Farsi    Arabic    English   

The Greek Insurrection
The Polish Emigration
The Austro-Prussian Treaty
Russian Documents[121]

Karl Marx

London, Friday, April 28, 1854

The last authentic news from Turkey fully confirms the views of The Tribune, with respect to the retreat of the Russians from Kalafat, the occupation by the Russians of the Dobrodja, and the character of the Greek insurrection.[a]

The Lloyd confirms the report that the Russians have raised the investment of Kalafat, and that the evacuation of Lesser Wallachia is now complete. The latest news received at Constantinople states that the Russians do not advance, but, on the contrary, are fortifying the Dobrodja.[b]

With regard to the Greek insurrection, the following letter from Vienna, of the 21st April, appeared in yesterday's Moniteur:

"The Greek insurrection does not make any progress in Epirus, but begins to show itself in its true character. If anybody could have thought that the interests of Christianity and nationality were anything else than a vain pretext, the acts of the chiefs of the Hellenic bands from the kingdom of Greece must dissolve all such doubts. The altercations which, since the commencement of the struggle, have taken place between Grivas and Tsavellas, with respect to the chief command of the insurgents, are known. These two chiefs continue to act separately, and make no scruple of taking advantage of any opportunity to injure each other. Grivas, especially, has only carried pillage and incendiarism to the Christian Rayahs, of whom he pretends to be the liberator. The Suliotes[c], who have come to the resolution to interdict the access to their territory to several Hellenic chiefs, particularly denounce Grivas. At the beginning of last month, this chief went to demand hospitality of the Greek Primate, Deventzista, and left the day after, but not until he had pillaged his house, and carried off his wife by force. The Primate has gone to Abdi Pasha and asked permission to serve under his orders with a view to revenge himself for this savage act. It is, however, at Mezzovo where Grivas distinguished himself by his skill in plundering. That town, misled by the Russian propaganda, spontaneously opened its gates to 'generallissimus' Grivas. His first act was to impose upon the Christian population a 'patriotic' contribution of 200,000 piasters. The sum not being extravagant, it was paid. But Grivas did not stop there. He called by turns, individually, on all the principal inhabitants, and all those in comfortable circumstances residing in the town, asking them to deposit, likewise as an offering, all articles of luxury in gold or silver which might be at their disposal. This mode of extortion excited murmurs, and it appeared neither expeditious nor very productive. It was then that Grivas took it into his mind an idea which seems to us a masterpiece of brigandage. Taking as a pretext the approach of the Ottoman troops which were marching on Mezzovo, he announced that the defense of the place necessitated the almost general burning of the town, and, in consequence, he invited the inhabitants to assemble with their families in the principal church of Mezzovo, where nearly 4,000 persons soon after collected. Grivas had anticipated that they would bring their money with them, as also their jewels and their most valuable articles, and thus he would get into his power all the wealth of Mezzovo. He then let them out in small numbers, and handed them over to his followers, who robbed them without ceremonies. Such are the exploits of the Greek chief, who has, up to this moment, played the most prominent part in the insurrection of Epirus. Grivas then only opposed a feeble resistance to the Turks. After setting the town on fire, he retired toward Archelous, in the direction of Rodovizzi. Mezzovo, previously the most flourishing city of Epirus, next to Yannina and Buat, is now a mere heap of ruins, and the inhabitants are reduced to misery. Only about 100 houses remain standing."[d]

Reshid Pasha has declared, on the unfounded rumor that Kossuth and Mazzini proposed to come to Constantinople, that he would not permit them to enter the Turkish territory.

The formation of a Polish Legion is said to have found no opposition from the Embassadors of France and England, but to have met with obstacles of a different nature. General Wysocki submitted to the Porte and to Lord Redcliffe a document covered with several thousands of signatures, authorizing him to act in the name of a large portion of the Polish Emigration. On the other hand, Colonel Count Zamoiski, nephew of Prince Czartoryski, presented a similar document, also covered with many signatures, by which another fraction of the same Emigration authorize him to act on its behalf. In consideration of their divisions, in order to conciliate the alternative pretensions and rivalries, and in order to combine the services of both Wysocki and Zamoiski, the Ambassador of England advised the formation of two Polish Legions instead of one.[122]

Marshal Paskievich arrived on the 17th April at Jassy, and proceeded on the same day on his journey to Bucharest.

