Front Page Titles (by Subject) 35.: malthus to ricardo2 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
35.: malthus to ricardo2 - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
malthus to ricardo2
E I. Coll. Feby 23. 1812.
My dear Sir,
I have been so much engaged since my return to the College that I have not been able to think of a visit to Town. Mrs. Malthus and I, however, have not forgot Mrs. Ricardo’s kind invitation, and have always intended to fulfil our promise the very first opportunity. We have some idea that we may be able to leave home for a day or two the latter end of this week, and I write to know whether that time will suit you and Mrs. Ricardo for our proposed visit. If you are moving, or preparing for it, or if from any other cause the time I have mentioned or the following friday, should not be convenient, don’t make the slightest ceremony of saying so, as I have no doubt we shall be in Town for some days, later in the spring, and can then take the opportunity of paying our respects to Mrs. Ricardo in Brooke Street, where I suppose you will be settled by april or May.1
I should like to see again the paper which you were so good as to read at Mr. Sharpe’s,2 and indeed to look over the other once more.3 I think however that I have seized pretty clearly your view of the subject; but after the fullest consideration that I can give it, I cannot quite agree with you. It really appears that a desire to simplify, which has often led away the most scientific men, has induced you to ascribe to one cause phenomena that properly belong to two, and not to give sufficient weight to the facts which (to me at least) appear to make against your doctrine. I confess I am still of opinion that these facts are not all satisfactorily explicable upon your principles; and I never look over the tables of exchange without being more and more confirmed in the truth of what I stated in my first review,4 that “though the effects of a redundancy of currency upon the exchange are sure, they are slow compared with the effects of those mercantile or politi[cal]5 transactions, not connected with the question of currency and while the former of these causes is proceeding with a steady and generally uniform pace, the more rapid movements of the latter are opposing aggravating or modifying their operations in various ways, and producing all those complex and seemingly inconsistent appearances which are to be found in the computed exchange”.
There is one part of the question between us which can only (it appears to me) be determined by experience. You think that in the payment of a subsidy more commodities will go in proportion than bullion. I think, that if it be considerable, more bullion would go than had before been used to circulate the commodities sent. The decision of the point must depend upon whether it has been found in practice that a stimulus within the expence of the transport of the precious, (or only for so short a time at that price, as to carry over a less than the usual proportion of the metals) is sufficient to pay a debt of 3 or 4 millions; or insufficient. If insufficient, then it is clear that more bullion would go in proportion than commodities; because no commodity that requires a greater stimulus than bullion could be sent while bullion was to be had at the mint price.
The alarm which the Bank is known to feel on occasion of granting a subsidy appears to me to shew unquestionably which way experience has decided. With regard to the state of the exchange being a correct exponent of the relative value of different currencies,—surely such a position is inconsistent with the idea of a stimulus to exportation being given by an unfavourable exchange, a stimulus the effects of which you have yourself calculated upon as the chief reason why a subsidy would be paid with little or no necessity for the transport of the precious metals. I believe I made a little mistake in my letter from Surrey1 but I still think that the exchange has a tendency to recover itself. The very stimulus we are now speaking of is a proof.
Very sincerely Yours,
T R Malthus
[2 ]Addressed: ‘D. Ricardo Esqr. /16. Throgmorton Street / London’.
[1 ]Cp. above, p. 53, n. 2.
[2 ]Presumably on 14 January; see above, p. 77.
[3 ]Cp. above, pp. 66, n. 4 and 73.
[4 ]The review of Ricardo and others on bullion, Edinburgh Review, Feb. 1811, p. 360.
[5 ]MS torn; the review, as published, does not contain ‘or political’.
[1 ]Letter 33.