Karl Marx.

The Eastern question, a reprint of letters written 1853-1856 dealing with the events of the Crimean War online

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A Reprint of Letters written 1853-1856 dealing
with the events of the Crimean War



Edited by







vi Introduction

Wasliiiigton, has an interesting and special bearing upon
the leaders written by Marx :

" Tou see the Tribune lias again appropriated a leader ; this would
be right enough, because it attracts special attention, if only K. M.
were printed below it. I believe, too, that they would do this, if it
were not against their rules and habits. And, after all, it doesn't
harm you much either, for the careful reader can see that it wasn't
written by the editorial staff. . . .
" Washington.

" 23/24 October, 1853."

From personal knowledge we can statfe that many of
Marx' letters were used, and printed by the Tribune, as
leaders, although Marx had originally written them as
correspondence. Upon other occasions, he, of purpose, wrote
articles which were intended to be leaders, and in these he
naturally wrote in a somewhat different form from that
used in his signed correspondence. In several cases where
his correspondence has been turned into leaders, a few
words of addition and interpolation have been written in
by the American editors, to keep up journalistic appear-
ances. (See, for example, pp. 188, 190, 222, and especially
the end of p. 193.)

Apparently also, on more than one occasion, ideas or
actual passages from letters of Marx were used and written
round by the American journalists. This has made the
task of selection very difficult, and has certainly, in one
case at least, led to the inclusion (see 01.) of an article,
the major part of which could not have been written by

"Whilst there may be one or two authentic contributions
of his that have been missed, we have designedly left out
several of a purely technical military character. On the
other hand, we have included certain military articles
bearing very directly on the war. Most, if not all, of these
were either written by Engels, or grew out of letters from
him to Marx.

Marx on several occasions has stated, in writing, the fact
that he wrote leaders, as well as letters, for the Teibune, e.g.^

Introduction vii

in " Herr Yogt " (see Preface to Bevolution and' Counter-
Eevolution, p. ix.). And in a short biographical note, written
at his dictation, he says : " A regular collaborator on the
Tribune up to the beginning of the American Civil "War,
writing not only the English correspondence signed with
his name, but a mass of leading articles on the European
and Asiatic movement."

In one or two cases it would appear that part of his
letter was used as a leader, and the rest left in the letter
form. Hence, in these one or two cases, the reader will find
the leader and the letter bearing the same newspaper date.

The volume ends with four papers on the fall of Kars.
These, in substance, appeared in the New Yobk Tribune.
They appeared in the form in which they are now given,
in Ernest Jones' People's Paper, ' for which Marx en-
larged and revised them. And a summary of these four
Kars papers was made by their author for the Free
Press. This summary is not printed in the present volume.
These Kars articles produced at the time a very remarkable
sensation, and were the immediate cause of a vote of thanks
from the Sheffield Foreign Affairs Committee for the " great
public service rendtered by the admirable expose."

In the present reprint it has not been thought wise to
speak of chapters ; so that the letters or leaders are merely
numbered in succession. In most cases the letters con-
tained, besides passages dealing with the Eastern Question,
passages dealing with other matters. In the present
volume all the latter passages are omitted. As a conse-
quence some of the letters appear to be very short-. A
heading has been given to each of the CXIII. divisions of
the book. These headings correspond generally with the
headings in the New York Tribune, for which probably
the American editor was responsible.

All quotations have been printed in smaller type, and all
italics in them are those of Marx.

In the original letters there was necessarily a great deal
of quotation from newspapers and despatches. In almost
all cases precis have been made of these quotations, some of

viii Introduction

which, were of very great length. In the case of the Kars
articles, however, aU the very important extracts are given
in full. These ipHcis are printed within square brackets
and in italics, so as to distinguish them from actual quota-
tions. Italicised passages in the original are marked off in
the pricis by being printed in small capitals ; and wher-
ever, as often happened, Marx has interpolated comments
of his own in the quotations, those comments are printed
within secondary brackets.

Except in cases where obvious misprints have occurred
(it must be remembered that Marx never saw the proofs of
his American contributions), no corrections or alterations
have been made.

One great difficulty has been the spelling of the names
of people and places. In this we have followed the best
authorities ; there are one or two cases, however, of double

The volume contains two maps — one of the Balkan Penin-
sula at the time of the Crimean "War; the other of the
Balkan Peninsula at the present time.

In compiling the Index, in consequence of the very large
number of times that certain names recur, it has only been
found possible, in such cases, to give the page where the
name first occurs.

