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In The House of Commons.
The Press on The Eastern Question.
The Czar's Manifesto.

Karl Marx

London, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 1853

London has ceased to be cabless. Cabby parted with his system of passive resistance on Saturday last. Meanwhile Parliament continues to break down its great act of the session, removing step by step every casus belli between Cabby and the House of Commons.

The India bill has passed on Friday through its last stage, after the Ministerial propositions for raising the Directors' and Chair-men's salaries had been rejected, and the latter reduced to £900 and £1,000 respectively. The Special Court of East India Proprietors which met on Friday last, offered a most lugubrious spectacle, the desponding cries and speeches clearly betraying the apprehensions of the worthy proprietors, that the Indian Empire might have been their property for the better time. One right honorable gentleman gave notice of his intention to move resolutions in the House of Commons rejecting the present bill, and on the part of the Proprietors and Directors declining to accept the part assigned to them by the Ministerial measure. A strike of the honorable East India Proprietors and Directors. Very striking, indeed! The Abolition of the Company's Salt-monopoly by the British House of Commons was the first step to bringing the finances of India under its direct management.

The Naval Coast-Volunteers' bill passed through Committee in yesterday's sitting. The object of this measure is to form a body of 10,000 men, to be trained during four weeks annually for the defense of the British Coasts. They are to receive a bounty of £6, as in the case of the militia. Their service is to be limited to five years in times of peace, and to six in time of danger. When called out, they will receive the pay of able seamen, with an additional two-pence per day during the last year. The men are not to be taken more than fifty leagues from the coasts in time of peace, and 100 in time of danger.

The Irish Landlords' and Tenants' bill[194] likewise passed through the third reading yesterday night. One important amendment in favor of the Tenants was added, viz.: the prohibition of Landlords to seize and sell the standing crops of a Tenant.

Mr. Cobden has published a pamphlet on the origin of the Burmese war.

So great are the fears of a deficient harvest in France, that the Government of Louis Bonaparte has treated with the Syndicate of the Paris bakers for a slight reduction in the prices of bread during the first half of August, notwithstanding the steady rise in flour at t he Halle aux blés[a]. The bakers are to be indemnified by a subsequent augmentation of prices.

"This," says The Economist, "is a conspiracy on the part of the French Government to ( heat the people into a belief that the crops are not short, when they are."[b]

Day after day the columns of the Press are inundated with conflicting dispatches on the Eastern affairs, manufactured in Vienna and Berlin, partly by Russian agents, in order to deceive the French and British public as to the operations of Russia, and partly on orders sent expressly from Paris, for stockjobbing purposes. A declaration contained in to-day's Morning Post would command consideration were it not that the Palmerstonian organ had quite abused such threats, which it only proffered one day in order to take them in again the day after.

"By the 10th of August the whole matter will be terminated peaceably, or the combined fleets will be commanded to proceed to the Bosphorus, or perhaps to the Black Sea. Active measures will succeed patient negotiation, and the dread of danger will no longer prevent the strong means which may ensure safety. [...] If the Czar accept the proposal now made, [...] the first condition will be the immediate evacuation of the [...] Principalities."

The Morning Post then asserts, that on the 24th ult. the representatives of England, France, Austria and Prussia[c] convened on the terms of an ultimatum immediately forwarded to St. Petersburg[195]. This assertion, however, is contradictory to the late declarations of Lord Clarendon and Lord John Russell, who spoke only of a joint note of France and England, and is altogether ignored by the French Press. Yet, be this as it may, it indicates at least, that the Palmerston party in the Cabinet has handed an ultimatum to the good Aberdeen, which the latter is to answer on the 10th of August.

