Marx-Engels Correspondence 1890

Engels To Nikolai Frantsevich Danielson


Source: Marx & Engels on the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971, p. 352;
Transcribed: by Einde O'Callaghan.

June 10, 1890

Here in England, Rent is applied as well to the payment of the English capitalist farmer to his landlord, as to that of the Irish pauper farmer, who pays a complete tribute composed chiefly of a deduction from his fund of maintenance, earned by his own labour, and only to the smallest extent consisting of true rent. So the English in India transformed the land-tax paid by the ryot (peasant) to the State into “rent,” and consequently have, in Bengal at least, actually transformed the zemindar (tax-gatherer of the former Indian prince) into a landlord holding a nominal feudal tenure from the Crown exactly as in England, where the Crown is nominal proprietor of all the land, and the great nobles, the real owners, are by juridical fiction supposed to be feudal tenants of the Crown. Similarly when in the beginning of the 17th century the North of Ireland was subjected to direct English dominion, and the English lawyer Sir John Davies found there a rural community with common possession of the land, which was periodically divided amongst the members of the clan who paid a tribute to the chief, Davies <transformed> declared that tribute at once <into> to be “rent.” Thus the Scotch lairds-chiefs of clans profited, since the insurrection of 1745, of this juridical confusion, of the tribute paid to them by the clansmen, with a “rent” for the lands held by them, in order to transform the whole of the <common> clan-land, the common property of the clan, into their, the lairds, private property; for — said the lawyers, if they were not the landlords, how could they receive rent for that land? And thus this confusion of tribute and rent was the basis of the confiscation of all the lands of the Scottish Highlands for the benefit of a few chiefs of clan who very soon after drove out the old clansmen and replaced them by sheep as described in C[apital] chapter 24,3/ (p.754, 3rd edition).


We had heard here of the death of Н.Г.Ч. [Cherneshevsky], and with much sorrow and sympathy. But perhaps it is better so.