Evacuation of Moldavia and Wallachia. Poland. Demands of The Spanish People

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 11 August 1854

First published in the New York Daily Tribune, No. 4166, August 25;
reprinted in the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 966, August 29
and partly in the New York Weekly Tribune, No. 677, September 2, 1854
Reproduced from the New York Daily Tribune
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 13 (pp.357-363), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980

This article is entered in the Notebook as "Freitag. 11. August. Oesterreich, Walachei. Russischer Rückzug. Weisser See. Sulina. Sebastopol Expedition. Polen. Dänemark—Wladimir—Vertagung des Parlaments—Spanien". The article was included in abridged form in The Eastern Question under the title "The Evacuation".

London, Friday, Aug. 11, 1854

Yesterday's Moniteur states that

"the Russian Envoy at Vienna[1] has announced to the Austrian Cabinet that the Emperor Nicholas has ordered the complete evacuation of Wallachia and Moldavia. Notwithstanding this declaration, Count Buol exchanged notes on the 8th inst. with Baron de Bourqueney and Lord Westmorland, from which it results that Austria, like France and England, is of opinion that guarantees must be exacted from Russia to prevent a return of complications which disturb the quiet of Europe, and engages itself until the reestablishment of general peace not to enter into any treaty with the Cabinet of St. Petersburg unless those guarantees are obtained."[2]

Of what sort these guarantees are to be, may be seen from The Times of this morning. Firstly, the evacuation of the Principalities; secondly, the substitution of a common European protectorate in lieu of the Russian protectorate; thirdly, the

"revision of the Convention of the Straits, and the adoption of such measures as are necessary to reduce the naval ascendancy of Russia within limits less formidable to the existence of Turkey and the independence of navigation both on the waters of the Euxine and at the mouths of the Danube."[3]

The statement of the Moniteur is on the whole confirmed by the declarations of Lord Clarendon in yesterday's sitting of the House of Lords[4]. We know also, from other sources, that the Russian headquarters are removed to Buseo; that four Russian regiments have crossed the Pruth, and that the Austrian Government, on its part, has countermanded the order given to several corps of troops to reenforce the armies drawn up en échelon on the frontiers of Galicia and Transylvania.

There was scarcely ever a more curious operation in the history of wars than this evacuation of the Principalities by the armies of Russia. The fact is that it cannot be accounted for from any strategical, but only from a diplomatic point of view. As has been explained in The Tribune[5], a plan had been arranged between Austria and Russia, according to which the Austrians were to occupy the Principalities as soon as the honor of the Czar should be satisfied by the capture of Silistria; the chance of a Russian defeat being provided for by a clause, according to which the Austrian occupation was to take place in that case, too. Accordingly, one day before the Russians raised the siege of Silistria, a treaty was concluded between Turkey and Austria, giving the latter power the right to enter Wallachia[6]. The treaty aimed at three purposes to withhold the Principalities from Turkey; to "raise a cordon against the plague of revolution around the Austrian frontiers;" lastly, to secure the safe retreat of the Russian army. This treaty, as we may safely infer from the confessions of Lord Clarendon, was forced upon the Porte by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the English Embassador at Constantinople the Divan simultaneously issuing an order for allowing the Russians to retire without being molested by pursuit. The precipitate withdrawal of the Russians from the Danube is therefore without an explanation, unless it entered into Russia's agreements with Austria. The Austrians had fixed the 3d of July for the entrance of their troops into Wallachia. Whence their procrastination? They were securing concession upon concession from the Porte: firstly, in respect of the form of government to be established in Wallachia; secondly, in respect to the exclusion of the Turks from their own province. Subsequently they made known that their occupation of Wallachia would not include a declaration of war.

"The Austrian Government," says Lord Clarendon, "at the end of June, when the Russians were about to evacuate Wallachia, sent an officer from the staff of General Hess to inform the allied Commanders that the Austrian Government intended to occupy a portion of Wallachia, in the name of the Sultan, and for the purpose of restoring his authority there; but that they would not enter as belligerents, because they were not at war with Russia, and had not received an answer to the demands which they had addressed to her."

This imbecile sincerity of Austria caused embarrassment, and a new delay was necessitated. Then came the protest of Prussia, jealous of the aggrandizement of Austrian power on the Danube. The fact of both these powers being the tools of Russia does not exclude their remaining jealous of each other, as was sufficiently exemplified by the "potato-war" of 1850[7]. If Mr. Urquhart had perused the Warsaw protocol of that year[8], he would not have tumbled into the Quixotic idea of suddenly propping up Prussia as the European bulwark against Russia.

