Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP1505

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
C. A. Windust
25 October 1884

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming to C. A. Windust [none given] on 25 October 1884.

Record created:
23 May 2011 by NHM


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LETTER (WCP1505.1284)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/9/5
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

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Transcription information




Frith Hill, Godalming

Octr 25th 1884

C. A. Windust Esq.

Dear Sir,

I enclose you the letters from Mr Hutchinson and to Mr Cherrie. I cannot understand the dread so many people have of any appearance of disagreement, and I certainly do not think it is a dispute about non-essentials. No doubt the statement that Landlords would recoup themselves the [4/-] [take] requires explanation. On agricultural land they could not do so (except to a very small extent) because farm rents are determined by the possible produce of the land and not wholly by competition for a necessary! But as regards all land used for houses or manufactures them is no such limit and not only the whole take but more [[2]] could be obtained by the simple process of refusing to let any land required except at the enhanced price. Then as to Mr Cherrie’s objection that the enhanced rent would again be taxed, even if it were, the people would still pay the enhanced rent, and by a little more rise the landlords would still get their original net rents and the people would virtually pay the tax to themselves! But further, the rent need not be advanced, but the amount might be recouped by means of a bonus, a entrance fee or annual renewal fee, or any such dodge, each committed to writing but the neglect to pay which involved instance notice to quit! And the landlords might let it be understood that the rent was to remain unchanged, but the 4/- tax be paid by the tenant, [[3]] again 'on pain' of ejectment! Thus on the whole land of the kingdom it would easy for the landlords to make the tenants – that is all who are not landlords – pay the tax, and what they could do, they certainly would do. It seems to me that this is the demonstration Mr Hutchinson asks for.

My chief objection to the taxation scheme is, that it is grossly unjust, because though landlords would ultimately get it back, at first they would not, and many would be ruined. Those who had any agricultural land would be all nearly ruined. The tax would therefore be extremely unequal.

Again the 4/- tax is advocated on historical grounds, as having been [[4]] evaded, two centuries ago – yet it is announced as only the first step to a total absorption of all rent by taxation for which then is "no [testonial] argument and which is pure confiscation.

With the announcement, and with the widespread horror among Englishmen of confiscation and injustice, and with all vested interests of landowners endangered I maintain that it is madness to set up such a scheme, which would be far more difficult to get any parliament ever to pass than to pass L. it pure and simple. It is drawing a red herring across the tail with a vengeance! Besides, it would only give landlords a tighter grip on the land, and secure none of the essential benefits of L. it.

Yours faithfully | Alfred R Wallace [signature]

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