enough, and they were going to send back a lot of unhealthy bubonic individuals to the place from whence they came.”

In speaking immediately to the resolution which he proposed, Dr. MacKenzie said:

“Well, they saw that that brought them to the Point, (Loud applause.) He hoped they would be all there when required. There was nothing in that that any of them need be ashamed of. Every man, who had any manliness about him, should be prepared to do something for his country when their country required it.”
“But, if the glimmering outlook that they could gather was going to indicate that the Indians were going to place themselves on the same platform as the whites, that could only be done in one way, and it could only be done at the end of the bayonet. (Applause.)”
“They there that night were prepared to go to any extreme in defending their own honour, and in securing to their children places in the Colony, which even now they had given away to the heirs and offspring of Gandhiites. (Applause.)”
“He had come to the meeting in a bit of a hurry, but he thought he had placed before them the leading points, and it meant this, that they were going to back the Government up in this matter, that they believed the Government would co-operate with them, and that not a soul would be allowed to land from those two ships in the harbour of Durban. (Loud applause.)”

We extract the following from the report of the proceedings at the second meeting held on the 7th instant contained in The Mercury of today:

MR. J. S. WYLIE: “Somebody said ‘sink the ships,’ and he had heard a naval man say he would give a month’s pay for one shot at the ships.” (Cheers and laughter.)
“Was every man prepared to put down a month’s pay in this matter? (Cries of ‘Yes,’ and ‘Unanimous’.)”
MR. SYKES: “They must make up their minds to lose both time and money; they must be prepared to leave their work and proceed to Demonstration. It must be done on an organized system—they must obey their leader. It was no good for everyone to

throw one another overboard. (Laughter.) They must strictly obey orders. At the word of command, ‘fall in’, and do what they were commanded.” (Cheers, laughter and encores). He moved: “That we proceed by demonstration to the Point on the arrival of the Indians, but each man binds himself to conform to the orders of his leaders. (Cheers).”

