The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi/Volume I/1884-1888
A Confession (1884)
1 I wrote it on a slip of paper and handed it to him myself. In this note not only did I confess my guilt, but I asked adequate punishment for it, and closed with a request to him not to punish himself for my offence. I also pledged myself never to steal in future.2
An Autobiography, Pt. I, Ch. VIII.
1. When Gandhiji was 15, he had removed a bit of gold from his brother's armlet to clear a small debt of the latter. He felt so mortified about his act that he decided to make a confession to his father. Parental forgiveness was granted to him in the form of silent tears. The incident left a lasting mark on his mind. In his own words, it was an object-lesson to him in the power of ahimsa.
- The original not being available; his own report of it, as found in An Autobiography, is reproduced here.
2. According to Mahatma Gandhi : The Early Phase, p. 212, one of the sentences in the confession was : "So, father, your son is now, in your eyes, no better than a common gago thief."
Speech at Alfred High School, Rajkot (4-7-1888)
July 4, 1888
I hope that some of you will follow in my footsteps, and after you return from England you will work wholeheartedly for big reforms in India. [From Gujarati]3
Kethiawar Times, 12-7-1888
3. Gandhiji was given a send-off by his fellow-students of the Alfred High School, Rajkot, when he was leaving for England to study for the Bar. In An Autobiography, Pt. I, Ch. XI, he says : "I had written out a few words of thanks. But I could scarcely stammer them out. I remember how my head reeled and how my whole frame shook as I stood up to read them."
Letter to Lakshmidas Gandhi (9-11-1888)
London, Friday, November 9, 1888
I am sorry that there has been no letter from you for the last two or three weeks. Your silence is due perhaps to your not having heard from me. But it was impossible for me to post any letters before I reached London. That you should not have written to me on that account is indeed surprising. As I am far from home we can meet only through letters. And if I do not get letters I feel very much worried. Therefore please drop a postcard every week without fail. I would not have been anxious if you did not have my address. But I am sorry that you have stopped writing after having written to me twice. I joined the Inner Temple on Tuesday last. I will write in detail after I hear from you next week. The cold here is now bitter but such bad weather generally does not last long. In spite of the cold I have no need of meat or liquor. This fills my heart with joy and thankfulness. I am now keeping very good health. Please give my respects to mother and sister-in-law.
Mahatma, Vol. I. Also from a photostat of the Gujarati.
London Diary (12-11-1888)
London, November, 12 18884
What led to the intention of proceeding to London? The scene opens about the end of April. Before the intention of coming to London for the sake of study was actually formed, I had a secret design in my mind of coming here to satisfy my curiosity of knowing what London was. While I was prosecuting my college studies in Bhavnagar 5, I had a chat with Jayshankar Buch. During the chat he advised me to apply to the Junagadh 6 State to give me a scholarship to proceed to London, I being an inhabitant of Sorath 7. I do not perfectly remember the answer I made to him that day. I suppose I felt the impossibility of getting the scholarship.
From that [time] I had in my mind the intention of visiting the land. I was finding the means to reach that end. On 13th April, 1888, I left Bhavnagar to enjoy the vacation in Rajkot. After 15 days of vacation, my elder brother and I went to see Patwari. On our return my brother said: "We would go to see Mavji Joshi"8, and so we went. Mavji Joshi asked me as usual how I did. Then put some questions about my study in Bhavnagar. I plainly told him that I had hardly any chance of passing my examination first year. I also added that I found the course very difficult. Hearing this, he advised my brother to send me as soon as possible to London for being called to the Bar. He said the expense will be only Rs. 5,000." Let him take some urad dal. There he will cook some food for him self and thereby there will be no objection about religion. Don't reveal the matter to anybody. Try to get some scholarship. Apply to Junagadh and Porbandar States. See my son Kevalram 9, and if you fail in getting the pecuniary help and if you have no money, sell your furniture. But anyhow send Mohandas to London. I think that is the only means to keep the reputation of your deceased father." All of our family members have great faith in what Mavji Joshi says. And my brother who is naturally very credulous made a promise to Mavji Joshi to send me to London.
