Reorganisation of The British War Administration. The Austrian Summons. Britain's Economic Situation. St. Arnaud

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 9 June 1854

Reproduced from the New York Daily Tribune
First published in the New York Daily Tribune, No. 4114, June 24;
reprinted in the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 948, June 27, 1854
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 13 (pp.227-233), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980

This article is entered in the Notebook as "9. Juni. Kriegsministerium Gover. Varna Powers. Handel. Getreide. St. Arnaud". The New York Weekly Tribune, No. 668 of June 1, 1854 only published the first paragraph of the article. The article was printed in abridged form in The Eastern Question under the title "Speeches. St. Arnaud."

London, Friday, June 9, 1854

The speech delivered by Kossuth, at Sheffield[1], is the most substantial ever heard from him during his stay in England. Nevertheless one cannot help finding fault with it. Its historical expositions are partly incorrect. To date the decline of Turkey from the support given by Sobieski to the Austrian capital[2], is a proposition for which no grounds whatever exist. The researches of Hammer[3] prove beyond dispute that the organization of the Turkish .Empire was at that period already in a state of dissolution, and that the epoch of Ottoman grandeur and strength had been rapidly disappearing for some time before. Similarly incorrect was the proposition that Napoleon discarded the idea of attacking Russia by sea for other reasons than those suggested by his having no fleet, and his being excluded from the command of the ocean by the British. The menace that if England entered into alliance with Austria, Hungary might ally herself with Russia, was an act of imprudence. In the first place it furnished a weapon to the ministerial journals, of which The Times has not failed to make ample use by "convicting" all revolutionists as agents of Russia[4]. Secondly, it came with a singular propriety from the lips of the man whose ministry already in 1849 had offered the Hungarian crown to a Cesarewitch. Lastly, how could he deny that if ever his threat should be carried into execution, either at his own or others' instigation, the national existence of the Magyar race would be doomed to annihilation, the major part of the population of Hungary being Slavonians? It was equally a mistake to describe the war against Russia as a war between liberty and despotism. Apart from the fact that if such be the case, liberty would be for the nonce represented by a Bonaparte, the whole avowed object of the war is the maintenance of the balance of power, and of the Vienna treaties those very treaties which annul the liberty and independence of nations.

A more than usually vigorous speech has also been delivered by Mr. Urquhart at Birmingham, where he developed again his charge of treachery against the Coalition. However, as Mr. Urquhart is strictly opposed to the only party prepared to overthrow the rotten Parliamentary basis on which the Coalition Government of the Oligarchy rests, all his speeches are as much to the purpose as if they were addressed to the clouds.

In the House of Commons, last night, Lord John Russell announced the formation of a special Ministry of War, which ministry, however, is not to absorb the various departments at present constituting the administration of war, but only to have a nominal superintendence over all[5]. The only merit of the change is the erection of a new ministerial place. With regard to the appointment, The Morning Post of yesterday stated that the Peelite[6] section of the Cabinet had been victorious, and that the Duke of Newcastle would become the new Secretary for War, while the Colonies would be offered to Lord John Russell[7]. The Globe of last evening confirmed this statement, adding that, as Lord John was not likely to accept, Sir George Grey would be nominated Colonial Secretary. Although the Peelite journals affect still to be ignorant of a final decision, the Palmerstonian journal[8] of to-day announces in positive terms that the Duke of Newcastle and Sir George Grey have been appointed.

The Morning Post has the following in reference to the Austrian "peremptory summons:"[9]

"We have reason to believe that Russia will not treat the Austrian communication with silence, nor meet it by a refusal, and we shall not be surprised if we shortly learn that Russia is disposed to accept the Austrian proposal for the complete evacuation of the Turkish territory, on condition that Austria shall arrange an armistice with a view to negotiation."[10]

The Morning Chronicle of to-day likewise grants that "the communication may be of the greatest importance". It adds, nevertheless, that it must not be considered as an ultimatum, that it is couched in the usual courteous language, and that a rupture was only held out in case Russia should ignore the communication altogether. If Russia gave an evasive answer, or made a partial concession, new suggestions and negotiations might follow.