This volume wiU, we think, be found of especial use at
the present time. The ever-recurring Eastern Question
has entered upon another phase. During the last forty
years the conditions, geographical, historical, economic, of
Europe have changed vastly. Servia, Bulgaria, Eoumania,
e.g., have become independent States ; Alsace-Lorraine has
changed hands. The relations between the Great Powers
have undergone numberless modifications. Perhaps most
important of all, as a factor, has been the growth of Social
Democracy. "With this, the Continental nations at least
have to reckon. One thing, however, has remained con-
stant and persistent : the Russian Government's policy of
aggrandizement. The methods may vary — the policy
remains the same. To-day the Russian Government, which

Introduction ix

is no longer to-day wkolly synonymous "witli Russia, is,
as it was in the "fifties," tte greatest enemy of all ad-
vance, the greatest stronghold of reaction.

Great as these changes have been, nevertheless to under-
stand the present relations of the States of Europe to one
another and to the Eastern Question, it is necessary to have
a knowledge of those relations in the past. This volume,
therefore, is not only of interest and importance as a collec-
tion of historical writings, but as throwing a singular
light upon what is occurring to-day, and what may occur

Readers of the following papers will probably be especi-
ally struck with the immense mass of information contained
in them ; the remarkable historical acumen shown, and the
great power of piercing through the semblance of things to
the things themselves ; the accuracy with which, in almost
every case, events and consequences likely to follow have
been foretold. Of course, not all the prophecies have come
true, or have been realized in the precise form in which
they were made. But the accuracy of them in the main is
astonishing. "We are tempted to quote one case out of
a great number. That which is foretold in No. XCIII.,
of what would happen if Bonaparte went personally to the
war, did actually happen in 1871 when Bonaparte did go
personally to the Franco-German war.

Besides the treatment of the Eastern Question and the
War, the volume will be found to be of great personal
interest. There are many trenchant and plain-speaking
descriptions and analyses of prominent men of the time.
Among these figure Bonaparte and his riff-raff, especially
Marshal St. Arnaud ; Lord John Eussell (" the little earth-
man," as Marx calls him) ; the " good " Aberdeen ; the letter-
stealer. Sir James Graham ; the Napiers ; Gladstone (for
whom Marx had a particular loathing) ; the Russian diplo-
mats ; the " prolific father and obsequious husband," Prince

In all these sketches there comes out, not only Marx'
acuteness of observation, but his quite original humour.

X Introduction

/ His studies and merciless exposure of Palmerston, tliat
/ ougtt once for all to dispel the popular illusion that Palmer-
ston was an enemy of Russia, are of tlie greatest importance.
So many letters _and articles are devoted to the account
of this " tAarlatan," that exigencies of space have compelled
the omission of a whole series called " The Story of the Life
of Lord Palmerston." This series, with another on the
"Secret Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century,"
together with some more character sketches, will, it is
hoped, be published at an early date.

Our heartiest thanks are due to Mr. 0. D. Collett, and to
Mr. Seddon, of the Free Reference Library, Manchester, for
their help and kindness. And the exceedingly difficult task
of selecting, collating, analysing, the enormous mass of letters
and articles would have been almost impossible but for the
unvarjdng courtesy and ready assistance of the officials in
the Reading Room, the Large Room, and the Newspaper
Room of the British Museum. We are especially glad of
this opportunity of thanking the British Museum officers,
as it had been the intention of Marx, who read there for
^;;::Some thirty years, to make public acknowledgment of the
ready assistance always given, and especially of the in-
valuable services rendered to him in his work for so many
years by Dr. Richard Gamett.


Stn July, 1897.


Introduction ^

I. Turkey 1

n. The London Press — Policy of Napoleon on the

Turkish Question 10

III. The Real Issue in Turkey 14

IV. The Turkish Question 20

V. Turkey and Russia 27

VI. The Ultimatum and After 30

Vn. The English and French Fleets— 2%e Times—

Russian Aggrandizement . . . . • 33

Vni. The Russian Humbug 36

IX. Brunnow and Clarendon — Armenian Proclamation 40
X. Aberdeen, Clarendon, Brunnow — Connivance of

the Aberdeen Ministry with Russia . . 42

XI. Russian Policy against Turkey .... 48

XII. Austria and Russia 54

Xni. Layard — Gladstone — Aberdeen — Palmerston . .56-
XIV. The Russo-Turkish Difficulty— Ducking and Dodg-
ing of the British Cabinet — Nesselrode's