Now was the time for my exertions. On that very day my brother, notwithstanding his promise to keep the matter secret, told the thing to Khushalbhai 10. He, of course, approved of it in case I could observe my religion. The very day it was told to Meghjibhai 11. He quite agreed with the proposal and offered to give me Rs. 5,000. I had some faith in what he said. And when the matter was disclosed to my dear mother, she reproached me for being so credulous and she said I would never get any money from him when the time comes, which she thought never will come. On that day I was to (go to) Kevalrambhai. I saw him accordingly. There I had not a satisfactory chat. He no doubt approved of my object but said: "You will have to spend there at least Rs. 10,000." This was a great blow to me, and again he said: "You will have to set aside all your religious prejudices, if any. You will have to eat meat, you must drink. You cannot live without that. The more you spend, the cleverer you will be. It is a very important thing. I speak to you frankly. Don't be offended; but, look here, you are still very young. There are many temptations in London. You are apt to be entrapped by them." I was partially dejected by this talk. But I am not a man who would, after having formed any intention, leave it easily. He illustrated his statement by giving example of Mr. Gulam Mahomed Munshi. I asked him whether he could help me in any way in getting the scholarship. He answered in the negative. He said he would very gladly do anything except that. I told everything to my brother. Then I was entrusted with the business of receiving the consent of my dear mother, which I thought was not an arduous task for me.
After a day or two, my brother and I went to see Mr. Kevalram; there he saw us though he was very busy at that time. We had a talk of the similar kind that I had with him a day or two earlier. He advised my brother to send me to Porbandar. The proposal was agreed to. Then we returned. I began to introduce the subject to my mother in joke. The joke was turned to reality in no time. Then a day was fixed for my going to Porbandar. Twice or thrice I prepared to go, but some difficulty came in my way. Once I was to go with Zaverchand, but an hour before the time of my departure a serious accident took place. I was always quarrelling with my friend Sheikh Mehtab 12. On the day of departure I was quite engrossed in thinking about the quarrel. He had a musical party at night. I did not enjoy it very well. At about 10.30 p.m. the party ended and we all went to see Meghjibhai and Rami. On our way I was buried in the madcap thoughts of London on one side and the thoughts of Sheikh Mehtab on the other. Amidst thoughts, I came unconsciously in contact with a carriage. I received some injury. Yet I did not take the help of anybody in walking. I think I was quite dizzy. Then we entered the house of Meghjibhai. There I again came in contact with a stone unknowingly and received injury. I was quite senseless. From that [time] I did not know what took place, and after that, I am told by them, I fell flat on the ground after some steps. I was not myself for 5 minutes. They considered I was dead. But fortunately for myself the ground on which I fell was quite smooth. I came to my senses at last and all of them were quite joyful. The mother was sent for. She was very sorry for me, and this caused my delay though I told them that I was quite well. But none would allow me to go, though I afterwards came to know that my bold and dearest mother would have allowed me to go. But she feared the calumny of other people. At last with great difficulty I was allowed to leave Rajkot for Porbandar after some days. On my way too I had to encounter some difficulties.
At length I reached Porbandar to the joy of all. Lalbhai 13 and Karsondas 14 had come to the Khadi bridge to fetch me home. Now what had I to do in Porbandar [was to] exact consent from my uncle, and, secondly apply to Mr. Lely 15 to render me some pecuniary help, and last, in case of failure to get the State scholarship, to ask Parmanandbhai 16 to give me some money. The first thing I did was that I saw uncle and asked him whether he liked my going to London or not. Then, naturally, as I had expected, he asked me to enumerate the advantages of going to London. This I did according to my power. Then he said : "Of course, the people of this generation would like it very much, but, as for myself, I do not like it. Nevertheless we shall consider afterwards." I was not disappointed by such an answer. At least I had the satisfaction to know that at all events he liked it inwardly and his deed proved what I thought right.
Unfortunately for me, Mr. Lely was not in Porbandar. It is quite true that misfortunes never come single. After his return from the district where he had gone, he was to go at once on leave. My uncle advised me to wait for him till the next Sunday. And if he did not come up during that time, he said, he would send me where he should be. But it gives me much pleasure to write here that he returned from the district on Sunday. Then it was settled that I should see him on Monday. It was done accordingly.
