The Actions of The Allied Fleet. The Situation in The Danubian Principalities. Spain. British Foreign Trade

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This article is entered in the Notebook as "Freitag. 15. September. Sebastopol Bomarsund Expedition Moldau und [illegible] Oesterreicher in die Walachei. [illegible] Spain. Exports".

London, Friday, Sept. 15, 1854

We read in yesterday's Moniteur the following telegraphic dispatch:

"Therapia, Sept. 7.-The French and the Turks left Varna on the 5th. The English fleet was to join them at the Island of the Serpents. The weather is beautiful."[1]

The delay in the departure of this first portion of the expeditionary army was caused by the violent storms which visited the Bosphorus up to the 27th of August. The wind having come round from the north-east on the 27th, the fleet of transports was enabled to leave Constantinople for the Black Sea. The Isle of the Serpents (Ilade Adessi) is a little rocky islet at some distance from the Bessarabian coast, and nearly opposite the mouth of the Danube. Its circumference is not more than three English miles. The departure not having been effected until the 5th, the disembarkation of the troops cannot have taken place before the 9th of September.

A curious passage occurs in an article published by the Moniteur, in which the chances of the expedition are discussed.

"If," says the Moniteur, "if the number of the Russian troops stationed in the Crimea should be found to be more considerable than we are led to believe by the previous reports; if the force of Sevastopol should offer a protracted defense; if obstacles should be afforded by the season; if, finally, an important Russian army should succeed in reenforcing the Crimea, we should be quits for this time with a simple reembarkation, and the attack of Sevastopol would be resumed in the spring."[2]

In one word, if any serious difficulties should be encountered by that "powerful armada, with its thousand of agencies of destruction," it will quickly return to the Bosphorus. At all events, it will not be their fault if such difficulties should not be met with, due notice of the expedition having been given to the Czar months ago, and it having been delayed up to the very last days of the season. The confidence felt by the French mariners in their commander may be judged of by the following extract of a letter from Constantinople, published by the Augsburger Zeitung:

"In the fleet St. Arnaud is generally called Florival, the name under which he made his debut at the Ambigu Comique at Paris."[3]

According to the latest dispatches from Hamburg and Copenhagen, part of the French fleet, transports and soldiers, have passed through the Belt on their return to France. A Bonapartist paper, the Constitutionnel, makes a revelation on the Bomarsund affair:

"His majesty the Emperor Napoleon III did not wish that the devotion of the navy should be deprived of the recompense merited by it after such a prolonged and painful cruise in the Baltic."[4]

Bomarsund, then, was only bombarded for the amusement of the fleet, and as a concession to the impatience and ennui of the officers. Those two laconic allusions of the Moniteur and Constitutionnel contain more in qualification of the character of the war than all the swaggering leading articles of the ministerial English press.

The Czar has ordered the arrest of all the engineers who were engaged in the construction of the forts of Bomarsund. They are to be put on their trial. One of the charges raised against them is that the fortifications should have been constructed entirely of blocks of pure granite, while it has been proved since their fall that the interior of the walls was simply filled with sand and rough stones. All the commanders of the different fortresses along the Gulf of Finland have received orders from St. Petersburg to inquire into the most minute details of their construction, and to report on this subject without delay. It is now ascertained that Fort Gustavsvärn at Hango Head was blown up by the Russians themselves, at the moment when Baraguay d'Hilliers and General Jones appeared before it on their reconnoitering expedition. The Russians feared an attack on Åbo, and in order to make the troops of Fort Gustavsvärn disposable for the defense of that town the fort was destroyed.

Being still in the Baltic I may as well give a place here to the following piece of news contained in the Aftonbladet.

"A correspondent from Copenhagen announces as certain that the Danish Government authorized on Aug. 16, Mr. T. P. Shaffner to establish a line of electric telegraph extending from North America through Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway to Copenhagen. On the 26th a line was opened from Stockholm to Malmö. The extent of this line is 68,670 yards."