DR. MACKENZIE: “Since they last met, the position had become less acute. They had advanced the line laid down, and they knew exactly the position of the Government, the willingness of the Government to assist them by all the power they had at their disposal. As far as the Government was concerned, he was thoroughly satisfied. The Government on this point were absolutely at one with the burgesses of Durban, and therefore, they had to set aside any question as to difficulty of conflict with the gentlemen whom the electors had placed, for the time being, in the position of the Government. They were in accord with the Colony, and that was a matter for congratulation. Unfortunately, the Government was so placed that they could not insist on the Indians not landing here, and being sent back in the ships in which they came. That was practically impossible; and the Committee pointed out to Mr. Escombe that this condition of things was an anomaly. There must be some short-fall in the Constitution of the Colony when the best interests and absolute desires of the Colonists could not be achieved and met by the machinery of Government. (Cheers.) They pointed out that the Colonists would insist that that condition of things should cease, and that the Government should be placed in the position of being able to meet the wishes and necessities of the country. Mr. Escombe agreed with them, and they had heard what steps had been taken to meet the urgency of the case. Government was taking all the steps it could, and, within a day or two, he hoped that every meeting held throughout the Colony would show one unanimous desire for and immediate summoning of Parliament. The men of Durban were unanimous. He said the men of Durban-there were a few old women knocking about the place. (‘Hear, hear’, and laughter.) They had only to take the tone of some of the leaders of the newspapers to see the type of men who stuck behind the quill. Men who wrote that sort of thing presumed that the burgesses did not know what was right, and had not got the pluck that was absolutely necessary to do what was right, because a little bit risk attached to it. (Cheers.) If there were any of those old ladies there, they would, doubtless, have stepped up when the Chairman asked for hands against the resolution. They must presume none were there, and they wanted no connection with that class of persons.
“The resolution had relation to the fair dealing of the Colony of Natal. All but one man on board those boats left India without any reason to suspect that they would not the agreeably received as residents in the colony. One passenger might be reasonably expected to have had some suspicion of that point. (Cries of ‘Gandhi’, laughter and uproar.)”
“Anything he said regarding the Indians did not refer to that gentleman. (‘no gentleman’.) They laid down the rule, and no more Indians should come in. “They had a right to shut the door, and they intended to shut the door. They would deal fairly also with these people now in quarantine—they would even be fair in dealing with respect to that solitary individual, but he hoped there would be a marked distinction between the dealing. (Laughter.) They were prepared to leave the matter in the hands of the Government so far as constitutional and international relations were concerned, but there was a private relation he did not intend to lay down-personal duty to themselves and the rest of the Colony. They did not intend to lay down the agitation until they achieved something. With that object in view, he wished the burgesses of Durban to be ready at any time, as they had been in the past, to go down to the Point when called upon to make a demonstration, and they would show the people who came by these boats what the Colonists of Natal meant, and they would also have a further object, which would be gained from instructions of the leaders when they were there. (Cheers and laughter.) Everyone could associate himself with a certain leader, and through him gain information as to a notice they would get, and that notice meant that they got to the Point, they would get, and that notice meant that they had to throw down their tools and go straight to the Point. (Cheers.) When they got to the Point, they would be under orders—each would know if he took the trouble to find out. Then they would do exactly what their leader told them, if he told them to do anything. (Laughter.) In the course of a day or two, some fresh development would take place, and it would again be necessary to refer to them in another public meeting, because they did not wish to have their individual views or styles, but absolutely be the representatives of the people. (Cheers.)”
“The Chairman hoped they would all stick to their ‘guns’. Let them not be unanimous then, and when deeds were wanted find only one third of their number. The Demonstration would be a peaceable demonstration as regards the Indians on board— as regards one man it would be left to the leaders and them to deal with him down there. (Loud cheers and laughter.) They now wanted organization to carry out the object in view. Some men had said they would be able to bring fifty or one hundred men who were in their service, and they wanted volunteers of that kind who would lead so many men and be responsible for them. (A voice, ‘Have a review on Saturday.’)”
“Mr. Wylie said it would assist in the organization, and in the regulation of the Demonstration, if men gave in their names with a list of men who were willing to act with each, and would follow his lead. The Chairman would then know the Section Leaders, to whom to send word, and they in turn would inform their Company. There was, of course, only one leader, Mr. Sparks, but he could not speak to 5,000 men, and this means of communication was necessary. (A voice—It looks more like business now.)”

The meeting appears to have been greatly encouraged, in the carrying out of their demonstration, by the report made to the meeting of a Committee which had waited on Mr. Escombe, Her Majesty’s Minister of Defence in this Colony. The Committee reported as follows:

“Mr. Escombe treated the Committee at an interview that morning, extending over two hours, in a fair and reasonable manner. He said: ‘The Government is with you to a man, and wish to expedite this in every possible way. But you must be careful not to do anything which will hamper our hands. Spurring an unwilling horse to death is a very different thing to spurring a willing horse to death.’ Then the Committee said: ‘If the Government did nothing, Durban would have to do it herself, and go in force to the Point, and see what could be done.’ They capped that by remarking: ‘We presume that you, as representing the Government and good authority of the Colony would bring force to oppose us?” Mr. Escombe said: ‘We will do nothing of the sort; we are with you and we are going to do nothing of the sort to oppose you. But, if you put us in such a position, we may have to go to the Governor of the Colony and ask him to take over the reins of this Colony as we can no longer conduct the Government. You will have to find some other persons.’ (Uproar.)”

It is not for us to express our opinion regarding such words as these, if they were actually uttered by the Minister of Defence, but we would most respectfully draw your attention to the extreme danger of allowing a large body of excited men to proceed to the point, however peaceful their original intentions may have been, and more especially, when from the utterances of the speakers and the comments thereon of the meeting, the gravest cause of anxiety must be aroused regarding the objects of the Demonstration, and the safety of the passengers on the two steamers.

