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The Bombardment of Odessa
Proclamation of Prince Daniel of Montenegro
Manteuffel's Speech[124]

Karl Marx

London, Tuesday, May 2, 1854

The bombardment of Odessa, so many times performed by a boastful imagination, has at length been realized. But the telegraphic dispatches hitherto received are too meager and deficient in detail to deserve a commentary. According to the most trustworthy news, the bombardment began on the 22d, was suspended on the 23d (a summons to surrender being sent to the Governor of the place[125]), and recommenced on the 24th April. On one side, it is affirmed that a great portion of the town was laid in ruins; on the other, that only the forts were destroyed by 'rockets and shells. In some quarters it is even asserted that the bombardment had remained without any effect whatever. Several dispatches announce the destruction of eight Russian vessels—merchant vessels, of course, as there were no Russian men-of-war at Odessa. The latest dispatch—dated Odessa, 26th April—states that the whole of the combined fleet had taken its departure on that morning.[a]

In order to prepare the public mind for this event, the French Government had just published in the Moniteur an extract from Admiral Hamelin's latest report to the Minister of the Marine[b], in which he states:

"The English steam-frigate Furious had gone on the 6th of April to Odessa, in order to claim and take on board the Consuls and such French and English subjects as might wish to quit that town on the approach of hostilities ... that, in spite of the flag of truce which she had hoisted, and which her landing-boat also bore, the Russian batteries treacherously fired seven shots upon this boat a few moments after it had left the pier. ...Admiral Dundas and himself were deliberating on the measures of retribution required by such a barbarous proceeding."[c]

The Russians give a different version of the affair. They allege that the sending of a flag of truce was only a pretext for examining their works of defense. The fact of the ship Retribution, having entered the port of Sevastopol, some time ago, under pretext of remitting dispatches, but with the real object of making drawings of the interior batteries, had highly irritated the Czar the more so, as the noise made about this achievement by the English press had confirmed this supposition. Orders had consequently been given to the effect that in future all vessels presenting themselves before a Russian port should be received with cannon-shots. The Indépendance beige publishes a letter illustrating these circumstances, apparently by a Russian officer at Odessa, but probably having no other author than M. de Kisseleff himself.

"On the 27th of March (8th of April) at 6 o'clock a.m., the Furious, a steamer of the English royal fleet, approached the pier of the quarantine-port of Odessa without hoisting the flag of truce. Although the captain of the port had orders to fire a rocket over any English man-of-war, he resolved nevertheless to abstain from executing his orders at once, admitting that the steamer might not yet be aware of the English declaration of war. The Furious cast anchor, lowered her boat, and sent it on shore with a flag of truce. The captain of the port immediately dispatched his aide-de-camp to meet the officer of the boat. This officer declared that he came with the mission to fetch the Consuls of France and England. He was answered that these gentlemen had quitted Odessa a long time since, and was consequently invited to remove instantly; whereupon the boat was taken on board the pyroscaphe, the flag of truce being removed. But instead of weighing anchor, the officers of the steamer set about taking drawings of the batteries. It was then that, in order to prevent the Furious from doing this, blind shots were fired over her. The Furious taking no notice of them, a ball was sent into one of her wheels. The Furious immediately withdrew."[d]

It is certainly ridiculous that the English and French fleets had to wait to be furnished with "reasons" by the Russians before entering upon the hostilities now directed against a Russian port, and not then even to take it but merely to launch a few broadsides into it.

About the same time when the Furious was dispatched on her mission, the letters received from Odessa at Constantinople affirmed that the Russian Government had seized all grain in bond, without any respect for the private property of foreign merchants. The quantity confiscated amounted to 800,000 chetverts[e][126]. Besides, the Russian Government had enjoined the foreign merchants to supply 150,000 sacks and 15,000 waggons for transporting to the interior the confiscated grain. All reclamations were met by the Governor[f] with the declaration that the policy of the western powers reduced the Russian Government to such extremities, and that in seizing their property they only saved it from the plunder of an exasperated population. On the reclamations of the neutral consuls remaining at Odessa, the Governor at last consented not to pay for the seized goods but to issue simple receipts to the owners.

