The Turkish Question in The Commons
London, Friday, Aug. 19, 1853[a]
Lord John Russell having postponed his explanations on the Turkish question again and again, till at last, the last week of the Parliamentary session had happily arrived, came suddenly forward on Monday last, and gave notice that he would make his long deferred statement on Tuesday. The noble lord had ascertained that Mr. Disraeli had left London on Monday morning. In the same manner Sir Charles Wood, when he knew Sir J. Pakington and his partisans to be out of the House, suddenly brought in his India Bill, as amended by the House of Lords, and carried, in a thin house, without division, the re-enactment of the Salt-Monopoly. Such mean and petty tricks are the nerves and sinews of Whig Parliamentary tactics.
The Eastern question in the House of Commons, was a most interesting spectacle. Lord J. Russell opened the performances in a tone quite conformed to the part he had to play. This diminutive earthman, supposed to be the last representative of the once powerful Whig tribe, spoke in a dull, low, dry, monotonous, and barren-spirited manner not like a Minister, but like a police reporter, who mitigates the horrors of his tale by the trivial, commonplace, and business-like style in which he relates it. He offered no "apology," but he made a confession. If there was any redeeming feature in his speech, it was its stiffness itself, which seemed intended to conceal some painful impressions laboring in the little man. Even the inevitable phrase of "the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire," sounded like an old reminiscence, recurring, by some inadvertence, in a funeral oration over that same Empire. The impression produced by this speech, which purported to announce the settlement of the Eastern complication, may be judged from the fact that, as soon as transmitted by telegraph to Paris, the funds fell immediately.
Lord John was right in stating that he had not to defend the Government, the Government not having been attacked; on the contrary, every disposition had been shown on the part of the House to leave negotiations in the hands of the Executive. Indeed no motion has been put by any member of Parliament to force discussion upon Ministers and there has not been held any meeting out of the House to force such a motion upon members of Parliament. If the ministerial policy has been one of secrecy and mystification, it was so with the silent consent of Parliament and of the public. As to the withholding of documents while negotiations were pending, Lord John asserted it to be an eternal law established by parliamentary tradition. It would be tedious to follow him in the narration of events familiar to everybody, and infused with no new life by his manner of rather enumerating than reciting them. There are, however, some important points Lord John was the first officially to confirm.
Before Prince Menchikoff's arrival at Constantinople the Russian Ambassador[b] informed Lord John that the Czar[c] intended to send a special mission to Constantinople with propositions relating exclusively to the Holy Cross and the immunities of the Greek Church connected with them. The British Ambassador at St. Petersburg[d], and the British Government at home suspected no other intention on the part of Russia. It was not until the beginning of March, when the Turkish Minister informed Lord Stratford (Mr. Layard, however, affirms that Colonel Rose and many other persons at Constantinople were already initiated in the secret) that Prince Menchikoff had proposed a secret treaty incompatible with Turkish independence, and that he had declared it to be the intention of Russia to consider any communication of the fact to either France or England as an act of direct hostility against Russia. It was known at the same time, not from mere rumor, but from authentic reports that Russia was accumulating great masses of troops on the frontiers of Turkey and at Odessa.
As to the note forwarded by the Vienna Conference to the Czar, and agreed upon by him, it had been prepared at Paris by M. Drouyn de Lhuys, who took the reply of Reshid Pasha to the last Russian note for his basis. It was afterward taken up, in an altered form, by Austria, as her own proposition, on the 24th July, and received its final touch on the 31st of July. The Austrian Minister[e] having previously communicated it to the Russian Ambassador at Vienna[f], it was already, on the 24th, conveyed to St. Petersburg before it was finally arranged, and it was not sent to Constantinople till the 2d of August, when the Czar had already agreed to it. Thus, after all, it is a Russian note addressed through the means of the four Powers to the Sultan, instead of a note of the Four Powers addressed to Russia and Turkey. Lord John Russell states that this note has "not the exact form of Prince Menchikoff's note", owning thereby that it has its exact contents. To leave no doubt behind, he adds:
"The Emperor considers that his objects will be attained."[g]
The draft contains not even an allusion to the evacuation of the Principalities.