Some of the London papers to-day give telegraphic news of a victory gained by Shamyl somewhere in the neighborhood of Tiflis. The French and German papers contain no mention of this fact. On September 4 the Turks crossed the Danube near Matchin, and occupied the island situated between that fortress and Ibraila. A great portion of the Turkish flotilla of the Danube has also cast anchor off Matchin. The occupation of Ibraila by the Turks was to take place on the 5th inst. You will notice the proclamation of General Krusenstern, posted up on the walls of Odessa on the 30th August, in which the inhabitants are warned, under heavy penalties, not to oppose the setting fire to the city should this act be deemed necessary by the troops for the defense of the country. The Russians have also given orders in all the districts of Bessarabia to burn towns and villages at the approach of the enemy. The order is the more ludicrous as the Russians are well aware that the Roumans of Bessarabia would no more regret their withdrawal than the Roumans of Wallachia and Moldavia.

I have described the circumstances accompanying the enrolment in the Russian service of the Wallachian and Moldavian militia[5]. From the English papers of to-day you will learn the details of the scenes which took place on the 28th August, between M. de Budberg and the officers of the Rouman militia, scenes which ended in Captain Phillippescu telling the Russian general to his face that the Wallachians considered the Sultan as their only suzerain. He was, of course, placed under arrest, in company with two brother officers who had indulged in similar remonstrances. The following account of the events which occurred on the 29th, the day on which the Russian campaign in the Principalities was brought to such a glorious conclusion, is from the Paris Presse of to-day:

"The arrest of Captain Phillippescu and two other officers, who dared to set at defiance the injunctions of General Budberg, had caused a great irritation in the ranks of the Moldavian militia, and augmented its reluctance to serve in the Russian army. On the 29th, shortly before the hour fixed for their review, the Hetman Maurocordatos repaired to the barracks of the cavalry, situated opposite the Administrative Palace. Great was his consternation at finding it completely deserted. The soldiers, instead of saddling their horses for the review, had contrived to make their escape from the stables, abandoning their arms and baggage. The unfortunate Hetman hastened to the barracks of the artillery to meet with a new surprise. The cannon were in their places in the Court, but the men had disappeared. Maurocordatos, in despair, fancied himself already on the road to Siberia. But he succeeded in reuniting about 30 men. Trembling with rage and fear, he ordered them to put the horses to the guns and to march out to the place of the review. 'Let us be carried away by force,' they shouted. 'We receive no orders from the Russians.' With these words they shut up the gates of the barracks. At that moment drums resounded in the place. It was the whole division of Osten-Sacken, composed of twelve battalions, one regiment of dragoons, and three battalions of artillery, which, after intercepting the communications, formed up on the place and completely blocked up both the Administrative Palace and the barracks of the Moldavian cavalry. Sixty Moldavian horsemen who had been brought back were drawn up before the barracks. Opposite to them were 12,000 Russians—infantry, cavalry and artillery. Osten-Sacken arrived, followed by General Budberg and a numerous staff. The Muscovite troops deployed in columns, and defiled before their generals, with bayonets fixed, shouting their hurrahs. They next formed in squares at a distance of 150 yards from the Moldavian horsemen. They received the command to load. The Russian soldiers after having made the sign of the cross, executed the order. Aim was taken at the sixty horsemen. This being done, Osten-Sacken advanced with his staff toward the little body of Moldavian militia-men, and summoned them to follow his army with the threat of having them all shot in case of refusal. A silence of several minutes followed his injunction. A terrible emotion seizes upon the crowd who had assembled on the place. Then one of the Moldavians steps from the ranks and in a calm voice addresses the Russian General. 'We are Moldavian soldiers, and our duty is to defend our country, not to fight for the foreigner. Do with us as you please. We shall not march with you.' 'You may murder us, but we shall not march with you,' repeat the sixty soldiers with one voice. On hearing this bold answer, Osten-Sacken ordered them to dismount from their horses and to lay down their arms, as though for immediate execution. They obey, prepared to die. In a moment thousands of soldiers surround them, rush upon them, and take them prisoners. This great feat of arms accomplished, the Muscovites advance to the Moldavian artillery barracks where the thirty men continue to keep the gates closed. The gates having been forced, they penetrate into the interior; a struggle takes place, and the artillerists also, overwhelmed by superior numbers, are taken prisoners. They are hurried away in the midst of insults and menaces of death. They remain impassible. Only one, a young cornet of 22 years, his eyes kindled with rage, advances toward General Wrangel, and uncovering his breast, exclaims: 'There is my breast, pierce it with your balls if you dare.' The General did not dare. The cornet and his comrades disarmed, were conducted between two rows of bayonets and brought to the camp of Osten-Sacken, outside the gates of Jassy. What has become of them, nobody knows. As to the three officers arrested on the evening before, it is generally feared that they will be shot. On the same evening the Russians surrounded the place where the regiment of Moldavian infantry was encamped. But they found only 150 men, the rest having escaped. The population of Jassy uttered loud execrations against their protectors. Sixty horsemen, thirty artillerists, and one hundred and fifty infantry captured and disarmed by 12,000 Russians with three batteries. This is the only victory, the laurels of which the Russians carry home from their campaign in the Principalities."