For the first time in my life I had an interview with an English gentleman. Formerly I never dared to front them. But thoughts of London made me bold. I had small talk with him in Gujarati. He was quite in a hurry. He saw me when he was ascending the ladder of the upper storey of his bungalow. He said the Porbandar State was very poor and could not give me any pecuniary help. However, he said, I should first graduate in India and then he would see if he could render me any help. Indeed such an answer from him quite disappointed me. I did not expect such a reply from him. Now what I had to do was to ask Parmanandbhai to give me Rs. 5,000. He said he would very gladly give them if my uncle approved of my going to London. I thought this to be rather a difficult task, yet I was determined upon exacting his consent. I saw him when he was busy doing something, and addressed him thus : "Uncle, now tell me what you really think of my going. My chief aim in coming here is to exact your consent." Then he replied : "I cannot approve of it. Don't you know that I am going on a pilgrimage, and is it not disgraceful on my part to say that I like that people should go to London ? However, if your mother and brother like it, I do not at all object to it." "But then," I said, "you don't know that you prevent Parmanandbhai from rendering me pecuniary help by refusing to allow my going to London." Just as I uttered these words, he said in an angry tone: "Is it so? My dear chap, you don't know why he says so. He knows that I will never approve of your going and so he brings forth this excuse. But the real thing is that he is never to render you any help of the kind. I do not prevent him from doing so." Thus ended our talk. Then I gaily ran off and saw Parmanandbhai and word by word related what took place between my uncle and myself. He too was quite angry when he heard this and at the same time made a promise to give me Rs. 5,000. I was quite overjoyed when he made a promise, and what pleased me more was that he swore by his son.
Now from that day I began to think that I would surely go to London. Then I stayed some days in Porbandar and the more I stayed there the more I was assured of the promise. Now here is what took place at Rajkot during my absence. My friend Sheikh Mehtab who, I should say, is very full of tricks, reminded Meghjibhai of his promise and forged a letter with my signature in which he wrote that I stood in need of Rs. 5,000 and soon. The letter was shown to him and it actually passed for a letter written by me. Then, of course, he was quite puffed up and made a solemn promise of giving me Rs. 5,000. I was not informed of this until I reached Rajkot.
Now to return again to Porbandar. At length a day was fixed for my departure and I bade farewell to my family members and was set off for Rajkot, with my brother Karsondas and Meghji's father, really an incarnation of miserliness. Before going to Rajkot, I went to Bhavnagar to sell off my furniture, and discontinue the rent of the house. I did it only in one day and was separated from the friends in the neighbourhood, not without tears from them and my kind landlady. I should never forget their kindness and that of Anopram and others. Having done this, I reached Rajkot.
But I was to see Colonel Watson 17 before my departure for three years. He was to come to Rajkot on the 19th June, 1888. Indeed it was a long time for me because I reached Rajkot in the beginning of May. But I could not help. My brother entertained very high hopes of Colonel Watson. These days were indeed hard days. I could not sleep well at night, was always attacked by dreams. Some persons dissuaded me from going to London and some advised me to do so. Sometimes my mother too asked me not to go, and what was very strange that not in frequently my brother also changed his mind. So I was held in suspense. But, as all of them knew that I should not leave off anything having first begun it, they were silent. During the time, I was asked by my brother to sound the mind of Meghjibhai about his promise. The result was quite disappointing, of course, and from that time he always acted the part of an enemy. He spoke ill of me before anybody and everybody. But I was quite able to disregard his taunts. My dearest mother was quite angry with him for this and sometimes uneasy. But I could easily console her, and I have the satisfaction to see that I have very often consoled her with success and have made her laugh heartily when she, my dear, dear mother, should be shedding tears on my account. At last Colonel Watson came. I saw him. He said: "I shall think about it", but I never got any help from him. I am sorry to say that it was with difficulty that I could take a trivial note of introduction which, he said in a peremptory voice, was worth one lack of rupees. Now really it makes me laugh. Then a day was fixed for my departure. At first it was the fourth of August. The matter was now brought to a crisis. The fact I was to go to England went through the Press. My brother was always asked by some persons about my going. Now was the time when he told me to leave off the intention of going, but I would not do that. Then he saw H. H. the Thakoresaheb 18 of Rajkot and requested him to render me some pecuniary help. But no help was obtained therefrom. Then for the last time I saw Thakoresaheb and Colonel Watson. I received a note of introduction from the latter and a photo from the former. Here I must write that the fulsome flattery which I had to practise about this time had quite made me angry. Had it not been for my credulous and dearest brother, I would never have resorted to such a piece of gross flattery. After all, the 10th August came and my brother, Sheikh Mehtab, Mr. Nathubhai, Khushalbhai and I started. I left Rajkot for Bombay. It was Friday night. I was given an address by my school fellows. I was quite uneasy when I rose up to answer the address.19 When I spoke half of what I had to speak, I began to shake. I hope I will not do it again when I return to India. Before proceeding further I must write. Many had come to bid me farewell on the night. Messrs Kevalram, Chhaganlal (Patwari), Vrajlal, Harishankar, Amolakh, Manekchand, Latib, Popat, Bhanji, Khimji, Ramji, Damodar, Meghji, Ramji Kalidas, Naranji, Ranchhoddas, Manilal were among those who came to bid farewell. Jatashankar Vishvanath and others may be added. The first station was Gondal. There we saw Dr. Bhau and took Kapurbhai with us. Nathubhai came as far as Jetpur. At Dhola, Usmanbhai met us and he came as far as Wadhwan. At Dhola, Messrs Narandas, Pranshankar, Narbheram, Anandrai and Vrajlal had come to bid farewell.