Seeing Austria losing her opportunity, the Russians already in retreat turned round and advanced once more to the Danube, for, if the evacuation of Wallachia was complete before Austria had moved, their subsequent entrance into that Principality would have been deprived of any pretext. Meanwhile, however, the Turkish General at Rustchuk[9]—to use the phraseology of The Times—"imagining"[10] the Russians in full retreat, went over to Giurgevo, and beat them so soundly as to render impossible any attempt at retaking possession of the line of the Danube. In consequence of this defeat the Russians were obliged to think seriously of retreat, a resolution to which they were prompted by the discovery that the ostensible allies of Turkey would no longer be able to remain inactive, and that the English Government would be forced, in deference to their army as well as to the public, to undertake something against them. By retiring from the Principalities they increased their defensive force in Bessarabia and the Crimea. Thus we learn by a telegraphic dispatch that the Russian regiments in Bessarabia and Kherson are to move in all possible haste to the Crimea, while those in Moldavia march to occupy their places.[11]

It was to be presumed that the Turks would not be slow in improving their opportunity. Their vanguard, under Iskander Bey, entered Bucharest on the 6th inst., and their General received a deputation from the Wallachian Capital on the anniversary of the day in which, in 1853, their enemies had entered it.

Thus the Austrians have again lost their opportunity and are deprived of their false pretenses for entering Wallachia. An occupation at this moment would bring them infallibly into collision with the Turks. While, therefore, the Austrian papers denounce the advance of the Turks upon Bucharest as a breach of contract, the Austrians themselves are denounced by the English ministerial press for their slowness and stupidity, in having set at nought the fine spun plot. In The Times of Thursday we read for instance:

"The Austrians have lost by their procrastination the effect of the position they might have assumed in the Principalities. Omer Pasha has taken advantage of this opportunity and closed up on the heels of the retreating enemy. Wallachia is now in a great degree occupied by the troops of the Sultan. The Danube from Orsova to Galatch is in their possession and there is no reason to suppose that any claim can be urged by a foreign power to induce the Turkish commander to recede from a province which he holds by the right of the master and by the valor of his army."[12]

All that is left for the Austrians to do now is the occupation of Moldavia.

The dispatches from Constantinople dated July 30, almost exclusively allude to the projected expedition against the Crimea[13]. The division of twenty ships which started from Balchik on the 21st of July, accompanied by Generals Brown and Canrobert, and commanded by Admiral Bruat, in order to reconnoitre the coast from Anapa to Sevastopol, returned on the 27th. After their return Canrobert and Brown immediately proceeded to Varna to communicate the results of their mission to St. Arnaud and Lord Raglan[14]. The Anglo-French troops were drawn up from Varna to Kustendje, in order to facilitate their embarkation at the different ports. This embarkation must have taken place on the 29th or 30th of July. The Turkish fleet had entered the Black Sea, and all the Anglo-French naval forces must have been assembled in the latitude of Varna as on the 1st inst., numerous transports were accumulated there. On the destination of these forces the Gazette du Midi has the following:

"Some speak of Anapa, and the neighboring fortress which contain together about 20,000 men, and the capture of which would at once establish communications between Abkhazia, Circassia, and the Crimea, so that the Circassians could easily take part in any attack directed against the Crimea. According to others the attack is to be directed against Odessa, which, at this moment, musters a garrison of about 40,000 men, and which would be fortified by the allied troops, in order to stay there during the winter, and to threaten Bessarabia on one side and the Crimea on the other side. A third Version points to Nikolayev as the point to be attacked, there being there the arsenals of the Russian army, and this place occupying the triangle formed by the Dnieper in the east, and the Bug in the west."[15]

The Dobrodja has been entirely abandoned by the Russians, and is now occupied by 36,000 Turks and French. The Turks are at Babadagh and are said to be under orders to attack Tultsha, while the French are to attack Galatch.

On the 16th of July, the little town established by the Russians at the Sulina mouth, which was already partly dismantled, is said to have been completely destroyed by the English steamers Spitfire and Vesuvius, no buildings having been spared except the lighthouse and the church.

In the White Sea the English have effected a landing on some point on the Coast of Onega and destroyed a village.

The Vladimir affair in the Black Sea[16] has called forth a violent attack from The Times against Admiral Dundas[17], to which The Herald answers as follows:

"Sir Charles Napier in the Baltic could permit the Sweaborg fleet to pass unmolested to their anchorage—could allow Hango Udd to be well fortified, and then most ineffectively bombarded—could permit the buoys to be removed and the ships to run aground in consequence, and not one word of reflection would The Times cast upon him; but with Admiral Dundas the case is altogether different."[18]

By letters from Paris of the 9th inst. we learn that 50,000 French troops are to be added to the Oriental army[19]. If the war produce no other good, it has at least the merit of ridding France of her Decembrist army.