We would respectfully submit that as law-abiding inhabitants of this Colony, we have endeavoured cheerfully to submit to the requirements of the Government, despite serious loss to us, and that having so complied, we are entitled, on obtaining pratique, to discharge our steamers’ passengers at the wharf, and that in so doing, we are entitled to the protection of the Government for passengers and property against the lawless acts of any persons, whoever they may be. But, in order to render unnecessary any act on the part of the Government which might tend to intensify the excitement which exists, we are ready to co-operate with the Government in taking all necessary steps for the landing of passengers quietly and unknown to the public. We shall be glad to hear if this suggestion meets with your approval, and if so, what is required of us in carrying it out.

We have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient servants,

(Signed) DADA ABDOOLLA & CO.

33^ This should be the other way round. The Courland left on the 30th and the Naderi on the 2th November.

(APPENDIX R)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,

January 9, 1897

TO
THE HONOURABLE THE COLONIAL SECRETARY
MARITZBURG

SIR

In supplement of our letter to you of yesterday, wherein we placed before you our reasons for entertaining grave apprehensions regarding the legality of the Demonstration and the safety, on landing, of the passengers on board the Courland, s.s., and Naderi, s.s. we have the honour to submit the following paragraph which appears in this morning’s issue of The Mercury newspaper: “The declaration—the document which has been extensively signed by employers in Durban, is headed as follows: List of names of members, trade or profession mentioned, who are willing to proceed to the Point and resist by force, if necessary, the landing of Asiatics, and to obey any orders which may be given by the leaders.”

We have, also, the honour to draw your attention to the same issue of The Mercury newspaper, and under the heading of “The Leaders”, you will see it reported that the railwaymen have banded themselves together under the command of Mr. Sparks, and under the captainship of Messrs Wylie and Abrahams, in order to take part in the Demonstration; also that Dr. MacKenzie, member of the Medical Committee, on whose report steamers were quarantined, is in command of the Plasterers and Bricklayers division of the Demonstration.

We shall be glad to receive the assurance of the Government that Government servants will be prohibited from taking any part whatever in the Demonstration.

We have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient servants,

DADA ABDOOLLA & CO.

(APPENDIX S)[edit]

Copy
COLONIAL SECRETARY’S OFFICE,
NATAL, PIETERMARITZBURG,

January 11, 1897

257
C O
1897

GENTLEMEN,

I am instructed to reply to your two letters of the 8th and 9th instant. Your proposal for the landing of the passengers quietly and unknown to the public is impossible. The Government understand that you have requested the Port Captain not to bring the vessels inside without special instructions. This action on your part, and your letters now under reply, show that you are aware of the intense feeling throughout the Colony against the landing of the Indians, and they certainly should be informed of the existence and strength of that feeling.

I am,

Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) C. BIRD,
PRINCIPAL UNDER-SECRETARY
MESSRS DADA ABDOOLLA & CO.
DURBAN

(APPENDIX T)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
January 10, 1897

TO
THE HONOURABLE HARRY ESCOMBE

DEAR SIR,

We have duly advised our clients, Messrs Dada Abdoolla and Co., of the result of Mr. Laughton’s conference with you of yesterday, whereat you repudiated Mr. Wylie’s public statement of what had fallen from you at your conference with the Committee of the Demonstration, and said that your statement to such Committee was to this effect: That, if the Ministers were unable to cope with a Durban riot, they would be unfitted to hold office, and would resign.

At your conference with Mr. Laughton, you also laid down the following propositions as recognized by the Government:

1. That upon the requirements of the quarantine being carried out, pratique must be granted to the steamers Courland and Naderi,
2. That upon pratique being granted, the steamers were entitled to discharge their passengers and cargo at the wharf, either by the steamers themselves being brought inside or by means of tugs and lighters.
3. That the Government is responsible for the protection of passengers and cargo from the violence of rioters.

