International Workingmen’s Association 1864

Note for Draft of Speech by Marx on France's Attitude to Poland

The 100 days — the period between Napoleon’s arrival in Paris from Elba on March 20, 1815 and his second deposition on June 22 of the same year after his defeat at Waterloo on June 18.

The manuscript breaks off with the words “100 days”. An idea of what Marx said next can only be partly, gleaned from the concluding text of his preparatory materials for the polemics against Fox, written by Marx in English and French and reproduced below. French quotations are translated into English; longer passages are placed in asterisks; the explanations in square brackets have been provided by the editors.

[...] Napoleon told the deputies of Warsaw that he did not want a national war. He took possession of the old Polish provinces in his name, not in that of Poland. The Polish army he disperses amongst the Grand Army.

It was, therefore, not the disaster of Napoleon which caused him to abandon Poland, but it was his renewed betrayal of Poland, that caused his disaster.

The enthusiasm in Poland was above all checked by the infamous conduct of the troops under the kings of Westphalia [Jerome Bonaparte] and Naples [Joachim Murat]; under Vandamme etc. They were worse than Russians.

In Lithuania, besides, the grandees were brought over by George Adam Czartoryski to Alexander’s side. Hence no national demonstrations and movements, when the French entered.

* Fearing even that the Poles may start a war with Russia in their owl] interests, Napoleon dispersed their 80,000 troops in his Great Army — this is what produced a very pernicious effect on this campaign.* With a reconstituted Poland he might have restored himself from his disasters and waited upon the return of good weather on the lines of the Niemen, Bug and Narew.

Nobody will wonder at Napoleon’s tremendous blunder. Charras (colonel) has shown in his Histoire des cent jours that that despot rather than have a truly national and revolutionary war in France after his defeat at Waterloo, preferred to succumb to the Coalition.

At the same time not to forget: * “Poland was literally ravaged by the half-million soldiers composing the Great Army whom it was obliged to feed” [Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 96].

Those who want to be informed upon the details as to this point ought to read: “Abbe de Pradt, Histoire de I'Ambassade dans le Grand Duche de Varsovie en 1812, 2nd edit. Paris, 1815.” This Abbé was Napoleon’s ambassador at Warsaw at that time. The secret instructions which de Pradt received from Napoleon, amounted to this: “he should arouse in the Poles a patriotic enthusiasm and excite them to the most extensive war preparations, bill avoid giving ally nourishment to the hope of a restoration of Poland.”

Is “Sawaszkiewicz” wrong when he says:

* “The Poles fought abroad exclusively in the interests of France. Never (lid France undertake a single war in the interests of Poland: on the contrary it always sacrificed its ally for the sake of its own, ill-understood interests” lop. cit., p. 851.


3 January 1815. Secret treaty of Austria, France, England against Russia and Prussia. (Restoration of Poland one of the articles.) (Brought about by Talleyrand.)

(It cannot be denied that the correspondence between Castlereagh and Alexander, respecting the kingdom of Poland, Vienna, October, November 1814 (laid before the House of Commons 1847) does great honour to Castlereagh.)

This treaty paralysed and annulled by Napoleon’s return from Elba. Talleyrand, the only Anti-Russian minister of the Restoration, fell in disgrace.

In 1821 at Hanover agreement between Metternich and Castlereagh at Hanover.

Richelieu the French Premier tinder Louis XVIII, Russian minister.

Chateaubriand (see his Congres de Verone) afterwards tool of Alexander.

Polignac made treaty with Russia for the partition of Turkey, and the cession of the left bank of the Rhine to France, when the Revolution of July (1830) took place.

By the secret despatches, found after Grand duke’s Constantine flight from Warsaw, and published in the “Portfolio”, 1836, it is seen — see f. i. despatch of Pozzo di Borgo, Paris, December, 1815 — that Russia considered Metternich (Austria) as the only serious impediment in her way, but that she was also not quite content with England.

In an account to Nesselrode Pozzo di Borgo says: “Metternich addressed himself to England with the view of arming her against the Emperor, and he repeats his attempts at every phase which events present to hint. He accredits the idea that all the governments are exposed to internal revolutions, because Russia would compel the Sultan to observe treaties; and he succeeds in intimidating many of them. He tampered with the French ministry, and it resisted, and he raises up internal broils because of that resistance. On the one hand he flatters the Bonapartists, and encourages them to revive the memory of the son of Napoleon [Herzog von Reichstadt]; on the other, he appropriates to himself the Gazette de France and the Quotidienne, pretended representatives of true royalism and jesuitism; and these papers, so-called Christian, become Turk, overwhelm the public with a deluge of insults and falsehoods against us. These truths, Count, escape no one here. The French ministry is convinced of them, it repeats and confirms them to me constantly.

Louis Philippe.

A single night’s sleep on the velvet cushions of the Tuileries was enough to chase all liberal aspirations from the timid of Louis Philippe.

In an autograph and submissive appeal to the father of all the Russias he prostituted both his dignity and the revolution by representing himself as an involuntary instrument in the Current of events, and apologised for the charter he had promised to France.

It was characteristic of the man — before the Polish Revolution: he did not scruple to encourage the refugees of Spain, led by Mina, Valdes, and — Torrijos against the bigoted Bourbon king [Ferdinand VII], who refused to acknowledge his dignity, and whose minister had issued a formal circular, condemnatory of the July revolution. These refugees paid dearly for their confidence placed in the French cabinet. Provided with arms and money, and incited to war by the most unequivocal assurances, they were afterwards permitted to be pursued by the Spanish army across the French frontiers, there to be hewn down or carried off.