"Supposing that note," says Lord John, "to be finally agreed upon [...] by Russia and [...] Turkey, there will still remain the great question of the evacuation of the Principalities."
He adds at the same time, that the British Government "considers this evacuation to be essential," but upon the mode by which this object is to be obtained he asks permission to say nothing. He gives us, however, sufficiently to understand that the fleets of England and France may have to leave Besika Bay before the Cossacks shall have left the Principalities.
"We ought not to consent to any arrangement by which it may be stipulated that the advance of, the fleets to the neighborhood of the Dardanelles should be considered as equivalent to an actual invasion of the Turkish Territories. But, of course, if the matter is settled, if peace is secured, Besika Bay is not a station which would be of any advantage either to England or France."
Now, as no man in his senses has ever supposed the French and English fleets are to remain for all time at Besika Bay, or France and England to enter into a formal stipulation forbidding them to advance to the neutral neighborhood of the Dardanelles, these ambiguous and cumbrous phrases, if they have any meaning at all, mean that the fleets will retire, after the note shall have been accepted by the Sultan and the Cossack promised to evacuate the Principalities.
"When the Russian Government," says Lord John, "had occupied the Principalities, Austria [...] declared that, in conformity with the spirit of the Treaty of 1841, it was absolutely necessary that the representatives of the Powers should meet in conference, and should endeavor to obtain some amicable solution of a difficulty which might otherwise threaten the peace of Europe."
Lord Aberdeen, on the contrary, declared some days ago[h] in the House of Lords, and also, as we are informed from other sources, in a formal note communicated to the Cabinets of St. Petersburg and Constantinople in the course of last June, that
"the Treaty of 1841 did not in any way impose upon the Powers who signed it the obligation of actual assistance in behalf of the Porte but of a temporary abstention from entering the Dardanelles!] and that the Government of Her British Majesty[i] held themselves perfectly free to act or not to act, according to its own interests."
Lord Aberdeen only repudiates all obligations toward Turkey, in order not to possess any right against Russia.
Lord John Russell concludes with "a fair aspect" of the negotiations approaching their crowning result. This seems a very sanguine view of the matter, at the moment when the Russian note, arranged at Vienna and to be presented by Turkey to the Czar, has not yet been accepted by the Sultan, and when the sine qua non of the Western Powers, viz.: the evacuation of the Principalities, has not yet been pressed upon the Czar.
Mr. Layard, the first speaker who rose in response to Lord John, made by far the best and most powerful speech bold, concise, substantial, filled with facts, and proving the illustrious scholar to be as intimately acquainted with Nicholas as with Sardanapalus, and with the actual intrigues in the Orient as well as with the mysterious traditions of its past.
Mr. Layard regretted that Lord Aberdeen had "on several occasions, and in several places, declared that his policy is essentially a policy based on peace." If England shrank from maintaining her honor and interests by war, she encouraged on the part of a lawless Power like Russia, pretensions which must inevitably lead sooner or later to war. The present conduct of Russia must not be considered as a mere casual and temporary occurrence, but as part and parcel of a great scheme of policy.
As to the "concessions" made to France and the "intrigues" of M. de Lavalette, they could not even afford a pretext to Russia, because
"a draught of the firman making those concessions, of which Russia complains, was delivered by the Porte to M. de Titoff some days, if not weeks, before it was issued, and [...] no objection whatever was made to the terms of that firman."