It may have occurred to your notice that the Emperor of Russia, since his discomfiture in Turkey, has recommenced using the title of King of Poland, which he had resigned as superfluous after his victory in Hungary, the absorption of that country being considered to have been effected. In a letter published by the Vienna Presse, dated Warsaw, 1st Aug., we read:

"The approaching arrival of the Czar at Warsaw will be marked, it is said, by certain concessions to the Poles in the point of view of their nationality. It is said that the assembly of notables mentioned in the organic statute for the Kingdom of Poland of 1832[20] is to be convoked. The establishments of public instruction are, it is said, to be reopened, and the employment of the Polish language in official acts, the publication of the annual expenses and receipts, and the right to consent to direct taxes ordered. The Polish army is also, as the report goes, to be reestablished, but under- command of Russian officers. The fourth recruitment is finished. Never had the population been subjected to contributions to such an extent."[21]

We read also in the Düsseldorfer Zeitung under date of 7th August:

"According to reports from Warsaw, Gen. Rüdiger, the stadtholder of the Kingdom of Poland, has summoned the marshals of the Polish nobility to petition the Crown for the restoration of an independent Polish Kingdom."

Many solutions of the Polish question have been offered by diverse parties, but never did any one imagine such a solution as that proposed and ordered by the Russian general.

I am informed from Copenhagen that the idiot king of Denmark[22], accompanied by the Minister of the Interior, M. de Tillisch, has embarked to meet the king of Sweden[23] at Karlskrona. Tillisch is one of the most fanatical partisans of Russia, and it is generally supposed that the meeting of the two kings is destined to renew the bond of Russian partisanship called the Northern armed neutrality[24]. If Denmark and Sweden mean neutrality toward Russia, it does not follow that they mean the same toward England and France, as the following circumstance sets forth. Some days ago General Mesa, Commander-in-chief of the Danish Artillery, passed in review the Artillery of the National Guard and addressed to them an unusually ardent allocution, hinting that the day approached perhaps when the National Artillery, united to that of the army, would be appealed to by the king for the common defense of the Scandinavian fatherland.

Parliament will be prorogued to-morrow. The session is remarkable for its abandoned measures, as the campaign, for its postponement of warlike operations.

Some days ago the Charivari published a caricature exhibiting the Spanish people engaged in battle and the two sabers Espartero and O'Donnell embracing each other over their heads. The Charivari mistook for the end of the revolution, what is only its commencement. The struggle has already commenced between O'Donnell and Espartero, and not only between them, but also between the military chiefs and the people. It has been of little avail to the Government to have appointed the toreador Pucheta as Superintendent of the slaughter-houses, to have nominated a committee for the reward of the barricade-combatants, and finally to have appointed two Frenchmen, Pujol and Delmas, as historiographers of the revolution. O'Donnell wants the Cortes to be elected according to the law of 1845, Espartero according to the Constitution of 1837[25], and the people by universal suffrage. The people refuse to lay down their arms before the publication of a Government program, the program of Manzanares[26] no longer satisfying their views. The people demand the annulment of the Concordat of 1851[27], confiscation of the estates of the counter-revolutionists, an exposé of the finances, cancelling of all contracts for railways and other swindling contracts for public works, and lastly the judgment of Cristina by a special Court. Two attempts at flight on the part of the latter have been foiled by the armed resistance of the people. El Tribuno makes the following account of restitutions to be made by Cristina to the National Exchequer: Twenty-four millions illegally received as Regent from 1834 to 1840; twelve millions received on her return from France after an absence of three years; and thirty-five millions received of the Treasury of Cuba[28]. This account even is a generous one. When Cristina left Spain in 1840, she carried off large sums and nearly all the jewels of the Spanish Crown.

  1. A. M. Gorchakov.—Ed.
  2. Le Moniteur universel, No. 222, August 10, 1854.—Ed.
  3. The Times, No. 21817, August 11, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  4. The Times, No. 21817, August 11, 1854.—Ed.
  5. See State of The Russian War (June 1854)—Ed.
  6. The reference is to the Austro-Turkish treaty signed in Constantinople on June 14, 1854. It provided for immediate occupation of the Danubian Principalities by Austria, after the withdrawal of the Russian troops.
  7. The "potato war"—an ironical name given to the Austro-Prussian war of the Bavarian succession (1778-79). Here Marx alludes to a conflict which arose between Austria and Prussia in the autumn of 185.

