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Articles by Frederick Engels for The Northern Star

News from France

Source: MECW Volume 3, p. 527;
Written: in the first half of June 1844;
First published: in The Northern Star No. 344, June 15, 1844, with an editorial note: “From our own Correspondent”

There has been a serious turn-out of colliers at Rive de Jier, near Lyons, for wages and other grievances. This affair offered upon the whole the same features as the English strikes: processions with banners, meetings, molesting of knobsticks, &c. The strike lasted about six weeks; several of the men were imprisoned for conspiracy, though no serious disturbance appears to have occurred. At last the men are reported to have returned to their pits, though it is not stated whether the object of the strike was accomplished.

Republican Demomtration. — The following account of the gathering of the Republican forces upon the occasion of the funeral of the deceased M. Laffitte from the pen of the correspondent of the Weekly Dispatch will be found interesting, as showing the great strength of the Republicans in Paris, and the certainty of a speedy revolution in that country.

“Although no disturbance occurred at the funeral of the celebrated Jacques Laffitte, on the 30th ult. [May 30, 1844], the Republican party nevertheless made a powerful demonstration of its strength. Five thousand students belonging to the schools of law and medicine, assembled to do honour to a man whose whole life (with one fatal exception) had been devoted to the cause of political liberty. For that one error — viz., conferring the Crown upon Louis Philip [234] he partially atoned in the Chamber of Deputies, by imploring pardon of God and of man for the grievous injury he had been instrumental in inflicting upon France and the civilised world. The five thousand students who followed him to his last home, are all staunch Republican spirits — all glowing for political liberty. These noble-minded young men, together with the military students of the Polytechnic Schools, are the hope of young France. Let them eradicate from their breasts that absurd animosity towards England, which would lead them to plunge into war, for the mere purpose of settling the question of national rivalry over again — let them learn to respect their island-ally as a power advancing with them hand-in-hand in the road of civilisation — and those young men — the rising generation whom the Conservative press of both nations affect to despise — will one day be called upon to decide the destinies of France. In the Revolution of 1830, military students of sixteen and eighteen years of age became the generals of the people in that dreadful struggle with the royal troops. At the death of Louis Philippe the Republicans will no doubt proclaim their principles to be those alone adapted to France and French interests; and the young students of Paris must co-operate with, and advise the people in the political arena, as readily and faithfully as they led them on to victory fourteen years ago. But the demonstration of Republican strength on the occasion of the funeral of M. Laffitte, was not confined to the law and medical students. The Secret Societies were not idle. The members of those formidable political combinations assembled in immense numbers. They are for the most part respectable tradesmen, mechanics, and artisans, and are by no means the despicable rabble and low character which The Times and Journal des Débats have on various occasions represented them to be. They formed a column four deep, and marched immediately in front of the students. A third section of the Republican party also followed Laffitte to the cemetery of Père La Chaise. This was composed of operatives, all neatly attired, respectable in appearance, and exemplary in behaviour. The friends of liberty, therefore, mustered strong upon this occasion. Indeed, it is absurd for the Conservative press to deny the fact that the numerical strength, and the moral influences of the French Republican party are immense. Ranking amongst its numbers some of the most exalted names in France — names respectively famous in the spheres of war, literature, art, science, and policy — gaining strength daily by the acquisition of those whom the tyranny of the King alienates from the Orleans cause, and professing principles which accord with the new interests and new wants of civilisation, the Republican party is the one to which all eyes will be turned the moment any unforeseen accident or natural occurrence disturbs the reign of the Orleans dynasty.”

The “Holy War”. — The Emperor of Morocco [Abd ur-Rahman II] has declared a “holy war” against France and Frenchmen, and is rousing the various peoples and tribes within and contiguous to his dominions to arms [in] defence of the one faith, and for the extermination of the “Infidels”. Abd-el-Kader, the African Wallace, is the leader of this national enterprise for the overthrow and expulsion of the French conquerors. [235] The latest accounts represent the advanced section of the M(>orish army as being within sight of the French forces.

From accounts received from Constantine, it appears that the Duke d'Aumale has met with some reverses, which seem to have been the result of his own imprudence and want of experience. It will be seen from the subjoined extracts, that a small body of troops, left in charge of Biskra, has been surprised, the French garrison killed, and the whole of the baggage, ammunition, and stores, carried away by the natives,

A Toulon letter of the 3rd says: -

“We have received most afflicting news from the province of Constantine, dated the 20th ult. The Duke d'Aumale had left at Biskra a very small garrison, composed only of Lieutenant Petitgand, commandant, Sub-Lieutenant Crochard, and Aide-Surgeon Major Arcelin, with about forty men, from the battalion of the Constantine Fusileers. This small corps was intended to form the nucleus of a new battalion, to be raised from among the tribes in the environs of Biskra. Of all these, only a serjeant-major, named Pelisse, escaped. The new recruits opened the gates of the Casbah during the night to Mahommed Seghir, the Calif [236] of Aid-el-Kader, and his followers, who surprised our men in their sleep, and killed them all. Plunder became general, and 70,000 fr. left with the commandant to pay his men, and all the cannon, muskets, ammunition, and other stores, were carried off. This unfortunate affair is said to have encouraged the surrounding tribes to take up arms. The fatal news having reached the Prince [Duke d'Aumale] while in the mountains of the Ouled Sultan, he instantly marched to Biskra with a column of 3,000 men. He arrived on the 18th, but the Caif had left on the preceding day. The third battalion of the African Light Infantry marched from Constantine on the 24th for Biskra, to form its garrison.”

On Friday, the Chamber of Deputies voted by a majority of 190 to 53 a sum of 7,500,000 f. to defray the expense of increasing the present military force of France in Algeria (96,000, by 15,000 more; thus raising the number of bayonets in Algeria to 111,000).