Gandhi Versus the Empire

By Haridas T. Muzumdar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL

This is Mahatma Gandhi's tenth speech at the Round Table Conference, the first at the plenary session, delivered on November 30, 1931.

The plenary session of the Conference lasted far into the night--as late, or as early as 2:30 a.m. of December 1, 1931. On the last day of the Conference ( December 1, 1931), at the second plenary session of the Conference, Mr. MacDonald caused an outburst of laughter by jokingly quarrelling with Gandhi who had characterized himself as "an old man" (in the speech given in this chapter). "It was a young man who spoke at twelve last night," said Mr. MacDonald amidst a roar of laughter. "It was an old man in the chair . . . if there is anybody who has got a grievance about the prolonged sitting it is not the young man who spoke. It is the old man who presided, whom you kept out of bed until 2:30 in the morning and then made to get up at 6:00 a.m. in order to come here with a prepared statement."

Gandhi was the only person to enjoy the unique privilege of addressing the plenary session of the Conference seated; all others had to stand while addressing. Seated in proud majesty, a saintly halo around him, the embodied soul of India pointed out to the British government the handwriting on the wall. "Will you not see the writing that these terrorists are writing with their blood?" queried the Mahatma. "There are thousands [of non-violent resisters] today who are sworn not to give themselves peace or to give the country peace" until liberty is won.

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