On the other hand, you were informed by Mr. Laughton that, inasmuch as Indians had to dwell in this Colony with Europeans, our clients recognized it as desirable that, in the landing of passengers, as little as possible should be done which would tend to intensify a feeling, which at present apparently exists amongst a certain class of Europeans against the Indians; and, therefore, that he felt sure, that our clients would co-operate with the Government to the extent of postponing the disembarkation for a reasonable time to enable the Government to make proper arrangements.

We are instructed to inform you that the time of quarantine expires today, and that, under ordinary circumstances, our clients would have proceeded with disembarkation today, but that they are willing to postpone it for a reasonable time to suit the convenience of the Government, provided the loss sustained by them in so doing, that is to say £150 per dies, is borne by the Government.

We trust you will see the reasonableness of this proposal, and that it will be adopted by the Government.

We draw your attention to the fact that several gentlemen holding Her Majesty’s commission in Volunteer Forces are organizing the intended riot, called by them a “Demonstration”, and have allowed themselves to be advertised in the newspapers and by placards, as being in command of sections of the intending rioters; also, that Captain Sparks has taken the same means of advertising himself as the Chief in command of the proposed riot.

We would most respectfully and reluctantly give it as our opinion that, if the organization had at an earlier stage been proclaimed as illegal, instead of being allowed to swell itself under false hopes, the same excitement would not now exist, and there would have been little difficulty in landing the passengers in due course; and that the organization, or the objects of it, having been publicly declared to have the sympathy of the Government, which declaration was apparently confirmed by Government officers being in command, and by Government employees being in the ranks, it has obtained a hold on the public mind which otherwise it could not have done.

We have the honour to be,

Sir,
Your obedient servants,
(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

(APPENDIX U)[edit]

Copy: ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE,
PIETERMARITZBURG, NATAL,

January 11, 1897

DEAR SIRS,

I have received your letter dated ‘Durban Club, 10th January, 1897.’

I understood that the interview between Mr. Laughton and myself was to be regarded as a “private meeting”, the words used by him in his note of the 9th instant.

I do not accept as correct your record of what was said by Mr. Laughton and myself.

Yours truly,

(Signed) HARRY ESCOMBE
MESSRS GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & CO.
DURBAN

(APPENDIX V)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
January 12, 1897

TO
THE HONOURABLE HARRY ESCOMBE

DEAR SIR,

We have received your letter of the 11th inst., wherein, in answer to our letter of the 10th instant, you state as follows:

“I understand that the interview between Mr. Laughton and myself was to be regarded as a ‘private meeting’, the words used by him in his note of the 9th instant.
“I do not accept as correct your record of what was said by Mr. Laughton and myself.”

In reply, we beg to state that it is quite true that Mr. Laughton, in his note of the 9th inst., asked for a private meeting with you, but we would draw your attention to the fact that, before that interview had continued many minutes, you told Mr. Laughton that he was to recollect that every word which he uttered would be reported by you the following morning to your colleagues in the ministry; and also that you gave him your permission to repeat everything that had taken place between us to our clients.

We beg, on Mr. Laughton’s assurance, to assert what was said at the meeting was in effect accurately recorded in our letter to you of the 10th instant, but in order that there may be no misunderstanding, we shall be glad if you will point out the inaccuracies to which you refer.

We have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient servants,
(Signed) GOODRICKE, LAUGHTON & COOKE

(APPENDIX W)[edit]

Copy

DURBAN,
January 12, 1897

TO
THE HONOURABLE HARRY ESCOMBE

SIR,

We have the honour to acknowledge a letter, signed by the Principal Under- Secretary, of yesterday’s date, wherein he informs us that he is instructed to reply to our two letters to the Colonial Secretary of the 8th and 9th instant, as follows:

“Your proposal for the landing of the passengers quietly and unknown to the public is impossible. The Government understand that you have requested the Port Captain not to bring the vessels inside without special instructions. This action on your part, and your letters now under reply, show that you are aware of the intense feeling throughout the Colony against the landing of the Indians, and they certainly should be informed of the existence and strength of that feeling.”

