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A Scandal In The French Legislature.—
Drouyn de Lhuys' Influence.—
The State of The Militia

Karl Marx

London, April 3. We are informed by a correspondent in Paris:

"In the Bonapartist corps legislatif there occurred a scene, which has failed to get into the English press. During the debate on the Replacement Law[119] Granier de Cassagnac jumped up—after Montalembert's speech—and in his fury he let the cat out of the bag. Only when this law comes into force, he said, will the army become what it ought to be, dedicated to law and order and the Emperor, and we shall never again witness the shameful sight of soldiers turning their muskets round" (soldats à baionnettes renversées). "The conclusion of this speech, in which the janissary system was openly preached as an ideal for the army, provoked loud protests even in this assembly, and Granier was obliged to sit down. Another member of the legislature jumped to his feet and made a scathing attack on Granier. The scandal was so great that even Morny had to challenge Cassagnac" (it is well known that he was called le roi des drôles[a] by Guizot when he was still editing his little rag, the Globe) "to explain himself. Granier made a formal apology with the greatest meekness, and personally moved that the incident be passed over in silence in the Moniteur. The sitting was as stormy as in the finest days of Louis Philippe's Chamber of Deputies."

"The British public," writes The Morning Chronicle today[b], "have come to the conclusion that M. Drouyn de Lhuys is gone to Vienna to act as a kind of prompter or fly-flapper to Lord John Russell whose proceedings hitherto have not given satisfaction either to his own compatriots or to our Allies. [...] The noble lord is famous for his fits and starts of patriotism and liberalism; for his extreme public spirit while in Opposition, or when in need of political capital, and his sudden collapses when the immediate necessity is over. Something of this kind seems to have happened to him on the present occasion; and the people are beginning to grumble. Since M. Drouyn de Lhuys has come to London a more decided tone is perceptible in high quarters. It has even transpired that his mission has so far been successful, that the peaceful aspirations of Lord John Russell have been officially frustrated, and that our 'man of vigour'" (Palmerston) "has reluctantly assented to an ultimatum which Russia [...] is likely to reject with disdain."

The English Army has vanished, and the English militia is in the process of vanishing. The militia, which was created by Act of Parliament in 1852 under Lord Derby, should by law not be called up for more than 28 days each year under normal circumstances. In the case of a war of invasion, however, or for any other important and urgent reason, it could be incorporated into the army for permanent service. But by an Act of Parliament of 1854 all men recruited after May 12, 1854 were obliged to serve for the duration of the war. The question has now been raised what the obligations were of those recruited under the Act of 1852. The Crown lawyers declared that they considered this category also to be liable for permanent service during the war. But a few weeks ago Lord Panmure in contradiction with this juridical decision, issued an order permitting all those recruited before the Act of 1854 to leave but granting them a cash-payment of £1 if they re-enlist for a further five years. As at present the cash-payment for recruits enlisting for two years in the regular army is £7 for the infantry and £10 for the cavalry, a payment of £1 for five years' service in the militia was the most infallible means of dissolving it. Lord Palmerston, who hesitated to call up the militia for almost a year, seems to want to be rid of it again as soon as possible. Accordingly we learn that in the last fortnight one militia regiment after the other has lost from 2/3 to 5/8 of its strength. Thus in the First Regiment of the Somerset Militia 414 men out of 500 have left, in the North Durham Militia 770 out of 800, in the Leicester Militia 340 out of 460, in the Suffolk Artillery 90 out of 130, etc.

Written on April 3, 1855
First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 163, April 7, 1855
Marked with the sign x
Printed according to the news-paper
Published in English for the first time in MECW.


[a] King of the rascals.—Ed.

[b] April 3, 1855.—Ed.

[119] The system of recruitment in force in France until 1872 (abolished by the French Revolution but reintroduced by Napoleon I) enabled members of the propertied classes called up for the army to hire substitutes. In an attempt to tighten its control over the armed forces the Bonapartist government in April 1855 introduced the law of "dotation", under which substitutes, unless close relations of the draftee, were to be provided by the state. In return the person exempted from service was to contribute a fixed sum to the "army dotation" fund.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (pp.139-140), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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