Affairs in Prussia. Prussia, France and Italy

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 27 September 1860


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First published in the New York Daily Tribune, No. 6076, October 15, 1860
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 17 (pp.488-492), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
Collection(s): New York Tribune
Keywords : Prussia, France, Italy, Treaty

Berlin, September 27, 1860

The Prince Regent[1] who, as I have already told your readers, since his accession to supreme power, is a sullen and dogged Legitimist at the core of his heart, despite the gaudy insignia of liberalism he has been decked out with by the official oracles of the Prussian fool's paradise, has just caught an occasion of publicly giving vent to his long compressed feelings. It is a strange fact, but nevertheless it is a fact, that the Prince Regent of Prussia has for the nonce shut out the Garibaldians from the fortress of Messina, and saved that important military stronghold for his beloved brother, King Bombalino[2] of Naples. The Prussian Ambassador at Naples, Count of Perponcher, a personage as notorious for his staunch Legitimism as Baron of Canitz, the Prussian Ambassador at Rome, had, like most of his colleagues, followed King Bombalino to Gaeta, where the Prussian war corvette Loreley was placed for the protection of German subjects. Now on the 15th of September, the citadel of Messina was on the point of capitulating. The officers had declared for Victor Emmanuel, and sent a deputation to Gaeta in order to tell the King that the place was no longer tenable. On the following day that deputation was shipped back to Messina by the war corvette Loreley, with a Prussian Commissary on board, who, on the arrival of the vessel, proceeded immediately to the citadel, where he had a long conversation with the Neapolitan commander. Beside his personal eloquence, the Prussian agent exhibited a bundle of dispatches on the part of the King, encouraging the General to resistance, and strongly inveighing against every proposition of giving up, even under the most favorable conditions, the forts still sufficiently provisioned for several months. During the stay of the Prussian Commissary, cries of "Evviva it Re!"[3] were heard ringing from the citadel, and when he left, the transactions entered into, with a view to stipulate the terms of the capitulation, were at once broken off. On the arrival of this news, Count Cavour hastened to lodge a complaint at Berlin because of "the abuse of the Prussian flag," and the violation of the promise to preserve perfect neutrality in the revolutionary war of Italy. Despite the justness of the complaint, Count Cavour of all men was the man least fitted to prefer it. Herr von Schleinitz, whose dispatches had, during the war of 1859[4], obtained some notoriety for their soft-sawder style, their seesaw reasonings, and the incomparable art of drawing out the thread of their verbosity finer than the staple of their argument—Herr von Schleinitz eagerly improved the opportunity to insinuate himself with the Prince Regent, and to change for once his humble sotto voce[5] for the shrill tones of haughtiness. He administered a peremptory rebuke to Count Cavour, who was-plainly told that Sicily had not yet become a Sardinian province, that the treaty obligations were daily violated by the Court of Turin, and that if Cavour wanted to protest against foreign intervention in Italy, he had better lodge his protest at the Tuileries.

The withdrawal of the French Embassador from Turin is here considered a transparent dodge, since it is perfectly known that immediately after the meeting at Chambéry between Louis Bonaparte and Messrs. Farini and Cialdini, the latter was intrusted with the command of the Piedmontese invasion of the Papal States. That invasion was planned at Chambéry with a view to taking the game out of the hands of Garibaldi and replacing it into the hands of Cavour, the French Emperor's most pliant servant. The revolutionary war in Southern Italy is known to be considered at the Tuileries not as a fortuitous avalanche of a ball once set rolling, but as the deliberate act of the independent Italian party who, ever since Louis Napoleon's ingress of the via sacra[6] had proclaimed the rising of the South as the only means of taking off the nightmare of French protection. In point of fact, Mazzini in his proclamation to the Italian people, dated May 16, 1859, stated plainly:

"With due reserve the people of the North may rally round the banners of Victor Emmanuel, wherever the Austrian is encamped or neighboring; the insurrection of the South must take a different and more independent course. Rising, rising united, installing a Provisional Government, arming, selecting a strategical point where it may keep its ground and attract the volunteers of the North, Naples and Sicily may still save the cause of Italy, and constitute its power, represented by a national camp. Thanks to that camp and the Northern volunteers, Italy, at the end of the war, whatever be the intentions of its initiators, may still become the supreme arbiter of its own destinies.... Such a popular manifestation would exclude every new division of Italy, every importation of new dynasties, every peace of the Adige or the Mincio, every abandonment of every part of the Italian soil. And the name of Rome is inseparable from the name of Italy. There, in the sacred city, stands the palladium of our national unity. It is the duty of Rome not to swell the Sardinian army by a mob of volunteers, but to prove to Imperial France that the prop of the Papal despotism at Rome will never be acknowledged the sword-bearer of Italian independence.... If Rome forgets its duties, we must act for the Romans. Rome represents the unity of the fatherland. Sicily, Naples, and the volunteers of the North must constitute its army."

