81.: ricardo to malthus3[Reply to 80.—Answered by 82] - 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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ricardo to malthus
[Reply to 80.—Answered by 82]
Upper Brook Street 14 March 1815
My dear Sir
I have read Mr. Torrens’ pamphlet, and think it, on the whole a very able performance. I differ with him in most of his views in Chap 2 Part 2,—with many of the 3d. Chap, and with a few in the remainder of the work. I am glad to hear that you are going to make some observations on it.— I think he is an adversary worthy of your pen, and the friends of truth cannot fail to profit by the discussion.
With regard to any remarks on my opinions, you must be governed by your own discretion. If those opinions are wrong I should like to see them refuted, but thinking as I do that they are in all essential points founded on correct principles, I ask for no mercy.—I do not care how severely they are attacked,—there is nothing you could say of them which would hurt me, if what you said did not express contempt, and that I know you do not feel for me. Act therefore towards me as if I were a perfect stranger, and notice me or not as you think best.
I cannot hesitate in agreeing with you that if from a rise in the relative value of corn less is paid for fixed capital and wages,—more of the produce must remain for the landlord and farmer together,—this is indeed self evident, but is really not the matter in dispute between us, and I cannot help thinking that you overlook some of the circumstances most important connected with the question. My opinion is that corn can only permanently rise in its exchangeable value when the real expences of its production increase. If 5000 quarters of gross produce cost 2500 quarters for the expences of wages &ca., and 10000 quarters cost double or 5000 quarters, the exchangeable value of corn would be the same, but if the 10000 quarters cost 5500 quarters for the expences of wages &ca. then the price would rise 10 pct. because such would be the amount of the increased expences. A rise of the price of corn and a fall in the corn price of labour is in my opinion incompatible, unless it be owing to something in the currency and it is not necessary to enquire here what effects that would produce. Observe that I do not question that each individual labourer may receive a less corn price of labour because I believe that would be the case, but I question whether the whole corn amount of wages &ca. paid for the cultivation of the land can be diminished with an increase of the exchangeable value of corn. If no more labourers were employed and the price of corn rose your proposition could not be disputed, but the cause of the rise of the price of corn is solely on account of the increased expence of production.
I have lost Lord Lauderdale’s pamphlet or rather it has been taken from my office. If I can get another, it sh[all] accompany this. The improvement in agri[culture] I believe have had more effect in ke[eping] down r[ents] than we have ever imagined. On my theory they fully account for rents being no higher; on yours they would tell the other way.
I meant to reproach you when I saw you [for] speaking of Mr. Jacob’s pamphlet with so much [praise] as you did when Mr. Basevi asked your opinion of it,—I am glad that you allow he is very deficient in scientific knowledge.—
You will see by what I have said that a rise in the price of corn is always in my opinion accompanied by a less material surplus produce, but it may be of equal value as compared with other things. Of this produce the landlord gets so large a share that in spite of the rise of produce the situation of the farmer is constantly getting worse.
Yrs. very truly