Twenty-first was the day on which I was to leave Bombay. But the difficulties which I had to withstand in Bombay are indescribable. My caste fellows tried their best to prevent me from proceeding further. Almost all of them were in opposition. And at length my brother Khushalbhai and Patwari himself advised me not to go. But I wouldn't give heed to their advice. Then the sea weather was the excuse which delayed my proceeding. My brother and others then left me. But on a sudden I left Bombay on the 4th September 1888. At this time I was very much obliged to Messrs Jagmohandas, Damodardas and Bechardas. To Shamalji, of course, I owe immense obligation, and what I owe to Ranchhodlal 20 I don't know. It is something more than obligation. Messrs Jagmohandas, Manshankar, Bechardas, Narayandas Patwari, Dwarkadas, Popatlal, Kashidas, Ranchhodlal, Modi, Thakore, Ravi Shankar, Pherozeshah, Ratanshah, Shamalji and some others came to see me off on board the steamer, Clyde. Of these, Patwari gave me Rs. 5, Shamalji as many, Modi two, Kashidas one, Narandas two, and some others whom I forget. Mr. Manshankar gave me a silver chain, and then they all of them bade farewell for three years and departed. Before finishing this, I must write that had it been some other man in the same position which I was in, I dare say he would not have been able to see England. The difficulties which I had to withstand have made England dearer to me than she would have been.
The sea voyage
It was about 5 p.m. when the ship weighed anchor. I was very anxious about the voyage but fortunately it agreed with me. Throughout the voyage I was not at all sea-sick and I had no vomiting. It was for the first time in my life that I sailed in a steamship. I enjoyed the voyage very much. At about 6 o'clock the dinner bell was rung. The steward asked me to go to the table. But I did not go and ate what I had brought with me. I was very much surprised at the liberty which Mr. Mazmudar took with me on the first night. He spoke to me in such a manner as if we were very old acquaintances. He had no black coat. So I gave him mine for dinner. He went to the table. From that night I liked him very much. He entrusted his keys to me, and I began to look upon him as my elder brother from that very night. There was one Maratha doctor with us as far as Aden. He, on the whole, looked like a good man. Thus for two days I lived upon the sweetmeat and fruits which I had on board with me.
Then Mr. Mazmudar made an agreement with some boys on board to cook us food. I would never have been able to make such an agreement. There was one Abdul Majid who was a first-class passenger while we were saloon passengers. We enjoyed our dinner cooked by the boy. Now something about the steamship. I liked the arrangements of the steamer very much. When we sit in the cabins or saloon, we forget that the cabins and the saloons are a part of the ship. We sometimes do not feel the motion at all. The dexterity of the workmen and the sailors was indeed admirable.
There were musical instruments in the steamer. I every now and then played upon the piano. There were cards, chessboard and draughts on the board. The European passengers always played some games at night. The decks are a great relief to the passengers. You are generally tired of sitting in the cabins. On the decks you get fresh air. You can mix with and talk with the fellow-passengers if you are bold and have got that stuff. The scene of the sea when the sky is clear is lovely. On one moonlight night I was watching the sea. I could see the moon reflected in the water. On account of the waves, the moon appeared as if she were moving here and there. One dark night when the sky was clear the stars were reflected in the water. The scene around us was very beautiful at that time. I could not at first imagine what that was. They appeared like so many diamonds. But I knew that a diamond could not float. Then I thought that they must be some insects which can only be seen at night. Amidst these reflections I looked at the sky and at once found that it was nothing but stars reflected in waters. I laughed at my folly. This reflection of the stars gives us the idea of fireworks. Fancy yourself to be standing on the storey of a bungalow watching the fireworks performed before you. I very often enjoyed this scene. For some days I did not speak a word to the fellow-passengers. I always got up at 8 a.m. in the morning, washed my teeth, then went to the w.c. and took my bath. The arrangement of the English water closets astonished a native passenger. We do not get there water and are obliged to use pieces of paper.