    In May and October 1850 conferences in which Austria, Prussia and Russia took part were held in Warsaw on the initiative of the Russian Emperor. They were called in connection with the growing tension in the struggle between Austria and Prussia over supremacy in Germany. Acting as arbiter, the Russian Emperor made Prussia renounce her intention of achieving political unification of the German states under her aegis. The protocol mentioned by Marx is: "Procès-verbal des conférences tenues à Varsovie entre les ministres présidents d'Autriche et de Prusse pour arriver à l'amiable à une solution de la question de la constitution allemande. Signé à Varsovie, le 28 octobre 1850." In 1851 this protocol was published by the Prussian Government in the pamphlet Von Warschau bis Olmütz.
  8. In May and October 1850 conferences in which Austria, Prussia and Russia took part were held in Warsaw on the initiative of the Russian Emperor. They were called in connection with the growing tension in the struggle between Austria and Prussia over supremacy in Germany. Acting as arbiter, the Russian Emperor made Prussia renounce her intention of achieving political unification of the German states under her aegis. The protocol mentioned by Marx is: "Procès-verbal des conférences tenues à Varsovie entre les ministres présidents d'Autriche et de Prusse pour arriver à l'amiable à une solution de la question de la constitution allemande. Signé à Varsovie, le 28 octobre 1850." In 1851 this protocol was published by the Prussian Government in the pamphlet Von Warschau bis Olmütz.
  9. Omer Pasha.—Ed.
  10. The Times, No. 21807, July 31, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  11. Telegraphic dispatch from Vienna of August 8. The Times, No. 21816, August 10, 1854.—Ed.
  12. The Times, No. 21816, August 10, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  13. Journal des Débats, August 10, 1854.—Ed.
  14. The Times, No. 21816, August 10, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  15. This quotation is given according to a reprint in L'Indépendance belge, No. 223, August 11, 1854.—Ed.
  16. Early in August 1854 the Russian warship Vladimir, on its way from Sevastopol to the Bosphorus, attacked the British Cyclops, sank several Turkish ships, and returned unharmed to Sevastopol without meeting any resistance from the Anglo French fleet.
  17. The Times, No. 21815, August 9, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  18. The Morning Herald, No. 22194, August 10, 1854.—Ed.
  19. Report by the Paris correspondent of August 9. L'Indépendance belge, No. 222, August 10, 1854.—Ed.
  20. The Kingdom of Poland—the name given to the part of Poland which was ceded to Russia by decision of the 1815 Vienna Congress and given the status of a constitutional monarchy united to Russia in the person of the emperor. After the suppression of the 1830-31 insurrection the autonomy of the Kingdom of Poland was abolished. The "organic statute" of 1832 was not implemented.
  21. This letter is quoted from a reprint in The Morning Post, No. 25150, August 11, 1854.—Ed.
  22. Frederick VII.—Ed.
  23. Oscar I; report by the Hamburg correspondent of August 8. L'Indépendance belge, No. 223, August 11, 1854.—Ed.
  24. Marx has in mind Russia's Declaration of armed neutrality of March 11 (February 28), 1780. It was directed against Britain, whose ships attacked ships of neutral states during the American War of Independence (1775-83). The declaration proclaimed the right of neutral states to trade with the belligerent powers; goods of the belligerent states carried by neutral ships were declared inviolable; a port was considered blockaded if its approaches were guarded by ships of the attacking power. This declaration provided a basis for agreements between Russia and Denmark (June 28, 1780) and between Russia and Sweden (July 21, 1780). In 1780-83 they were joined by Holland, Prussia, Austria, Portugal and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
  25. In 1845 the Cortes adopted a law revising the Constitution of 1837 (*). The new law raised the electoral qualifications, gave the king the exclusive right to appoint senators, abolished the right of the Cortes to convene without special permission of the monarch, and reserved to the Crown the right to define the range of questions for discussion by the Cortes.

    (*) On June 18, 1837, during the Spanish revolution of 1834-43, a new Constitution was adopted. Being a compromise between some bourgeois liberals and the liberal nobility, the 1837 Constitution gave the Cortes the right of free convocation, the king retaining the right to veto and dissolve the Cortes. Qualifications for election to the Lower Chamber were reduced; its deputies were elected by direct vote, the Senate was appointed by the king from a list submitted to him by special electoral collegiums. Catholicism was recognised as the state religion. The 1837 Constitution remained in force till 1845.
  26. See A congress at Vienna. The Austrian Loan. Proclamations of Dulce and O'Donnell. The Ministerial Crisis in Britain —Ed.
  27. The concordat between Pope Pius IX and Queen Isabella II of Spain was concluded on March 16, 1851 and approved by the Cortes in October 1851. Under it the Spanish Crown was obliged to pay the Catholic Church from the treasury, to stop confiscating church lands and to return to the monasteries the land confiscated during the third bourgeois revolution (1834-43) which had not yet been sold.
  28. The account from El Tribuno is given according to L'Indépendance belge, No. 221, August 9, 1854.—Ed.