Let us suppose, for a moment, that the assumption of The Post was just, and about to be realized; it will be seen that the service rendered by Austria would be only to procure another armistice in favor of Russia. It is highly probable that something like this may have been contemplated, founded on the supposition that Silistria, in the meantime, would fall, and the "character and honor of the Czar" be guaranteed. The whole scheme, however, must fall to the ground, if Silistria holds out, and the valor of the Turks should at last force the allied troops to enter into the campaign, much as it 'nay be against the inclination of their commanders and Governments.

If there be anything fit to render the frequent gaps and Omissions in this great war less unendurable, it is the amusing uncertainty of the English press and public about the value and the reality of the alliance between the western and the German powers. Scarcely is the "peremptory summons" of Austria started to the satisfaction of all the world, when all the world is distressed by the news of a meeting between the Austrian and Prussian monarchs, a meeting which, in the words of The Times, "forbodes no good to the western powers."

The Board of Trade tables for the last month have been published[11]. The results are less favorable than those of the preceding months. The declared value of exports has fallen off £747,527, as compared with the corresponding month of 1853[12]. The articles chiefly affected have been those connected with the Manchester markets; but linen, woolen and silk manufactures likewise exhibit a decline.

In the usual monthly circular of Messrs. Sturge of Birmingham, We read that the wheat-plant has not tillered nor stooled well, and this is accounted for in the following way:

The high price of seed caused a smaller quantity to be used per acre than in linary years, and the inferiority of the wheat of last year's growth committed to the soil may not have done so well as would have been the case if it had been better harvested."

In regard to this statement, The Mark Lane Express observes:

"This inference appears to us exceedingly probable and deserving of attention, as unsound seed can scarcely be expected to produce so healthy a plant as that gathered under more auspicious circumstances. The progress of the growing crop will be watched with more than ordinary interest, it being an admitted fact that stocks, not only in this country but almost in all parts of the world, have, owing to the extreme deficiency of the harvest of 1853, been reduced into a very narrow compass. The future range of prices will depend mainly on the character of the weather; the present value of wheat is too high to encourage speculation, and though it is more than probable that the supplies from abroad will, during the next three months, be on a much less liberal scale than they have hitherto been, still, if nothing should occur to give rise to uneasiness in respect to the probable result of the next harvest, those having anything to dispose of will naturally be anxious to clear out old stocks, while millers and others are likely to act on the hand-to-mouth system.... At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the country generally is bare of wheat."

You cannot at present pass through the streets of London without being stopped by crowds assembled before patriotic pictures exhibiting the interesting group of the Sultan, Bonaparte and Victoria-"the three saviors of civilization." To help you to a full appreciation of the characters of the personages who are now charged with saving civilization, after having "saved society," I resume my sketch of their generalissimo, Marshal St. Arnaud.[13]

The famous days of July[14] rescued Jacques Leroy, (old style), or Jacques Achille Leroy de St. Arnaud, (new style), from the grasp of his creditors. The grave question then arose how to improve the circumstance of French society being thrown into a general confusion by the sudden fall of the old regime. Achille had not participated in the battle of the three days, nor could he pretend to have done so the fact being too notorious that at the memorable epoch he found himself carefully locked up in a cell at St. Pélagie. He was therefore unable to claim, like many other adventurers of the day, any remuneration under the false pretense of having been a combattant of July. On the other hand, the success of the bourgeois regime appeared by no means favorable for this notorious outcast of the Parisian Bohemia, who had always professed an implicit faith in Legitimacy, and never belonged to the Society of the "Aide-Toi"[15], (a want of foresight which he has mended by becoming one of the first members of the Society of the "Dix-mille,")[16] nor played any part whatever in the great "comedy of fifteen years." Achille, however, had learned some thing from his ancient master, M. E. de P.,[17] in the art of extemporization. He boldly presented himself at the War Office, pretending to be a non-commissioned officer who, from political motives, had tendered his resignation at the time of the Restoration. His banishment from the Gardes du Corps[18] his expulsion from the Corsican Legion, his absence from the ranks of the 51st Regiment setting out for the colonies, were easily turned into as many proofs of his eccentric patriotism, and of the persecution he had suffered at the hands of the Bourbons. The conduct-list gave his assertions the lie, but the War Office feigned to believe in their truth. The withdrawal of numerous officers refusing to take the oath under Louis Philippe had caused a great void which must be filled up, and every public apostasy from Legitimacy, whatever might have been the motives of the conversion, was accepted as a valuable support to the usurper's government. Achille, consequently, was commissioned in the 64th Regiment of the Line, but not without undergoing the humiliation of being simply rehabilitated in his post of non-commissioned officer, instead of being promoted to a higher grade, like the others who had resigned under the Restoration.

