728 ON THE EVE OF ARREST
unnecessary for our purpose and hardly a preclude to civil disobedience. That the authorities could have handled the procession in a better spirit, that they ought not to have interfered with the Swaraj flag, that they ought not to have objected to the seizure of the Town Hall which ( was town property as Congress offices in view of the fact that it had been so used for some months With the permission of the Town Council, is all very true. But we have ceased to give credit to the authorities for common or reasonable sense. On the contrary, we have set ourselves against them because we expect nothing but unreason and violence from them, and knowing that the authorities would act no better than they did, we should have refrained from all the previous irritating demonstrations. That the U, P, Government are making a mountain out of a mole hill, that they are discounting their own provocation and the provocation given by the murdered men at Chauri Chaura is nothing new. All that I am concerned with is that it is not possible for us to claim that we have given them no handle whatsoever. It is therefore as a penance that civil disobedience has been suspended. But if the atmosphere clears up, if the people realise the full value of the adjective 'civil* and become in reality non- violent both in spirit and in deed, and if I find that the Government still do not yield to the people's will, I shall certainly be the first person to advocate individual or mass civil disobedience as the case may be. There is no escape from that duty without the people wishing to surrender their birthright.
I doubt the sincerity of Englishmen who are born fighters when they declaim against civil disobedience as if it was a diabolical crime to be ounished with