The following is an extract from a Stockholm paper:

"The whole town swarms with fugitives from Finland; many, too, come from Aland," (which seems to be still occupied by the Russians,) "in order to escape the Russian press-gangs. The Russian fleet is in great want of seamen, and the authorities lay violent hands on young and old. In the dead of the night fathers of families are hurried off without a moment's grace, and the result is that whole households fly to Sweden, with bag and baggage, in order to escape from such tyranny."[g]

The Journal de St.-Pétersbourg of the 23d ult. contains a proclamation from the Czar to his subjects, representing the war against the Occidental powers as a war of the orthodox church against the heretics, and aiming at the liberation of its suppressed brethren in the Ottoman Empire.[h]

The Paris Presse of to-day has the following article:

"One of our correspondents at Constantinople has sent us important details on the Russian complot which was discovered some time ago, and the inquiry into which has just terminated. This inquiry clearly proves that Russia has long been preparing the crisis which was to carry off the sick man under the very hands of his physicians. The inquiry proves that Baron Oelsner had feigned to place himself at the service of the Turkish Police in order the better to deceive his surveillants. He was in the receipt of 1,000 piasters per month. Notwithstanding his astuteness, his double game was detected in the following manner: He had entered into relations with Mr. Aska, a physician in the Turkish service, and believing that he could trust him, he avowed to him that, although paid by the Turkish Police, he had never ceased to serve Russia. According to Mr. Oelsner, Russia proposed to recruit among the Greeks and the Slays in Turkey an army of 60,000 conspirators ready to rise at a given signal. The decisive blow was to be struck at Constantinople. The chief of the complot in that city was an Englishman, a certain Plantagenet Harrison. Mr. Aska feigned to enter into the views of Oelsner, and gave a hint to the Turkish Police. The police, having suspected Oelsner for a considerable time, caused him to be watched with increased care, and discovered that he was in the habit of sending regular reports to Prince Gorchakoff. Finally they succeeded in intercepting one of these reports. Oelsner, though very cautious on the whole, had the unlucky idea of showing the above report to Mr. Aska, who immediately informed Mr. Palamari, the secret agent of the Turkish Police, and contrived to give it in his presence to Radschiskz, an Austrian Slavonian who was in communication with Oelsner and his accomplices. The letter was seized upon this individual and forms one of the pieces of conviction. It was also averred that Oelsner had established a concert with Constantinos, captain of a Greek merchant ship, and that they had arranged for the affiliation of forty other captains of Greek ships who, at a given day, were to arrive at Constantinople, provided with ammunition and furnishing the materials for raising in rebellion the Greek population of the metropolis. Constantinos was in permanent relation not only with Oelsner, but also with Mr. Metaxas, the Greek Embassador at the Porte. Bodinaroff, a Russian Colonel, afforded the means of communication between Oelsner and Prince Gorchakoff."[127]

There has appeared in the Augsburger Zeitung a series of articles extremely hostile toward Russia, which have created a great sensation in Germany, as that journal was, until now, the most ardent partisan of Russian interests, and is known, at the same time, to receive its inspirations from the Austrian Cabinet. Austria is represented in these articles as released from her obligations toward Russia, in consequence of the revelations contained in the confidential correspondence of Sir H. Seymour. In one of these articles it is said:

"When the proceedings of Russia rendered it necessary to make representations at St. Petersburg, they were received in so peremptory a manner, and the Vienna Cabinet was treated so unceremoniously, that every new dispatch from Constantinople evoked painful presentiments. This want of respect, of consideration, engaged Count Mensdorff to ask for the command of a brigade, in order to be relieved from his post at St. Petersburg, although personally he had no cause for complaints."

Consequently he was replaced by Count Esterházy. In another article there occurs this passage:

"When the Emperor of Russia came to Olmütz[128], his conduct toward Count Buol-Schauenstein was so improper, not to say offending, that it was remarked by everybody, and that Nesselrode and Meyendorf were embarrassed by it."