Russia's designs with regard to Serbia, Moldo-Wallachia and the Christian population of Turkey were not to be misunderstood. Immediately after his public entry at Constantinople, Prince Menchikoff demanded the dismissal of M. Garašanin, from his post of Serbian Minister. That demand was complied with, although the Serbian Synod protested. M. Garašanin was one of the men brought forward by the insurrection of 1842, that national movement against Russian influence which expelled the then reigning Prince Michel from Serbia, he and his family being mere tools in the hands of Russia. In 1843 the Russian Government claimed the right of interference in Serbia. Completely unauthorized by any treaty, she was authorized by Lord Aberdeen, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, who declared, "that Russia had the right to place her own construction on her own treaties."
"By her success in that transaction," says Mr. Layard, "Russia showed that she was mistress of Serbia and could check any rising independent nationality."
As to the Danubian Principalities, Russia first took advantage of the national movement of 1848 in those provinces, compelling the Porte to expel from them every man of liberal and independent opinions. Then, she forced upon the Sultan the treaty of Balta-Liman,'" by which she established her right to interfere in all the internal affairs of the Principalities,
"and her present occupation of them has proved that Moldavia and Wallachia are to all intents and purposes Russian provinces."
There remained the Greeks of Turkey and the Slavonians of Bulgaria professing the Christian religion.
"The spirit of inquiry and independence has sprung up among the Greeks, and this together with their commercial intercourse with the free States of Europe, has greatly alarmed the Russian Government. There was another cause, viz., the spread of the Protestant faith among the Christians of the East, [...] mainly through the influence and teachings of American missionaries, scarcely a considerable town exists in Turkey, in which there is not a nucleus of a Protestant community. [Another motive for American intervention.] The Greek clergy backed by the Russian mission have done all in their power to check this movement, and, when persecution was no longer available, Prince Menchikoff appeared at Constantinople. [...] The great end of Russia has been to crush the spirit of religious and political independence, which has manifested itself of late years among the Christian subjects of the Porte."
As to the establishment of a so-called Greek Empire at Constantinople, Mr. Layard, meaning of course the Greeks in contradistinction to the Slavonians, stated that the Greeks amount hardly to 1,750,000; that the Slavonians and Bulgarians have been struggling for years to throw off all connection with them, by refusing to accept for their clergy and bishops the priests of the Greek nation; that the Serbians have created a Patriarch of their own in lieu of that at Constantinople; and that establishing the Greeks at Constantinople would be playing the whole of Turkey into the hands of Russia.
To the members of the House, who declared that it would signify little whether Constantinople was in the hands of Russia or not, Mr. Layard replied that, Constantinople being broken, all the great Provinces which constitute Turkey, as, for instance, Asia Minor, Syria and Mesopotamia, would fall into a state of confusion and anarchy. The power into whose hands they were to fall, would command India. The power which held Constantinople, would ever be looked upon in the East as the dominant power of the world.
Russia, however, was aware that no European State would permit her to take possession of Constantinople at this time. Meanwhile,
"her object is to render all independent nationalities in that country impossible—to weaken the Turkish power gradually, but surely; and to show to those who would oppose her designs, that any such opposition is not only useless, but would entail upon them her vengeance; in fact, to render any other government but her own impossible in Turkey. In those designs she has entirely succeeded on this occasion."
Mr. Layard represented that the Government, after the demand of a secret treaty by Prince Menchikoff, and the great Russian armaments on the frontier and at Odessa, were satisfied with the explanations and assurances given at St. Petersburg, and failed to declare that England and France would consider the passing of the Pruth as a casus belli, and that they had not interdicted Russia from entering into any treaties or engagements with Turkey without their participation.
"If we had taken that step Russia would never have dared to cross the Pruth."
Mr. Layard then exposed how the Principalities, independent, united with Bessarabia and leaning on Hungary, would ultimately be the only means of preserving Constantinople from the Russians and of cutting the great Sclav race in two. He thinks that Russia will evacuate the Principalities.
"It would not be worth the while of Russia to engage in a war with the Great Powers of Europe on account of those provinces, which are already, to all intents and purposes, her own. [...] Russia has gained, without firing a shot, what is worth to her a bloody and expensive campaign; she has established her power in the East; she has humiliated Turkey; she has compelled her to go to all the expense of a war, and has exhausted her resources; but, what is more, she has humiliated this country and France in the eyes of her own subjects and of the populations of the East."
