17.: malthus to ricardo 1[Reply to 16] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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malthus to ricardo
[Reply to 16]
E I. Coll. Hertford July 26th 1811
I am just returned from Lincolnshire and find your letter of the 21st for which I am much obliged to you. The account of the Jamaica bills is very curious and satisfactory. I suppose it would be difficult to ascertain whether, when they bore a premium of 20 per cent and above, frequent remittances were made in bullion. If not, the remittances in bullion which are said to have been lately made from Jamaica at the premium of only five per cent, and in the actual state of the comparative prices of gold and silver, appear to me to afford so incontestible a proof of our unfavourable exchanges being chiefly nominal, that the most prejudiced merchant could hardly resist it. I should not wonder if it were to be found that the real exchange had been actually in our favour even with some parts of the continent during that part of 1810 when the nominal exchanges were less unfavourable.
If I should write again in the review, I will certainly mention your plan with the approbation which I think it deserves.
In meditating on the subject of your letter of the 17th during my journey into Lincolnshire I think I seized more fully than I had hitherto done your view of the subject. Allowing as you now do that in the foreign expenditure of government, and the payment of a subsidy, bullion will be used in a greater proportion than other commodities on account of its being the currency of the commercial world and universally acceptable, I should allow that in all other cases, (at least if the contract made for goods were immediately fulfilled) bullion would be set in motion from its comparative redundancy according to your definition of redundancy: but I still think that to express what you mean the term cheapness would be more correct, and to convey the cause of the motion of the precious metals in the commercial intercourse of nations most intelligibly to the reader it would be still better to use the expression comparative cheapness of commodities abroad, than comparative cheapness of currency at home—particularly in all those cases where the variations have originated in the supplies of the commodities, and not in the supplies of the currencies.
The reason why I think the term cheapness of currency more correct than redundancy of currency may be explained by the following case which I have no doubt sometimes happens. In a general scarcity of corn a rich nation which can afford to give very high prices on such occasions purchases corn of a poor nation, although the comparative deficiency of corn may be greater in the poor nation than in the rich, and consequently it would be quite i[ncorre]ct to say that the corn was exported o[n account] of [a] comparative redundancy. In my opi[nion] currency is more wanted for use in a scarcity of corn than at other times; and according to our accustomed notions, one can hardly call a commodity redundant which is more wanted than usual; but still in reference to the mass of commodities currency is cheap, or rather as I should say home commodities are dear, and bullion goes in search of the cheaper commodities abroad.
You have misunderstood me in one of your letter of the 17th; but I have been interrupted, and find I have not time to explain the matter and finish what I had to say; so I must defer it till I have the pleasure of seeing you here, which I hope will be soon, as I am now likely to be stationary for some time, and shall be happy to see you the first day that suits you, after the beginning of next week. I shall probably not be in Town soon, so pray send me Mr. Thorntons pamphlet. Perhaps you could send it by the 3 o’clock Hertford coach tomorrow. I am impatient to see it. I beg my respects to Mrs. Ricardo
and am dear Sir very sincerely Yours
T R. Malthus
I congratulate you on the rise of omnium.