Latest Note 58

XV. The Russian Question — Curious Diplomatic Cor-
respondence ....... 64

XVI. Russia and the Western Powers .... 71

xii Contents

XVII. Traditional Policy of Eussia 76

XVni. Tte Press on Eastern Affairs— Notes of England

and Russia °2

XIX. Eussian Movements— Denmark — TTnited States

and Europe ° '

XX. To "Wittdraw or Not to Withdraw ... 92

..^. XXI. Urquliart— Bern— Tte Turkish Question in the

House of Lords ^^

XXII. The Turkish Question in the Commons . . .103

XXin. Affairs Continental and English . . • .118

XXrV. The Vienna Note 123

XXV. The Vienna Note {continued) 128

XXVI. The English Ministry Outwitted— Panic . . 184

~ XXVn. The "War Question 142

XXVni. The Turkish Manifesto 145

XXIX. The Northern Powers 148

XXX. War 150

XXXI. The Holy War 153

XXXn. Persia— Denmark 158

XXXIII. Diplomacy Again 161

XXXIV. The War on the Danube 163

XXXV. The Quadruple Convention— England and the War 171

XXXVI. The Eussian Victory — Position of England and

France 180

XXXVn. Private News from St. Petersburg . . . .183

XXXVni. Eussian Policy .186

XXXIX. Palmerston's Resignation 190

XL. Progress of the Turkish War 194

XLI. England and Russia 201

XLII. More Documents 211

XLHI. The European War 215

Contents xiii

XLIV. The War in Asia 222

XLV. Tlie Czar's Views — Prince Albert .... 228

XLVT. Cobden and Eussia 232

XLVn. War Finance 237

XL VIII. Blue Books — Ambassadors Withdrawing . . 240

XLIX. Russian Diplomacy — The Shrines — Montenegro . 245

L. Count Orloff's Proposals 253

LI. Debates in Parliament 256

Ln. Kossuth — Disraeli and Hume — United States —

France and England — Greece .... 261

LITE. France and England — The G-reek Eising — Asia . 271

LIV. The Eussian Eetreat 279

LV. The Documents on the Partition of Turkey . . 285

LVI. The Secret Diplomatic Correspondence . . . 298 -

LVII. War Declared — Mussulman and Christian . . 314

LVni. War with Eussia 324

LIX. Eussia and the German Powers .... 333

LX. Turkey and Greece — ^Italy 340

LXI. Austria and Servia — Greece and Turkey— Turkey

and the Western Powers 343

LXn. The Greek Insurrection — Alliance between Prussia

and Austria — Eussian Armaments . . . 346
LXni. Bombardment of Odessa— Austria and Russia —
The Greek Insurrection — Montenegro — Man-

teuffel 349

LXrV. Prussian Policy 355

LXV. The Exploits in the Baltic and Black Seas— Anglo-
French System of Operations .... 360

LXVI. Delay on the Danube 3g7

LXV 11. Speeches — St. Arnaud 372

LXVm. State of the Eussian War 379

xiv Contents

LXTX. Tte War— Debate in Parliament .... 387

LXX. The Russian Tailure 396

LXXI. Russia, Austria, Turkey, "WallacMa, and Redcliffe 400

LXXn. Austria 409

LXXTTT. Tlie Siege of Silistria 413

LXXIV. The Theatre of "War— The Russian Note to the

Grerman Powers — Servia and Austria . . 419
LXXV. The Private Conference at Vienna — Ministerial

Crisis 425

LXXVI. Another War Debate ...... 431

LXXV 11. The Austro-Turkish Treaty — ^More Parliamentary

Talk 437

LXXVin. That Bore of a War 448

LXXIX. The Russian Retreat — Denmark .... 454

LXXX. The Evacuation 457

LXXXI. Servia — ^England, France, and Constantinople . 462
LXXXn. The Capture of Bomarsund . . . . • . 465
LXXXTTT. The Condition of Wallachia — Revolution in

Turkey 467

LXXXrV. ThePleetoffatLast— Revolt of the Moldavians . 469

__ LXXXV. The Attack on Sebastopol 474

LXXXYI. The Decay of Religious Authority '. . . .482
LXXXVn. The Military Power of Russia .... 489