The note drawn up by the Vienna Conference will have the result that,
"if the Porte declines to adhere to it, Russia will have turned the tables completely upon us, and made us her ally against Turkey in compelling her to accept an unjust proposal. If she accept, England has directly sanctioned the right of Russia to interfere in behalf of twelve millions of Christians, the subjects of the Porte.... Look at the question as we will; it is clear that we have taken the place of a second-rate Power in it, and conceded that of a first-rate Power to Russia alone.... We had an opportunity which, perhaps, will never occur again of settling on a proper basis this great Eastern question.... Russia has been enabled to strike a blow from which Turkey will never recover.... The result of the policy which this country has pursued will not end here. Sweden, Denmark, every weak State of Europe, which has placed dependence on the character of this country, [...] will see that it is useless any more to struggle against the encroachments of Russia."
Sir John Pakington next made some remarks, which were important as declaratory of the views of the Tory opposition. He regretted that Lord John Russell could not make a statement more satisfactory to the House and to the country. He assured the Government that its determination to consider the evacuation of the Principalities as a sine qua non, will "be supported not only by the opinion of this House, but by the almost unanimous opinion of the people of this country." Till the papers should have been produced, he must reserve his judgment on the policy of advising Turkey not to consider the occupation of the Principalities as a casus belli, of not following a more vigorous and decisive policy at an earlier period, of injuring and holding in suspense the interests of Turkey and of Great Britain, and their commerce, by transactions protracted for six months.
Lord Dudley Stuart indulged in one of his habitual good-natured Democratic declamations, which are certainly more gratifying to the man who spouts them than to anybody else. If you compress inflated balloons or blown up phrases, there remains nothing in your hands, not even the wind that made them appear like something. Dudley Stuart repeated the often repeated statements on the improvements going on in Turkey, and on the greater liberality of the Sultan's rule, whether in regard to religion or commerce, when compared with that of Russia. He remarked, justly, that it was useless to boast of peace, while the unhappy inhabitants of the Danubian Principalities actually endured the horrors of war. He claimed for the inhabitants of these provinces the protection of Europe against the terrible oppression to which they were now subjected. He showed, by facts from Parliamentary history, that the members of the House had the right of speechifying, even while negotiations were going on. He forgot hardly anything, which must be familiar to a true and constant reader of The Daily News. There were two "points" in his speech:
"Although the explanation of the noble lord" (J. Russell) "had not been very full, for he told the House nothing but what it knew before, still, from its very omissions, he was afraid that they must come to the conclusion, that the noble lord had been doing something of which he ought to be ashamed."
As to the Earl of Aberdeen,
"he had told them that peace had been preserved for thirty years, with great advantage to the prosperity and liberty of Europe, but he" (Dudley Stuart) "denied that the liberty of Europe had been benefited by the peace. Where, he would ask, was Poland? where Italy? where Hungary?—nay, where Germany?"
Borne along by the power of fluency, that fatal gift of third-rate orators, the Democratic lord cannot stop, till he arrives, from the despots of the Continent, to his native monarch, "who rules in the hearts of her subjects."
Mr. M. Milnes, one of those ministerial retainers, on whose brow you read:
"Do not talk of him
But as a property,"[j]
did not dare to make a decidedly ministerial speech. He made an alternative speech. On the one side he found that Ministers, by withholding the papers from the table of the House, "acted with very great prudence and judgment," but, on the other hand, he gave them to understand that they would have acted "more strongly and firmly" the other way. On the one hand he thought the Government might have been right in submitting to the demands of Russia, but, on the other hand, it seemed questionable to him whether they had not, in some degree, encouraged Turkey to pursue a line of policy which they were not prepared to support, etc., etc. On the whole, he made out that "the more he reflected on those subjects, the more extreme were the difficulties which they presented to his mind" the less he understood those subjects, the better he understood the temporizing policy of the Government.
