53.: ricardo to malthus1[Reply to 51.—Answered by 54] - 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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ricardo to malthus
[Reply to 51.—Answered by 54]
Gatcomb Park, near Minchin Hampton Gloucestershire 25th. July 1814
My dear Sir
I am writing to you from Gatcomb, where I arrived with Sylla as my companion yesterday afternoon. To enable me to quit London at the time I did I was obliged to bestow an unusual degree of attention to business of all sorts,—and though I had written a letter to you in answer to your last before I left Brook Street I was so dissatisfied with it that I could not resolve to send it.—I shall I fear succeed no better now, but you shall have it whatever it may be, as if I defer writing any longer you may have quitted Bangor before my letter arrives there.
It appears to me that you have changed the proposition on which we first appeared to differ. The proposition advanced by you, if I recollect right, was that restrictions on the importation of corn would not lower the rate of profits and interest,—but now you add or rather your argument leads to that conclusion, “if the consequence of such restriction be a great reduction of Capital.” So amended I should not object to the proposition,—but I think it material that causes should be kept distinct, and their due effects ascribed to each. Restrictions on the trade of corn, if capital suffers no diminution, will occasion a fall in the rate of profits and interest. A reduction of capital independently of restrictions on importation of corn will have a tendency to raise profits and interest,—but there is no necessary connection between these two operating causes, as they may at the same time be acting together or entirely in opposite directions.
Effective demand, it appears to me, cannot augment or long continue stationary with a diminishing capital; and your question why if this were true profits rise at the commencement of a war? does not I think bear any connection with the argument, because profits will augment under a diminution of capital and produce, if demand tho’ diminished does not diminish so rapidly as Capital and produce. For the opposite reason profits will diminish when Capital and produce increase. This is totally independent of the rate of production, and often, I think, may counteract the effects which usually follow, and in the long run will almost always follow, from increasing or diminishing capital.—
You say that “the proportion of production to the consumption necessary to such production, seems to be determined by the quantity of accumulated capital compared with the demand for the products of capital, and not by the mere difficulty and expence of procuring corn.” It appears to me that the difficulty and expence of procuring corn will necessarily regulate the demand for the products of capital, for the demand must essentially depend on the price at which they can be afforded, and the prices of all commodities must increase if the price of corn be increased.—The capitalist “who may find it necessary to employ a hundred days labour instead of fifty in order to produce a certain quantity of corn” cannot retain the same share for himself unless the labourers who are employed for a hundred days will be satisfied with the same quantity of corn for their subsistence that the labourers employed for fifty had before. If you suppose the price of corn doubled, the capital to be employed estimated in money will probably be also nearly doubled,—or at any rate will be greatly augmented and if his monied income is to arise from the sale of the corn which remains to him after defraying the charges of production how is it possible to conceive that the rate of his profits will not be diminished? I hope you continue to enjoy yourself amidst the wild scenery with which you are encompassed.—The weather here is delightful and I am as happy as I can be separated from the whole family, (except Sylla) and surrounded by upholsterers, carpenters, &a. I do not expect Mrs. Ricardo in less than a fortnight,—she is unwilling to bring the children here till the whole house is perfectly arranged. Kind regards to Mrs. Malthus.
Yrs. very truly
I believe that in this sweet place I shall not sigh after the Stock Exchge. and its enjoyments.