Farsi    Arabic    English   

Russia And The German Powers
Corn Prices[104]

Karl Marx

London, Friday, April 7, 1854

Lord Clarendon declared last night in the House of Lords that "he had reason to believe" that the news of the landing of 4,000 Russians in the Dobrodja by means of transports from Odessa was untrue. He was not aware that the Russian fleet had left Sevastopol which point had been watched, now and then, by English and French steamers. With regard to the alleged inactivity of the fleets, he begged to say that a blockade of Sevastopol and Odessa could only be undertaken by the whole of the combined squadron, which would have been a dangerous undertaking during the bad season. He believed, therefore, that it had been politic to retain them at Beikos. The Vienna correspondent of The Times concurs in this view of Lord Clarendon, and moreover, states the true motives of his policy[a]. The apprehension of riots at Constantinople has never been more justified than since the negotiations for "Christian emancipation" have become known, and it would have been highly "impolitic" to move the fleets from the Bosphorus before the arrival of a sufficient land force, i.e., sufficient to put down the Turks.

In the House of Commons Lord John Russell said the responsibility for the Greek insurrections rested with the Court of Athens, which had favoured them at first secretly, and now openly[b].

The debates of the week offer nothing of interest, except that on Mr. Moore's motion for. a Select Committee to take into consideration the case of the appointment of H. Stonor to the office of a judge in the colony of Victoria[c], the said Stonor having been reported by a Committee of the House to have been guilty of bribery at the elections in the borough of Sligo in 1853, the appointment of the Committee was granted. The prosecution of Mr. Stonor is, however, a mere pretext for renewing, on fresh ground, the battle between the two fractions of the broken Irish Brigade[105]. To what degree the sanctimonious clique of Mr. Gladstone and his co-Peelites are involved and comprised in these Irish scandals, may be judged from the following remark of The Morning Post:

"In the letters that have been produced, the gossip that has been retailed and the evidence which has been given before Parliamentary Committees within the last few weeks, there is much calculated to give strength to the suspicion that the Peelite section of the coalition have, for some time past, systematically employed agents to influence many of the Irish elections, and that they have supplied them largely with money for the purpose. The Duke of Newcastle is especially compromised.... There certainly appears to have been a conference of preferment upon individuals conducting election business, seemingly under his instruction."[d]

The Daily News of to-day publishes the treaty between France, England and Turkey, which, however, merely contains the arrangements for military action. The western powers are careful not to bring the real conditions of their "assistance to the Sultan" into the form - of a treaty. These are imposed by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe and his minatory apparatus in loco[e], and made to appear as the voluntary act of the Turkish Government.

The peace mission of the Prince of Mecklenburg to Berlin had no other object in view but to furnish the King of Prussia[f] with a new pretext for keeping aloof from the Western Alliance. I am informed from Berlin that Russia would only acknowledge the Swedish declaration of neutrality after the King[g] had bound himself to re-issue to the commandants of the Swedish harbours the old regulations, according to which no more than four foreign men-of-war are allowed to anchor within the range of the guns of any port. As this order considerably departs from the stipulations of neutrality agreed upon between Sweden and Denmark, new negotiations between the Scandinavian powers on the one hand, and the western powers on the other hand, are to be anticipated. It is generally believed at Stockholm that the Russians will abandon their occupation of Aland, and raze their fortifications on that island, carrying away the guns and other material of war. A telegraphic dispatch received to-day states that this step had already been carried out.[h]

The Austrian corps d'observation in the south-eastern portions of Hungary is now on a complete war footing, and drawn up in the different positions allotted to it. The concentration required from ten to twelve days. The German papers generally assume that this army would be destined to take the Turkish army in the flank, in case of Austria joining actively with Russia, and there would be no difficulty in doing so. But the Austrians can only enter Turkey either by Mehadia, when they would have the Turkish army in their front, or by Belgrade, when they would find themselves in a line with the extended left flank of the Turks. It is much more probable, therefore, that if the Austrians enter Turkey with hostile intentions, they will march from Belgrade upon Sofia by Kruschevatz and Nissa; but even in that case the Turks would have a shorter way to Sofia, by marching from Vidin in a direct line southward.