As though we had not yet enough of conferences at Vienna and Constantinople, we learn from the National-Zeitung, that other conferences are now to sit at Berlin too. The Emperor of Russia, to provide these conferences with the required "stuff," has complacently declared, that, with all his willingness, to renounce the occupation of the Principalities as the material guaranty for his religious associations, he would now be obliged to hold them as a guaranty for the indemnification for his present expenses of occupying them. While Prince Gorchakoff announced in his proclamations that Russia pledged herself to abstain from all interference with the constituted authorities of the Principalities, the Czar issues a decree forbidding the Hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia[d] to pay any tribute to, or to hold any communication with, the Government of Turkey. In consequence of this notification the Hospodar of Wallachia informed the Russian Consul at Bucharest, that he had already sent his tribute money to the Sultan[e], to which the Consul replied: c'est de l'argent perdu[f], as the Hospodar would have to pay it again to Russia.

The Patrie of yesterday communicates the fact that three of the most influential Boyars of Moldavia had left Jassy for Petersburg, with the especial consent of the Hospodar, in order to remonstrate with the Czar on the conduct of the Russian soldiers, who, in violation of the solemn promise given to the Porte, treated the Danubian Provinces as a conquered country, and committed numberless extortions therein. The Russians can certainly not be accused of seeking to make propaganda by making themselves popular in the Principalities.

Russia continues its armaments with the same ostentation as before. The Hamburger Nachrichten publishes the following Imperial manifesto, dated Petersburg, 23d July:

"By the Grace of God, we, Nicholas I, by our manifesto of August 1st (13th), 1834, have ordered that every year levies shall take place in certain parts of our Empire: to-day we order:

1. For completing our forces, maritime as well as land, the tenth partial recrutement shall take place in the Eastern part of our Empire, at the rate of 7 men in every 1,000, the same as the recruitment which took place in 1852 in the Western portion of the Empire.

2. Besides, a levy of 3 in every 1,000 shall take place in the Eastern Provinces of our Empire as completing the proportion of 6 in every 1,000, of which only one half had been levied by the previous recruitment.

3. To the Districts of Pskov, Vitebsk, and Mogilev, which had been exempted in virtue of our manifesto of 31st Oct., 1845, and of 26th Sept., 1846, on account of the bad harvest, the recruitment for 1853 shall be proceeded with at the rate of 3 in every 1,000. With regard to the Jews in the Districts of Vitebsk and Mogilev, the recruitment among them shall take place the same as in the other Districts, at the rate of 10 in every 1,000.

4. The levy shall begin on 1st November and be completed on 1st December.

Given at St. Petersburg.           Nicholas I."

The manifesto is followed by two ukases, regulating the details of this new and extraordinary levy. Beside the above-mentioned districts, there shall take place, according to a second ukase, a recruitment among the odnodworzes[196] and inhabitants of towns in the districts of Kiev, Podolia, Volhynia, Minsk, Grodno, Wilno and Kovno.

The Hamburger correspondent reports as follows:

"The armaments in the interior of the Empire continue without interruption. The reserve battalions of the 4th infantry corps are being concentrated near Tula. We learn from an order of the day that the guards and grenadiers still occupy their positions in the camps near Krasnoe Selo, and near Pudost, not far from Gatchina. The field-maneuvers of these two corps, amounting to 100,000 men, continue."[g]

The Post Zeitung of Stockholm, of July 16, announces that the Emperor of Russia had given orders for the arming and fitting out of the Baltic fleet, composed of 20 vessels of the line, and of 15 frigates. The Kölnische Zeitung of 29th July, states:

"The return of the Danish-Swedish fleet before the term fixed for its evolutions has taken place, in consequence of an order received by the commander to immediately repair to the Baltic."[h]

Both the French journals and The Morning Chronicle, of to-day, contain a telegraphic dispatch from Vienna of the 3d of July, stating that America had offered the Porte money and active assistance.

