72.: malthus to ricardo1[Reply to 70.—Answered by 73] - 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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malthus to ricardo
[Reply to 70.—Answered by 73]
E I Coll Decembr 29th 1814
My dear Sir,
I am very busy just at present writing an “Inquiry into the nature and origin of rent, and the Laws by which it is governed” and can only afford therefore to take a common sheet of paper. I have some thoughts of publishing it if I can, before the meeting of Parliament, together with a third edition of my observations on the Corn Laws, which has been some time out of print. I once intended to accompany them, with an Inquiry into the causes which affect the exchange, and the prices of the precious metals, (a part of which you saw formerly) preparatory to the discussion relating to the Bank; but I think now I shall defer the latter and publish what relates to Corn first.
We should explain what we mean by permanently. Of course I never mean to say that the high price of raw produce compared with the price of production, occasioned, (in my opinion) by a prosperous commerce, can be really permanent. It is the nature of all such means of employing capital to become less and less advantageous. And all that I contend for is that a period of some duration may occur (20 years for instance) when the profits of commerce will take the lead, and regulate the profits of agriculture.
You do I confess a good deal surprise me when you say that cannot agree with me in thinking that foreign commerce increases the value of the whole mass of commodities.
I have certainly always thought that in the exchange of the tin of Cornwall for the deals of Norway, both countries had the value of the whole mass of their commodities decidedly increased; and this increase of value has always appeared to me to be the consequence of all profitable exchanges both external and internal.
You say that profits depend entirely upon the low price of Corn? What was the reason that from 1720 to 1750 the interest of money and the profits of stock fell very considerably and were very low at the same time that the price of corn was gradually becoming cheaper; while from 1793 to 1812 the interest of money and the profits of stock were high, at the same time that the price of corn was becoming peculiarly dear.
I do not think that a prosperous commerce would have an effect very essentially different from a great foreign demand for our raw produce. But supposing a great foreign demand for our raw produce, would not the profits of capital employed in agriculture be increased, although certainly more rather than less capital would be employed upon the land. The instruments of production compared with the price of produce would be cheaper, but it could not with any propriety be said that capital was withdrawn from the land.
I had remarked the passage you mention in Mr. Says work, and think it well done, though I cannot quite agree with him. I think the source of his error is, that he does not properly distinguish between the necessaries of life and other commodities,—the former create their own demand the latter not.
I quite agree with you that a piece of fertile land added to the country upon every increase of capital would prevent the fall of profits, but more in my opinion from its increasing the demand for manufactures by increasing the number of people than by its preventing the rise of wages, an effect which it would probably not have. You are welcome to use one of my letters as you propose. Kind regards.
Ever truly Yours
T R Malthus