77.: ricardo to malthus3[Answered by 78] - 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 78]
London 9th. March 1815
My dear Sir
My acquaintance lies so little amongst political economists that I have very few opportunities of knowing whether, what you consider as my peculiar opinions, have any supporters, or indeed whether they are read or attended to. As for my own judgement on the subject, it is perhaps too partial to merit attention, but after my best efforts not to be biassed in favor of my own opinions I continue to think them correct.
I would indeed rather modify what I have said concerning the stationary state of the prices of commodities, under all variations of the price of corn, either from wealth on the one hand, or the importation from foreign countries, or improvements in agriculture, on the other. I made no allowance for the altered value of the raw material in all manufactured goods; they would I think be subject to a variation in price not on account of increased or diminished wages, but on account of the rise or fall in the price of the raw produce which enters into their composition and which in some commodities cannot be inconsiderable.
It is a matter of mortification to me that my execution has been so faulty,—I was too much in a hurry, and have not made my meaning intelligible even to those who are familiar with such subjects, much less to those who skim over these matters.
Since I have seen you I recd. a note from Mr. Edwd. West who is the author writing under the title of a fellow of University College, —he speaks in favor of my opinions, of course; because they are very similar to his own.—I have read his book with attention and I find that his views agree very much with my own. He is a barrister,—a young man and appears very fond of the study of political economy. Mr. Brougham has, I think he said, promised to introduce him to you.—
Mr. Jacob has handled both him and me rather roughly,— but he will not condescend to argue with us. I shall be very easy if he is the most formidable opponent that is to attack me, for he seems totally ignorant of the scientific part of the subject.
The opposition to the bill is more formidable than I expected, but they appear so determined in the House of Commons that I suppose it will finally pass. I regret that the people should have proceeded to acts of riot and outrage. I am too much a friend to good order to wish to succeed through such means, besides that I am persuaded that they hurt rather than promote the object which they and I have in view.
I wish you could have dined with me on saturday. I expect Mr. Phillips and Mr. Dumont,—it would be a very agreeable surprise to me if you should join our party. Perhaps you may be inclined to come to London and will take a bed in Brook Street. Do if you can; but do not think it necessary to write on purpose if you cannot.—I shall fully depend on your staying with us when you come to the next club.
Sir F. Burdett and some others think that the high price of our corn is owing to enormous taxation, and that it ought not, nor cannot fall, without oppression to the landholders till our debt is diminished. If I could convince myself that any part of the price of corn was owing to taxation I should be in favour of a protecting duty to that amount. But if he were right, the high price would not be accompanied by high rents and by the cultivation of inferior lands. These I consider as unequivocal marks of the high price being caused by wealth and a scarcity of fertile land. Indeed my theory leads me to think that no taxes but those directly on the land, or on its produce, would raise the price of corn and even such taxes would have no effect if all exportable commodities were taxed in the same degree, for a tax on exportable commodities in a country which imports corn does not act very differently from a duty on the importation of corn. Kind regards to Mrs. Malthus