into the grammar school at the age of 12, a statement repeated by
D. McLellan in his recent biography of Marx. It appears from a
letter, now in the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Moscow, written
to Marx in September 1848 by a certain Eduard Montigny, asking
Marx to find employment for him, that Montigny had in earlier
years, when he was a bookseller in Trier, given lessons in
handwriting to the young Marx.
Nevertheless it is more likely,
as Monz says, that Marx attended a primary school, even though
evidence on the point is lacking.
A LIBERATING THINKER
Among the newly published books kindly presented to the
Library by their authors is "Thomas Paine-His Life, Work and
Times", by Audrey Williamson.
A biography of this outstanding
man by an English writer (what few serious accounts exist of his
life were mainly written by Americans) is very welcome.
deluge of opprobrium that was poured upon him from the moment
of his death almost down to our own times might dispose us to
guess, as E. Belfort Bax remarked of Marat, that here was a person
of unusual purity of purpose and courageous service to the cause
of progress; and that it would be an act of justice to him and benefit
to ourselves to set the record straight.
Mrs. Williamson has
brought talent and imagination to the task, seeking and
following up new sources, carefully weighing suppositions in
regions where Paine's dignified reticence on matters of purely
personal importance left gaps in the story.
Born in Norfolk in 1737, and working successively as staymaker, sailor, excise officer and teacher, he had established himself
by his early thirties as an incisive debater and fearless exponent
of enlightened social and political views, no-wise impressed, much
less intimidated, by the formidable power of the ruling British
oligarchy and its church. He gave proof of responsible attention
and practical good sense in his participation in public affairs.
Benjamin Franklin, then in England on business of the
British colonists in North America, came to know and appreciate
Paine's gifts and outlook, and persuaded him to emigrate to
America, where, as the struggle developed against the oppressive
British rule, he played an ever greater part, first as writer, and then
simultaneously as writer and soldier, in the War of Independence,
being appointed at its close as Secretary to the Committee for
Foreign Affairs of what had now become the U.S.A.
For Britons, however, his greatest services were rendered
on his return, when he magnificently vindicated the young French
Revolution, then being reviled as the Russian Revolution was in
1917 - and in so doing electrified the movement for democratic
reform in his own country. His "Rlqhts of Man", already in course
of writing, but given urgency and immediate significance by the
denunciatory tirade of Burke ("Reflections on the Revolution in
France"), not only defended the determination of the French people