If is almost inevitable- and perhaps it is right – that in thinking of our great men of public affairs we recall the atmosphere of their ideals and their personality, rather than the underlying fact of their sheer intellectual power. Yet in Mr. Gokhale’s case this fact claims special recognition, if only because it was so often veiled beneath the modesty and sincerity of his nature. His grasp of things, both in essentials and in details, was not the least valuable of the assets which he brought to the service of his country. It is not too much to say that his annual contribution to the debate on the Budget proposals in India, to quote only one example, was one of the outstanding features of the proceedings of the Viceroy’s Council, and was eagerly awaited even by those who could not see eye to eye with him in his criticism. That a man should interest himself in the complexities of Indian economics and finance is in itself a tribute to his powers of mind; that he should master them and should display his mastery at an age at which few people would care even to study them cursorily, was a sign of a ripening intellect and a serious endeavour which served to lay the sure foundations of Mr. Gokale’s work. And with all his comprehensiveness of judgement and mental clarity he never dropped into the academic fallacy of contempt. He impressed one as being among the most candid and unassuming of men and he was equally ready to give or to take advice where it seemed most serviceable. His mind possessed the qualities ascribed to statesmanship without ever losing the fire of its enthusiasms or its warm human interests. We feel that his loss touches deeply not only India but the Empire and the whole world of men whose thoughts move in harmony whether they know it or not, with the spirit of the brotherhood of “the Servants of India.”
MR. CHARLES ROBERTS, M. P.
I can but offer my sincerest condolences to all the friends of Mr. Gokhale who are mourning his loss. I knew him only slightly, though I am glad to have had some conversations with him, just before he left this country a month or so ago. No one could fail to be struck by the force and insight, the comprehensive grasp and the practical moderation of his mind, and his early death is widely felt to be a disaster not only in India, but in England.
MR. G. RAMSAY MACDONLAD, M. P.
I am glad to be able to express through the columns of India my grief at the death of my friend and colleague. In him India had a faithful and devoted son. He belonged to that race of Indians who retained that clam dignity of mind and spirit which comes from and unassailable belief in their own race and its destiny.
He knew the West, its powers and its kingdoms. No one paid a more wholehearted homage to its attainments. But he knew the East too. The breath of the life of his mother India was his own breath of life. Jealously he guarded her reputation, faithfully he strove to remove her defects. Where she had fallen, he sought to uplift her where she had triumphed, he sought to praise her.
I have set for many days with him on the Royal Commission, and of many interests of that Commission his personality and methods have been in the forefront. His knowledge, his resource, his nimbleness, his persistence, his authority, have been a source of endless wonder to me. And he will never sign the report.
Sadly I parted from him when he went away, for I knew that the chances were that we should never meet again. May his resting place remain in the affectionate hearts of his people. He would desire no other shrine. May his work inspire those who have to step in and fill the places he has left vacant. He would have prayed for no better resurrection.