After enjoying the sea voyage for about five days, we reached Aden. During these days not a single piece of land or a mountain was seen by us. All of us were tired of the monotony of the voyage and were eager to see land. At last on the morning of the 6th day we saw land. All looked gay and cheerful. At about 11 a.m. we anchored at Aden. Some boys came with small boats. They were great swimmers. Some Europeans threw some money in the waters. They went deep into the waters and found out the money. I wish I could do so. This was a pretty sight. We, after enjoying this sight for about half an hour, went to see Aden. I must say here that we simply saw the boys finding out the pieces. Ourselves did not throw a single pie. From this day we began to experience the idea of expenses of England. We were three persons and had to pay two rupees for boat hire. The coast was hardly at a mile's distance. We reached the coast in 15 minutes. Then we hired a carriage. We intended to go to see the waterworks which are the only object of interest in Aden. But, unfortunately, the time being up we could not go there. We saw the Camp of Aden. It was good; the buildings were good. They were generally shops. The construction of the buildings was most probably like that of the bungalows in Rajkot and especially the new bungalow of the Political Agent. I could not see any well or any place of fresh water there. I am afraid that perhaps the tanks are the only place for fresh water. The heat of the sun was excessive. I was quite wet with perspiration. This was because we were not far from the Red Sea. What astonished me more was that I saw not a single tree or a green plant. Men rode on mules or asses. We could hire mules if we liked. The camp is situated on the hill. I heard from the boatman, when we returned, that the boys of whom I wrote above are sometimes injured. The legs of some and arms of others are cut off by sea animals. But still the boys, being very poor, sat each in their small boats in which we dare not sit. Each of us had to pay one rupee for the carriage fare.
The anchor was weighed at 12 a.m. and we left Aden. But from this day we always saw some land. In the evening we entered the Red Sea. We began to feel the heat. But I don't think it was so scorching, as is described by some in Bombay. Indeed it was unbearable in the cabins. You cannot expose yourself to the sun. You will not like to stay even for a few minutes in your cabin. But if you are on the deck you are sure to receive pleasant gales of fresh air. At least I did so. Almost all the passengers slept on the deck and so did I. The heat of the new morning sun, too, you cannot bear. You are always safe when you are on the deck. This heat we generally get for three days.
Then we entered the Suez on the fourth night. We could see the lamps in the Suez from a great distance. The Red Sea was sometimes broad and sometimes quite narrow. So narrow that we can see the land on both the sides. Before entering the Suez Canal we passed the Hellsgate. Hellsgate is a strip of water very narrow, bound on both the sides by hills. It is so called because many ships are wrecked at that place. We saw the wreck of a ship in the Red Sea. We stayed at Suez for about half an hour. Now it was said that we shall receive cold. Some said that you will require liquor after leaving Aden. But it was false. Now I had begun to talk a little with the fellow-passengers. They said, after leaving Aden you will require meat: but it was not so. For the first time in my life I saw the electric light in the front of our ship. It appeared like moonlight. The front part of the ship appeared very beautiful. I think it must appear more beautiful to a man seeing it, placed on some other place, just as we cannot enjoy the beauty of our person as others, i.e., we cannot see it to advantage.
The construction of the Suez Canal I am not able to understand. It is indeed marvellous. I cannot think of the genius of a man who invented it. I don't know how he would have done it. It is quite right to say that he has competed with nature. It is not an easy task to join two seas. Only one ship can pass through the Canal at a time. It requires skilful pilotship. The ship sails at a very low motion. We cannot feel its motion. The water of the Canal is quite dirty. I forget its depth. It is as broad as the Aji 21 at Ramnath. You can see men passing by on both the sides. The part near the Canal is barren. The Canal belongs to the French. Another pilot comes from Ismailia to direct the ship. The French take a certain sum of money for every ship that passes through the Canal. The income must be very large. Besides the electric lamp in the ship, there are seen lights at a distance of some 20 feet on both sides. These are the lights of different colours. The ship has to pass these rows of lights. It takes about 24 hours to pass through the Canal. The beauty of the scene is beyond my power to describe. You cannot enjoy it unless you see it.
