Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/30

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appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen." And then follows the terrible inditement of the Government. The judge himself is deeply moved. He feels the greatness of the occasion and in slow and deliberate accents he says: "It will be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person I have ever tried or am likely to try. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that in the eyes of millions of your countrymen you are a great patriot and a great leader. Even those who differ from you in politics look upon you as a man of high ideals and of noble and even saintly life." But, Oh, the irony of it! "I have to deal with you in one character only * * to judge you as a man subject to the law who has by his own admission broken the law and committed, what to an ordinary man must appear to be, grave offences against the state.” A sentence of six years’ simple imprisonment is passed; but the judge adds: "that if the course of events in India should make it possible for the Government to reduce the period and release you, no one will be better pleased than I." And the prisoner thanks the judge and there is perfect good humour. Was there ever such a trial in the history of British Courts or any other court for the matter of that? And finally he bids farewell to the tearful throng pressing forward to touch the bare feet of him whose presence was a benediction!

The man is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Dewan’s son, Barrister-at-Law, scholar, student, cultured Indian gentleman, "farmer, weaver," and leader of his people. Because he preferred to obey the dictates of conscience, because he placed honour before comfort or even life itself, because he chose not to accept an insult to his Motherland, because he strove so that right should prevail and that his people might have life, a civilised, Christian Government in a Colony over which waves the British flag, deemed that the best way to overcome such dangerous contumacy was to cast his body into gaol, where at one time he was compelled to herd with and starve upon the diet of the most degraded aboriginal native felons, men barely emerging from the condition of brute beasts, or rather, with all their