The impression produced on the Continental mind, by the threatening attitude of Russia, combined with the threatening prospect of the harvests, is most significantly reflected in the following words of The Economist:

"The Czar has awakened into life and hope the revolutionary spirit of Europe, and we read of plots in Austria, plots in Italy, and plots in France; and there begins to be more alarm lest there should be fresh revolutionary disturbances, than that governments should go to war."[i]

A well informed Danish gentleman, who has very recently arrived here from fear of the cholera now raging in Copenhagen to such an extent that already 4,000 persons have been attacked with it, and that no less than 15,000 applications for passports to leave the Danish capital have been made, informs me that the Royal message concerning the succession was chiefly carried through the abstention from voting of a great number of Eydermen[197], who had hoped to avoid a crisis by their passive attitude. The crisis which they apprehended, however, has come upon them in the shape of the octroyed Constitution, and that Constitution is aimed especially against the "peasant's friends"[198] —party by whose support the Danish Crown has achieved its previous triumphs in the succession question. As I propose to recur to this subject in a special letter[j], I will merely observe here, that the Danish Government has laid before the United Diet (the Landsting and the Folketing together), the notes exchanged with the Great Powers on the subject of its propositions.

Of these documents the most interesting pieces are especially at this moment, the note of England and the note of Russia. The "silent" Clarendon not only approves of the Royal message, but distinctly hints to the Danish Government that it could not go on with the old Democratic Constitution, with Universal Suffrage, and with no House of Lords. The silent Clarendon therefore has taken the initiative, for the interests of Russia, to recommend and provoke the Danish coup d'état. The Russian note, addressed by Count Nesselrode to Baron Ungern-Sternberg, after having reviewed the articles of the Treaty of London, dated 8th of May, 1852[199], concludes as follows:

"The treaty of the 8th of May does not formally prescribe that the Lex Regia[200] should be canceled; because such a disposition would not have been opportune in a treaty concluded between independent States. It would have been contrary to diplomatic usage, and still more to the respect due to the sovereign dignity of the Danish crown. But the Powers in giving their assent to a retrocession destined to supplant the arrangements of the Lex Regia, where the necessity of employing it would occur, in promising their support, have naturally been obliged to leave to his Majesty the King of Denmark[k] the choice of the means adequate toward realizing the object by way of legislating. His Majesty, by making use of his Royal prerogative, has manifested his intention of establishing an order of succession, for all the States subject to his rule, by which, in case of the male descendants of Frederick III becoming extinct, all claims arising from Articles 27 and 40 of the Lex Regia should be excluded, and Prince Christian of Glücksburg called upon the throne with a view of securing the Danish crown to him and his male descendants by his marriage with Princess Louise of Hesse. Such are the stipulations of the Royal Message of October 4, 1852. They express the views which, at least on the part of the Imperial Government, have served as the foundation of the present negotiations. They form in the eyes of the Imperial Cabinet, a whole and cannot be retrenched; for, it appears to us that the abrogation of Articles 27 and 40 of the Lex Regia is a necessary consequence and a condition sine qua not only of the stipulations which called Prince Christian of Glücksburg and his descendants to the throne, but also of the principle established in the preambulum of the treaty; that a contingency by which the male descendants should be called to the succession of the throne, in the totality of the States now subjected to the sovereignty of Denmark, was the safest means for securing the integrity of that monarchy.... They declare in Article II of the treaty that they recognize in a permanent manner the principle of the integrity of the Danish monarchy.... They have promptly made known their intention of preventing, combinedly, the return of the complications which have signaled in so unfortunate a manner the course of the last year.... The extinction of the male line of Prince Christian of Glücksburg would revive, without contradiction, the eventual claims which His Majesty the Emperor has renounced[l] in favor of that Prince. The initiative, however, expressly reserved to the King of Denmark, as well as the cooperation of the three Great Powers, in the aforesaid contingencies, when they shall happen, offer henceforth a guarantee to the Danish patriots against the ambitious plans and designs existing nowhere except in their own imagination."

Thus Russia gives to understand, that the temporary suppression of the Lex Regia as agreed upon in the protocol of the 8th May must be interpreted as a permanent one, that the permanent resignation of the Emperor of Russia is only a temporary one, but that the Danish patriots may henceforth repose on the protection of their country's integrity by the European Powers. Do they not witness how the integrity of Turkey has been protected since the treaty of 1841?