After the alternative juggle and perplexed mind of Mr. Monckton Milnes we are refreshed by the rough straightforwardness of Mr. Muntz, M.P. for Birmingham, and one of the matadors of the Reform-House of 1831.
"When the Dutch Ambassador made to Charles II some very objectionable proposition, the King replied: `God bless me! you never made such a proposition to Oliver Cromwell.' 'No,' said the Ambassador, 'you are a very different man from Oliver Cromwell.' If this country had had now such a man as Oliver Cromwell, we should have had a different Minister, and a very different Government, and Russia would never have marched into the Danubian Provinces. [...] The Emperor of Russia knew, that nothing would make this country go to war: witness Poland, witness Hungary. This country was now reaping the benefit of its own conduct in those instances. [...] He considered the state of this country in relation to its foreign affairs was a very objectionable and a very unsatisfactory one. And he believed that the people of England felt that their character had been degraded, and that all sense of honor on the part of the Government was absorbed in consideration of mere pounds, shillings and pence. The only questions mooted by the Government now were simply what would be the expense, and would war be agreeable to the different tradesmen of the nation?"
Birmingham happening to be the center of an armament-manufacturing and musket-selling population, the men of that town naturally scoff at the Manchester Cotton-Peace-Fraternity.
Mr. Blackett, the member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, did not believe that the Russians would evacuate the Principalities. He warned the Government
"not to be swayed by any dynastic sympathies or antipathies."
Assailed on all sides, from all shades of opinion, the Ministers sat there mournful, depressed, inanimate, broken down; when Richard Cobden suddenly rose, congratulating them for having adopted his peace doctrines and applying that doctrine to the given case, with all the sharp ingenuity and fair sincerity of the monomaniac, with all the contradictions of the idéologue, and with all the calculating cowardice of the shop-keeper. He preached what the ministry had openly acted, what the Parliament had silently approved, and what the ruling classes had enabled the ministry to do and the Parliament to accept. From fear of war he attained for the first time to something like historical ideas. He betrayed the mystery of middle-class policy, and therefore he was repudiated as a traitor. He forced middle-class England to see herself as in a mirror, and as the image was by no means a flattering one, he was ignominiously hissed. He was inconsistent, but his inconsistency itself was consistent. Was it his fault if the traditional fierce phrases of the aristocratic past did not harmonize with the pusillanimous facts of the stockjobbing present?
He commenced by declaring that there was no difference of opinion on the question:
"Still, there was apparently very great uneasiness on the subject of Turkey."
Why was this? Within the last twenty years there had been a growing conviction that the Turks in Europe were intruders in Europe; that they were not domiciled there; that their home was Asia; that Mohammedanism could not exist in civilized States; that we could not maintain the independence of any country, if she could not maintain it for herself; that it was now known that there were three Christians to every Turk in European Turkey.
"We could not take a course which would insure Turkey in Europe as an independent power against Russia, unless the great bulk of the population were with us in our desire to prevent another power from taking possession of that country.... As to sending our fleets up to Besika Bay, and keeping out the Russians, no doubt we could do that, because Russia would not come into collision with a maritime power; but we were keeping up these enormous armaments, and were not settling the Eastern Question.... The question was, what were they going to do with Turkey, and with the Christian population of Turkey. Mohammedanism could not be maintained; and we should be sorry to see this country fighting for Mohammedanism in Europe."
Lord Dudley Stuart had talked about maintaining Turkey on account of commerce. He (Cobden) never would fight for a tariff. He had too much faith in free trade principles to think that they needed fighting for. The exports to Turkey had been overrated. Very little of it was consumed in the countries under the dominions of the Turks.