We cannot but acknowledge the feeling, which at present exists among a certain class in Durban, against the landing of the Indians. But, at the same time, we must most respectfully inform you that this feeling has been fostered by the Government, rather than discouraged, in the manner pointed out to you in our letters of the 8th and 9th instant.

We beg to express our surprise at your making no reference to the following facts brought to your notice in our above-mentioned letters:

1. That meetings with illegal objects have been held and are being held by certain persons in Durban, without any attempt on the part of the Government to inhibit them.
2. That Dr. MacKenzie, one of the Medical Board, has been one of the most energetic instigators of the objects of these meetings.
3. That it had been stated at some of those meetings that the Government was in sympathy with the objects of the meetings.
4. That the Minister of Defence had stated to the Committee of the organization, practically, that the Government would take no steps to hinder the rioters in attaining their illegal objects.
5. That we claimed the protection of the Government for passengers and property against the lawless acts of persons, whoever they may be.
6. To the “Declaration” of the rioters, set out in our letter of the 9th instant.
7. To railway employees of the Government taking part with the rioters.
8. To the leadership of the riot being under Captain Sparks and others of Her Majesty’s commissioned officers taking subordinate positions under him.
9. To our request that we should receive an assurance of the Government that Government servants will be prohibited from taking any part in the demonstration.
10. To our proposal to postpone the disembarkation for a reasonable time to suit the convenience of the Government, provided the loss sustained by us in so doing, that is to say £150 per diem, is borne by the Government.

We now beg for a reply to each of these allegations and questions, and to request that you will inform us what steps, if any, have been taken to protect the disembarkation of the steamers.

The steamers have now been at the outer anchorage for 24 days, at a cost of £150 per diem to us; and this being so, we trust you will see the reasonableness of your giving us a full answer by noon tomorrow. And we think it right to inform you that, failing a definite reply giving us an assurance that we shall be paid £150 per diem from Sunday last and that you are taking steps to suppress the rioters, so as to enable us to disembark the steamers, preparations will be at once commenced to steam into the harbour, relying on the protection which, we respectfully submit, Government is bound to give us.

In order that there may be no mistake in the minds of the Government as to the objects of the rioters, we beg to enclose the copy of a notice signed by Captain Sparks, and served yesterday by his deputies, Captain Wylie and others, on the Captain of the Courland, s.s. (This letter appears elsewhere.[34] )

The effect of this notice signed by Captain Sparks has been to make many passengers afraid of their lives in the event of landing at this port.

We, likewise, beg to enclose a copy of a memorandum written by Captain Wylie and served upon the Captains of each of the steamers for their signatures, and represented by him as embodying the only terms upon which the ships will be allowed to disembark. (App. Wa.)

We beg most respectfully to ask, in conclusion, if the Government will allow such flagrant acts to proceed which can only end in injury, if not death, to many of Her Majesty’s subjects.

We have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servants,
(Signed) Dada Abdoolla & Co.

34^ Vide "Memorial to Secretary of State for the Colonies", 15-3-1897,

(APPENDIX Wa)[edit]

Copy
THE CENTRAL HOTEL,
DURBAN, NATAL,
[January 11, 1897]

Terms agreed between the Captain of the s.s. Naderi and the Committee of the Point Demonstration:

1. The Naderi shall not leave the outer anchorage to come into the port of Durban.
2. All wives and children of Natal Indians to be allowed to land.
3. All old Natal Indians to be allowed to land, on the Committee being satisfied that they are returning here.
4. All others to be transferred to the s.s. Courland and so many as the Courland cannot take, to be taken back by the Naderi to Bombay.
4a. the Committee pay the ship the exact amount of passage money required to send back to India the Indians the Courland cannot take.
5. The Committee pay to the Indians the exact value, and no more, of the clothing and effects destroyed at this port.
6. The Committee pay to the Naderi the extra expense she may be put to in having to coal and take provisions at the outer anchorage instead of in the harbour, and such additional expense as the ship may be put to through the Committee not allowing the Naderi to leave the anchorage.

