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The Turkish Manifesto.
France's Economic Position.[299]

Karl Marx

London, Tuesday, October 18, 1853

The Turkish manifesto addressed on the 4th of October to the four Great Powers as a justification of the Sultan's[a] declaration of war against the Czar[b], is, in every respect, superior to the huge mass of state papers, which Europe has been inundated with since May, 1853.

The Sultan, it states, has given no motive for quarrel. There remained not even a pretext for it, after the question of the Holy Shrines had been settled. On the part of Russia all treaties were infringed; on the part of Turkey all means of conciliation exhausted. According to the Powers themselves, the Sultan was not to subscribe to Prince Menchikoff's note. How, then, could he be expected to adopt the Vienna note, which, as a whole, was not different from that of Prince Menchikoff's? The explanatory epistle of the Vienna conference could not change the condition of affairs. The clear and precise paragraph of the treaty of Kainardji being misconstrued by Russia, what would not be the risk of "placing in her hands vague and obscure paragraphs affording her a solid pretext for her pretentions to a religious Protectorate?" Moreover, the modifications proposed by the Sultan have been fully justified by the subsequent explanations published by Nesselrode. The occupation of the Principalities had, at first sight, constituted a casus belli, and the Porte is now decided to proclaim it a casus belli. Prince Gorchakoff has, accordingly, been summoned to evacuate the Danubian provinces. If fifteen days after the arrival of that notification he should answer in the negative, Omer Pasha is to commence hostilities, the Russian agents are to quit the Ottoman states, and the commercial relations of the two countries to be broken off. No embargo, however, will be laid upon Russian merchant vessels, but they will receive orders to leave the Turkish ports. The straits will remain open to the mercantile navy of friendly Powers.

Such is the substance of the Sultan's manifesto.

The Turkish ultimatum was intimated to Prince Gorchakoff on the 9th inst. Accordingly, the term for evacuating the Principalities expires on the 25th inst. The threat, however, of commencing hostilities cannot be understood in a literal sense, as Omer Pasha is certain not to abandon his strong positions, with a view to attacking the Russians.

In The Morning Herald of yesterday you will find confirmed my observations on the westward movement of the Russian army, and the secret understanding with Austria which this movement indicates.[c]

Russia, true to the old Asiatic system of cheating and petty tricks, now plays upon the credulity of the Western World by spreading the rumor that the Czar had "just sent a courier in all haste to Vienna to declare that he accepted freely and completely the whole of the conditions proposed by the mediating powers," when, unfortunately, "he became informed of the declaration of war on the side of the Porte." Then, of course, the God of the Russians retracted at once all the concessions he had ever made, and exclaimed that "nothing remained but war, and war to the knife," (guerre à l'outrance). Thus the Czar, it appears, has been forced into war by the Sultan.

Mr. de Bruck, the Austrian Internuncio, is said to have interrogated the Porte whether it intended to appeal to the political refugees in order to form a foreign legion. Reshid Pasha replied that, notwithstanding the propositions incessantly made to the Porte, he had not yet come to any decision; but that in the case of Turkey being abandoned by her allies, she would believe herself perfectly justified in making use of all means for her proper defense, and in employing the services of the political refugees disseminated throughout the several countries of Europe.

We read in the Constitutionnel[d]:

"We have reason to believe that there has arrived at this moment at Paris and London an official demand for the succor of France and England on the part of the Sublime Porte."

You will read in the newspapers that the Emperor of Austria[e] has reduced his army by about 100,000 men. The truth is that this number have been dismissed on furlough, but are revocable at any moment. The financial pressure on the one side, and the hope of thus catching the money-lenders on the other, have induced the Vienna Cabinet to take this step.