Port Said is the terminus of the Canal. Port Said owes its existence to the Suez Canal. We anchored at Port Said in the evening. The ship was to stay there for an hour, but one hour was quite sufficient to see Port Said. Now the currency was English. Indian money is quite useless here. The boat-fare is six pence each. A penny is worth one anna. The construction of the Port Said building is French. Here we get an idea of the French life. There we saw some coffee restaurants. At the first I thought it was a theatre. But it was nothing but a coffee house. [On] one side we drink coffee or soda or tea or any drink, and on the other we hear music. Some women are playing fiddle bands. A bottle of lemonade in these cafes, as they are called, will cost you 12 pence, which we get for less than a penny in Bombay. Customers are said to hear music gratis. But really it is not so. As soon as the music is finished, a woman, with a plate covered with a handkerchief in her hand comes before every customer. That means that you give her something and we are obliged to give something. We visited the cafe and gave 6 pence to the woman. Port Said is nothing but a seat of luxury. There women and men are very cunning. The interpreter will follow to guide you. But you boldly tell him that you do not want him. Port Said is hardly as big as the proper para 22 of Rajkot. We left Port Said at 7 p.m. Among our fellow-passengers one Mr. Jeffreys was very kind to me. He always told me to go to the table, and take something there, but I would not go. He said, after leaving Brindisi you will feel cold, but it was not so.
After 3 days we reached Brindisi at night. The harbour of Brindisi is beautiful. The steamer just touches the coast and you descend to the coast by means of a ladder provided there. It being [dark] I could not see Brindisi much. There everyone speaks Italian. Roads of Brindisi are paved with stones. The streets are sloping. They too are paved. Gas is used for lamps. We saw the station of Brindisi. It was not so beautiful as the stations of the B. B. & C. I. Rly. But the railway carriages were far bigger than ours. The traffic was good. When you land at Brindisi, a man would come and ask you, in case you are a black man: "Sir, there is a beautiful girl of 14, follow me, Sir, and I will take you there, the charge is not high, Sir." You are at once puzzled. But be calm and answer boldly that you don't want her and tell the man to go away and thereby you will be safe. If you are in any difficulty at once refer to a policeman just near you, or at once enter a large building which you will surely see. But before you enter it, read the name on the building and make sure that it is open to all. Thus you will be safe. This you will be able to make out at once. Tell the porter there that you are in a difficulty, and he will at once show you what you should do. If you are bold enough, ask the porter to take you to the Chief Officer and you will refer the matter to him. By a large building I mean that it must be belonging to Thomas Cook or Henry King or some such other agents. They will take care of you. Don't be miserly at that time. Pay the porter something. But this means is to be resorted to when you think yourself to be in any danger. But these buildings you will only see on the coasts. If you are far away from the coast you are to find out a policeman and in case of failure, your conscience is the best dictator.
We left Brindisi early in the morning. After about 3 days we reached Malta. The ship anchored at about 2 p.m. She was to stay there for nearly four hours. Mr. Abdul Majid was to come with us. But somehow or other he was very late. I was quite impatient to go. Mr. Mazmudar said: "Shall we go alone and not wait for Mr. Majid?" I said: "Just as you please. I have no objection." Then, of course, we went alone. On our return Abdul Majid saw us and said he was very sorry that we went away. Then Mr. Mazumdar said: "It was Gandhi who was impatient and told me not to wait for you." I was really very much offended by such behaviour of Mr. Mazmudar. I did not try to wash off the charge but silently accepted it. But I know that the charge would have been washed off, had I only hinted to Abdul Majid: "Had Mr. Mazmudar really wanted to wait for you, he had better not act according to what I said." And I think this would have been quite sufficient to convince Mr. Abdul Majid of my having no hand in the doing. But at that time I did not mean to do anything of the kind. But from that day I began to entertain very low opinion about Mr. Mazmudar, and from that day I had no real respect for him. Besides there happened two or three things which made me like Mazmudar the less day by day.