The report of the Prussian Loan-Committee in the Second Chamber contains an account of the policy pursued by Prussia in the Eastern Question, and publishes several diplomatic documents which have not yet found their way into the English press. I propose, therefore, to give you some important extracts from that report.[i]

At the end of January the Russian Embassador at Berlin[j] handed a proposition to the Prussian Government, simultaneously with the propositions made by Count Orloff to the Austrian Court, according to which the three Courts of Prussia, Austria and Russia were to sign a joint protocol. In the preamble to the draft of this protocol it is stated that the motive of this common engagement was the desire to draw closer the alliance of the three powers, in view of the dangers threatening the peace of Europe, and to regulate the relations both between them and with the western powers under the impending juncture. This draft contained the following three points:

1. The two German powers bind themselves formally, in the case of an active participation by England and France in the Russo-Turkish war, to observe the strictest neutrality; and declare if they should be again pressed or menaced by the western powers, that they are resolved to defend their neutrality, in case of need, with arms.

2. The three powers will consider any attack by France or England on the respective territories of Austria, Prussia, or any other German State, as a violation of their own territory, and will defend each other, as circumstances may require, and in accordance with a common military understanding (now arranged between General Hess and the Prussian Minister of War[k] at Berlin).

3. The Emperor of Russia repeats his assurance that he intends to bring the war to a close as soon as compatible with his dignity and the well-understood interests of his empire. Considering, however, that the ulterior development of events is likely to alter the existing state in Turkey, His Majesty obliges himself, if he should come to any understanding on that point with the naval powers, to take no definitive resolution without previous concert with his German allies.

This draft was accompanied by a dispatch from Count Nesselrode, in which the Chancellor reminds Prussia and Austria of the importance of that triple alliance which had so long been the shield of Europe. In sight of the impending war his imperial master considered himself obliged to earnestly appeal to his friends and allies. Their common interest made it necessary to define the position which they had now to occupy under these grave eventualities. Pointing out the one-sided advance of the western powers, he called attention to their want of consideration for the interests of the German powers. Russia acted differently. She was prepared to submit alone to the burdens of war, and would ask neither sacrifices nor aid from her friends and allies. The welfare of both powers and of Germany depended on their union. In this way they would succeed in preventing the crisis from extending, and perhaps shorten it. The Russian dispatch next proceeds to examine the three alternative positions open to the German powers: Common action with Russia against the naval powers; alliance with the latter against Russia, or lastly, a strict neutrality. As to an alliance with Russia, the Czar did not require it; and as to an action against him, it was impossible if the German powers would not submit to the menace of the western powers. This would be the acknowledgment of a disgraceful necessity to the end of bringing about a deplorable future. Russia, inattackable in her own territory, apprehended neither military invasions nor the more pernicious invasions of the revolutionary spirit. If her allies deserted her, she knew how to restrict herself to her own resources, and would arrange herself so as to dispense with them in future. (M. de Nesselrode writes his dispatches in German taking care that translation into another language becomes a matter of downright despair. As a specimen of his German exercises I give you the last sentence in the original words: Wenn seine Alliierten es verließen, so würde es sich gesagt sein lassen, sich auf sich selbst zurückziehen und sic so einrichten, ihrer in Zukunft entbehren zu können.) But the Czar had full confidence in the known sentiments of his friends and allies, and in their gallant armies, which had been connected long since with those of Russia by the baptism of blood (Bluttaufe), and by an identity of principles not to be denied. The third alternative only .the Russian Cabinet thinks worthy of the German Courts, as corresponding with their interests, and appropriate; by continuing their parts as mediators, to realize the particular desires of Russia. It must, however, be understood that this neutrality could not be an indefinite one, or merely provisional, or an expectant one, because such an attitude would be construed as hostile by either belligerent, especially by Russia. That neutrality should rather be founded on the principles (of the Holy Alliance) which, during many trials, had secured the general tranquillity and the peace of the world. It was the duty of the German powers to give effect to this basis of their policy, if need be, by arms. If the one (France) of the two maritime powers should meditate or venture upon an attack of Germany, the other one (England) would instantly change her position. At all instances, if such an event should occur, Russia was ready to come forth and support them with all the forces at her command.

This proposition was declined at Berlin, and some days later at Vienna too. Manteuffel then still played the independent statesman, and declared in a dispatch to St. Petersburg that, by the desire of a renewed triple alliance, Russia, which pretended not to require. the aid of Prussia, yet asked for it, though in an indirect form. "With regard to the revolutionary spirit, which Russia did not fear, he would observe that Prussia, too, had subjected it without foreign aid." The independent minister, who "saved" Prussia by putting himself at the head of the counter-revolution, cannot suppress his irritation at seeing Prussia, which had no Hungary, placed in a line with Austria.

While Prussia thus boasts of her security, the other documents alluded to in the report prove that in the last days of February Austria submitted to Prussia the draft of a convention to be concluded between the four powers[106]. Prussia declined it in a dispatch dated the 5th of March. But it is characteristic of this power that it declares at the same time that the Government of Frederick William IV still considered the concert of the four powers as the best means to arrive at a satisfactory solution of the complication. Austria, consequently, was forced also to drop the convention which would have put an end to the equivocal position of both German powers.

