76.: ricardo to malthus2[Reply to 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
[Reply to 75]
London 13th. feb 1815
My dear Sir
I shall accept your kind invitation and intend being with you on saturday evening at the usual time. We can then talk over the points on which we differ.—I will bring with me the papers on which I have been busy since you left London, and in which my objections are more fully stated than can be done in the compass of a letter.
In the case of the Scotch farmers who made such large profits on their capital during the latter part of their leases, they appear to me to have been enjoying rent, arising not from improvements in agriculture, but from poorer land being taken into cultivation. If their leases had expired sooner, rent would have been increased long before on those farms. It would be desirable to know what the rent on those farms was when the lease was originally granted, or rather what proportion it bore to the capital then employed, and what the proportion of rent is to the capital now employed.
The effects of monopoly cannot I think be felt till no more land can be advantageously cultivated. You have yourself said, and I very much admire the passage, that the last portion of capital employed on the land yields only the common profits of stock, and does not afford any rent. If so corn like every thing else is regulated in its price by the cost of production, and every other portion of capital employed on the land is reduced to the same level of profits only because no more capital can be employed with more advantage, and all which it any where yields more is rent and not profit.—
I have read the Appendix also with great attention and cannot help thinking that you have quite thrown off the character of impartiality to which in the observations I thought you fairly entitled. You are avowedly for restrictions on importation; of that I do not complain. It is not easy to estimate justly the dangers to which we may be exposed.— Those who are for an open trade in corn may underrate them, and it is possible that you may overrate them. It is a most difficult point to calculate these dangers at their fair value,— but in an economical view, altho’ you have here and there allowed that we might be benefited by importing cheap, rather than by growing dear—you point out many inconveniences which we should suffer from the loss of agricultural capital, and from other causes; which would make it appear as if even economically you thought we ought to import corn,—such is the approbation with which you quote from Adam Smith of the benefits of agriculture over commerce in increasing production, and which I cannot help thinking is at variance with all your general doctrines. —
Your observations on the advantages, (and therefore on the injustice to other classes) which the stockholder would reap from a low price of corn are I think very correct,—but I do not think these objections should stand in the way of the general good. They the stockholders have at different periods suffered much, and if the sinking fund be now appropriated to other services another striking injustice will be added to the long list. I meant to write only a few lines, and have filled a long letter.—Kind regards to Mrs. Malthus
Yrs. very truly