Such were the words of Mazzini in May, 1859, reechoed by Garibaldi[7] when, at the head of the popular army created in Sicily and Naples, he promised to proclaim the Unity of Italy from the top of the Quirinal.[8]

You will remember how Cavour, from the beginning, did everything in his power to beset Garibaldi's expedition with difficulties; how, after the first success won by the popular hero, he sent La Farina, in company with two Bonapartist agents, over to Palermo, in order to deprive the conqueror of his dictatorship; how, later on, every military move of Garibaldi was met, on the part of Cavour, first by diplomatic and at last by military countermoves[9]. After the fall of Palermo and the progress to Messina, Garibaldi's popularity towered so high among the people and the army of Paris, that Louis Napoleon considered it prudent to try the wheedling method. When Gen. Türr, at that time disabled from active service, had repaired to Paris, he became quite overwhelmed with Imperial flatteries. He was not only an honored guest at the Palais Royal, but was even admitted to the Tuileries[10], initiated into the Emperor's unbounded enthusiasm for his "annexed" subject, the Nizzard hero, and laden with tokens of good will, such as rifled cannon, and so forth. At the same time Türr's mind was impressed with the Emperor's conviction that Garibaldi, after he had made sure of Naples and the Neapolitan Navy, could do nothing better than to try, in unison with the Hungarian refugees, a landing at Fiume, there to plant the banner of a Hungarian revolution. But Louis Napoleon proceeded from altogether false premises when he supposed that Türr was the man, or even fancied himself to be the man, to exercise the least control over Garibaldi's course of action. Türr, whom I know personally, is a brave soldier and an intelligent officer, but beyond the sphere of military activity he is a mere zero, below the average of common mortals, lacking not only training of mind and a cultivated intellect, but that natural shrewdness and instinct which may stand in place of education, learning, and experience. He is, in one word, an easy-going jolly good fellow, gifted with an extraordinary degree of credulity, but certainly not the man to politically control anybody, not to speak of Garibaldi, who, with a fire of soul, still owns his grain of that subtle Italian genius you may trace in Dante no less than in Machiavelli. Türr, then, having proved a miscalculation, such at least he is spoken of in the entourage of the Tuileries. Kossuth was tried and dispatched to Garibaldi to bring him round to the views of the Emperor, and to bring him off his true scent, which points to Rome. Garibaldi used Kossuth as a means of stirring the revolutionary enthusiasm, and had him consequently feasted with popular ovations, but knew wisely how to distinguish between his name, representing a popular cause, and his mission, hiding a Bonapartist snare. Kossuth returned to Paris quite chopfallen; but, to give an earnest of his fidelity to the Imperialist interests, has now, as reported by the Opinion nationale, the Plon-Plon Moniteur, addressed a letter to Garibaldi, wherein he calls upon the latter to conciliate himself with Cavour, to abstain from every attempt at Rome, in order to not estrange France, the true hope of the oppressed nationalities, and even to let Hungary alone, the latter country being not yet ripe for an insurrection.

I need not tell you that here, at Berlin, the shares of ministerial liberalism have experienced a heavy fall, consequent upon the impending Warsaw Congress; where, not only the rulers by the grace of God are to shake hands, but their respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs: Prince Gorchakoff, Count Rechberg, and our own Herr von Schleinitz, are to meet in the snug corner of a gilded antechamber, there to give an orthodox turn to the coming history of mankind.

The transactions of Prussia with Austria, as to a new commercial treaty between the Zollverein[11] and Austria, such as foreshadowed by the treaty of February 19, 1853,[12] may now be considered to be broken off, since the Prussian Cabinet has positively declared that any assimilation, or even approximation of tariffs was out of the question.