Let me remind your readers that it is a habit of Nesselrode to provoke such arrogant behavior of his august master in order to deplore it afterward.

"The young Emperor[i], witnessing these proceedings against his minister, has not forgot[ten] them. The letters of Sir H. Seymour could only accelerate the fixed resolution of His Majesty"

to oppose the encroachments of Russia upon Austria herself.

"During his stay at Vienna, Count Orloff refused to engage himself, in the name of his sovereign, to respect under all circumstances the integrity of the Ottoman Empire."[j]

The Constantinople correspondent of The Times lays a special accent upon the statement that the Greek insurrection would infallibly lead to a revolution in Greece, that is, a struggle between the national party and the partisans of Russia. On the other hand, it appears that the cruelties of the Pasha's bayonets in Bulgaria are disposing the population in favor of Russia. Let me illustrate by a few facts the position of Greece toward the Occidental powers. We read in the Nouvelliste de Marseille, dated Constantinople, April 17:

"The European residents at Athens have to undergo all sorts of insults. They are even assailed with sticks, no obstacle being opposed by the Greek gendarmerie. On the 15th ult. Mr. Gaspari, a member of the French Embassy, and the son of an old French Consul at Athens, received blows and was knocked down in the presence of three gendarmes, who remained indifferent witnesses of this scene. On the same day other Frenchmen received warnings that a list of ninety-six Franchi destined for 'chastisement' had been drawn up. In consequence of these excesses a collective note of the French and English Representatives[k] was addressed to the Government of King Otto, informing him that any violence committed against the persons of French and English residents would immediately give occasion for an indemnity of 25,000 drachmas. On the 12th of April a new ultimatum was transmitted to the Greek Government, in which a delay of only five days was given, expiring on the 17th. This ultimatum calls upon King Otto to redress the wrongs suffered by the French, to pronounce in a categorical manner against the insurrection, and to retrieve the evils done and permitted. No satisfactory answer was expected on the part of the King. In case of a negative answer, the Embassadors had resolved to break off completely all relations with the Government, and at the same time to constitute themselves, in the collective name of France and England, as the Administrators of Greece, according to the provisions of the protocol establishing that kingdom."[129]

The Greek Government has addressed circulars to its foreign agents, in apology of its conduct during its recent quarrel with the Porte, the latest measures of which, against Greek subjects, says Mr. Paikos, arise from the resentment of Turkey at having no longer the privilege of considering Greece as a Turkish province, and which form merely the keystone of twenty years' intrigues against Greece, with the insurrections in Thessaly and Epirus as pretexts.

The Wiener Presse[l]of 28th April publishes the following proclamation of Prince Daniel[m] to the Montenegrin chiefs:

"I wish that you, too, Czernogoras (Montenegrins), now as before prove yourselves as heroic as the Greeks and other nations, after the example of our victorious ancestors who bequeathed us the liberty of which we are so proud in the eyes of the world. It is, therefore, that I desire to address the soldiers who have already entered their service, in order that I may know whether I can depend upon them, and I order the chiefs to assemble each his tribe. Each soldier is to declare spontaneously whether he is ready to march with me against the Turk, the common enemy of our faith and of our land. You, Captain, are to receive every volunteer, and report to me at Cettinie. But I conjure all those who are not ready to brave death, to stay at home. Whoever wishes to march with me must forget his wife and his children, and all he loves in this world. I tell you, my brave people, and you, my brethren, that whoever desires not to die with me, need not stir; because I know that whoever marches with me into war is worth more than fifty cowards. Thus I invite all gallant men whose hearts are not cold, and who do not hesitate to spill their blood for their country, the orthodox church and the holy cross, to share with me in the glory and the honor. We are, indeed, the sons of the old Montenegrins who vanquished three Turkish viziers, defeated French troops, and stormed the fortresses of the Sultan. Let us not betray our fatherland, nor disown the glory of our ancient friends, and let us meet to fight, in the holy name of God.