Time and his brevet, advanced him at last to the rank of lieutenant. At the same time he was given an opportunity to make valid his special talents of servile apostasy. In 1832 his regiment was quartered at Parthenay, in the midst of the Legitimist insurrection of the Vendee. His former connection with some former Gardes du Corps, rallied around the Duchess of Berry, enabled him to combine the offices of soldier and of police-spy —a combination singularly agreeing with the genius matured in the gaming houses of London and the cafés borgnes[19] of Paris. The Duchess of Berry having been sold by the Jew Deutz to Mons. Thiers was arrested at Nantes, and Achille became intrusted with the mission of accompanying her to Blaye, where he was to act as one of her jailers under the orders of General Bugeaud[20]. Anxious not to let slip the occasion of exhibiting a conspicuous cal for the dynastic interest, he over-shot the mark, and contrived to scandalize even Bugeaud himself by the abject services he allowed the police to impose upon him, and the brutal treatment to which he subjected the Duchess. Bugeaud, however, had not the power to dismiss an aide-de-camp whom the police had selected for the special duty of guarding the Duchess, who was under the particular superintendence of M. Joly, the Commissary of Police, and who, after all, depended more on the Ministry of the Interior than on that of War. The future generalissimo of the Anglo-French troops played the part of the mid-wife, it being his special mission to state and prove by witnesses the pregnancy of the Duchess, the discovery of which dealt the death-blow to the partisans of the old régime. It was in this same quality that the name of M. de St. Arnaud figured for the first time in the Moniteur, in whose columns of May 1833, we read that

"M. Achille de St. Arnaud, thirty-four years old, habitually residing at Paris, aide-de-camp to General Bugeaud, was summoned to sign, in his official capacity, the act of birth of the child of which the Duchess was delivered at her prison on May 10, 1833".[21]

The gallant St. Arnaud continuing to play his part of a jailer, accompanied the Duchess on board the corvette which disembarked her at Palermo.

Having returned to France, Achille became the laughing stock and the scapegoat of his regiment. Disliked by the other officers, excluded from their réunions, harassed by undisguised proofs of their utter contempt, put as it were in quarantine by the whole regiment, he was forced to take refuge in the Foreign Legion at Algiers, which was then organizing at Paris under the care of Colonel Bedeau. This Foreign Legion may be fairly characterized as the Society of the Tenth December of the European armies. Notorious desperadoes, adventurers of broken fortune, deserters from all countries, the general offal of the European armies, constituted the nucleus of this corps d'élite, which was properly called the refugium peccatorum[22]. There was no situation that could have better suited the genius of Achille than the fellowship of such a corps, the official mission of which preserved it from the fangs of the police, while the character of its constituting members removed all the checks weighing on the officers of the regular army. Notwithstanding Achille's habitual prodigality, he gave such slender proofs of military courage and capacity that he continued to vegetate during four years in the subaltern place of lieutenant in the 1st battalion of the Foreign Legion, until on the 15th August, 1837 when a new brevet conferred upon him the rank of captain. It is an unhappy circumstance that the company's chest is placed under the control of the captains in the French army, who are accountable for the pay of the men and their provisions. Chests were exactly the spot in which the modern Achille was most vulnerable; and thus it happened that some months after his promotion a terrible deficit was discovered in his. The Inspector-General, M. de Rullière, having detected this embezzlement, insisted on the punishment of the captain. The report to the Ministry was ready, it was on the point of being committed to the post, and M. de St. Arnaud would have been lost forever, if M. Bedeau, his lieutenant-colonel, affected by the despair of his inferior, had not interfered and appeased the wrath of General Rullière.[23]

St. Arnaud has quite a manner of his own of showing his gratitude for past obligations. Appointed to the ministry of war, on the eve of the coup d'état[24], he caused General Bedeau to be arrested, and struck the name of General Rullière from the lists. Rullière addressed to him the following letter, which he circulated among his friends at Paris, and published in the Belgian journals:

"In 1837, the General Rullière refused to break the sword of the Captain Leroy de St. Arnaud, unwilling to dishonor him; in 1851, the Minister of War, Leroy de St. Arnaud, unable to dishonor the General Rullière, has broken his sword."[25]

  1. L. Kossuth's speech at a meeting in Sheffield on June 5, 1854. The Times, No. 21761, June 7, 1854.—Ed.
  2. The reference is to the rout of the Turkish army at Vienna on September 12, 1683by Austrian, German and Polish troops, with the Polish army under Jan Sobieski playing the decisive role. This battle stopped the advance of the Turks into Central Europe.
  3. J. Hammer, Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches.—Ed.
  4. The Times, No. 21762, June 8, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  5. The Times, No. 21763, June 9, 1854.—Ed.
  6. The Peelites—a group of moderate Tories who rallied around Sir Robert Peel and supported his policy of concessions to the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie in the economic sphere while preserving the political domination of the big landlords and financiers. In 1846, in the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie, Peel repealed the Corn Laws. This caused great dissatisfaction among the Tory protectionists, led to a split in the Tory party and the secession of the Peelites. After Peel's death in 1850, the Peelites formed a political group without any definite programme, they participated in the Aberdeen Coalition Ministry (1852-55) and merged with the Liberal Party in the late 1850s and early 1860s.
  7. "The New Ministry of War", The Morning Post, No. 25095, June 8, 1854.—Ed.
  8. The Morning Post.—Ed.
  9. The reference is to the demands for the immediate evacuation of the Danubian Principalities and other territories occupied by the Russian troops made by Austria and Prussia to Chancellor Nesselrode after the signing of the treaty on April 20, 1854 (on the treaty, see The Greek Insurrection. The Polish Emigration. The Austro-Prussian Treaty. Russian Documents).
  10. The Morning Post, No. 25095, June 8, 1854, leader.—Ed.
  11. "Accounts relating to Trade and Navigation. III. Exports of British and Irish Produce and Manufactures from the United Kingdom", The Economist, No. 562, June 3, 1854.—Ed.
  12. "Our Trade", The Economist, No. 562, June 3, 1854.—Ed.
  13. The first half of the article about Saint-Arnaud was written by Marx on June 6, 1854 as entered in the Notebook: "6. Juni. St. Arnaud." The article has not been found in the issues of the New York Daily Tribune, the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, and the New York Weekly Tribune available to the editors of this edition.
  14. This refers to the July 1830 bourgeois revolution in France.
  15. Help yourself.—Ed.
  16. Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera (Help yourself, heaven will help you)—a political society of a moderate liberal trend formed in France in 1827 with the help of a few future members of the July monarchy (Guizot, Barrot, Lafayette, etc.). It also included a group of bourgeois republicans (Flocon, Godefroy Cavaignac and others).

    The society "dix-mille" ("ten thousand")—an ironical name given by Marx to the secret Bonapartist Society of December 10. It was formed in 1849 and included mainly declassed elements. Marx described this society in detail in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

    The words "ten thousand" (ten thousand Persian archers) belong to Agesilaus II, King of Sparta. In 394 BC, during the Corinthian war (395-387 B.C.) between the Peloponnesian Alliance headed by Sparta and the coalition of Greek states headed by Athens, Agesilaus II had to interrupt his successful military operations against Persia in Asia Minor and return to Greece. He declared that he had been driven from Asia by "ten thousand Persian archers" thus hinting that Persia was subsidising Athens in this war (archers were depicted on Persian gold coins).
  17. Eugène Courtray de Pradel[172].—Ed.
  18. Royal Guard.—Ed.
  19. Low pubs.—Ed.
  20. In 1832, when the royalist coup against Louis Philippe failed, the Duchess of Berry, mother of the Duke of Chambord who was a legitimist pretender to the French throne, was imprisoned in the castle of Blaye, and in 1833 sent to Italy to Duke Luccheri-Palli to whom she had been secretly married.
  21. Report of May 13, 1833. Le Moniteur universel, No. 134, May 14, 1833.—Ed.
  22. The sinners' refuge.—Ed.
  23. Le trois maréchaux, p. 9.—Ed.
  24. The reference is to the coup d'etat of Louis Bonaparte on December 2, 1851.—Ed.
  25. Cited from the anonymous article: "Les Spoliateurs", Le Bulletin français, No. 5, January 29, 1852, p. 96.—Ed.