(APPENDIX X)[edit]

Copy
POINT,
10.45 a.m., January 13, 1897
MESSRS DADA ABDOOLA & CO.

SIRS,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated yesterday. The Port Captain has instructed that the steamers shall be ready to cross the bar inwards at 12 o’clock today.

The Government needs no reminder of its responsibility for the maintenance of order.

I have the honour to be,

Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Sd.) HARRY ESCOMBE

(APPENDIX Y)[edit]

SIR,

I observe, in your leader in this morning’s issue of The Mercury, you give it as your opinion that Mr. Gandhi was ill advised in landing and coming through Durban on Wednesday last; and, as I was certainly a party to his coming ashore as he did, I shall feel obliged by your giving me an opportunity of answering your remark. Hitherto it has been useless to speak unless you were prepared to adopt the programme of the Demonstration party and its particular mode of attaining its ends; but, now that the Committee is dissolved, and the minds of men are no longer being inflamed, I trust that my letter will receive calm and thoughtful consideration. Let me commence by saying that, while the agitation was proceeding, I obtained a copy of Mr. Gandhi’s pamphlet published in India, and concerning which we received Reuter’s cable some months ago, and I can assure your readers that Reuter not only misrepresented the pamphlet, but misrepresented it so much that, on reading the two,

I cannot but come to the conclusion that the writer of the cable had not read the pamphlet. I can say, further, that there is nothing in the pamphlet which anyone could take exception to on the ground of untruthfulness. Anyone can obtain a copy and read it if he chooses. Let your readers do so and answer honestly: Is there anything in it untrue? Is there anything in it which a political opponent was not justified in saying in support of his cause? Unfortunately, the mind of the public was inflamed by Reuter’s version of it,[35] and throughout the recent disturbances, there was not a man to point out to the public the difference between the true and the untrue. I don’t wish to hurt any man’s feelings by repeating the words which he uttered in the hour of excitement and which, I know, in his calmer moments he will deeply regret, but, in order that the position may be understood, I must place before your readers, shortly, what Mr. Gandhi’s position was before he took the step of landing and coming into town. I shall, therefore, without mentioning names, give the effect of just a few of the public statements made concerning him:

(1) That he had dragged our reputations through the gutters of India, and had painted them as black and filthy as his own face.
(2) That he might be allowed to come ashore that we might have the opportunity of spitting at him.
(3) That some special treatment, at the word of command, should be meted out to him and that he should never be allowed to land in Natal.
(4) That he was engaging himself, on board the quarantined ship, in getting briefs from passengers against the Government.
(5) That when three gentlemen, representing the Committee of the Demonstration, went on board the Courland, he was in such a ‘funk’ that he was stowed away in the lowest hold; and, on another occasion, that he was seen sitting on the deck of the Courland in a most dejected mood.

These are only a few of the things stated against him, but I take them as sufficient for my purpose.