The following extract from a London commercial circular, concerning the corn trade of France, will, I suppose, be read with interest:

"From a very extensive correspondence [...] taking every possible trouble to ascertain the real state of the case, we believe the crop of wheat in France to be on an average fully one-third short, varying according to locality, the greatest deficiency being in the south. It is true that journals under the influence of the Government have endeavored to persuade the public that such is not the case, but the very acts of the Government are a sufficient contradiction to such assertions. It first relaxed the Navigation Laws in favor of this country; it then repealed them altogether; next it anticipated the reduction of the duty, which the sliding-scale would of itself have secured, by fixing it at the minimum (without reference to the sections into which France is divided at various rates of duty) and opened the ports to foreign vessels free of tonnage dues. Since then it has opened all the rivers and canals free to corn vessels, and invited the railways to carry the food at reduced rates; it has opened Algeria free; and allowed it to ship to France by any tonnage; it has prohibited the export of potatoes and vegetables, and has not hesitated to interfere arbitrarily in many markets between buyers and sellers. Surely all this confirms a short crop, or are very unnecessary precautions. The trade in France has, however, been in a state of suspense for some time: not that the merchants throughout the kingdom have any doubt as to the result of the harvest, but the false step which the Government adopted with regard to fixing the price of bread has so perplexed them that they have been. afraid to act, and it is notorious that as soon as the decree was issued, telegraphs were sent off in all directions, cancel-ling the orders given for corn; and it is impossible to estimate the ultimate consequence this measure may have upon prices. The average production of wheat in France is estimated at 80 millions of hectolitres (about 28 millions qrs.), the highest production during the last 25 years having been 97 millions in 1847, and the lowest 52 millions in 1830. The growth of wheat has increased very much of late years, much faster in proportion than the population; and the fact that stocks are completely exhausted at the present time, shows that the population have been much better fed and in a more prosperous condition than they used to be.

"The following table will show the progress of the population and production during the last 25 years:

YearPopulationAverage production of
Wheat in five years.
183132,569,223from 1827 to 183157,821,336
183633,540,910from 1832 to 183668,684,919
184134,240,178from 1837 to 184171,512,258
184635,400,486from 1842 to 184672,015,564
185135,781,821from 1847 to 185186,121,123

"The increase of consumption, in proportion to the increase of population, will cause the effect of a bad harvest to be more severely felt, as there are no old stocks left to fall back upon, and of course no stocks of foreign grain in warehouse."[f]

The sinister intentions of the governing classes of England, with regard to Turkey, may be inferred from the sermons of Messrs. Bright and Cobden at Edinburgh, from the Gladstone speeches at Manchester, and from the hint thrown out by several papers, that, in the case of a Russo-Turkish war, Lord Aberdeen will be replaced by Lord Palmerston, the chivalrous antagonist of Russia.

Jail Inquiries are now a constant feature in the reports of the press. From what has been disclosed it appears that prison discipline in Birmingham consists of collars and mural torture; in Leicestershire of cranks[300], and in Hampshire of the less artificial method of starvation. And "you call this a free country!"

I stated, in a former letter, that the so-called peace concluded with Burma, was but an armistice, and that the new acquisitions would prove an endless source of new troubles to the British conquerors[g]. The last overland mail informs us, indeed, that the war party in Burma is increasing in strength; that the new territories are literally overrun by large bands of robbers, instigated by the Government of Ava and requiring a considerable increase of military force at Prome, and that

"the British troops are sick and disgusted, healthy sites for barracks having not yet been discovered."[h]

The shameful neglect of all means of irrigation on the part of the Indo-British rulers, is again producing, in the district of Patna, its regular quota of cholera and famine, consequent on the long continued drouth.

From a return just issued I abstract the following statistics of wrecks of British and foreign vessels on the coasts of the United Kingdom[i]:

by leaks
or collisions
Total sum
of wrecks
1852 ---about
Sum total of wrecks during the 3 years2,482
And of lives lost2,434

Written on October 18, 1853
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3912, October 31, 1853;
reprinted in the New-York Semi-weekly Tribune, No. 880, November 1,
and the New-York Weekly Tribune, No. 634, November 5, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] Abdul Mejid.—Ed.

[b] Nicholas I.—Ed.

[c] See this volume, pp. 339-40.—Ed.

[d] Of October 15, 1853.—Ed.

[e] Francis Joseph I.—Ed.

[f] Quoted from The Economist, No. 529, October 15, 1853.—Ed.

[g] See this volume, pp. 201-02 and 282-83.—Ed.

[h] The Times, No. 21560, October 15, 1853.—Ed.

[i] "Wreck Chart of the British Isles" (a fourth report) issued by the Department of the Admiralty.—Ed.

[299] The first section of this article was published under the title The Turkish Manifesto" in The Eastern Question.

[300] Crank—a revolving disc which criminals sentenced to hard labour are required to turn a certain number of times each day.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12 (pp.416-420), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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