TO GOKHALE’S MEMORY
THE RIGHT HON. E. S. MONTAGU, M. P.
The news of Mr. Gokhale’s death has come with an inevitable sense of shock, even to those of us who has feared for some months past that there was grave reason for anxiety about his health. We have lost the outstanding figure in the great transition stage of modern India; a man whose abilities brought him to the forefront, and whose sense of right forced him into controversies of which we have not yet seen the end. But at this moment the dominant feeling among all who were brought into contact with him, is I think, that the value of as life and personality such as his- a record of single – minded devotion to an unselfish ideal and of ceaseless labour in its service over an almost unlimited field of activity- stand above and apart from all controversy. It is with this aspect before my mind that I welcome the opportunity, as one among many of his admires, of paying my tribute to his memory and of recalling the impressions on which in my own case it is built up.
One of the many remarkable characteristics of Mr. Gokhale was the degree to which he was able to combine enthusiasm for reform with a patient industry not too often found in close association with the first quality. But he never allowed his idealism and his infinite capacity for taking pains to interfere with one another; rather, they both served as a joint inspiration to the work he set before him. The result was that, whether one agreed or disagreed with him, he gave a sense of practicalness in his dealings which seemed to sweep away half the difficulties at the outset. Like all men gifted with the spirit of reform, he was always on the alert to unearth and state the problems which others would be content to leave half – hidden beneath the weight of administrative machinery; but it would never have occurred to him to rest satisfied with the bare statement of the problem. The vital point in his view was to arrive at the solution, and to that end he would bring to bear all the resources of his fertile mind and all the great influence of his personality. If any illustration of his way of setting to work were needed, we turn most naturally, perhaps, to his visit to South Africa, the effect of which, in view of what has since happened, may well be said to be incalculable.