Cettinie, March 16, 1854"

We read in the Agramer Zeitung that in consequence of this appeal to the pious freebooters of Montenegro, the chiefs called together, in each of the Montenegrin clans, the young warriors and communicated this proclamation, when 4,000 men swore, at the altar, to conquer or die under the flag "For Faith and Fatherland." It is impossible not to recognize the interesting affinity of this movement with the phrases and hopes of the Prussian war of independence, whose memory is so faithfully kept up by Gen. Dohna at Königsberg, and the Prussian Treubund[130] generally. The attack of the Montenegrins against Herzegovina, by way of Nixitshy, will be commanded by Prince Daniel himself. The attack in the south (toward Albania), by way of Zabliak, will be led by the Woywode George Petrović.

"The mountaineers," says the Agramer Zeitung, "are well provided with ammunition, and each of the two corps will have twelve three-and-a-half-pounders at their disposal."[n]

The signal for opening the hostilities will be given by Col. Kovalevsky, who receives his instructions direct from St. Petersburg.

Herr von Manteuffel, having got his $30,000,000[o], has sent the Chambers home with a speech from which I extract the following eminently characteristic passage:

"Gentlemen: By granting the credit you have given the Government the means to proceed on the way it has hitherto pursued, in entire union (in voller Einigkeit) with Austria and the whole of Germany, and in concert with the other great powers, and to preserve to Prussia the position due to her in the solution of the great European question of the day."[p]

Let me observe, that [in] the telegraphic report of this speech, given by the English papers, the "concert with all the other great powers" was falsely translated into a "concert with the Occidental powers". Prussia has chosen a higher aim. She wants, in concert with both parties apparently at war, to arrange measures of peace with whom?

Herr von Manteuffel, on the same day on which he dismissed the Chambers, had the good fortune to deliver a second speech, in a réunion of his party, a speech far more precise and eloquent than the above official slang. That speech is the most eminently Prussian production of modern times. It is, as it were, Prussian statesmanship in nuce[q]:

"Gentlemen," said he, "there is a word which has been much abused —this word bears the name of liberty. I do not disown the word, but my motto is another one; my motto is the word service. (Dienst.) Gentlemen, all of us who meet here have the duty to serve God and the King, and it is my pride that I am able to serve that King. That word service holds together the Prussian State, scattered as it lies throughout German lands (in deutschen Gauen). This word must unite us all in the different situations we hold. The word service to the King is my standard, it is the banner of all those who have met here, and in this lies the salvation of these times. Gentlemen, the service of the King shall live."

Manteuffel is right: there is no other Prussia than that which lives upon service of the King.

Written on May 2 and 3, 1854
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 4080, May 16;
Reprinted in the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 937, May 19
and the New-York Weekly Tribune, No. 662, May 20, 1854
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] Telegraphic dispatch from Odessa of April 26. The Times, No. 21731, May 3, 1854.—Ed.

[b] Theodore Ducos.—Ed.

[c] Hamelin's report to the Minister of the Marine of April 10, 1854. Le Moniteur universel, No. 120, April 30, 1854.—Ed.

[d] L'Indépendance beige, No. 121, May 1, 1854.—Ed.

[e] An old Russian measure of liquid and dry substances. It equals 2.099 hectolitres.—Ed.

[f] N. N. Annenkov.—Ed.

[g] The name of the newspaper has not been established. Marx quotes from the item "Sweden" in The Times, No. 21723, April 24, 1854.—Ed.

[h] Marx took the report about the manifesto of April 23 (11), 1854 from the telegraphic dispatch "Turkey and Russia" in The Times, No. 21731, May 3, 1854.—Ed.

[i] Francis Joseph I.—Ed.

[j] Marx gives the material published in the Augsburger Zeitung according to The Times, No. 21731, May 3, 1854, except for the last sentence which is taken from Le Moniteur universel, No. 122, May 2, 1854.—Ed.

[k] Rouen and Wyse.—Ed.

[l] Die Presse.—Ed.

[m] Danilo I Petrović Njegoš.—Ed.

