Who was Quint?
Settling in Amsterdam
At the age of fifteen, he left his native Sri Lanka (Ceylon in those days) to first settle in Amsterdam in 1773. He went on to study philosophy and law in Utrecht. Quint was an eloquent speaker and in 1781 he started writing for De Post van den Neder-Rhijn (The Post of the Nether Rhine), a biweekly opinion magazine published by the patriots. This is where his adventures as one of the most important patriots in the struggle for freedom started.
The number of opponents grew and grew...
His opponents, who sided with the Stadtholder of Orange, would often attack Quint personally. They would call him 'a black brute full of malicious slander' as his father was from Ceylon. This hurt him tremendously.
Despite the many setbacks he made a serious contribution to democratic rule
He blockaded the town hall's entrance to force the town council to give citizens more rights. He also used various means of communication: pamphlets, newspapers and group meetings. Finally, in 1786, he achieved his goal: a democratic city council in Utrecht. By 1786, Ondaatje had already given up his university studies, but he had started several decisive developments while he was still studying!