According to the Hannoversche Zeitung the following are the main stipulations of the treaty of offensive and defensive alliance concluded between Austria and Prussia.[e]

"1. Austria and Prussia guarantee to each other their German dominions and others (in und ausserdeutschen Besitzungen) in such manner that an attack directed against either of the two powers shall be considered as an attack directed against itself.

"2. Austria and Prussia mutually oblige themselves to support each other, and if need be, to proceed to a common aggression, as soon as one or the other of the contracting parties shall consider the interests of Germany as compromised, in which view they will agree with each other. The particular cases in which support is to be given, are provided in a separate stipulation, forming an integral portion of the convention. In order to secure its efficacy, the adequate military resources shall be placed on the necessary footing at certain provided epochs. The time, the extent and the employment of the troops, are reserved for special arrangement.

"3. All the members of the German Bund[f] are invited to accede to this offensive and defensive alliance, and to support it in conformity with the obligations imposed upon them by the federal act."

On comparison, you will find that these stipulations closely resemble the terms in which Count Nesselrode made his propositions of neutrality to the Prussian Court[g]. It is to be observed also that, practically, the convention is only adapted to the exigencies of a defensive policy, while with regard to the eventuality of an offensive policy, everything is reserved to the several Courts.

The First Chamber of Prussia passed, on the 25th inst., a vote of credit for thirty millions of dollars, in conformity with the recommendations of its Committee. The ministerial explanations given on this occasion by Herr von Manteuffel are so characteristic of that Prussian diplomacy which affects to conceal its intrinsic impotency under patriotic flourishes and nonsensical sublimity, that I will give you the document in extenso. Herr von Manteuffel says:

"The complications which have occurred between Russia and Turkey, and then extended to the Occidental powers, are generally known. The Prussian Government thought it expedient, in view of its position and interest, to unravel these complications and to arrange this difference. All its efforts and labors have proved abortive. Some fatality seems to have controlled this affair. Many attempts, which were likely to contribute to the reestablishment of peace, have resulted in nothing—perhaps because they were not made at the opportune moment and in a suitable manner. Thus the difficulties have been pushed to the extremity of war. The, efforts of Prussia and of Austria to insure the maintenance of peace afford, as it were, a leading-string to which to tie again negotiations. Such was the great end aimed at by the Vienna Conference. In this Conference the Government has not ceased to make the utmost efforts for the maintenance of peace. It has acted in a spirit of conciliation"

as the "Angel of Peace" of the Emperor Nicholas

"but always in a firm and decided manner, and with the consciousness of its position as a great power"

in the same manner in which the Emperor of Russia expressed it in his secret correspondence.

"It is precisely because it is uninterested"

about its becoming a Russian province and changing decorations

"and because its disinterested (uninteressiert) position has been acknowledged by the other powers, that it was able to speak frankly and energetically. Its offers and its efforts have been received by the two parties alternately with gratitude and with regret. But the Government did not allow itself to be drawn from its career. The first condition for the existence of a great power is independence. This independence the Prussian Government has known to uphold, by taking steps in the interest of peace, without troubling itself by a doubt whether they would be agreeable to this or that power,"

altogether a fine definition of what is to be understood by the independence of a great power.

"When circumstances became more threatening, the Government thought that, besides its generous efforts for the preservation of peace, it was its duty to consider, above all, the Prussian and German interests. With this view, a Convention has been entered into with Austria. The other States of the German Confederation will adhere to this alliance. Consequently, we may be sure of cooperation with Austria and the whole of Germany. According to the Government, the most certain and efficient guarantee of the German powers, consists in this cooperation. Besides this intimate union, the anterior concert of Prussia and Austria with the Occidental powers on the basis of the Vienna Conference[123], will continue. Prussia has not estranged itself from the Occidental powers, notwithstanding the assertions of the contrary in the English press. This concert with the Occidental powers still exists. The protocol manifesting this concert, has already been signed by the Embassador of Prussia; but this protocol cannot be laid before the Chamber. The respective positions of the four powers up to this day, and their efforts for the restoration of peace, will continue, although two of these powers have commenced operations of war—"

a proof that the war is a sham, and peace-negotiations the real business of the western Cabinets.

