73.: ricardo to malthus1[Reply to 72] - 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 72]
Gatcomb Park. 13 Jany. 1815
My dear Sir—
I am pleased to learn that you are busy writing with a view to immediate publication. The public pay a most flattering attention to any thing from your pen, and you are not fulfilling your duty to society, if you do not avail yourself of this disposition to endeavor to remove the cloud of ignorance and prejudice, which every where exists on the subjects which have particularly engaged your time and reflection. I hope your notes on Adam Smith are in great forwardness, and that they will soon follow the smaller publications which you are now preparing. I expect that they will not only be very useful in giving correct notions to the public, but also in calling the attention of those, who are well informed in the science of political economy, to many points which have hitherto escaped their consideration.
I cannot help thinking that Lord Lauderdale was mistaken, (and I believe you hold the same opinion as him) in supposing the farmer to lie under any particular disadvantage from not having the monopoly of the home market, whilst so many other trades were enjoying that benefit. You will agree that the monopoly of the home market is eventually of no great advantage to the trade on which it is conferred. It is true that it raises the price of the commodity by shutting out foreign competition but this is equally injurious to all consumers, and presses no more on the farmer than on other trades. If monopolies tend to raise the price of labour, the inconvenience must be suffered by all who employ labour, and will therefore not be particularly injurious to the farmer or landlord. If all the monopolies of the home market were immediately abolished, there would be at least as much disposition to import corn;—if so they do not interfere with the natural course of the corn trade. Lord Lauderdale with his opinion of the effect of monopolies is I think quite consistent in recommending a duty on the importation of corn.
I thought you maintained, that the high or low profits on commerce were totally independent of the amount of capital which might be employed on the land; consequently that high profits might continue as long as commerce was prosperous, whether that was for 20 or for 100 years. I now understand you to say, that the profits of commerce may take the lead, and may regulate the profits of agriculture for a period of some duration, possibly for 20 years.
I have always allowed that under certain circumstances profits on agriculture might be diverted from their regular course for short periods, so that we only appear to differ with respect to the duration of such profits; instead of 20 years I should limit it to about 4 or 5.
If with the same labour we could obtain double the quantity [of] tin from the mines in Cornwall, after prices had found the[ir l]evel, would the value of the whole mass of commodities be increased in England? Should we obtain the same quantity of deals from Norway in exchange for a given quantity of tin as we now do? Although the mass of commodities both in the markets of Norway and in those of England would increase by the greater abundance of tin, or of some other commodity, if the labour employed in procuring tin were diverted to other objects, yet the estimated value of all their commodities, in corn, money, or any article but tin, would, it appears to me, continue unaltered. It is sufficient that deals can be purchased cheaper in Norway than elsewhere to determine a portion of foreign trade to that quarter, although it should yield no more profits than those of other trades.
On the supposition which you have made of a great foreign demand for our raw produce, there can be no question that more capital would be employed on the land, and I think profits would fall. Such a demand cannot exist in the present situation of the world. Raw produce is always imported into the relatively rich country, and never exported from it, but on occasions of dearth or famine. I have no doubt that if the free importation of corn is allowed into this country, inasmuch as it will direct foreign capital to foreign land, it will tend to lower foreign profits, and if all the earth were cultivated, with equal skill, up to the same standard, the rate of profits would be every where the same, though the superior industry and ingenuity of particular countries might secure to them a greater abundance of other commodities.
I leave Glocestershire on the 20th.. Mrs. Ricardo with part of the family will stay a week or two after me. I shall hope to see you in Brook Street very soon after my arrival in London. Your club meets I think on the 28th. —pray take a bed at our house. Kind regards to Mrs. Malthus