  1. William, Prince of Prussia.—Ed.
  2. Francis II.—Ed.
  3. "Long Live the King!"—Ed.
  4. A reference to the diplomatic documents of the Austro-Italo-French War of 1859, published by the Prussian Government in the Neue Preussische Zeitung, Nos. 170, 171, 173 and 174 (July 24, 26, 28 and 29, 1859) and in the Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 211 (July 30, 1859). For details see Marx's article "Quid pro Quo".
    The war between the Kingdom of Sardinia (Piedmont) and France, on the one hand, and Austria, on the other (April 29 to July 8, 1859), was launched by Napoleon III, who, under the banner of the "liberation of Italy", strove for aggrandizement and sought to strengthen the Bonapartist regime in France with the help of a successful military campaign. The Piedmont ruling circles hoped that French support would enable them to unite Italy, without the participation of the masses, under the aegis of the Savoy dynasty ruling in Piedmont. The war caused an upsurge of the national liberation movement in Italy. The Austrian army suffered a series of defeats. However, Napoleon III, frightened by the scale of the national liberation movement in Italy, abruptly ceased hostilities. On July 11, the French and Austrian emperors concluded a separate preliminary peace in.
    On July 8, 1859 the emperors of France and Austria held a separate meeting—without the King of Piedmont, France's ally in the war against Austria—in Villafranca, at which they reached an agreement on an armistice. The meeting was held on the initiative of Napoleon III, who feared that the protracted war might give a fresh impulse to the revolutionary and national liberation movement in Italy and other European states. On July 11 France and Austria signed a preliminary peace treaty under which Austria was to cede to France its rights to Lombardy and France was to transfer this territory to Piedmont. Venetia was to remain under Austrian supremacy (despite the terms of the Plombières agreement) and the princes of the Central Italian states were to be restored to their thrones. A confederation of Italian states was to be formed under the honorary chairmanship of the Pope.
    The Villafranca agreements formed the basis of the peace treaty France, Austria and Piedmont concluded in Zurich on November 10, 1859 (see Marx's articles "What Has Italy Gained?", "The Peace" and "The Treaty of Villafranca" and Engels' letter to Marx of July 14, 1859).
  5. Undertone.—Ed.
  6. Via sacra (sacred road)—in Ancient Rome victorious troops marched in triumph along this highway. The expression "via sacra" is also used to describe a victorious campaign.

    Here an allusion to an appeal sent by Napoleon III to his army from Genoa on May 12, 1859, when he became the commander-in-chief. The appeal said, in part: "Dans la voie sacrée de l'ancienne Rome les inscriptions se pressaient sur le marbre pour rappeler au peuple ses hauts faits: de même aujourd'hui, en passant par Mondovi, Marengo, Lodi, Castiglione, Arcole, Rivoli, vous marcherez dans une autre voie sacrée, au milieu de ces glorieux souvenirs" ("Along the sacred road of Ancient Rome inscriptions were carved on marble to commemorate the people's feats. Today likewise, passing through Mondovi, Marengo, Lodi, Castiglione, Arcole and Rivoli, you will march along another sacred road, amidst these glorious memories").
  7. Giuseppe Mazzini, "La Guerra", Pensiero ed Azione, No. 17, May 2-16, 1859; Giuseppe Garibaldi's address to the people of Palermo on September 10, 1860, L'Indépendance belge, No. 261, September 17, 1860; see also The Times, No. 23728, September 18, 1860.—Ed.
  8. Quirinal—one of the seven hills on which Rome is situated.
  9. See Interesting from Sicily. Garibaldi's Quarrel with La Farina. A Letter from Garibaldi.—Ed.
  10. The Palais Royal in Paris was the residence of Jerôme Bonaparte (the youngest brother of Napoleon I) and his son, Prince Joseph (nicknamed Plon-Plon).

    Rich gold deposits were discovered in California in 1848 and Australia in 1851. Apart from their great importance for the commercial and industrial development of Europe and America, these discoveries whipped up stock-exchange speculation in the capitalist countries. The Tuileries—the royal palace in Paris, residence of Napoleon III.
  11. The Zollverein, a union of German states which established a common customs frontier, was set up in 1834 under the aegis of Prussia. Brought into being by the need to create an all-German market, the Customs Union subsequently embraced all the German states except Austria and a few of the smaller states.
  12. This refers to the commercial treaty between Prussia and Austria, concluded in Berlin on February 19, 1853. It eliminated many of the customs barriers that obstructed the development of trade between the two countries. (See Marx, "Kossuth and Mazzini. Intrigues of the Prussian Government. Austro-Prussian Commercial Treaty. The Times and the Refugees")