185.: ricardo to mill1[Reply to 180.—Answered by 186, 187 & 192] - 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 mill
[Reply to 180.—Answered by 186, 187 & 192]
London 14 Octr. 1816
My dear Sir
After the receipt of your letter I determined to bring my papers to town with me to which place I was obliged to come for a few days. I have been reading them over in the Post Chaise, and they are really so little connected, so imperfect, and altogether so very bad in their present state, that I am not doing myself common justice to expose them even to your friendly eye.
They are worse than they otherwise would be in consequence of my becoming better acquainted with the subject as I have proceeded. Much of what is said in the beginning should be left out or altered to agree with what I think the more correct views which I afterwards adopted. You will see the curious effect which the rise of wages produces on the prices of those commodities which are chiefly obtained by the aid of machinery and fixed capital. I hope you will be able to make out what I have said on that subject, and will give me your well considered opinion on this difficult point. There are tables in which calculations are given of the present value of an annuity for any number of years to come on the supposition of money being at various rates of interest. If I had a capital of an imperishable nature which would unassisted perform work, and its value were £20000, profits being 10 pct. the goods annually produced should be of the value of £2000—but if this capital were of a perishable nature, if for example it would last only for 10 years, the value of the goods produced should be equal to the value of an annuity which £20000 would purchase for that time, when money was at 10 pc—. Have you any doubt of the correctness of this proposition.—I believe I could not consent to send you the papers in their present state but that I am desirous of ascertaining how far your opinion coincides with mine of the correctness of the views which I have taken. A hint or two of yours will enable me to make the next copy much more perfect.
On the subject of copying I should certainly follow your suggestion and employ another person to do that drudgery for me, but I am too young a writer to proceed in that way. I never strictly copy any thing I write, but alter and try to amend every page that I rewrite. I am too much flattered with your good opinion not to be gratified with what you say respecting your regard for me. You run no risk of deceiving yourself in considering it reciprocal. You are bound to perform and I am sure will perform the duty of a friend, and tell me candidly what I am quite prepared to hear, any the most disadvantageous opinions you may form on reading my papers. You cannot think worse of them than I do.
I have been beyond measure puzzled to find out the law of price. I found on a reference to figures that my former opinion could not be correct and I was full a fortnight pondering on my difficulty before I knew how to solve it. During that time I could not proceed or I should have made greater progress. I shall now consider the subject of taxation that I may have a consistent theory in the first instance on paper. When you have done with my papers be so good as to send them directed to me at T. Clutterbuck’s, Widcomb, Bath.
You very much disappoint me by telling me that I shall not see you at Gatcomb this year. Perhaps a favorable opportunity may yet offer for a short absence from Ford Abbey, if so do not fail to come to us.—Our journey to Malvern was very much enjoyed by us all. I wish you had been with us. It would have been a little recreation and I know you would have been pleased with the good humor which was uniformly shewn by us all, and to which you would have contributed so good a share. I am glad to hear that Brougham is distinguished in Italy on account of his religious and political opinions as it more fully convinces me of the absurdity and malignity of the reports which are prevalent in London to his disadvantage. You will perhaps hardly believe that the scandalous story is that he has taken off the authoress of the novel which Mrs. Ricardo lately lent to you. Mrs. Ricardo who is the only one of the family now with me desires to be kindly remembered.
Ever truly Yrs
The parcel is sent by the Bath and Exeter coach which goes from the Bolt in Tun. I return to Gatcomb on friday.