[n] Marx quotes the Agramer Zeitung according to The Times, No. 21731, May 3, 1854.—Ed.

[o] See this volume, p. 168.—Ed.

[p] Manteuffel's speech at a sitting of the two Chambers of the Prussian Diet on April 29, 1854.—Ed.

[q] In a nutshell.—Ed.

[124] This article was entered in the Notebook as "2. Mai. Dienstag. Militaria". It was sent from Liverpool on May 3 by the steamer Atlantic. Before mailing it to Liverpool in the morning of May 3, Marx added information from the morning issue of The Times for May 3. It was included by Eleanor Marx in The Eastern Question abridged under the title "Bombardment of Odessa.—Austria and Russia.—The Greek Insurrection.— Montenegro.— Manteuffel".

[125] During the events described here the acting Governor-General of Novorossia and Bessarabia, P. I. Fyodorov, left for the Caucasus (in March), and N. N. Annenkov, appointed to replace him, arrived in Odessa only on the night of April 9 (21), 1854. During that time the defence of Odessa was led by D. Y. Osten-Sacken.

[126] Probably Marx drew this information from a number of papers, in particular The Times of April 26, 1854, which published all sorts of rumours about the Russian Government buying back grain from foreign merchants in Odessa.

[127] The editors of this edition are not in possession of this issue of La Presse. The passage quoted by Marx was obviously published in the newspaper on May 2, for Marx wrote to Engels on May 3: "Metaxas, who was Greek Ambassador in Constantinople where he engaged in plotting—the Paris Presse published a pretty account of this Russo-Greek Bangyanade—was the principal tool of the infamous Capodistria" (see present edition, Vol. 39). Probably Marx read about this in L'Indépendance belge, No. 123, May 3, 1854.

[128] Representatives of Prussia and Austria and the Russian Ambassador to Vienna, Meyendorff, acting as a mediator, met in Olmütz on November 29, 1850. The meeting ended with the signing of an agreement by which Prussia consented to restore the German Confederation (see Note 8↓) and to give Austrian troop, passage to Hesse-Cassel and Holstein in order to suppress revolutionary movements there.

The Olmütz agreement was the last victory scored by Austrian diplomacy in the struggle against Prussia.

[129] The reference is to the decisions of the London Conference of 1827-32 (see Note 66↓). The material from the Nouvelliste de Marseille is given as published in L'Indépendance belge, No. 121, May 1, 1854.

[130] The reference is to the national liberation struggle of the German people against French domination which started after the defeat of Napoleon's army in Russia. The ruling circles and governing dynasties tried to use the popular struggle for consolidating the reactionary feudal system in Germany.

Treubund (the Union of the Loyal)—a Prussian monarchist society founded in Berlin at the end of 1848. Late in 1849 it split into ultra-royalists and constitutional monarchists.

[8] The German Confederation—a union of German states formed by the Vienna Congress (see Note 112↓) on June 8, 1815. It initially included 34 absolutist feudal states and 4 free cities. The Confederation sanctioned the political and economic dismemberment of Germany and hindered the country's development.

[66] In the spring of 1821 a national liberation movement started in Greece which ended after a long struggle in Greece winning independence. As a result of Russia's victory in the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-29, Turkey recognised Greece as an independent state. Forced by public pressure to give military aid to Greece, the ruling circles of the European powers imposed, however, a monarchist form of government on the country after its liberation. The final status of the Kingdom of Greece and its territory were determined by the protocols of March 22, 1829, February 3, 1830 and May 7, 1832 of the London Conference (1827-32). Greece included Morea, the Cyclades and the southern part of Greek mainland, between the mouths of the Spercheios and the Aspropotamo rivers.

[112] The reference is to a system of treaties concluded by the participants in the Vienna Congress of the European monarchs and their Ministers (September 1814-June 1815). It established the boundaries and status of the European states after the victory over Napoleonic France, sanctioned the reshaping of the political map of Europe and the restoration of the "legitimate" dynasties, overthrown as a result of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 13 (pp.173-180), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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