Page:Karl Marx the man and his message.pdf/8

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theory of the economic interpretation of history. The story was that Marx pere, who was a lawyer of good position, was forced to abandon the faith of his fathers and accept Christianity by an edict of the Government, the alternative being to lose all official positions, and to become a professional outcast. It now appears that the whole fabric on which the tale rested had no foundation in fact, and that Marx's parents became Christians, with perhaps some mental reservations, not from official compulsion, but from genuine conviction. Madame Lafargue, Marx's eldest daughter, testifies that her grandmother's own reply to those who teased her on the subject was that "she believed in God, not for God's sake, but for her own." It seems almost iconoclastic to thus destroy an ancient monument of inaccuracy, but this is an utilitarian age, and no lie, however venerable, can be held to be sacred.


Early discovery was made of the fact that young Marx possessed talents and abilities out of the common, and his father set himself to train and develop these with admirable wisdom and tact. Our author describes the boy as being "a strong imperious lad, of fiery temper and impetuous manner and spirit. He was, in fact, at heart a poet, and possessed the passionate, wayward, artistic temperament." At school he was a general favourite, despite a biting sarcasm with which he was apt to wither up such of his playmates as happened to incur his displeasure. In this respect, at least, the child was certainly father to the man. At sixteen he entered the Bonn University, where his father desired he should study law. Here, however, he was not a success, and after a two years' course he went to the University of Berlin, where he finally took his degree of Doctor of Philosophy, despite the fact that he had again been but an indifferent success as a student.

When Karl was twenty his father died of tuberculosis, and five years later he married Jenny Von Westphalen, to whom he had been engaged for a number of years. She was very beautiful, and belonged to the aristocracy. Her father was Baron von Westphalen, who was half a Scot, his mother being a descendant of the Marquis of Argyll, who was executed as a rebel at Edinburgh in 1684. She and Karl had been friends and little sweethearts since childhood, and the tale of their engagement and loyalty to each other under very trying circumstances reads like a page from a romance. Marx had, by this time, broken with the past in regard to both religion and politics, and had already entered upon that career which was destined to so mightily influence the course of history, and which will continue to be felt so long as the race endures. After their marriage the young couple lived for a time in Paris, where he was on terms of familiar intercourse with most of the brilliant group of Humanists