A Prussian dispatch of March 16 contains the following important passage:

"The Prussian Cabinet had noticed the measures taken by Austria with a view to maintain her interests on the south-eastern frontiers. It was true that Prussia, like all other German States, had to protect its own particular interests; but this should not exclude an understanding with Austria. On the contrary, Prussia was ready to enter into a concert, as far as the maintenance of German interests required. From this motive she looked forward to communications on the following points:
"1. Whether Austria was prepared, in order to secure the tranquillity of her own frontier provinces, to occupy the contiguous Turkish provinces?
"2. Whether she would take possession of the latter, and hold them as a pledge, till the restoration of peace?
"3. Whether she intended to participate actively in the war?"

It would wholly depend on the answer to these several questions for Prussia to come to a conclusion as to what the maintenance of German interests would require, and whether she could do anything to mitigate the pressure applied to Austria by the western powers (not by Russia!).

On March 14, the Prussian Government addressed a circular Note to the German Courts in the one sense, and the Austrian Government in the opposite sense. The Prussian circulaire says the impending war will be of a purely local character. Austria, on the contrary, maintains that the struggle is likely to take a turn which would intimately affect her own relations. As long as circumstances should permit, she would not participate in the war; but she had to consider also the eventuality of a participation in it. The interests involved in this question were likewise those of the German States. The Imperial Cabinet, therefore, trusted that in such a contingency Prussia and the other German Courts would join their forces with those of Austria. The German Confederation would then be called upon to show that, beyond its present defensive attitude, it knew also how to fill an active part in this question. Austria would make a further declaration as soon as the war between the western powers and Russia should have been actually declared. If there were yet any means to prevent the increase of those dangers which now threatened Europe, it would be found in the common action of Austria and Prussia, joined by their German confederates.

The last, but not least remarkable information contained in the report, is the melancholy answer given by M. de Manteuffel to a question of the Committee members, viz: That Russia had made no communication whatever of her partition schemes to the Prussian Government.

In conclusion, we learn from this document that the juggle of the Vienna Conferences has not at all come to an end. On the contrary, it states, on the authority of the Prussian Premier, that a new protocol was about to be drawn up, which would establish the continued understanding between the four powers.

The corn market is again rising. The cause of the late fall in France and England was the pressure acting upon speculators who, for want of sufficient capital and in a tight money market, were driven to forced sales which overstocked the markets. Another cause was the fact that the dealers, millers and bakers allowed their supplies to run out, in the belief that enormous cargoes were on the way to the European ports. I am, therefore, still of opinion that prices are yet far from having reached their maximum. It is certain that in no previous year were such erroneous and illusory speculations about the probable and possible supply of the corn market entertained as in the present year, illusions which are to a great extent encouraged by the cant of the free-trade papers.

Written on April 7, 1854
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 4059, April 21
and in the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 929, April 21, 1854
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] Report from the Vienna correspondent of April 2. The Times, No. 21709, April 7, 1854.—Ed.

[b] Lord John Russell's speech in the House of Commons on April 6, 1854. The Times, No. 21709, April 7, 1854.—Ed.

[c] The debates in the House of Commons on Mr. Moore's motion are given according to The Times, No. 21709, April 7, 1854.—Ed.

[d] The Morning Post, No. 25043, April 7, 1854, leader.—Ed.

[e] On the spot.—Ed.

[f] Frederick William IV.—Ed.

[g] Oskar I.—Ed.

[h] This erroneous telegraphic dispatch from Berlin of April 5 was published in The Times, No. 21709, April 7, 1854.—Ed.

[i] The reference is to "Erster Bericht der Kommission zur Vorprüfung der Gesetz-Entwürfe, betreffend die Kredit-Bewilligung....".—Ed.

[j] A. F. Budberg.—Ed.

[k] Ed. Bonin.—Ed.