LXXXVm. The Siege of Sebastopol 492

LXXXTX. Progress of the War 498

XC. British Disaster in the Crimea — The British War

System 506

XCI. Russian Diplomatists 513

XCn. Affairs in Russia 518

XCm. Pate of the Great Adventurer 521

XCrV. Napoleon's Last Dodge 526

Contents xv

XCV. Prospects in France and England .... 531

XCVI. Napoleon's Apology 537

XCVn. Panslavism 542

XCVin. Austria's Weakness 546

XCIX. The New Arbiter of Europe 551

0. Another Vienna Disclosure 554

CI. Ministerial Crisis in England 558

Cn. The Birmingham Conference 562

CIII. Austria and England 567

CIV. Napier and Graham 573

CV. The Great Event of the War 579

CVI. Alarums and Excursions 587

CVn. The Russians as Fighters 593

CVm. The Russian Loan 600

CIX. Traditional English Policy 607

ex. The Fall of Ears— 1 611

CXI. „ „ n 620

CXII. „ „ in. 631

CXm. „ „ IV 641

Index 649


London, March 22, 1853
' N. 7. T., April 7, 1855

Peince Mentschikoff, after reviewing the Russian forces
stationed in tiie Damibian Principalities, and after an in-
spection of tlie army and fleet at Sebastopol, "wliere he-
caused manoeuvres of embarking and disembarking troops
to be executed under his own eyes, entered Constantinople
in the most theatrical style on February 28, attended by
a suite of twelve persons, including the Admiral of the
Russian squadron in the Black Sea, a General of Division,,
and several staff officers, with Count Nesselrode, junr., as
Secretary of the Embassy. He met with such a reception
from the Greek and Russian inhabitants as if he were the
orthodox Czar himself entering Czarigrad to restore it to-
the true faith. An enormous sensation was created here-
and at Paris by the news that Prince Mentschikoff, not
satisfied with the dismissal of Fuad Effendi, had demanded
that the Sultan should abandon to the Emperor of Russia
not only the protection of aU the Christians in Turkey, but
also the right of nominatuig the Greek Patriarch ; that
the Sultan had appealed to the protection of England and
France ; that Colonel Rose, the British Envoy, had de-
spatched the steamer Wasp in haste to Malta to request the-
immediate presence of the English fleet in the Archipelago,,
and that Russian vessels had anchored at Kill, near the-

2 The Eastern Question

Bospliorus. The Paris Moniieur informs us tliat tlie French
squadron at Toulon has been ordered to the Grrecian
waters. Admiral Dnndas, however, is still at Malta.
From all this it is evident that the Eastern Question is
once more on the European " ordre du jour" a fact not
astonishing for those who are acquainted with history.

"Whenever the revolutionary hurricane has subsided for
a moment, one ever-recurring question is sure to turn up :
the eternal " Eastern Question." Thus, when the storms of
the first French Revolution had passed, and Napoleon and
Alexander of Eussia had divided, after the peace of Tilsit,
the whole of Continental Europe between themselves, Alex-
ander profited by the momentary calm to march an army
into Turkey, and to " give a lift " to the forces that were
breaking up, from within, that decaying empire. Again, no
sooner had the revolutionary movements of "Western Europe
been quelled by the Congresses of Laibach and Verona,
than Alexander's successor, Nicholas, made another dash at
Turkey. "When, a few years later, the revolution of July,
"with its concomitant insurrections in Poland, Italy, Bel-
gium, had had its turn, and Europe, as re-modelled in 1831,
seemed out of the reach of domestic squalls, the Eastern
Question in 1840 appeared on the point of embroiling the
" great Powers " in a general war. And now, when the
shortsightedness of the ruling pigmies prides itself on hav-
ing successfully freed Europe from the dangers of anarchy
and revolution, up starts again the everlasting topic, the
never-faihng difficulty : "What shall we do with Turkev;?

Turkey is the living sore of European legitimacy. ^The
impotency of legitimate, monarchical government, ever
since the first French Revolution, has resumed itself in the
one axiom : Keep up the status quo. A testimonium jpauper-
tatis, an acknowledgment of the universal incompetence of
the ruling powers, for any purpose of progress or civiliza-
tion, is seen in this universal agreement to stick to things
as by chance or accident they happen to be. Napoleon
could dispose of a whole continent at a moment's notice ;
aye, and dispose of it, too, in a manner that showed both