If the above charges were true, if, in other words, he was a cowardly calumniator, stabbing us when at a safe distance, and if he had acted so that he was a fit object to be spat at, and afraid to return and face the consequences, then he was unfitted to be a member of an honourable profession, or to hold the position of leader in a great political question in which his countrymen take as much interest as we do and are as much entitled to ventilate their political views as we are. Before he went to India, I had met him in business matters on several occasions, and was struck with the anxiety shown by him to avoid litigation and to put matters in dispute on a fair basis, and with the honourable manner in which he dealt with business matters, so much so that I formed a very high opinion concerning him. I say this advisedly and I have no doubt my words will be approved by the members of the profession who know Mr. Gandhi. It was once said by an eminent judge that success at the Bar was not attained by endeavouring to injure opponents at the Bar, but only by so qualifying one’s self as to be equal or superior to such opponents. So, in political matters, we must give fair play to an opponent, and answer his argument by counter argument, and not by heaving half a brick at his head. I have found Mr. Gandhi, both in legal matters and on the Asiatic question, a fair and honourable opponent, obnoxious to us as his contentions may be, who would scorn to hit below the belt. To vindicate himself before the public then, it was decided that he should not give his enemies an opportunity of saying that he was ‘funking it’ on board the Courland, where he could have stayed for a week, if he had chosen; that he should not sneak into Durban like a thief in the night, but that he should face the music like man and like a political leader, and—give me leave to say—right nobly did he do it. I accompanied him simply as a member of the Bar, to testify, by so doing, that Mr. Gandhi was an honourable member of an honourable profession, in order that I might raise my voice in protest against the way in which he had been treated, and in the hope that my presence might save him from insult. Your readers have now the whole matter before them, and the reasons which induced Mr. Gandhi, to land as he did. He Might have kept to the boat at Cato’s Creek, when he saw the crowd collecting to receive him; he might have taken refuge in the police-station; but he did not, he said he was quite ready to face the men of Durban and to trust them as Englishmen. Throughout the trying procession, his manliness and pluck could not have been surpassed, and I can assure Natal that he is a man who must be treated as a man. Intimidation is out of the question, because, if the knew the Town Hall were going to be thrown at him, I believe, from what I saw, that he would not quail. Now, you have the tale impartially told, I hope, Durban has grossly insulted this man. I don’t describe the scene; I prefer not [to]. I say Durban, because Durban raised the storm, and is answerable for the result. We are all humiliated at the treatment. Our tradition concerning fair play appears to be in the dust. Let us act like gentlemen, and, however much against the grain it may be, let us express regret handsomely and generously,
—I am, etc.,
F. A. LAUGHTON.—The Natal Mercury, 16th January, 1897.

There has been a good deal said about Reuter’s cabled summary of Mr. Gandhi’s Indian pamphlet, within the last day or two . . . The general impression that is conveyed by these summaries is unquestionably different to the impression created in the minds of those who read the pamphlet . . . Frankly, it may be admitted that Mr. Gandhi’s pamphlet is not an unfair statement of the position of the Indian in South Africa from an Indian’s point of view. The European refuses to recognize the Indian as an equal’ and the Indian, as a British subject, considers he has a right to all the privileges of the British subjects of European birth in the Colony, and under the Proclamation of 1858, he is legally entitled to that claim. That there is a prejudice in South Africa against the Indian, it would be folly to deny, but at the same time, Mr. Gandhi, we think, might make greater allowance for the fact that, as whole, his countrymen in South Africa are not of a class that, even in India, would be allowed to ride in first-class railway carriages or admitted into the best hotels . . . Coming back to the pamphlet and the cabled summaries, these latter might have been as correctly written of some pamphlet describing the treatment of the Armenians by the Turks, and, in fact, Reuter’s cable read by itself gives some such impression. When the pamphlet written by Mr. Gandhi, however, is read in its entirety, the context reveals the fact that, while there are instances of real hardship given, the bulk of it is made up of political grievances in many cases similar to those the Uitlanders complain of in the Transvaal. The pamphlet, in short, contains practically nothing that Mr. Gandhi did not publish previously in Natal, and nothing that is not generally known. On the other hand, it is useless for Mr. Gandhi, or anyone else, to endeavour to have the Indian accepted in South Africa at his own estimate. There is no use being hypocritical in the matter. There is strong and deeply-rooted prejudice against Indians flocking into the country, and against their customs and mode of life. They may be British subjects by law, but they are aliens by what is stronger than law. viz., racial traditions and instincts.—The Natal Mercury, 18th January, 1897.

