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The Turkish Question.
The Times.
Russian Aggrandizement.[97]

Karl Marx

London, Tuesday, May 31, 1853

Admiral Corry's fleet has been seen in the Bay of Biscay on the way to Malta, where it is to reinforce the squadron of Admiral Dundas. The Morning Herald justly observes:

"Had Admiral Dundas been permitted to join the French squadron at Salamis, several weeks ago, the present state of affairs would be quite different."[a]

Should Russia attempt, were it only for the salvation of appearances, to back up the ridiculous demonstrations of Menchikoff by actual maneuvers of war, her first two steps would probably consist in the re-occupation of the Danubian Principalities, and in the invasion of the Armenian province of Kars and the port of Batum, territories which she made every effort to secure by the treaty of Adrianople. The port of Batum being the only safe refuge for ships in the eastern part of the Black Sea, its possession would deprive Turkey of her last naval station in the Pontus and make the latter an exclusively Russian Sea. This port added to the possession of Kars, the richest and best cultivated portion of Armenia, would enable Russia to cut off the commerce of England with Persia by way of Trebizond, and afford a basis of operations against the latter power, as well as against Asia Minor. If, however, England and France hold firm, Nicholas will no more carry out his projects in that quarter, than the Empress Catherine carried out hers against Aga Mahmed, when he commanded his slaves to drive the Russian Ambassador Voinovich and his companions with scourges to their ships, away from Astrabad.

In no quarter did the latest news create greater consternation than in Printing-House-square[b]. The first attempt made by The Times to lift up its head under the terrible blow, was a desperate diatribe against the electric telegraph, that "most extraordinary" instrument. "No correct conclusions could be drawn," it ex-claimed, "from that mendacious wire." Having thus laid its own incorrect conclusions to the fault of the electric wire, The Times, after the statement of Ministers in Parliament, endeavors now also to get rid of its ancient "correct" premises. It says:

"Whatever may be the ultimate fate of the Ottoman Empire, or rather of that Mohammedan Power which has ruled it for four centuries, there can be no difference of opinion between all parties in this country and in Europe, that the gradual progress of the indigenous Christian population toward civilization and independent government is the interest of the world, and that these races of men ought never to be suffered to fall under the yoke of Russia, and to swell her gigantic dominions. On that point we confidently hope, that the resistance offered to these pretensions of Russia would be not only that of Turkey, but of all Europe; and this spirit of annexation and aggrandizement needs but to display itself in its true shape to excite universal antipathy and an - insurmountable opposition, in which the Greek and Sclavonian subjects of Turkey are themselves prepared to take a great part."[c]

How did it happen, that the poor Times believed in the "good faith" of Russia toward Turkey, and her "antipathy" against all aggrandizement? The good will of Russia toward Turkey! Peter I proposed to raise himself on the ruins of Turkey. Catherine persuaded Austria, and called upon France to participate in the proposed dismemberment of Turkey, and the establishment of a Greek Empire at Constantinople, under her grandson[d], who had been educated and even named with a view to this result. Nicholas, more moderate, only demands the exclusive Protectorate of Turkey. Mankind will not forget that Russia was the protector of Poland, the protector of the Crimea, the protector of Courland, the protector of Georgia, Mingrelia, the Circassian and Caucasian tribes. And now Russia, the protector of Turkey! As to Russia's antipathy against aggrandizement, I allege the following facts from a mass of the acquisitions of Russia since Peter the Great.

The Russian frontier has advanced.

Toward Berlin, Dresden and Vienna about700miles
Toward Constantinople500miles
Toward Stockholm630miles
Toward Teheran1,000miles

Russia's acquisitions from Sweden are greater than what remains of that Kingdom; from Poland nearly equal to the Austrian Empire, from Turkey in Europe, greater than Prussia (exclusive of the Rhenish Provinces); from Turkey in Asia, as large as the whole dominion of Germany proper; from Persia equal to England; from Tartary to an extent as large as European Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain, taken together. The total acquisitions of Russia during the last 60 years are equal in extent and importance to the whole Empire she had in Europe before that time.

Written on May 31, 1853
Reproduced from the newspaper
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3794, June 14, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] The Morning Herald, No. 22168. May 26, 1853.—Ed.

[b] The square in London where The Times had its main offices.—Ed.

[c] The Times, No. 21440, May 28, 1853.—Ed.

[d] Constantine.—Ed.

[97] This article was published in The Eastern Question under the title "The English and French Fleets.—The Times.—Russian Aggrandizement".

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12 (pp.112-114), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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