Turkey 3

genius and fixedness of purpose. Tlie entire "collective
wisdom" of European legitimacy, assembled in Congress
at Vienna, took a couple of years to do tlie same job ; got at
loggerheads over it, made a very sad mess indeed of it, and
found it suoli a dreadful bore tbat ever since they have had
enough of it, and have never tried their hands again at
parcelling out Europe. Myrmidons of mediocrity, as B&an-
ger calls them ; without historical knowledge or insight into
facts, without ideas, without initiative, they adore the Status
quo they themselves have bungled together, knowing what
a bungling and blundering piece of workmanship it is. —

But Turkey no more than the rest of the world remains
stationary; and just when the reactionary party has
succeeded in restoring in civilized Europe what they con-
sider to be the status quo ante, it is perceived that in the
meantime the status quo in Turkey has been very much
altered; that new questions, new relations, new interests
have sprung up, and that the poor diplomatists have to
begin again where they were interrupted by a general
earthquake some eight or ten years before. Keep up the
status quo in Turkey ! Why, you might as well try to
keep tip the precise degree of putridity iato which the
carcass of a dead horse has passed at a given time, before
dissolution is complete. Turkey goes on decaying, and will
go on decaying as long as the present system of " balance
of power " and maintenance of the status quo goes on ;
and in spite of congresses, protocols and ultimatums it will
produce its yearly quota of diplomatic difficulties and inter-
national squabbles quite as every other putrid body wiU
supply the neighbourhood with a due allowance of car-
buretted hydrogen and other well-scented gaseous matter.

Let us look at the question at once. Turkey consists of
three entirely distinct portions : the vassal principalities of
Africa, viz., Egypt and Tunis ; Asiatic Turkey ; and
European Turkey. The African possessions, of which
Egypt alone may be considered as really subject to the
Sultan, may be left for the moment out of the question.
Egypt belongs more to the English than to anybody else,

4 The Eastern Qtiestion

and will and must necessarily form their share in any-
future partition of Turkey. Asiatic Turkey is tlie real seat
of -whatever strength there is in the empire ; Asia Minor and
Armenia, for four hundred years the chief abode of the
Turks, form the reserved ground from -which the Turkish
armies have been dra-wn, from those that threatened the
ramparts of Vienna, to those that dispersed before Diebitsch's
not very skilful manoeuvres at Kule-wtscha, Turkey in Asia,
although thinly populated, yet forms too compact a mass
of Mussulman fanaticism and Turkish nationality to invite
at present any attempts at conquest ; and, in fact, -when-
ever the " Eastern Question " is mooted, the only portions
of this territory taken into consideration are Palestine and
the Christian valleys of the Lebanon.

The real point at issue always is, Turkey in Europe — ^the
great peninsula to the south of the Save and Danube. This
splendid territory has the misfortune to be inhabited by a
conglomerate of different races and nationalities, of which
it is hard to say which is the least fit for progress and
ci-vilization. Slavonians, Greeks, Wallachians, Amauts,
twelve millions of men, are all held in submission by one
million of Turks, and up to a recent period it appeared
doubtful whether, of all these different races, the Turks
were not the most competent to hold the supremacy which,
in such a mixed population, could not but accrue to one of
these nationalities. But when we see how lamentably have
failed all the attempts at ci-viKzation by Turkish authority
— how the fanaticism of Islam, supported principally by the
Turkish mob in a few great cities, has availed itself of the
assistance of Austria and Russia invariably to regain power
and to overturn any progress that might have been made ;
when we see the central, i.e. Turkish, authority weakened
year after year by insurrections in the Christian pro-^nces,
none of which, thanks to the weakness of the Porte and to
the intervention of neighbouring States, is ever completely
fruitless ; when we see Greece acquire her independence,
parts of Armenia conquered by Russia, — Moldavia, "Wal-
lachia, Ser-via, successively placed under the protectorate of

Ttirkey 5

the latter power, — we sliall be obliged to admit that the
presence of the Turks in Europe is a real obstacle to the
development of the resources of the Thraco-Illyrian Penin-

We can hardly describe the Turks as the ruling class of
Turkey, because the relations of the different classes of
society there are as much mixed up as those of the various
races. The Turk is, according to localities and circum-
stances, workman, farmer, small freeholder, trader, feudal
landlord in the lowest and most barbaric stage of feudalism,'
civil officer, or soldier; but in all these different social
positions he belongs to the privileged creed and nation — he
alone has the right to carry arms, and the highest Christian

Online LibraryKarl MarxThe Eastern question, a reprint of letters written 1853-1856 dealing with the events of the Crimean War → online text (page 1 of 52)