74.: ricardo to malthus1[Answered by 75] - 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
[Answered by 75]
[London, 6 Feb. 1815]
My dear Sir
I have now read with very great attention your essay on the rise and progress of rent, with a view of selecting every passage which might afford us subject for future discussion. It is no praise to say that all the leading principles in it meet with my perfect assent, and that I consider it as containing many original views, which are not only important as connected with rent, but with many other difficult points, such as taxation &ca. &ca..
I cannot however help regretting that you did not consider separately the relations of rent, with the profits of Stock, and the wages of labour. By treating of the joint effect of the two latter on rent, you have, I think, not made the subject so clear as it might have been made.
There are some parts of the essay with which I cannot agree. One of these is the effects of improvements, whether in the practice of Agriculture, or in the implements of husbandry, on rent. They appear to me in their immediate effects to be beneficial to the farmer only, and not to the landlord. All the augmented produce obtained, or the saving in obtaining the same quantity of produce, is I think wholly to the advantage of the farmer, and that the landlord only benefits remotely from it, as it may encourage accumulation, and the cultivation of poorer lands.—
I think too that rents are in no case a creation of wealth, they are always a part of the wealth already created, and are enjoyed necessarily, but not on that account less beneficially to the public interest, at the expence of the profits of stock. Viewing rents in this light it follows that I must withdraw the concession which I was inclined to make when you first started the question “whether in importing corn at a cheaper price than we could grow it the whole difference of price was saved, or whether some abatement should not be made from the advantage for the loss of rent?”, as I now decidedly think that the whole difference of price would be gained without any deduction whatever. The arguments then of those who contend for a free trade in corn remain in their original full force, as rents are always withdrawn from the profits of stock.
I will try if I have a little leisure to put my thoughts on this subject on paper, and shall attempt to shew that the effects of a tax and of rent are very different as far as regards importation. It may be economical to grow corn if its price is raised merely by taxation, as by importing it a part of the tax would be wholly lost to the country [impor]ting. No such consideration should influence us w[ith regar]d to rent being lost.—
I diff[er to]o, as you know, as to the effects of taxati[on] on the growth of produce. You appear to me not quite consistent in admitting as you unequivocally do that the last portion of land cultivated, yields nothing more than the profits of stock,—no rent, and yet to maintain that taxes on necessaries or on raw produce fall on the landlord and not on the consumer.
I hope you found Mrs. Malthus quite well, and that your little boy is recovered from the accident he lately met with. Mrs. R and the rest of my family arrived safe in London on friday last.
I have paid Wetenhall £2. 8 - for two year’s lists, but it has since occurred to me that I paid him, and you paid me, for one year, and therefore that only one year can be due to him. If so let me know that I may get back £1. 4 -