Written on August 2, 1853
Reproduced from the newspaper
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3847, August 16, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] Corn market in Paris.—Ed.

[b] "The Corn Trade Under Protection", The Economist, No. '518, July 30, 1853.—Ed.

[c] J.Westmorland, F. Bourqueney, K. Buol-Schauenstein and H. Arnim.—Ed.

[d] G. Ghica and B. Stirbei.—Ed.

[e] Abdul Mejid.—Ed.

[f] This is lost money.—Ed.

[g] The Hamburger Nachrichten report and the Manifesto of Nicholas I are apparently quoted from Le Moniteur universel, No. 214, August 2, 1853.—Ed.

[h] A quotation from the correspondence from Berlin of July 29, published in the Kölnische Zeitung, July 31, 1853.—Ed.

[i] "The Eastern Question", The Economist, No. 518, July 30, 1853.—Ed.

[j] See this volume, pp. 241-42.—Ed.

[k] Frederick VII.—Ed.

[l] The New-York Daily Tribune has: "reassumed", which seems to be a misprint.—Ed.

[193] This article, entitled "The Press on Eastern Affairs.—Notes of England and Russia", was published in abridged form in The Eastern Question.

[194] A reference to the debate in the House of Commons (June 24, 1853) on the Bill on Irish landlords and tenants introduced by the Aberdeen Ministry.

[195] On July 24, 1853 a conference of the representative of Austria and the ambassadors of Britain, France and Prussia on mediation between Russia and Turkey was opened in Vienna. It drafted a conciliatory Note (the so-called Vienna Note) which laid down that Turkey observe the Kuchuk Kainarji and Adrianople treaties and respect the rights and privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church. The conference ruled that the Note be sent first to the Tsar and, in the event of his approval, to the Sultan.

Nicholas I approved the Note, but Abdul Mejid made his agreement to sign it conditional on the insertion of a number of amendments and reservations, which the Tsarist Government thought unacceptable.

[196] Odnodvortsi—a special group of state peasants in the Russian Empire formed from the lower ranks of the servicemen (sluzhiliye lyudi) who had originally performed the service of guarding the outlying areas of the State of Muscovy, where they settled in separate households and were soldiers and farmers at one and the same time.

[197] Eidermen or Eider Danes—the Danish liberal party of the middle of the nineteenth century whose members supported the union of Schleswig (up to the River Eider) with Denmark. The party favoured the separation of Denmark and Holstein, where the population consisted mainly of Germans; it shared the Danish bourgeoisie's fear of the competition of Holstein's industry. Therefore the Eider Danes opposed any Danish succession law which applied to all parts of the Kingdom of Denmark.

[198] A reference to a party which was founded in Denmark in 1846. It demanded the transfer of lands which peasants used as feudal tenants into their private ownership, and also the abolition of feudal obligations and the introduction of universal suffrage and other reforms in the interests of the wealthy peasants.

[199] A reference to the London Protocol of May 8, 1852 on the integrity of the Danish monarchy, signed by the representatives of Austria, Denmark, England, France, Prussia, Russia and Sweden. It was based on the Protocol adopted by the above-mentioned countries (except Prussia) at the London Conference on August 2, 1850, which supported the indivisibility of the lands belonging to the Danish Crown, including the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein. The 1852 Protocol mentioned the Russian Emperor (as a descendant of Duke Charles Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp who reigned in Russia as Peter III) among the lawful claimants to the Danish throne who had waived their rights in favour of Duke Christian of Glücksburg who was proclaimed successor to King Frederick VII.

[200] A reference to amendments to the Danish Constitution of June 5, 1849 to give more powers to the Crown, drafted in 1853. The new Constitution was promulgated on October 2, 1855.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12 (pp.233-238), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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