Outbreak in Warsaw 29 November 1830. Prince Metternich indulged in a scheme for the reconstruction of Poland, in favour of an Austrian prince, and broached it to England and France; but as Louis Philippe would not act without England, and as Palmerston proved true to the Czar [Nicholas], the whole was quashed in embryo.... The ambitious designs of the Emperor Francis on Poland soon vanished, before the disturbed state of Italy.

Louis Philippe’s conduct was the more infamous, since the Polish insurrection had saved France from a new Anti-Jacobin war; since Prussia’s convention with Russia against France, and her active measures against Russian Poland, and the general state in Germany allowed Louis Philippe to act without any regard whatever to England. He might have forced Palmerston, because England herself then in a revolutionary upheaving, and the Whig ministry, as Peel told them, lived only upon the “Trench Alliance”.

The Russians, on the news of the revolution, of the barricades in Paris, determined to march upon France ... one of their first measures was to strengthen the Russian (not Polish) garrison of Warsaw with fresh Russian troops, in order to facilitate the movement of Constantine’s Polish army towards the French frontier. Now, this location of Russian garrisons in Warsaw and elsewhere, was one of the gross violations of their promised constitution.... Some of their bravest young men flew to arms and attacked the Russian garrison and ere long the Polish population rose and joined them as if with one heart.

1831. Louis Philippe in his crown speech: “that the nationality of Poland shall not perish”. The French chamber of deputies answered in the same strain.

Afterwards Sébastiani: *order is reigning in Warsaw.*

(Casimir Perier told the chamber on 7 March 1832, that Poland had not lost her treaty rights; on 26 February had Russia issued her statute, which made a Russian province of Poland.)

The Polish nation (that is to say the diplomatic clique) relied on the French “Compliments”. An intimation was given to the Polish generals, that if they delayed attacking the Russian army for 2 months, their security would he guaranteed. The Polish generals did delay — that fatal delay, and Poland was ruined, not by the arms of Russia, but by the promises of France (and Austria).

Lafayette communicated against the denials of Guizot, Thiers, Perier, Sebastiani, to the chamber of deputies the documentary proofs; 1) that the Poles had broken the Russian coalition against France; 2) that Louis Philippe had caused the Poles to prolong their resistance for 2 months; 3) that it had quite been in the power of France, by one firm declaration, as they had made it on behalf of Belgium, to prevent the Prussian help which in fact decided the Russian victory.

* Sitting of the Chamber of Deputies of 16 January 1831:

Lafayette: “The war was prepared against us; Poland was to form an advanced guard; the advanced guard turned against the main body.”

Mauguin: “Who arrested the movement of Russia? It was Poland. They wanted to hurl her against us; she became our advanced guard, and we are leaving her! Well! Let her die! Her children are accustomed to die for us” (B. Sarrans, Lafayette et la Revolution de 1830, Paris, 1832, t. 2, pp. 157, 160-61).

19 and 20 September 1831. The Minister of Foreign Affairs [Sebastiani] vigorously defended himself against the accusation that he had advised the Polish government to postpone the struggle for another 2 months, so as to give France time to intervene in favour of Poland. Lafayette exposed him as a liar by producing documents confirming this fact.

After a few explanations concerning the conduct of the French consul [Durant] in Warsaw, who, before taking his oath to the new, insurrectionist government, had dared to ask the permission of the Emperor of Russia, *he shows that the French cabinet by his advice first paralysed the means of defence, and afterwards prolonged the insurrection upon false pretences. He read:

1) Official declaration of Czartoryski, when Foreign Minister a] the insurrectional government:* “Having placed our confidence in them” * (the cabinets) *, “we did not make use of all the internal and external resources... had it not been for the promises of the cabinets, we could have struck a blow which could have proved decisive; but we thought that we must wait a little — * [Lelewel, Histoire de Pologne, t. 1, p. 359]. (Lelewel says that the diplomatic clique by suppressing the Patriotic Society, opposing the emancipation of the peasants, and proclaiming the Constitutional Monarchy, spoiled everything.)

2) Lafayette read a letter, signed by General Kniaziewics and L. Plater d.d. Paris, 20 September 1831, where it is said: *"that it was the Minister of Foreign Affairs who suggested, on July 7, that we should send a messenger to Warsaw whose travelling expenses he bad covered; that the purpose of sending this messenger was, as His Excellency Count Sebastiani told us, to convince our government to wait another 2 months because it was the time necessary for negotiations”. “To the dictation of the French government,* the Polish Embassy, at Paris wrote to Czartoryski *’that in 2 months the affairs will be arranged and that they should bide their time until then — * [B. Sarrans. op. cit., t. 2, pp. 255-56, 324].


The Polish Refugees, disembarked from Prussia on the island Aix, were reduced to misery. The French government would not allow them any other asylum than Algiers. They say in their petition to Louis Philippe. Aix, 21 September 1832:

“Orders are announced as proceeding from Your Majesty, to organize a Polish battalion of us, in conformity with the ordinance of March 10, 1832, The stipulations contained in it, we consider to be repugnant to our custom, our honour, and our glory. A Polish soldier has never ranked among mercenaries; he has fought but for his domestic hearth, for his liberty, and for the freedom of his neighbours, and for that of France.... We learn with regret that France is interdicted to us. We did not hesitate to present a petition to Your Majesty’s ministers with respect to what we called our transportation to Algiers.... Sire, you would not permit, we trust, that an expedition, not unlike that formerly sent to St. Domingo, should annihilate the last wrecks of ill-fated Poland” [Polonia. London, 1832, No. 3, pp. 170-71].

Lelewel’s expulsion from France.

Republic of 1848

Russia interferes in the Danubian principalities and in Hungary. * That was sufficient.*

Blanqui — and under Louis Philippe the men of the rue Transnonain [worker participants in the Republican uprising in Paris in 1834] — were true friends of Poland. But their acts do not belong to the traditions of the French Foreign Office!