156.: ricardo to trower3[Reply to 154.—Answered by 159] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818.
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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 trower
[Reply to 154.—Answered by 159]
[Gatcomb Park, ca. 4 Feb. 1816]
I ought to have answered your kind letter before but I have been much engaged and perplexed by sundry domestic affairs, as well as with the printing of my pamphlet —besides which I have been staying some time at Bath with my eldest daughter.
The Bank Directors have, I fear, too much influence to give us any hope of outvoting them in a general Court. They would however be very much discomposed by repeated attacks, particularly as reason and justice are so evidently against them. I wish some of the independent proprietors would try the question in a court of justice, for to my plain understanding the law also is against the directors. I wish you would fight side by side with me, and would infuse a little of your energy into some of the proprietors who think correctly; but are lukewarm from natural timidity. Mr. Bouverie is not a good speaker—he makes but little impression on his hearers from want of animation and warmth.
My pamphlet will be out on monday. I have directed Mr. Murray to send you a copy immediately after it is published.
You ask my opinion of the saving Banks. I think them excellent institutions and calculated to improve the condition and morals of the poor, provided they are properly managed. My fear is that though they will at first be established by gentlemen of great respectability and fortune,—as they spread, they will at last be undertaken by speculative tradesmen, as a business from which to derive profit. The poor should have some check on the employment of the funds, or the same evils will arise as from the indefinite multiplication of country Banks.
This check should be afforded by the legislature, or there will be no security against the failure of the undertakers. The poor have no means of discovering the wealth and respectability of the parties who open these Banks.
The low price of corn is an evil to the landed gentlemen which no decrease of charges can wholly compensate—they must submit to a fall of rents and they ought to rejoice in the evidence which the low price of produce affords of the yet unexhausted state of the resources of the country. High rents are always a symptom of an approach to the stationary state —we are happily yet in the progressive state, and may look forward with confidence to a long course of prosperity. It is difficult to persuade the country gentlemen that the fall of rents, unaccompanied by loss of capital and population, will essentially contribute to the general welfare, and that their interest and that of the public are frequently in direct opposition.
I hope the minister will not now touch the sinking fund— I hope he will never touch it. It is the general saving bank of the Nation and should be encouraged on the same principles as encouragement is given to those institutions. I am sorry to observe that amongst those who have the power to decide on these matters there does not appear any reluctance to meddle with the sinking fund. I am told that Lord Grenville is not averse to such a measure.
It is true that I am going to lose another daughter. If she be happy I must not repine—yet both Mrs. Ricardo and myself have felt, and do still feel, that in losing the society of these dear girls we have lost a portion of our happiness.
Report has spoken truth concerning my house in Brook Street. We observed a large crack in the ceiling of the drawing room last winter. I sent for Mr. Cockerell, he said it must be looked to when we left it for the summer, but that it was perfectly safe then. We have since found that we were in the utmost hazard—that Mayor of whom I bought the house was a complete knave, and from the holes in the chimnies, and the communication between them and the beams, he perhaps intended that it should be destroyed by fire, so that no one might ever find out the total insufficiency of the materials to support the house. What must I think of Mr. Cockerell whom I paid to examine it? What compensation can he make me for his shameful neglect? I have not seen him since the discovery. The workmen have been in it ever since July, and it will cost me several thousand Pounds. We go into it on tuesday next but are obliged to be satisfied with the newly plaistered walls, unpapered and unpainted, or we must not have gone into it this season.
I am glad to hear that you will probably pass some time in London after Easter. I hope I shall see more of you than I did last year. Mrs. Ricardo and my family unite with me in kind regards to Mrs. Trower.
Very truly yours