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The Committee at Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Karl Marx

London, October 6. The Committee set up at Newcastle-upon-Tyne for the purpose of investigating the "Action of Diplomacy", has just published a very remarkable report[380]. We quote the most important passages from it and for the present we shall merely mention that Mr. Porter, who is a prominent figure in the following documents, was Vice-President of the British Board of Trade[a] and has a place in English literature as the author of The Progress of the Nation.

No. 1. Report of the Committee at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The committee [...] have to report— 1. That Mr. Porter, whilst in office at the Board of Trade, during the administration of Lord Melbourne, and whilst Lord Palmerston was Foreign Minister, formed and expressed the conviction, as the result of his own observation, and of facts within his own knowledge, that Lord Palmerston systematically sacrificed the interests of England to those of Russia, in matters relating to commercial treaties. 2. That Mr. Porter did not conceal this conviction from his official chief, the President of the Board of Trade[b], Lord Palmerston's colleague; but that, on the contrary, when, in 1840, he was offered a mission to Paris, for the purpose of negotiating a commercial treaty with France, he declined to accept that mission, except on the express condition that he should have no communication to make to the Foreign Office; assigning as a reason for this demand, his conviction that his endeavours to conclude such a treaty would be treacherously thwarted by the chief of that department. 3. That this condition was submitted to; and Mr. Porter, in consequence, [...] undertook the mission to Paris. 4. That whilst in office, under Mr. Gladstone, during Sir R. Peel's administration, Mr. Porter adhered to his former convictions, and in addition charged Lord Palmerston with having received Russian money; alleging that the agent in this transaction was a Jew, by name Jacob James Hart, who formerly kept a gambling-house, in St. James's street, and who was subsequently appointed British Consul at Leipsic, by Lord Palmerston; and that he had ascertained this in consequence of enquiries made by the government, with a view of getting rid of Hart. 5. That, independently of Mr. Porter's evidence, it is an indubitable fact, to be ascertained by any who will take the trouble to enquire, as we have done, that Jacob James Hart did keep a gambling-house, and was appointed by Lord Palmerston to be British Consul at Leipsic, where he was universally shunned as a most disreputable character.

The committee subjoin evidence which they have taken.

Newcastle, September 20th, 1855

G. Crawshay and others

We publish the following extracts from that evidence:

No. 2. Mr. Porter heard of the transaction concerning the gambling-house only later, under Sir Robert Peel's Administration.

The circumstances, as related by Mr. Porter to me, are as follows:

There was a Jew, a British Consul at Leipsic, who was considered, both by natives and British merchants, as a most discreditable representative of England, particularly as it was ascertained that he had been the keeper of a gambling-house somewhere about St. James's street. An attempt was made to get him removed, and the matter was brought before Sir R. Peel's government. But that government experienced such fierce and violent opposition from Lord Palmerston, who had made the appointment originally, that they gave way. The secret of Lord Palmerston's adherence to such a disreputable character came then to be inquired into, and it was found that Lord Palmerston, at a time when he was in great pecuniary embarrassment, I think about 1825, was told by Princess Lieven to go to the gambling-house kept by this Jew, where a foreigner was [...] to lose to him f20,000 in two nights.

Mr. Porter spoke of this openly to many persons, amongst others to Mr. Bright.

April 7th, 1855

D. Ross, of Bladensburg

No. 3. Hart's appointment was made in 1841, when Palmerston was just about to leave the Cabinet. A letter of Palmerston's which expressed regret that at the moment he did not have a more advantageous post for Hart at his disposal was flaunted by Hart before several people in Leipsic.

