Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. October 10, 1906
By the Way
Mr. Gopal Krishna Gokhale is a mathematician and these mathematicians are a wonderful people. They can prove anything they please. If Mr. Gokhale's political opponents are numerous, he applies the qualitative test, and shakes his head – “no good”; if they are not many, he applies the quantitative test and turns his nose up at – “too poor!” Anyhow, what was required to be demonstrated has been demonstrated, Q.E.D.
Is Narendranath Sen among the boycotters? – enquires the Englishman, else how has he put his name on the Rakhi-Circular, which asks people to renew their boycott vow on the Rakhi-Day? Will Babu Narendranath send a copy of his Subliminal Consciousness (sic) to his Hare Street brother to illu mine the situation? That, or the Isis Unveiled, will explain all.
The Bengalee is in mortal agony because of the prolonged “tension between the rulers and the ruled”. Love's quarrels never last long, we know. But how to make these up? The traditional Dooti must be called in, and Morley and Minto must play Brinda and get about a re-union between the forlorn Bengalee and their discarded Lords. “Call them back, for old love's sake, or we cannot live – outside the Council Chambers,” – cries the widowed Bengalee. The Rakhi-Day is coming, and love-bands will be distributed to all the world, except only to him whose association makes the world sweet! Oh the bitterness of it!
“The demonstrations of last year passed off without any excesses of any kind and without any breaches of the law. The same temper animates us now. The triumphs of constitutionalism are writ large on the pages of the year's history.” Thus perorates the Bengalee in its appeal for the coming Rakhi-celebrations. “The triumphs of constitutionalism!” but of whose constitution: of the Bengalee or of the British?
Empire Portents – Following the portentous tremors of mother earth came, says the Empire, the capture of “a huge Boal fish at the Haldi river. It measured six feet and was unusually swollen.” What was swollen, the editor does not say – the feet, the tail, or the fish itself? When cut open, however, a dead jackal was found inside! When doors are “crossed”, and trees are marked, and jackals are found inside greedy Boal fish, and there is the murderous cry of Bande Mataram all over the land, judgment cannot, surely, be far away.
Many things, the world knows, have saving power, but that a striking metaphor could save a Conference was not known to us before. But this seems actually to have happened recently at Umballa. When the Legislative Council Resolution came up for discussion, there suddenly developed a rift in the lute. Everybody agreed to the view that “the Punjab Council as at present constituted serves no useful purpose”. The New Party, with their acknowledged partiality for inconvenient logic, wanted to add, “and it may as well be abolished”. The logic of it was dreadfully strong, and the amendment was pressed on the Conference and debated upon. But the situation was saved by a “states-manly metaphor” from Lala Murlidhar, the well-known poet-politician of Umballa. “Do men cut down a tree because its fruit is unripe or happens to be bitter or worm-eaten? Do men raze to the ground a house that leaks?” After this, the amendment was bound to be negatived and the Resolution carried. Lala Murlidhar has discovered the art evidently of making sunshine out of cucumber, and pressing sweet honey out of bitter almond!
An additional proof of the tremendous work the “Moderates” have been doing in the country was found by the last Provincial Conference at Umballa. It passed a number of Resolutions asking the Government to do this and undo that thing; but when it was proposed that a Committee or Association should be started “to establish and help District Associations,” the Conference left it, we are told, “untouched”.
Mr. Gokhale resolves the complexities of the present problem in Bengal into “private quarrels and personal jealousies” – Burke was right when he said that he had known great statesmen with the intellect of pedlars; yet Burke did not know us of modern India.
Is Mr. Gokhale also among the extremists? He advises the Bengalis to agitate “in statesmanlike and reasonable manner” and explaining these terms, says –
The Boers have got self-government by fighting manfully. The Irish will get self-government within a year or so. We must keep their examples before our eyes. And everything will be easy, he adds, if we imitate their ways – and perhaps finish with an object – but our policy interdicts all personalities.
This work was not reprinted in the CWSA and it was not compared with other editions.