88.: malthus to ricardo1[Reply to 87.—Answered by 89] - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
malthus to ricardo
[Reply to 87.—Answered by 89]
E I Coll April 2nd 1815
My dear Sir,
You understood my proposition as going farther than I intended, at first; and now perhaps not quite far enough. Although I suppose no more corn to be produced by the same number of labourers on the old land, and no less corn actually to be consumed by them, yet I still think the corn expences are diminished compared with the corn profits. Each family on the land instead of receiving 8 quarters a year receives now only 7. In both cases it actually consumes 4, and spends the remainder in manufactures and foreign commodities. In the latter case, owing to the increased relative value of corn, the remainder 3 is as effectual as 4 was before. And not only a greater money value, but a greater quantity of raw produce will remain to the farmer and landlord.
I own I think it affects your theory essentially; because it shews that there is ample room for an increase of profits upon the land; and if this increase of profit be prevented from taking place, it can only be owing to the diminished profits in manufactures, and consequently it would appear that manufacturing profits determined the profits upon the land, and not the profits upon the land, manufacturing profits. I cannot however help thinking that the increasing demand for manufactured commodities must prevent the profits upon them from falling for any length of time. If five coats be now necessary to purchase the same quantity of corn as could be purchased formerly by four, will it not to a certainty follow, that the whole quantity of corn in the country will exchange for a greater number of coats than before; and consequently that there will be both the power and will to purchase with the raw produce of the country, a greater quantity of manufactured and foreign commodities. This is a most important and vital question as it appears to me, and I wish you to give me your opinion upon it. If the value of the whole raw produce falls compared with manufactured and foreign produce does not such fall necessarily involve a diminution of demand for manufactured and foreign produce?
Surely you don’t seem to be sufficiently aware of the necessary limits to the separation in price of manufactured commodities and [raw] produce.
If 400 yards of cloth require ten persons to produce them, and a hundred quarters of corn (last added) require ten persons, each at a profit of ten per cent (the last of course without rent) is it physically possible that the labour employed in producing the 100 quarters of corn should be increased so much as one third, while the people continue to eat the same quantity of corn as before.
Of course I presume that no person will employ an additional labourer upon his land, whose wages are more than the value of what he adds to the former produce. Upon this supposition which is unquestionably the true one, when the profits on land are only ten per cent and no rent, the limits to the number of persons which can be employed with advantage on the land are a good deal confined. And such suppositions as you made in a former letter are not admissible. We cannot say for instance “Suppose now the 100 quarters of corn in the progress of society to require for their production 25 men instead of ten.[”] The thing is physically impossible consistently with giving the labourers the same quantity of food, which we have all along taken for granted.
On account of paper money, the distance of the mines, and the small effect on the market of a few years produce the precious metals are not in fact affected like other commodities. Of this there are abundant proofs.
I am sorry you could not come. Can you next saturday.
Ever truly Yours
T R Malthus