General Simpson's Resignation. From Parliament

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 3 August 1855


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First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 361, August 6, 1855
Marked with the sign x
Published in English for the first time in MECW.
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (pp.470-471), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
Collection(s): Neue Oder-Zeitung
Keywords : Parliament, Bill, England

London, August 3. The day before yesterday The Morning Post, in obviously embarrassed phraseology, informed the British public that General Simpson will soon resign his command under the pretext of weakened health and will have no successor[1]. In other words: the English army is to be placed under French general command. In this way the Government would shift the responsibility for the conduct of the war from itself onto "our great and glorious ally". Parliament forfeits the last semblance of control. At the same time an infallible means for transforming the alliance between England and France into the most acrimonious dissension between the two nations has been discovered. We see the same master hand at work in whose all too robust grasp the Entente Cordiale[2] broke into pieces in 1839.

Parliament concludes its present session in a fitting manner—with scandals[3]. First scandal: the withdrawal of the Bill for limited liability in private (not joint-stock) commercial companies at the bidding of the big capitalists before whose frowns even the Olympian Palmerston trembles. Second scandal: the adjournment in infinitum of the Bills regulating lease-hold tenure in Ireland, which have been moving to and fro in both Houses of Parliament for 4 years—a cowardly compromise in which the House of Commons has consented to take back its own work, the Cabinet to break its word and the Irish Brigade[4] to hold the question open for exploitation on the hustings[5]. Final scandal: Major Reed's motion obliging the Cabinet to recall Parliament in the event of peace being concluded during the recess. Reed is a buffoon, notoriously in Palmerston's pay. His aim was to deceive the House into passing a vote of confidence as a result of his "distrustful motion". But the House laughed his motion down, laughed Palmerston down and laughed itself down. It has reached the stage where "laughter" remains the last recourse for depravity to repudiate itself.

  1. "The Command of the Army in the East", The Morning Post, No. 25455, August 2, 1855.—Ed.
  2. "Entente cordiale"—the relations established between Britain and France after the July 1830 revolution by an agreement signed in April 1834, when Britain, France, Spain and Portugal formed an alliance. However, already at that stage differences between Britain and France emerged, which intensified as time went on. Marx is referring here to the strongly anti-French attitude taken by the British Government, in particular Palmerston, during the Turko-Egyptian conflict of 1839-41.
    The conclusion, without French participation, of the London Convention of July 15, 1840 (*) on aid by the Western Powers to the Sultan in his struggle against the Egyptian ruler Mehemet Ali created the danger of war breaking out between Britain and France. Fearing the formation of an anti-French coalition, France was forced to discontinue its support for Egypt.
    (*) At the insistence of the British government, Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia signed a convention in London on July 15, 1840, on military assistance to Turkey in its war against Egypt (1839-41). In the autumn of 1840 British and Austrian warships bombarded Beirut, Saint-Jean-d'Acre and other for-tresses on the Syrian coast, which had been captured by Mehemet Ali, the ruler of Egypt, between 1831 and 1833. Eventually Mehemet Ali was forced to relinquish his possessions outside Egypt and submit to the supreme authority of the Sultan.
  3. The reference is to the sittings of the House of Commons of July 24, July 30 and August 2. The Times, No. 22115, July 25; No. 22120, July 31 and No. 22123, August 3, 1855.—Ed.
  4. Bill regulating lease-hold tenure in Ireland—The Bills in question were submitted by Aberdeen's coalition Government in June 1853 to reduce the class struggle in the Irish countryside by granting the tenants certain rights and protecting them from landlord arbitrariness. Marx discussed the Bills in his article "The Indian Question. Irish Tenant Right". As Marx had foreseen, the British Parliament, reluctant to impinge on the interests of the landed aristocracy, refused to grant even minor concessions to the tenants. Even in curtailed form, the Bills were virtually quashed.
    The Irish Brigade was the name given to the Irish faction in the British Parliament from the 1830s to 1850s. Up to 1847, the Irish Brigade was led by Daniel O'Connell. As neither the Tories nor the Whigs had a decisive majority the Brigade was able to tip the balance in Parliament and sometimes even decide the fate of the government.
    In the early fifties, a number of MPs belonging to this faction formed an alliance with the radical Irish Tenant-Right League and set up what they called an Independent Opposition in the House of Commons. However, the leaders of the Irish Brigade soon made a deal with the British ruling circles, securing some secondary posts in Aberdeen's Coalition Government and refusing to support the League's demands. This demoralised the Independent Opposition and ultimately led to its collapse (1859).
  5. Marx uses the English word.—Ed.