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Sunday Observance and The Publicans.—

Karl Marx

London, January 19.

In The Morning Advertiser, a lively discussion is taking place at this moment as to whether the accusation of "stupidity" levelled against the Coalition Ministry is just. From his point of view which presupposes a secret agreement of the Ministry with Russia, Urquhart has successfully defended the Ministry against the accusation of incompetence.

The Morning Advertiser is a peculiar phenomenon of the London press. Owned by the "Society of Licensed Victuallers", founded for charitable purposes, namely for the support of orphans, veterans and bankrupt members of the trade, it unquestionably enjoys the widest circulation among London dailies, after The Times. This is certainly not because of its editorial board, which is directed by a certain Grant, formerly a shorthand writer. This Grant married the daughter of Homer, the most influential man in the Society of Licensed Victuallers, that is the great Homer, as the united publicans call him, and the great Homer has made his little son-in-law chief editor of The Morning Advertiser. Since the Society had it in its power to push the Advertiser into every pub and even into most parlours[a], the material foundations for the prosperity of the paper were laid. However, it owes its influence to the fact that it is not edited, but rather offers a forum where any member of the public may join in the discussion. Not admitted to the meetings of "respectable" London journalists because it is considered inferior, it takes its revenge on the fraternity by opening its columns, not only to the general public, but from time to time also to important writers who have not sold themselves to any party.

It is but a short step from The Morning Advertiser to beer and the latest Beer Acts of Mr. Wilson-Patten. This latest ecclesiastical coup d'état has caused much mirth and has proved that Shakespearean prototypes, etc., still flourish in the second half of the nineteenth century. The serious aspect, though, is the surprise of the masses at the presumption of the Church in meddling in an interfering and regulating manner in the lives of the citizens. The masses have become alienated from the Church to such a degree that its attempted encroachments are looked upon merely as practical jokes[b] which are rebuffed when they become tedious. Last night at Nottingham the ecclesiastical party, unaware of its position, had the effrontery to hold a public meeting during which it proposed that Parliament be petitioned for the closing of all public houses, not only during the times of day recently laid down by Wilson-Patten, but during the whole of Sunday. There was a huge audience of workers, and after a stormy session the following amendment was proposed by a factory worker, called Halton, and passed by a large majority

"that Parliament be petitioned to close all churches and chapels on Sundays."

We are assured that shortly after the opening of Parliament, Lord Lyndhurst, in the House of Lords, is going to summarise all the points of accusation against the Ministry. Everyone knows that during the session of 1853/54 the Marquess of Clanricarde was the would-be leader of the anti-Russian opposition among the Peers. Of course, the letters which he and his son, Lord Dunkellin, sent to Tsar Nicholas[c] on the occasion of Lord Dunkellin's release from Russian imprisonment make it impossible for him to play this role any longer. With reference to Dunkellin's letter, the well-known humorist, Douglas Jerrold, remarks in Lloyd's Paper:

According to Lord Dunkellin, "Nicholas is 'a really great man;' for this tremendous reason—he liberated Lord Dunkellin! 'Great let me call him, for he conquered me!' Says the giantess of Tom Thumb; but here it is the dwarf that glorifies the ogre!"[d]

Anyone who has studied the Blue Books[e] published in 1841 on Turko-Egyptian affairs[f], and has gathered from their contents what position the Marquess of Clanricarde was accorded when British Ambassador at the Court of St. Petersburg, will also have realised that the Marquess' anti-Russian tirades in the House of Lords belonged exclusively to the category of opposition which every true Whig practises as a matter of principle whenever God does not give him an office.

Written on January 19, 1855
First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 35, January 22, 1855
Published in English for the first time in MECW
Printed according to the news paper


[a] Marx used the English word.—Ed.

[b] Marx used the English words.—Ed.

[c] Clanricarde's letter to the Russian War Minister, Prince Dolgorukov, of November 18, 1854; and Dunkellin's letter to the Kaluga Governor, Count Tolstoi , of November 10, 1854. The Times, No. 21946, January 9, 1855.—Ed.

[d] Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, No. 634, January 14, 1855.—Ed.

[e] Marx used the English title.—Ed.

[f] Correspondence, 1839-41, relative to the Affairs of the East, and the Conflict between Egypt and Turkey, 4 parts.—Ed.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 13 (pp.590-592), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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