Worthling, April 28, 1855

D. Urquhart

No. 4. It would be as impossible for me, as it is unnecessary, to recall all private conversations with Mr. Porter. I shall confine myself to one incident. An important treaty had been concluded with a European state (Naples) under which, if it had been ratified, this country would in an amicable way have obtained considerable commercial advantages. Those in official positions who knew about the Russian action in the Cabinet and opposed it, feared that the treaty would be wrecked, if there remained any pretexts for discussion, formalities or preliminaries. Accordingly to avoid this danger, the treaty was entirely completed and only presented to the Government after having been approved of and signed by Naples. It was received in silence in Britain. No government organ was permitted to welcome this event. The Foreign Office ignored it completely. Those who had brought about the treaty induced a Member of Parliament to ask whether Naples had given its approval to such a treaty. Palmerston replied that this was a complete misunderstanding, no such treaty existed, there existed merely a few rough notes for a treaty. I recollect that Porter, after referring to this reply of the Minister, opened a depository of public documents in my presence, laid hold of one, handed it to me and exclaimed, "Here is the treaty". It is probably still where it was. This treaty had been negotiated by MacGregor, now M.P. for Glasgow. Even more astonishing was Porter's assertion about the sacrifice of a commercial treaty which he had himself negotiated with France, and whose conclusion was baulked by Palmerston.

May 4, 1855

R. Monteith

No. 5. I remember having heard of the appointment of Mitchely (or some similar name), a Jew or a former Jew, who was joint owner and also joint editor of The Morning Post. Palmerston secured him the consulate at St. Petersburg, a position which he retained until the outbreak of the war, and which yielded £4,000 to £5,000 per annum. It was just after the general election, in 1847, that The Morning Post, then strictly Derbyite and Conservative, published an article about the Ministry, which with regard to Palmerston said that Urquhart could make charges against Palmerston which made one's hair stand on end. Shortly afterwards Mitchely received this appointment. It is true that the management of the newspaper passed into different hands, but from that moment Palmerston was not included in its general attacks on the Government but was on the contrary praised and assisted by the newspaper, even while it continued to support Derby and the Corn Laws. During the last twelve months it openly deserted the Conservative camp and became not only a Palmerstonian paper but also a pro-Government one.

Charles Attwood[381]

Written on October 6, 1855
First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 475, October 11, 1855
Marked with the sign x
Published in English for the first time in MECW.


[a] Here and below Marx uses the English term.—Ed.

[b] Labouchere.—Ed.

[380] The Committee in Newcastle-upon-Tyne was one of the Foreign Affairs Committees set up by Urquhart and his supporters between the 1840s and 1860s with the prime purpose of counteracting the foreign policy of Palmerston. Marx was highly critical of the Urquhartists' conservative views, as can be seen from his articles "David Urquhart" (see present edition, Vol. 12, pp. 477-78) and "The Association for. Administrative Reform. [—People's Charter"] (see this volume, pp. 240-44) and other newspaper items, also from his letters to Engels of March 9, 1853, February 9 and April 22, 1854, and others. At the same time he held that their foreign-policy statements could be used by Britain's working-class spokesmen in the struggle against the bourgeois-aristocratic oligarchy.

The report of the Committee in Newcastle-upon-Tyne quoted by Marx was published in The Sheffield Free Press. A summary of the documents included in the report was issued by this Urquhartist newspaper in the form of a leaflet entitled "The Case of the Alleged Bribery against Lord Palmerston. (Reprinted from the Free Press). Sheffield". Marx probably used The Sheffield Free Press, though he may have obtained the report from other sources.

[381] No sequel to this report was published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung. This is most probably due to the fact that on October 7, 1855 its editor, M. Elsner, asked Marx by letter to stop sending articles for the time being in view of the newspaper's financial straits and obstacles raised by the censors. That is presumably why Marx left this article unfinished. Available material gives no indication as to whether Marx resumed his regular contributions to the Neue Oder-Zeitung later. Although articles and reports marked with the sign x used by Marx continued to appear in the newspaper until it ceased publication in late 1855, only one of them was definitely written by Marx, the article "Big Meeting in Support of Political Refugees" (published on November 16, 1855; see this volume, pp. 581-82), as is indicated by the fact that its basic propositions coincide with those of Marx's letter to Elsner of November 8, 1855 (see present edition, Vol. 39).

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (pp.560-562), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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