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The Aims of The Negotiations.—
Polemic Against Prussia.—
A Snowball Riot

Karl Marx

London, January 23.

The Western powers have declared that negotiations at Vienna must not for one moment interrupt their military operations. What immediate military advantage could Russia therefore gain by sham negotiations? This question, raised by the Sun, permits of a very positive answer. The sixth and part of the fifth (Russian) army corps formed the original garrison of the Crimea. The fourth corps arrived a few days before the battle of Balaklava; at this moment, the third corps is in the peninsula; the eighth division arrived at Bakshiserai on December 18, and the seventh and eighth divisions, together with the first division of Dragoons and about 240 cannon and four Cossack regiments are drawn up at Perekop. The Light Cavalry division, part of the third army corps, has been thrown out towards Eupatoria, which it is observing. Thus about half of the active Russian army (not counting reserves) is either in the Crimea or in garrison at Odessa, Kherson and Nikolayev, and sections of the second corps (Panyutin) are to march up to support them. It cannot, of course, be determined how great is the actual strength of these twelve infantry and six cavalry divisions following on the losses of an unsuccessful campaign and enormous marches, since we do not know whether the losses have been made good by fresh reinforcements. But, in any case, they must number at least 100,000 troops fit for active service, not counting the soldiers, marines and sailors there may be at Sevastopol. This great troop concentration in the Crimea, which absorbs at least a quarter of the entire Russian striking force, shows how important it is for Tsar Nicholas to involve Austria in renewed negotiations until the gaps in his Volhynian and Podolian armies, caused by the latest movements, have again been filled.

On the eve of the regular parliamentary session, the publication of the latest Prussian, Austrian and French dispatches is being exploited just as the treaty of December 2[430] had been on the eve of special parliamentary session. It is very convenient for pro-government newspapers to reply to attacks on the English conduct of the war by attacks on Prussian diplomacy. The Globe and The Morning Chronicle, the two papers with the strongest pro-government bias, adopt the most violent tone in the polemic against Prussia.

A snowball riot which took place here last Sunday supplies new proof of how the importunate presumption of the ecclesiastical party and the Bill for the stricter observance of Sunday it smuggled through Parliament have only provoked the English people to hold somewhat rough, high-spirited and facetious demonstrations. Last Sunday, during morning service, a crowd of about 1,500 people assembled in Trafalgar Square near St. Martin's [in-the-Field], where they amused themselves by bombarding buses, cabs and pedestrians with snowballs. Because of the noise outside the church doors, the service had to be discontinued. As soon as the police intervened, they became the main object of attack, and within a few minutes, some constables were unable to look either left or right because of the piles of snow which had collected on their shoulders, helmets, etc. Soldiers who wanted to return to their barracks from church, were definitely forced to retreat, and their English phlegm was put to a severe test. About 100 special constables had to be sent to the scene of battle. Eventually the police made use of their truncheons, and fierce fighting ensued. Four ringleaders were captured and dragged to the police station in spite of several attempts in Chandos Street and Russell Street to free them from the arm of the law. Yesterday these gentlemen appeared before the police magistrate at Bow Street. The churchwardens of St. Martin's appeared also, to give evidence against them. Each hero was sentenced to forty shillings, or fourteen days' imprisonment, and here end the records of the snowball riot. At any rate it has served to refute the Prince de Ligne who, at the time of the revolt in the Nether-lands[431] against Joseph II, refused his assistance because it was winter, snow and insurrection being mutually exclusive.

Written on January 23, 1855
First published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, No. 43, January 26, 1855
Printed according to the news-paper
Published in English for the first time in MECW


[430] The reference is to a treaty concluded by Britain, France and Austria on December 2, 1854 undertaking to abstain from separate negotiations with Russia and prevent occupation of the Danubian Principalities by the Russians. Negotiations with Russia were to be conducted on the basis of the famous Four Points (see this volume, pp. 579-84).

[431] The reference is to the Brabant revolution of 1789-90 (see Note 49↓).

[49] In 1789 a national rebellion, called the Brabant revolution, against Austrian rule took place in the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium). It was suppressed by Austrian troops in 1790 after the death of Joseph II.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 13 (pp.598-599), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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