In a former letter I mentioned the order given by Omer Pasha to suppress the publication of the Austrian manifesto of General Hess[6]. We are now informed on what grounds this order was given, viz.: because the said proclamation called upon the Wallachian authorities to apply exclusively to the Austrian commander in all affairs. Omer Pasha sent word to General Hess that he had better abstain from intermeddling with the civil Administration of Wallachia, which belonged to his (Omer Pasha's) province. Having only intended his proclamation as a feeler how far he might go, General Hess apologised for the objectionable passage, .and in order to convince Omer Pasha that it was all a mistake, he communicated to him the original German text, where the Wallachian authorities are only invited to apply to his Aide-de-Camp in such matters as are connected with the Austrian troops. The Austrian General Popovitch, who had entered Bucharest with the Austrian vanguard on the 3d September, and immediately commenced to play the part of Haynau, was likewise checked by Omer Pasha. How welcome the Austrian occupation is to the Wallachians in general may be understood from an extract from to-day's Daily News:

"Many of the villages on the road by which the Austrians advanced, have been deserted by their inhabitants, carrying with them all their worldly goods, fearing that they would be obliged to supply provisions or means of transport in return for paper money,. worth exactly half its nominal value. The consequence is, that bread for the Austrian troops must be forwarded from Bucharest, twenty and even thirty miles distant."

It is certainly with respect to the infamies committed in the Principalities—the consequences of English diplomacy that the sober Economist, alluding to some comparatively very slight faults of American diplomacy in Europe, draws the following line of distinction between English and American diplomacy:

"Now, we have no doubt that men of gentlemanly feeling, of deep sense of decorum, of a clear perception of what is due to others, abound in America as well as here. The difference between us, and the misfortune of our cousins, are these: that such men do not at the other side of the Atlantic either elect a government or give the tone to the nation, or guide the language of the press. With us the educated and the upper classes have the power in their own hands. In the United States it is the mass who govern; it is the populace who usurp the name and title of the nation; it is they who dictate what shall be done or said; it is they who elect the government and whom the government must serve; it is they who support the press and whom the press must please; in fact, it is they who have to be acted down to and written down to."[7]

Thus speaks the servant of the English stockjobbers, as if English diplomacy were not an identical term with infamy, and as if the "gentlemen" appointed by Mr. Wilson, the editor of The Economist, and Mr. Gladstone, his superior, had not been convicted before Parliament of swindling, gambling and larceny.

From Spain news is scarce. On the 8th inst. the Consultative Junta of Madrid definitively dissolved itself. The Junta of Seville only dissolved after a strong protest against the reactionary course of the Central Government. The Democrats of Catalonia have published a manifesto against General Prim, who had sent in his adhesion to the present Government from Turkey, in order not to be excluded from a share in the spoils. He contracted the hatred of the Catalonians by the investment of the Castle of Figueras in 1843, marked by the most shocking barbarities, committed from pure rage at the brave defense of the place by a comparatively small force under the command of Ametller. This Prim was characterized at that time as "a person of ridiculous vanity, whose head had been turned by fortuitous success and by being made a count and a lieutenant-general."

We read in the Época that on the 7th a small battle was fought at Aranjuez between the National Guard and a band of which it is not yet known whether it was composed of Carlists or Republicans. Quick and certain as the success of the reaction seems to be, the counter-revolutionary journals do not cease to give vent to their apprehensiveness that matters may not even yet be settled in Spain.