"As far as Russia is concerned, the Cabinet of St. Petersburg has recently made more favorable and more conciliatory overtures, and though they hold out only weak hopes of peace at present, they give, nevertheless, the point of issue for new negotiations of peace. The Prussian Government has shown its readiness to hope in peace until the last moment. As long as there will remain only a spark of hope for peace, Prussia will continue its efforts and pains (Mühen). When the decisive moment shall arrive for Prussia",

Trema, Byzantium![h]

"the Government will act without delay, without hesitation, and with energy. Prussia must prepare for that moment. Its words will have the greater weight, because it will be ready to draw the sword. When the conflict between Russia and Turkey broke out, the Occidental powers exhibited firmness and strengthened the Ottoman Porte. Prussia had not then the mission to play the part of an umpire. It considered, besides the violated right of a third power, above all the welfare of its own subjects. Its own interest in the Oriental question is more remote than that of Austria, which has a more direct interest in it, and Austria has urgently begged of Prussia not to refuse her cooperation. Prussia and Austria have pursued the object of moderating, on both sides, the pretensions pushed too far, and rendering difficult the work of pacification. It was their efforts that led to the Vienna Conference, justly considered as a fortunate event. Our Government cannot abandon a situation which still permits it to exercise a salutary influence"

for Russia

"on the Occidental powers. It is the mediating link for those powers, and may serve as a support for the hopes of peace. As to the project of note communicated by the four powers to the Russian Government, you must not forget that Russia never acknowledged the conference, and also that this project, in consequence of new circumstances, ceased to be acceptable to Turkey. The new Vienna protocol"

and this is a very important revelation on the part of Herr von Manteuffel,

"affords new means toward a general peace, and at all events to keep the war aloof from Prussia and Germany. With regard to the anterior demand on the part of Austria to propose to the German Diet a strict neutrality, binding for Prussia, too, the government acting spontaneously was unable to consent to it. It was unable to compromise its position as a great independent power, and the liberty of its resolutions. Besides, by such a neutrality we should have afforded to the other powers a pretext for assuming a hostile attitude, if these powers should consider such an attitude consonant with their interests. To-day the situation of the Occidental powers is essentially altered by their engagement,"

Vienna Protocol.

"In the most unfavorable case peace will not be obtained, but in the most favorable case all the great calamities which are the consequences of war will be diverted from our fatherland; and this is an immense and inappreciable advantage."

If anybody can make anything out of this alternative, I congratulate him on his acuteness.

"The military events which may take place in the Baltic and Black Seas between Russia and the Occidental powers have forced Prussia, in consequence of her geographical position as a great power"

rather longer than great

"to prepare the means required for the defense, if need be, of its interests with arms in hand. At all events, the government has not shrunk before the past,"

meaning, perhaps, if anything, that it is not ashamed of its past,

"and is glad to have found an occasion for publicly explaining its views."[i]

The Committee, it is needless to say, found these explanations exceedingly gratifying.

The following new documents have been published by the Journal de -St. -Pétersbourg:

"Ordre du Jour of the Commissioner of Police

April 15, 1854

"His Majesty, the Emperor, has been pleased to order the extension to the men retired from the Marine, and the train of the Guards who feel yet able-bodied and zealous to enter a second period of service the advantages granted to the pensioners of the Guards and of the army, etc.

"Aide-de-camp—General Galakhoff."

"Ukase addressed to the Directing Senate

"In order to increase the means of defense of the coasts of the Gulf of Finland, we have thought fit to form a reserve-fleet of oar-boats, and order:

"1. The organization of four new legions of rowers.

"2. These troops will be formed by an appeal for voluntary service, made in the Governments of Petersburg, Novgorod, Olonez and Tver.

"3. The measures to be taken for the organization of this corps are intrusted to a Committee composed of His Imperial Highness, the Grand Duke Constantine, Director of the Ministry of the Marine, and of the Ministers of the Imperial domains and apanages of the interior, etc.[j]

"April 14, 1854 "Nicholas"

"A Regulation concerning the Maritime Armament

"I. Object of the institution and composition of the maritime armament:

"1. The maritime armament is made with a view to complete the reserve flotilla of oar-boats destined to defend the coasts of the Gulf of Finland.

"2. This armament is composed of four legions, the formation and organization of which are left to the Minister of the Marine.

