116.: ricardo to malthus2[Reply to 110.—Answered by 126] - 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.
ricardo to malthus
[Reply to 110.—Answered by 126]
Gatcomb Park 10 Sepr. 1815
My dear Sir
Nothing could be more unlucky than our missing each other as we did this year. I should think there would be no obstacle to our leaving town a little earlier next year, when I hope we shall at length have the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Malthus and you at Gatcomb.—
It is the general remark in our part of the country that a finer season was never remembered. The rain, of which we have certainly had a deficiency, has generally come at night, and the days which have followed have been beautiful. The temptation to enjoy it has been so great that I have been incessantly out with someone or other of my friends, who have been staying with me,—either riding or walking—which makes such inroads on my time that I find I have much less leisure here for reading and study than I have in London.
Before I came here I often saw Mr. Grenfell who is very warm on the subject of the Bank, and the advantageous bargains which it has always made with Government, as well for the management of the National Debt,—the composition which it has hitherto paid for stamps, as for the compensation which Government has received in the way of Loan for the enormous average deposits left with the Bank. I am quite of his opinion, and indeed I go much further. I think the Bank an unnecessary establishment getting rich by those profits which fairly belong to the public. I cannot help considering the issuing of paper money as a privilege which belongs exclusively to the state.—I regard it as a sort of seignorage, and I am convinced, if the principles of currency were rightly understood, that Commissioners might be appointed independent of all ministerial controul who should be the sole issuers of paper money,—by which I think a profit of from two to three millions might be secured to the public, at the same time that we should be protected from the abuses of the country Banks, who are the cause of much mischief all over the Kingdom. These Commissioners should also have the management of the public debt, and should act as Bankers to all the different public departments. They might invest the 11 millions which is the average of public deposits in Exchequer Bills, a part of which might be sold whenever occasion required. This, of course (at least all of it) could not be effected till the expiration of the Bank Charter in 1833, but it is never too soon to give due consideration to important principles, which might be recognized tho’ not yet acted on. In looking over the papers which have from time to time been laid before Parliament I think it might clearly be proved that the profits of the Bank have been enormous,—I should think they must have a hoard nearly equal to their Capital. By their Charter they are bound to make an annual division of their profits, and to lay a statement of their accounts before the Proprietors,—but they appear to set all law at defiance. I always enjoy any attack upon the Bank and if I had sufficient courage I would be a party to it.
Though I have been thinking on this subject lately I am not less interested about our old subject,—of the advantages or disadvantages of high prices for raw produce. If I agreed with Mr. Torrens that such high prices were accompanied with a rise in the prices of commodities,—and if I thought that such rise would not preclude the usual exchanges with foreign countries, I should of course agree with you that with such general high prices we should command a greater quantity of foreign commodities in exchange for a given quantity of ours,—but I cannot admit in the first place that commodities would rise because corn rose, and secondly if they did so rise there are but very few which we could sell in equal quantity at the advanced price to foreigners, and if we sold less to them we could buy less of them and thus would our general commerce suffer. I can see great advantages attending low general prices but none in high prices. On this subject we are not likely to agree.
I hope you are diligently employed, and that early in the year we shall see something new from your pen. I have some curiosity to see a pamphlet just advertised, in the title page of which your name is mentioned.
Kind regards to Mrs. Malthus.
Have you seen Monsr. Say’s Catéchisme D’Economie Politique? He has softened but not removed the objectionable definitions.