Malta is an object of interest. There are many things to see. But the time at our disposal was not sufficient. As I said before, Mr. Mazmudar and myself went to the coast. Here we had received a great rogue. We had to suffer a great loss. We took the number of the boat, and to see the city we hired a carriage. The rogue was with us. After driving for about half an hour, we reached St. Juan Church. The church was beautifully built. There we saw some skeletons of eminent persons. They were very old. We gave a shilling to the friend who showed us over the church. Just opposite the church was a statue of St. Juan. Thence drove to the city. The roads were paved. On both sides of the pavement were paved walks for men. The island is very beautiful. There are many grand buildings. Went to see the Armoury Hall. This hall was beautifully decorated. There we saw very old paintings. They were not really paintings but embroidered in. But a stranger would not perceive that it was embroidered work unless told by somebody. In the hall were the arms of old warriors. All of them [were] worth seeing. Having no record, I do not remember them all. There was a helmet which was 30 lb. in weight. The carriage of Napoleon Bonaparte was very beautiful. Having given a tip of 6d. to the man who showed us over the hall we returned. We were obliged to take off our hats when we saw the church and the Armoury Hall, as a token of respect. Then we went to the shop of the rogue. He tried to force something upon us. But we wouldn't buy anything. At length Mr. Mazmudar bought the views of Malta for 2/6. Here the rogue gave us an interpreter and himself did not come with us. The interpreter was a very good man. He drove us to the orange gardens. We saw the gardens. I did not like the gardens at all. I like our public park of Rajkot better than the gardens. If there was anything worth seeing for me, it was the golden and red fishes in a small enclosure of water. Thence we returned to the town, went to a hotel. Mr. Mazmudar took some potatoes and tea. On our way we met an Indian. Mr. Mazmudar being a very bold man spoke to the Indian. On further talk with him it was understood that he was the brother of a man who had a shop in Malta. We at once went to the shop. Mr. Mazmudar had a good chat with the shopkeeper. We made some purchases there and spent two hours in the shop. So we could not see much of Malta. We saw another church. That too was very beautiful and worth seeing. We had to see the opera house but we had no time to do that. We took leave of the gentleman who gave Mr. Mazmudar his card to his brother in London. On our return, the rogue again met us and came with us at 6 p.m. We reached the coast and paid the rogue, the good interpreter and the carriageman. We had a quarrel about the fare with the boat-man. The result was, of course, in favour of the boatman. Here we were cheated a good deal. The steamer Clyde left at 7 p.m.
After 3 days' voyage we reached Gibraltar at 12 p.m. The ship remained there the whole night. I had a good mind to see Gibraltar, so got up early in the morning and awakened Mazmudar and asked him whether he would come with me to the shore or not. He said he would. Then I went to Mr. Majid and awoke him. We three went to the shore. The time at our disposal was only 1 1/2 hours. It being the dawn of the day all the shops were shut. It is said that Gibraltar being a free port smoking is very cheap. Gibraltar is built upon a rock. On the top is the fortification which to our great sorrow we could not see. The houses are in rows. In order to go from the first row to the second, we are obliged to ascend certain steps. I liked it very much. The construction was beautiful. Roads were paved. Having no time we were soon obliged to return. The ship weighed anchor at 8.30 a.m.
In three days we reached Plymouth at 11 p.m. Now was the proper time for cold. Each and every passenger said that we would die without meat and drink but nothing of the kind happened to us. Indeed it was pretty well cold. We were also told about the storm but could not see the storm. Really I was very anxious to see it but could not. It being night we could see nothing of Plymouth. We had dense fog there. At length the ship left for London. In 24 hours we reached London; left the steamer and reached Victoria Hotel via Tilbury Station on the 27th23 October, 1888, at 4 p.m.
27th October, 1888, Saturday, to 23rd November, Friday
Mr. Mazmudar, Mr. Abdul Majid and I reached the Victoria Hotel. Mr. Abdul Majid told in a dignified air to the porter of the Victoria Hotel to give our cabman the proper fare. Mr. Abdul Majid thought very highly of himself, but let me write here that the dress which he had put on was perhaps worse than that of the porter. He did not take care of the luggage too, and as if he had been in London for a long time, stepped into the hotel. I was quite dazzled by the splendour of the hotel. I had never in my life seen such pomp. My business was simply to follow the two friends in silence. There were electric lights all over. We were admitted into a room. There Mr. Majid at once went. The manager at once asked him whether he would choose second floor or not. Mr. Majid thinking it below his dignity to inquire about the daily rent said yes. The manager at once gave us a bill of 6s. each per day and a boy was sent with us. I was all the while smiling within myself. Then we were to go to the second floor by a lift. I did not know what it was. The boy at once touched something which I thought was lock of the door. But as I afterwards came to know it was the bell and he rang in order to tell the waiter to bring the lift. The doors were opened and I thought that was a room in which we were to sit for some time. But to my great surprise we were brought to the second floor. [Incomplete]
4. When his nephew and co-worker, Chhaganlal Gandhi, was proceeding for the first time to London in 1909, Gandhiji gave him his "London Diary" The diary filled about 120 pages. Chhaganlal Gandhi gave it to Mahadev Desai in 1920. But, before doing so, he copied out in a notebook about 20 pages of the original. The remaining 100 pages were not continuous writing, but merely a chronicle of incidents during his stay in London from 1888 to 1891. The original being untraceable, Chhaganlal's copy is reproduced here with minimum editing. Gandhiji wrote the diary in English when he was 19.