"3. Individuals of all conditions are allowed to enter the corps of this armament.

"II. Enlistment:

"4. Persons desirous of entering the maritime corps must be provided with legal passports, and serfs must have a special authorization from their proprietors.

"5. At St. Petersburg the volunteers have to present themselves to the department of inspection of the Ministry of the Marine, in government towns to the Governors, and in district towns to the police authorities.

"6. The passports will be deposited in exchange for a ticket of an appointed form. The passports will be transmitted to the department of inspection, where the bearers have to present themselves. At the same time they will receive, if they demand it, one month's pay, to be marked on the ticket.

"7. The police are to watch the departure of the volunteers for St. Petersburg, and to give them all aid and protection for facilitating their journey. In case of sickness of a volunteer, he is to be taken care of.

8 and 9 are without interest.

"III. Conditions of service:

"10. Those who wish to enter the oar-marine shall receive on the day of their inspection:

"A. Eight rubles silver per month.

"B. Ammunition and provisions like the regular soldiers of the marine.

"C. A peasant's suit of clothes. The volunteers may wear their beards and hair à la paysanne.[k]

"11. The term of expiration of the service is to be the 1st November, 1854.

"12. After this day no volunteer will be retained for service.

"13. Those who shall distinguish themselves will be rewarded like the regular troops.

"14. In case of 'prizes' being made with the assistance of the gun-boats the oar-volunteers are to have their shares according to the laws of distribution.

"15. In case of their being wounded the volunteers acquire the rights enjoyed by the soldiers.

"16. Their families are to be provided for by the local authorities and corporations.

"Count Kisseleff
"Count Perowski
"Dmitry Bibikoff"

It would have been impossible to give a better bird's-eye view of Russia than is offered by the preceding documents: the Emperor, the bureaucracy, the serfs, the beards à la paysanne, the police, the oar-marine, the corporations, the lands and the seas "all the Russias."

Written on April 27 and 28, 1854
Reproduced from the newspaper
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 4079, May 15, 1854
Signed: Karl Mary


[a] See this volume, pp. 65-69, 70-72 and 129-31.—Ed.

[b] Der Lloyd's report is given as reprinted in The Morning Post, No. 25061, April 28, 1854: "Withdrawal of the Russians from Kalafat. Vienna, April 26", and in Le Moniteur universel, No. 116, April 26, 1854.—Ed.

[c] Population of Southern Ioannina (Yannina) (Ancient Epirus).—Ed.

[d] Report from Vienna of April 21, 1854. Le Moniteur universel, No. 116, April 26, 1854.—Ed.

[e] Signed on April 20, 1854. Hannoversche Zeitung, No. 187, April 22, 1854.—Ed.

[f] Confederation.—Ed.

[g] See this volume, pp. 145-47.—Ed.

[h] "Tremble, Byzantium!" G. Donizetti's opera Belisario, libretto by S. Cammarano, Act II, Scene 3.—Ed.

[i] Manteuffel's speech at a sitting of the First Chamber of the Prussian Diet on April 22, 1854.—Ed.

[j] P. D. Kiselyev, L. A. Perovsky, D. G. Bibikov.—Ed.

[k] In peasant style.—Ed.

[l] Marx cites these documents according to Le Moniteur universel, No. 117, April 27, 1854.—Ed.

[121] The Notebook gives only the date when this article was mailed ("Freitag. 28. April") but does not disclose its contents. Judging by the reference to Le Moniteur universel of April 26, 1854, Marx started to write the article on April 27 and finished it on the day of its dispatch to New York, April 28, 1854. It was included in abridged form in The Eastern Question under the title "The Greek Insurrection.—Alliance Between Prussia and Austria.—Russian Armaments".

[122] General Zamoiski was permitted to form the Polish Legion at the beginning of 1854. It included supporters of Prince Czartoryski; General Wysocki, protected by Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822-1891), tried to form a legion of Polish democratic emigrants. But by the summer of 1854 it became clear that his plan had failed and Wysocki left Istanbul. During the Crimean war the Polish emigrants also fought in the ranks of the Cossack formations of Sadyk Pasha (Chaikovsky).

[123] 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.

The reference is to one of the stages in the work of the Vienna conferences. 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.

[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.166-172), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
MarxEngles.public-archive.net #ME1888en.html