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GANDHI'S MARCH.

THE BRITISH INDIANS. L. E. Neame in the 'Dally Mall.' "Gandhi's Army" is tho headline in the Johannesburg papers. But seen straggling across the sunlit veldt, the Indian invaders of the Transvaal present anything but a military ap« pearanoo. Here they come—3ooo of them, trudging wearily across Northern Natal to enter the forbidden land. Passive, resistors, says Mr Gandhi. Law-break-*" ers. retorts officialdom. { A mere rabble. But a pathetic rab- »» ble, likeliefi to move the onlooker to tears than to laughter.

What a dreary, pathetic army! No arms—no baggage save ragged bundles —no shelter at night. Five-and-twenty miles a day they trudge, sustained' by a hunk of bread and a little sugar served out once in 24 hours, and washed down by the water from an occasional stream. It is a sort of Doukhobor madness, a new fanaticism. Newspaper correspondents write of dirt, raggedness, misery, weariness; insist that the ranks know not what they do or why they march thus day after day. Poor devils! ana yet There must be something behind this j dreary tramp through a hot and empty land; some ideal, some master-thoujih't, I only dimly seen, yet sufficient to lead • them on. It has forced these men and women from the security of their little homes in the coal-mine compounds and flung them into an unknowri country. It supports them amid the heat and the dust and the pain of the rock-strewn road. It urns their weariness into a ;liout of triumph when at long last they cross the border spruit. Over the stream bed they go. They are in tho forbidden land—the promised land—the police-guarded land —the Transvaal. They rejoice. And a prison lies ahead. The thin brown stream of humanity rolle sluggishly on until it laps against the barrier nt Volksruat, the Transvaal'a first town. Four mounted )>olico bar the way. The stream spreads out into a brown pool. There is confusion, indecision, outcry. No one leads. But after a pause there comes word thai the way ia open. The army may proceed. The j heavy hand of the law does not f:-ll—-yet. So the pool of humanity finds an outlet into the main street and once more becomes a slow, rolling stream. With din and shouting ana the waving of sticks, the rabble army starts with brisk or step upon the 22-mile trampi marked out for the day's march. Twenty-two miles of glaring sunshine, sudden storm, hot, rough road, and shadeless upland—and a liunk of bread and a little sugar. The clamor dies dr>wn as tho main body clears tho town. Then the lame and the old straggle in, painfully keeping in the track of the army. Finally a few miserable wagons with food in clanging tins. The ware of invasion has rolled over Volksrust, leaving behind an excited population—groups holding indignation meetings and passing resolutions—groups demanding burghers armed with guns—groups planning the erection of barricades against the coming of a second wave—throats—expostulations—mnrmuriugg against Government lethargy which allows sueh things to ho. ■Tni» rolls Gandhi's army, preceded ' by an immense advance guard of ltu- , mor. Loose, formless, doomed to fail- ! urs, and yet ever pressing forward. Of all the marches this land of armies has seen, one of the strangest. Behind, Natal in a ferment, plantation coolies striking, police assembling, officialdom , threatening. In front, Tolstoy Karm, i near Johannesburg, still a week's ahead—and, somewhere, the Govern-' ment, planning action. ' And back across tho border, in a wretched yard in a Cliarlostown .slum, there sits upon an upturned Ikix a small, spare, grey-haired, dark-skinned inan cutting hundreds of loaves, into thick slices and apportioning pathetically small doles of sugar. At last he too tramps doggedly aftor the army, along tho same weary road. What the humblest private in the ranks endures ho insists upon enduring. It is the Oomraandor-in-Giief, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, hero or agitator, , martyr or law-breaker, according to . you;- views—the apostle, the heart, the bra n, tho spirit, of passive resistance. Tho march of tho army is his great ; protest against the £3 lax, against thtt color bar, against Government harshrxvss. To him it is one more piece iof strategy in a long-drawn campaign. A cultured gentleman, an ablo lawyer, a follower of Tolstoy, his career has l>een a notable one- Beaten, insulted, mobbed, praised, criticised, denounced, half-killed by men of his own rate, imprisoned, misunderstood, he has fought , for the causa of tho Indians in South • Afrior. with a determination and at a , sacrifice which would havo broken many a spirit. Tho army? Passive resist- • anco? Gandhi is the army. Gandhi is [ passive reiatance. Gandhi is the. whale . Indian agitation in Africa.

And trudging behind in the dust, living upon a little bread and water, he too crosses into the Transvaal. Tiio great invasion protest in a fact. Every man who has crossed the border his broken tho law.

I The end is not !ontz coining. At last tho Government moves. With tie journey to Tolstoy Farm only half completed, the police round up the tattered a ™j- ttandhi is His force collapses and is hustled into spe .A trains and carried back protesting i < Natal. Hungry, footstore and weary, defeat is perhaps more merciful 1)1:,11 victory. | And Gandhi has been sentenced to nne months' imprisonment. I Thus fell Gandhi and his army. Kami tno iirat they were doomed to failure. Even had they been right, they could not have been allowed to isucceed. I'lif behind the passive resistance of the Indians every white man in South Africa sees the possible passive resistance of tens of thousands of warliko natives. Soutii Africa is a hard land, won by k*rd men. They have known wlir.t savage warfare means. The grim spectre of native trouble is ever with th ,1. {P had to crush Gandhi's ar .v. .7™" its success had suggested t<> Karlirdom wig raising of mityblior wmy • not unarmed, and tho beginning of ;uiother march, not to be stopped In .< handful of mounted police? Gandhi's army has crvmbled away. But there remains the ideal, the dimlyseen and nardly-graspod masti* - thought of true British citizensliix within tho Empire—but in a land, nni<*m'"'r ' in which it will never be eor-' ceded by tho white race. < And there remains Gandhi ** . y

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GANDHI'S MARCH. Mataura Ensign, 16 January 1914

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