It is now beginning to be admitted that the outcry against Mr. Gandhi was much more bitter and violent than warranted by the facts and that his statement, although perhaps exaggerated, did not amount to such a wilful and deliberate attempt to blacken the character of the Colonists as to justify the vindictive attitude assumed, doubtless, under a misconception, by some extremists. Mr. Gandhi is endeavouring to perform for his compatriots similar services to those which Englishmen have always been ready to perform, and, when time has been afforded for cool reflection, it will be recognized that, however mistaken his methods, or however untenable his theses, it is the worst possible policy to treat him as an outcast and a pariah, because he is striving to secure what he considers to be the rights of his fellow-countrymen. It has always been the boast of Englishmen that they can take up a side without abandoning all fair play to their opponents. Colonists know that it would be dangerous to the well-being of the Colony to grant what Mr. Gandhi demands; they know that the fundamental and abiding racial distinctions between the Asiatic and European for ever preclude anything like social equality, and that no argument will ever bridge the gulf; they know that, even though abstract justice may apparently be against them, the instinct of self-preservation warns them that theirs is the only safe position; in short, they know that the Colony cannot remain a white Colony if no limit is put to Asiatic immigration. All this, however, may be admitted, without spoiling our case by unfair and unnecessary harshness towards those who quite naturally, take other views. Harm has been done already by the accentuation of the personal element, and it is to be hoped that Colonists will, in future, exhibit that dignity and self-restraint in the conduct of the campaign, without which we cannot expect the approval of disinterested observers.—The Natal Mercury, 19th January, 1897.

Mr. Gandhi’s statements to the Advertiser interviewer[36] have been read with considerable interest, and show that he has a good deal to say for himself. If his assertions are correct, there seems to have been a good deal of exaggeration in the statements made about him and his proposed scheme to swamp the Colony with Indians, which have had much to do with the irritation of the public mind against him. In the interests of justice it is to be hoped this matter will be cleared up. It has been asserted that the Government have information in their possession to prove the existence of this scheme. If so, the evidence ought to be brought forward, because this really constitutes the gravamen of the charges against Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi admits that “the leaders of the Demonstration Committee, and anybody in Natal, would be perfectly justified in getting up a constitutional agitation if there was an organized attempt to swamp the Colony with Indians.” So that, if the scheme can be proved, as some people state, Mr. Gandhi’s mouth will be closed . . . Then, again, he totally denies the assertion that he was instigating legal proceeding against the Government for unlawful detention. If there is any proof for that charge, it, too, should be produced. He denies, further, that a printing-press and compositors were brought ever by him, or that the number of passengers for Natal is anything like so great as alleged. These matters are surely capable of direct proof or disproof, and it would be well if they were settled, because, if what Mr. Gandhi says is true, it would seem that the recent agitation was started on insufficient grounds, and incorrect information . . . It will be necessary, if the aid of the Imperial Government is to be obtained, to have hard facts to go upon. It will not advance our cause to raise an outcry that the country is being swamped, and to talk about thousands of Indians coming across in one or two vessels, and then, when it is all boiled down, find there are only one or two hundred. No good will be gained by exaggeration . . . There is no getting away from the fact that this brutal outrage was committed on the very day of the Demonstration, under the influence of feelings excited by the Demonstration, and what led up to it, and also in defiance of the assurance of the representative of Government that the passengers were absolutely safe. The incident shows what might have happened on a larger scale if the Demonstration had been carried to the lengths which were at first intended. — The Natal Advertiser, 16th January, 1897.

Enclosure in Despatch No.62 from the Governor of Natal to H. M.’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, London, dated 10th April, 1897.

Colonial Office Records: Petitions and Despatches, 1897

35^ Vide "Memorial to Secretary of State for the Colonies", 15-3-1897.

36^ Vide “Interview to The Natal Advertiser”, 13-1-1897.