179.: ricardo to malthus2[Reply to 178.—Answered by 181] - 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 malthus
[Reply to 178.—Answered by 181]
Gatcomb Park 5 Octr. 1816
My dear Sir
Notwithstanding the bad weather I have not failed to enjoy myself, for I have been to Cheltenham, Malvern and Worcester, and latterly to Bath. To be sure the continued rains make it less pleasant than it otherwise would be, but as I am not at a loss for amusement within doors, I contrive to take my walks while it is fine, and return to my library with the recommencement of rain.
I have no wish to change my Oxford boat. With very little trouble I have lengthened that part of my new boat house where she was to be kept, and I find that I can manage her tolerably well alone. Being larger she requires more labour to row than Miss Eckersall’s, but considering all circumstances, and particularly my youthful family, I believe it would be unwise to change her for a smaller.
Mrs. Hall called here one morning in her gig with another woman, before I was down stairs. When I was informed of her name and business, I deputed Mr. Hitchings, as he is an Oxford man and of course is known to her, to pay her her demand. She was going a little excursion for pleasure and thought she might as well call on me in her way.
I hope your additional volume will soon follow your new edition of the old work. I shall be glad to see in a connected form your matured opinions on the progress of rent, profits, and wages, and in what manner they are affected by the increasing difficulty of procuring food, by the increase of capital, and the improvement of machinery. I fear we shall not agree on these subjects, and I should be very glad if we could fairly submit our different views to the public, that we might have some able heads engaged in considering it. Of this however I have little hope for though I feel strongly the truth of my theory I cannot succeed in stating it clearly. I have been very much impeded by the question of price and value, my former ideas on those points not being correct. My present view may be equally faulty, for it leads to conclusions at variance with all my preconceived opinions. I shall continue to work, if only for my own satisfaction, till I have given my theory a consistent form.
You say that you think I have sometimes conceded that if population were miraculously stopped, while the most fertile land remained uncultivated, profits would fall upon the supposition of an increase of capital still going on. I concede it now. Profits I think depend on wages,—wages depend on demand and supply of labour, and on the cost of the necessaries on which wages are expended. These two causes may be operating on profits at the same time, either in the same, or in an opposite direction. In the case you put wages would have a tendency to keep stationary as far as the supply of food was concerned, but they would have a tendency to rise in consequence of the demand for labour increasing, whilst the supply continued the same. Under such circumstances profits would of course fall. You must however allow that this is an extraordinary case, and out of the common course of events, for the tendency of the population to increase is, in our state of society, more than equal to that of the capital to increase.
I shall be in London on thursday or friday next.—Mrs. Ricardo accompanies me on a visit to her sister for a few days. I should be glad if some fortunate accident were to take you to town at the same time. If so let me know where you are to be found;—a line directed to the Stock Exchange will be certain to find me. We shall not finally leave the country till Jany. or feby. I wish you would come and see a little more of Gatcomb during your Xmas vacation. Mrs. Austin is quite well after her travels.
Ever truly Yours