Marx-Engels Correspondence 1869

Engels To Marx


Source: Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, 1971;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.


September 27, 1869

We returned safely from Ireland on Thursday, a week ago; were in Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, Killarney and Cork. Had quite a good time but both women came back even hiberniores than they had been before they left. Weather fine on the whole. According to the papers you are having even worse weather there than we are here.

Learned from Trench’s Realities of Irish Life why Ireland is so “overpopulated.” That worthy gentleman proves by examples that on the average the land is cultivated so well by the Irish peasants that an outlay of 10-15 per acre, which is completely recouped in 1-4 years, raises its rental value from 1 to 20 and from 4 to 25-30 shillings per acre. This profit is to be pocketed by the landlords.

Mr. Trench is in turn nicely checked by his own statements to Senior, which the latter has had published. Trench tells the liberal Senior that if he were an Irish peasant he would be a Ribbonman too!...

Ireland’s trade has grown enormously in the past 14 years. The port of Dublin was unrecognisable. On Queenstown Quay I heard a lot of Italian, also Serbian, French and Danish or Norwegian spoken. There are indeed a good many “Italians” in Cork, as the comedy has it. The country itself, however, seems downright depopulated, and one is immediately led to think that there are far too few people. The state of war is also noticeable everywhere. There are squads of Royal Irish all over the place, with sheath-knives, and occasionally a revolver at their side and a police baton in their hand; in Dublin a horse-drawn battery drove right through the centre of town, a thing I have never seen in England, and there are soldiers literally everywhere.

The worst about the Irish is that they become corruptible as soon as they stop being peasants and turn bourgeois. True, this is the case with most peasant nations. But in Ireland it is particularly bad. That is also why the press is so terribly lousy.