The Bank of France. Reinforcements to the Crimea. The New Field Marshals

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 4 October 1855


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Written about October 4, 1855
First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 469, October 8, 1855
Marked with the sign x
Published in English for the first time in MECW.
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (pp.557-559), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
Collection(s): Neue Oder-Zeitung
Keywords : Bank, France, Crimean War

London, October 4. The Bank of England has once again raised the rate of interest, from 5 per cent to 5½ per cent. In the first instance this measure is directed against the Banque de France, which—by way of bills of exchange drawn on London and discounted there—has shipped gold to the value of £4,600,000 from England to France in the course of the last six weeks. The most disturbing rumours are circulating on the stock exchange here concerning the financial state of the Banque de France. According to some of them a suspension of cash payments is imminent, according to others the notes of the Banque de France will receive a guarantee of increase "for additional security". This latter measure would then infallibly lead to a "run"[1] on the bank and to the immediate depreciation of its paper currency. Finally, it is claimed that the Banque de France will attempt to increase its capital to double the present amount by means of a subscription. However protean these rumours may appear as far as their details are concerned, they all indicate that the Banque de France is heading towards a crisis and that this institution, which has always been regarded as unshakeably solid since its foundation during the reign of Napoleon I, has become under Napoleon III just one more of the inverted credit pyramids which must be regarded as the most characteristic monuments of his reign. That section of French society which demanded more than anything else the appearance of abundant credit and of a "prospérité toujours croissante"[2] cannot complain when it is time to pay the price for this pleasant deception. In any case the financial operations, stock exchange manoeuvres and bank speculations which caused such a tremendous sensation in the last years of Louis Philippe's reign and gave rise to a whole polemical literature of the type of Juifs rois de l'époque[3], La dynastie Rothschild[4], etc., appear as mere child's play when they are compared with what has been achieved in this line from 1852 to the present time.

At this moment there are approximately 6,000 men under orders for shipment to the Crimea, among them 800 artillerymen, 900 cavalrymen and the rest infantry. In addition to these about 4,000 infantrymen are supposed to be despatched from Gibraltar, Malta, the Ionian Islands and Piraeus to the theatre of war. These reinforcements—even taking the Foreign Legion into account—are far from sufficient to restore the active English army even to its original strength. This brought the following comment from Bright at a meeting in Rochdale yesterday:

"Were I an advocate of the war I should adopt a quite different policy with regard to our internal military establishment. I should introduce a proper system of conscription, such as exists in Russia, Austria and France, and thus compel people from all classes to play their due part in what is called the task of the nation.".[5]

The appointment of the superannuated lords and earls Comber-mere, Strafford and Hardinge as field marshals as a reward for General Simpson's defeat before the Redan bastion (he is to be recalled, incidentally) is one of the many poor jokes and frivolous jests with which Palmerston is wont to brighten the evening of his life. The first two generals may fittingly be considered deceased, so their promotion has rather the character of a retroactive canonisation. Their earthly career long since finished, they have been raised to military sainthood. Lord Hardinge holds the antediluvian rank of Commander in Chief of the English army and has amply earned his field marshal's baton for his determined and indefatigable sycophancy and fawning upon field marshal Prince Albert. What makes the business still more piquant is the circumstance that a victory gained with the French over the Russians is celebrated by the promotion of forgotten officers who have fought against the French with the Russians. Thus for instance Lord Strafford's merit consists in having led a brigade of Guards at Waterloo[6], commanded the first army corps in the march on Paris and taken possession of Paris by occupying the heights of Belleville and Montmartre.

  1. Marx uses the English word.—Ed.
  2. Constantly growing prosperity.—Ed.
  3. Written by Alphonse Toussenel.—Ed.
  4. A reference to Georges-Marie Dairnvaell's pamphlets Grand procès entre Rothschild I-er, Roi des Juifs, et Satan Dernier, Roi des Imposteurs, Histoire édifiante et curieuse de Rothschild I-er, Roi des Juifs... and Rothschild I-er, ses valets et son peuple, all published in Paris in 1846 (the first one anonymously).—Ed.
  5. Marx gives a free rendering of Bright's speech made on October 3, 1855. Cf. the report published in The Times, No. 22177, October 5, 1855.—Ed.
  6. In the battle of Waterloo fought on June 18, 1815, the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian forces commanded by the Duke of Wellington and Blücher defeated Napoleon's army.