58.: ricardo to malthus1[Reply to 56.—Answered by 59] - 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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ricardo to malthus
[Reply to 56.—Answered by 59]
Gatcomb Park Minchin Hampton 30th. Aug. 1814
My dear Sir
I left London on the 19th., the day before your letter arrived there, having dispatched all my business in 4 days. The appearance of the Omm. was not sufficiently inviting to induce me to protract my stay longer than was absolutely necessary. David who is come to pass his holidays with us brought me your letter;—I regret that I shall not see you for some time, as you cannot come here, and I shall not have it in my power at present to visit Hailybury. I expected to have a great deal of leisure time in the country, but as yet I have not had any. Walking and riding with my family, and friends who have visited us, have entirely occupied me;— besides which the only room in my house which is not finished is the library, owing to the tedious time which they have taken to fix my bookcases.—
I think if we could talk together we should not very much differ on the question which has lately engaged us, our principal difference is about the permanence of the effects.—It will often happen that the scarcity of a commodity, or the increasing demand for it will for a time increase profits, but it is not therefore correct to say that where profits are high they are so because the demand for produce is great compared with the supply. There are many other causes which will occasion profits to be permanently high. There may be two countries in one of which from bad government and the consequent insecurity of property,—or from the little disposition to saving in the people, profits may be permanently high and interest at 12 pct., whilst in the other where these causes do not operate, profits may be permanently low and interest at 5 pct. It would surely be incorrect to say that the cause of the high profits was the greater proportion of demand for produce, when in both countries, the supply would be, or might be, precisely equal to the demand, and no more. In America profits are higher than in England and yet I can have no doubt that the proportion of supply to demand is greater in the former country. I think it must necessarily be so in all countries which are most rapidly increasing in riches, for from whence do riches come but from production preponderating over consumption.—Profits are sometimes high when corn is scarce and dear, but this arises from the stimulus which the high price gives to industry. If the population could immediately accomodate itself to the scanty supply no such effects would follow; and in fact they only continue till time has gradually equalized them.
I sometimes suspect that we do not attach the same meaning to the word demand. If corn rises in price, you perhaps attribute it to a greater demand,—I should call it a greater competition. The demand cannot I think be said to increase if the quantity consumed be diminished, altho much more money may be required to purchase the smaller than the larger quantity. If it were to be asked what the demand was for Port wine in England in the years 1813 and 1814, and it were to be answered that in the first year she had imported 5000 pipes and in the next 4500 should we not all agree that the demand was greater in 1813, yet it might be true that double the quantity of money was paid for the 4500 pipes.
Have you read the report of the Lord Committee on the corn question? It discloses some important facts, but how ignorant the persons giving evidence appear to be of the subject as a matter of science. The Editor’s remarks too are very unworthy of his paper.
When next you write to me you will oblige me by telling me where you had your low gig built. I think such a one would suit me here. Did you not consider it as more favorable to the horse in going up hill, but to his disadvantage in going down. With best complimts. to Mrs. Malthus
I am Yrs. truly