5. Former princely States in Gujarat. 6. ibid. 7. A district in Saurashtra. 8. Priest family friend and adviser of the Gandhi. 9. Leading lawyer of Kathiwan. 10. Gandhiji's cousin and father of Chhaganlal and Maganlal both of whom worked with him in South Africa. 11. Gandhiji's cousin.
12. Boyhood friend of Gandhiji whom he tried for several years to reform, but without success. 13. Gandhi's cousin. 14. Gandhi's elder brother. 15. British Agent in Porbandhar State during the minority of the Prince. 16. Gandhiji's Cousin. 17. Political Agent of Kathiawar, stationed at Rajkot.
18. Ruler of the State. 19. Vide "Speech at Alfred High School, Rajkot", 4-7-1888. 20. Ranchhodlal Patwari was very close to Gandhiji with whom he was in correspondence. Patwari's father helped him financially to go to England. 21. River near Rajkot. 22. Locality.
23. The source has "28th" which was a Sunday. Evidently this is a slip. In An Autobiography, Pt. I, Ch. XIII, Gandhiji says he arrived in London on a Saturday, which fell on October 27.
Draft of Letter to Frederick Lely (December 1888)
24 London, December, 1888
You will know me by looking at the note which, you said, when I had the opportunity of seeing you, you would preserve. At that time I had requested you to render to me some pecuniary aid as a means to enable me to proceed to England; but unfortunately you were in a hurry to leave; so I had not the sufficient time to say all that I had to say. I was at that time very impatient to proceed to England. So I left India on the 4th of September, 1888, with what little money I had at that time. What my father left for us three brothers was indeed very little. However, trusting that nearly, which was all my brother could with great difficulty spare for me, would be sufficient for my three years' stay in London. I left India for receiving legal education in England. I knew while in India that education and living in London were very expensive. But now from two months' experience in London, I find that they are more so than they appeared to be in India. In order to live here comfortably and to receive good education, I shall require an extra help of 400. I am a native of Porbandar and as such that is the only place I can look up to for such help. During the late rule of H. H. the Rana Saheb, very little encouragement was given to education. But we can naturally expect that education must be encouraged under the English Administration. I am one who can take advantage of such encouragement. I hope, therefore, that you may please render me some pecuniary help and thereby confer great and much-needed obligation on me. I have asked my brother Laxmidas Gandhi to receive [it] and am sending him a note to see you in person if necessary. Trusting you will be induced to grant my request.
- With best respects,
- I beg to remain, yours,
- M. K. Gandhi
I prepared this draft of a letter three weeks ago and have been thinking over it ever since. Believing that a reply to this letter will come in the meantime I am sending you the draft. I have not asked for the whole amount, as it would be unreasonable. Again he may think that if I had been absolutely dependent upon his help, I would not have proceeded to England without making sure of it. But having found on arrival here that I shall need more funds, I have asked for only the additional amount. I have not offered to bind myself in any way, because I did not think it necessary. Nor did I feel that it was proper to bind myself for an amount which will cover only part of my expenses. Besides, if...25 [Incomplete]
Letter to Col. J. W. Watson (December 1888)
Colonel J. W. Watson
Political Agent, Kathiawa
It is about six or seven weeks since I landed in this country. By this time, I am comfortably settled and have fairly begun my studies. I have joined the Inner Temple for my legal course. You are well aware that English life is very expensive and, from what little experience I have had of it, I find that it is more so than I could persuade myself to believe while I was in India. My means as you know are very limited. I don't think I can go through a course of three years satisfactorily without some extraneous help. When I remember that you took a great deal of interest in my father and had extended your hand of friendship to him, I have very little doubt that you will take the same interest in what concerns him and I feel confident that you will try your best to procure me some substantial help which would facilitate my course of study in this country. You will thus confer a great and much-needed obligation upon me. I saw Dr. Butler a few days ago. He is very kind to me and has promised to give me all assistance he can. The weather so far has not been very severe. I am doing very well. With best respects,
I beg to remain, Dear Sir, Yours faithfully,
M. K. Gandhi