[104] This article is entered in Marx's Notebook as "Freitag. 7. April. Notenwechsel, Oesterreich und Preussen. Kölnische Zeitung". In the abbreviated version of the article published by the Tribune the editors omitted the part on the Kölnische Zeitung A fragment of the article was included in the leader published in the same issue of the newspaper. Here is this fragment: "Our correspondent at Vienna announces the conclusion of an alliance between the German powers, by which the entire Confederation, including Austria and Prussia of course, undertakes to maintain neutrality through the war. Whether they can succeed in keeping out of the quarrel for so long a time is a question on which a positive opinion cannot be formed at present. The new complications which may arise, and the new interests which may be developed in the course of the struggle, may very easily render nugatory the most exact calculations that can now be made. Certain it is that but for dread of revolution, against which Russia is supposed to offer a protection, the German powers, and especially the German people, must all desire the humiliation of the Czar, whose preponderant influence they hate, and whose aggrandizement they spontaneously incline to resist. But on the other side, such is their pecuniary weakness, and so entire is their doubt of the loyalty of their subjects, that they must regard the risk of permanent Russian supremacy as far less formidable than that of engaging in a universal war with the revolution lying in ambush behind the eventualities of the contest. So they will remain neutral as long as they can, and will hold themselves ready, when they finally decide to go into the fight, to embrace whichever side offers them the greater advantages. We do not believe they will be led either way by any other motives than regard for their own interest. All the gratitude Austria owes Russia will indeed only prove a reason for her to attack the Czar, should other causes seem to render it the more profitable course: and the same is true of all Germany as well."

The article was reprinted in the New-York Weekly Tribune, No. 659, April 29, 1854, but the first and last paragraphs and also Marx's signature were omitted. The article was published in The Eastern Question under the title "Russia and the German Powers".

[105] When forming his Coalition Ministry (see Note 16↓) in December 1852 the Prime Minister Lord Aberdeen gave ministerial posts to three members of the Irish Brigade (see Note 441↓), Keogh, Sadleir and Monsell, thus provoking a strong protest on the part of several Irish deputies which led to a split in the Brigade. The pro-Government Irish deputies were backed by the higher Catholic clergy, Irish bourgeoisie and landlords, who feared the growing national liberation movement in Ireland. The other part of the Brigade (the so-called Independent opposition) headed by Duffy relied on a section of rich Irish leaseholders who wanted the Government to pass a new lease law in Ireland.

[106] The reference is to one of the stages in the work of the Vienna conferences (see Note 3↓). The conferences dealt with in this article ended with the signing of a protocol between England, France, Austria and Prussia on April 9, 1854. It demanded that Russia immediately evacuate the Danubian Principalities and guaranteed the preservation of the Ottoman Empire.

[16] The reference is to John Aberdeen's Coalition Ministry of 1852-55 (the Cabinet of All the Talents), which consisted of Whigs, Peelites and representatives of a faction of Irish Members.

[441] The Irish Brigade—the Irish faction in the British Parliament from the 1830s to the 1850s. It was led until 1847 by Daniel O'Connell, who used the tactics of parliamentary manoeuvring to obtain concessions from the British Government to the Irish top bourgeoisie. In the early 1850s some MPs belonging to this faction entered into an alliance with the radical Irish Tenant-Right League and formed in the House of Commons the so-called Independent Opposition. However, the leaders of the Irish Brigade soon entered into an agreement with the British ruling circles and refused to support the League's demands. This led to the demoralisation and final dissolution of the Independent Opposition in 1859.

[3] In 1853 and 1854 the Ambassadors of Britain, France and Prussia and the Austrian Foreign Minister Buol held a number of conferences in Vienna. The first, in July 1853, to which the Russian Ambassador was also invited but which he refused to attend, was officially aimed at mediation between Russia and Turkey in view of the worsening relations between them. The words "first Vienna Note" refer to the draft agreement between Russia and Turkey drawn up by Buol and concluded at the end of July 1853. It obliged the Sultan to abide by the Kuchuk-Kainardji (1774) (see Note 17↓) and the Adrianople (1829) (see Note 176↓) treaties on the rights and privileges of the Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish Sultan Abdul Mejid agreed to sign the Note but demanded a number of changes and reservations, which the Russian Government found unacceptable.

[17] The treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji was concluded between Russia and Turkey on July 21, 1774. Russia got territories on the northern shore of the Black Sea between the South Bug and the Dnieper with the fortress of Kinburn, and also Azov, Kerch and Yenikale and secured recognition of the Crimea's independence. Russian merchantmen were granted the right of free passage through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The treaty obliged the Sultan to grant a number of privileges to the Orthodox Church; Article 14 in particular provided for the building of an Orthodox Church in Constantinople.

[176] The peace treaty of Adrianople was concluded by Turkey and Russia in September 1829, at the end of the war of 1828-29. Under it Russia obtained the islands in the mouth of the Danube and a considerable part of the eastern coast of the Black Sea south of the Kuban estuary. Turkey was obliged to recognise the autonomy of the Danubian Principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia and grant them the right to elect hospodars (rulers) independently. Russia was to guarantee this autonomy, which was tantamount to establishing a Russian protectorate over the Principalities. The Turkish Government also pledged to guarantee the autonomy of Greece and Serbia.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 13 (pp.143-149), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
MarxEngles.public-archive.net #ME1883en.html