From the accounts of trade and navigation just issued I extract the following statement:

Total declared Value of the Exports of British and Irish Produce
and Manufactures in each of the following years
Russia, northern ports and Black Sea£1,195,565£1,885,953£1,228,400
Sweden and Norway115,707334,017556,183
Hanover & Hanseatic towns3,642,9526,202,7007,565,493
Holland and
Azores and Madeira80,69864,909124,971
Spain and Balearic Isles597,848322,6141,360,719
Canary Islands33,28254,564107,638
Sardinian Territories2,490,3762,494,1971,112,447
Duchy of Tuscany639,794
Papal Territories207,491
Naples and Sicily639,544
Austrian Territories637,353
Wallachia and Moldavia179,510
Syria and Palestine375,551306,580
French Possessions in Senegambia1,725
West Coast of Africa234,768459,685617,764
Java and Sumatra285,296306,132558,212
United States and California9,053,5833,535,38123,658,427
Buenos Ayres551,035
Other Countries2157,223912,662
Total of foreign countries£ 26,909,432£ 34,119,587£ 65,551,579
Channel Islands£ 324,634£ 364,359£ 470,107
Ionian Islands50,88383,600116,567
South Africa257,245369,0761,212,630
East Indies3,857,9695,169,8888,185,695
Hong Kong357,908
North American Colonies2,089,3272,333,5254,898,544
West Indies2,581,9492,591,4251,906,689
Other Possessions39,43118,675347,787
Total to British possessions£10,254,940£13,261,436£33,382,202
Total of British & Foreign£37,164,372£47,381,023£98,933,781

The Economist selects the year of 1842, in order to exhibit the advantages of free trade since that period[9], forgetting, with its usual candour, that 1842 was a year of commercial depression, and 1853 a year of the greatest prosperity. If the progress of English exports were produced by the magic of free trade, it would have been better proved by comparison of the relative exports to countries maintaining a strict protectionist system, Russia and France for instance; the former of these countries being moreover that from which imports have most increased, and which had been most subject to the influence of British free trade. Now we find that the exports to both these countries have declined.

The export to Russia having been£ 1,106,767
While in 1831 it was1,195,565
And the export to France having been in 18532,636,330
While in 1842 it was3,193,939

The aggregate value of British exports in the seven months ending 5th August, 1854, compared with those during the corresponding months of 1853, shows an increase, in consequence of the metals having increased in value; but in the other ruling products of British industry we find a marked decline, as shown by the following table:

Linen manufactures£ 2,650,050£ 2,456,953
Linen yarn646,578581,752
Silk manufactures965,345834,275
Silk, thrown132,689120,890
Wool manufactures3,741,2613,731,453
Cotton manufactures15,515,22414,762,981
Cotton yarn3,897,0803,838,393

The decline in cotton appears still more striking since the quantity of exports has increased, while the value realised has decreased. In 1854 there were exported 981,994,130 yards of cotton manufactures, exclusive of lace and patent net, while in 1853 there were only exported 969,293,663 yards.

  1. Le Moniteur universel, No. 257, September 14, 1854.—Ed.
  2. Report from Constantinople. Le Moniteur universel, No. 254, September 11, 1854.—Ed.
  3. In calling the famous improviser Eugène de Pradel the teacher of Saint-Arnaud, Marx alludes to an episode in the life of the Commander-in-Chief of the French army in the Crimea: during the Restoration Jacques Leroy (Saint-Arnaud) played in the Paris theatre Gaieté under the stage name of Florival.
  4. Quoted from . a reprint in L'Indépendance belge, No. 255, September 12, 1854.—Ed.
  5. Marx probably refers to his article "Evacuation of the Danubian Principalities. The Events in Spain. A New Danish Constitution. The Chartists".—Ed.
  6. This presumably refers to Marx's article, not yet found, which was entered in the Notebook as "Freitag. 8 September. Turkey. Russians Refusal. Prussia. Spain". Part of the material from Marx's article, particularly that concerning Spain, may have been included by the Tribune editors in Pulszky's report published in the newspaper on September 22, 1854.
  7. "American Diplomatic Taste and Morality." The Economist, No. 576, September 9, 1854.—Ed.
  8. The Economist, No. 576, September 9, 1854.—Ed.
  9. The tariff reform of 1842 lowered customs duties on corn and other imported goods, but introduced income tax as a compensation for the treasury.