"All the commerce which we had in the Black Sea, was owing to the encroachments of Russia upon the Turkish coast. Our grain and flax we did not now get from Turkey, but from Russia. And would not Russia be as glad to send us her tallow, hemp and corn, whatever aggressions she might make on Turkey? [...] We had a trade with Russia in the Baltic.... What prospect had we of a trade with Turkey? It was a country without a road. [...] Russia was the more commercial people. Let us look at St. Petersburg, at her quays and wharves, and warehouses.... What natural alliance then could we have with such a country as Turkey?... Something had been said about the balance of power. That was a political view of the question.... A great deal had been said about the power of Russia, and the danger to England in consequence of her occupying those countries on the Bosphorus. [...] Why, what an absurdity it was to talk of Russia coming to invade England! Russia could not move an army across her own frontiers, without coming to Western Europe for a loan.... A country [...] so poor, [...] a mere aggregate of villages without capital and without resources, as compared with England, never could come and injure us, or America, or France.... England was ten times more powerful than she had ever been, and far more able to resist the aggressions of a country like Russia."
And now Cobden passed to the incomparably greater dangers of war to England in her present condition than at former epochs. The manufacturing population had greatly increased. They were far more dependent on the export of their produce and on the import of raw materials. They possessed no longer the monopoly of manufacture. The repeal of the Navigation Laws had thrown England open to the competition of the world in shipping as well as in everything else.
"He begged [...] Mr. Blackett to consider that no port would suffer more than that which he represented. [...] The Government had done wisely in disregarding the cry of thoughtless men.... Their taking up a position for maintaining the integrity of the Turkish Empire he did not blame, as that was a traditional policy handed down to them.... The Government of the day would obtain credit for having been as peaceable as the people would allow them to be."
Richard Cobden was the true hero of the drama, and shared the fate of all true heroes —a tragical one. But then came the sham hero; the fosterer of all delusions, the man of fashionable lies and of courtly promises; the mouthpiece of all brave words that may be said in the act of running away; Lord Palmerston came. This old, experienced and crafty debater saw at once that the criminal might escape sentence by disavowing his advocate. He saw that the Ministry, attacked on all sides, might turn the tables by a brilliant diatribe against the only man who dared to defend it, and by refuting the only grounds on which its policy possibly might have been excused. There was nothing easier than to show the contradictions of Mr. Cobden. He had stated his perfect concurrence with the precedent orators, and ended by differing from them on every point. He had defended the integrity of Turkey, and did everything to show that she was worth no defence. He, the preacher of peace, had advocated the aggressions of Russia. Russia was weak, but a war with Russia would be inevitable ruin to England. Russia was a conglomerate of mere villages, but St. Petersburg being a finer city than Constantinople, Russia was entitled to possess them both. He was a Free Trader, but he preferred the protective system of Russia to the free-trade system of Turkey. Whether Turkey consumed herself, or was a canal through which passed articles of consumption to other parts of Asia, was it indifferent to England that she should remain a free passage? Mr. Cobden was a great advocate for the principle of non-intervention, and now he would dispose, by parliamentary enactments, of the destinies of the Mohammedans, Greeks, Slavonians, and other races inhabiting the Turkish Empire. Lord Palmerston exalted the progress Turkey had made, and the forces she now commanded. "Turkey, it is certain, has no Poland and no Siberia[k]." Because Turkey possessed so much strength, Lord Palmerston would, of course, compel her to suffer a few provinces to be invaded by the Russians. A strong empire can suffer anything. Lord Palmerston proved to Richard Cobden that there existed not one sound reason for adopting the course adopted by Lord Palmerston and his colleagues, and, interrupted at each sentence by enthusiastic cheers, the old histrion contrived to sit down, with the impudent and self-contradictory phrase:
"I am satisfied that Turkey has within itself the elements of life and prosperity, and I believe that the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government is a sound policy, deserving the approbation of the country, and which it will be the duty of every English Government to pursue." (Cheers.)
Palmerston was great in "fearful bravery", as Shakespeare calls it[l]. He showed, as Sidney said, "a fearful boldness, daring to do that which he knew that he knew not how to do."
Written on August 19, 1853
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3862
and the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 863, September 2, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx
The article is dated "August 18" in the New-York Daily Tribune. This is evidently a slip of the pen because Friday was on August 19, which was also put down in Marx's notebook as the date of sending the article to New York.—Ed.
F. I. Brunnow.—Ed.
G. H. Seymour.—Ed.
P. K. Meyendorff.—Ed.
Russell's speech and those of other speakers in the House of Commons on August 16, 1853, are quoted from The Times, No. 21509, August 17, 1853.—Ed.
On August 12, 1853.—Ed.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 1.—Ed.
The Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 3rd Ser., Vol. CXXIX, p. 1809, gives "Circassia" instead of "Siberia" as cited in the report of The Times.—Ed.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act V, Scene 1.—Ed.
This article was published under the same title in The Eastern Question.
Together with a draft Russo-Turkish agreement which recognised the Tsar as the protector of Orthodox Christians in Turkey, Prince Menshikov proposed that the Turkish Government should sign a secret document on a defence alliance which would provide for Russian military assistance to the Sultan in the event of a third power attempting to violate the above-mentioned agreement on the privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey. The Turkish Government, supported by the British and French Ambassadors to Constantinople, rejected the draft agreement and the secret defence treaty.
A reference to the reply of the Turkish Foreign Minister Reshid Pasha of June 16, 1853 to Chancellor Nesselrode's letter of May 31, 1853 (see Note 119 ↓). In his reply Reshid Pasha rejected Nesselrode's ultimatum. At the same time he wrote that the Porte was willing to send a special mission to St. Petersburg to settle the dispute in such a way that the rights of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey could be confirmed without damage to the Sultan's sovereignty.
 A reference to Chancellor Nesselrode's letter to the Turkish Foreign Minister Reshid Pasha of May 31, 1853. The letter was written in the form of ultimatum. It laid the responsibility for Menshikov's unsuccessful mission on the Turkish Government and called for acceptance of Russian demands to guarantee the privileges of the Orthodox Christian subjects of the Sultan, which actually meant the establishment of the Tsar's protectorate over them. Nesselrode threatened to resort to military action, i.e., the occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia, if the ultimatum was rejected. Turkey, supported by Britain and France, rejected the demands of the Tsarist Government in Reshid Pasha's letter of June 16, 1853.
In 1839 the Serbian Prince Miloš Obrenović, whose attempts to establish autocratic rule were firmly opposed by the commercial bourgeoisie, was compelled to abdicate. However, his successor Mihailo Obrenović strove to continue his father's policy. In August 1842 the so-called defenders of the statute, who supported a moderate Constitution and bourgeois reforms, revolted against him and proclaimed Alexander Karageorgević Prince of Serbia. In effect a regime of the merchant oligarchy was established, the representatives of which (Garašanin and others) made plans for uniting the lands of the Southern Slays under Serbia.
The Balta-Liman Convention was concluded between Russia and Turkey on May 1, 1849, following the occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia by Russian and Turkish troops for the purpose of suppressing the revolutionary movement. According to the Convention the occupation was to continue until the danger of revolution was completely removed (the occupation troops were withdrawn in 1851), the Hospodars were to be appointed temporarily by the Sultan in agreement with the Tsar, and a number of measures, including an occupation, to be taken by Russia and Turkey in the event of a new revolution were laid down.
Navigation Acts were passed in Britain to protect British shipping against foreign competition. The best known was that of 1651, directed mainly against the Dutch, who controlled most of the sea trade. It prohibited the importation of any goods not carried by British ships or the ships of the country where the goods were produced, and laid down that British coasting trade and commerce with the colonies were to be carried on only by British ships. The Navigation Acts were modified in the early nineteenth century and repealed in 1849 except for a reservation regarding coasting trade, which was revoked in 1854.
Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12
(pp.265-276), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979