Front Page Titles (by Subject) 191.: trower to ricardo2 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818
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191.: trower to ricardo2 - 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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trower to ricardo2
Unsted Wood—Godalming—Nov: 19—1816—
Many thanks for your last kind letter,3 by which I am rejoiced to find you are steadily pursuing your economical enquiries—The detection of error is as important as the discovery of truth; and therefore I cannot allow, that those two months were useless to you, by the labors of which you were enabled to ascertain the fallacy of the theory you were endeavouring to establish.—Superficial thinkers go blundering on from error to error, without the chance of recovery; whilst he who patiently and laboriously follows up, step by step, the consequences of his reasoning, however much he may aberrate in his progress, is sure to come safely home at last.—The subject you are engaged upon is of great interest and importance, and I do not doubt, that your enquiries will eventually produce satisfactory results.—
I have begun, but as yet have made little progress in, Wayland’s Book.1 I think however, that I can already discover great inconsistences and contradictions in his reasoning. He seems to have considered, that the moral consequences resulting from Malthus’s doctrines were pernicious, and therefore was determined, at all events, to prove them false; and in his attempts to accomplish this object he has involved himself in serious difficulties. Every day’s experience proves, more and more, the importance of this subject, and the necessity of having its principles firmly fixed, and properly understood. For, whatever measures may be adopted with a view to relieve the present distresses of the Country, will only have the effect of aggravating our difficulties, unless they spring from these principles and are in exact conformity to them. How are the poor fareing in your neighbourhood, what are your wages, prices of bread, meat and pork? What your stated parish relief, and your numbers out of work? We have just encreased the allowance for Parish relief, here, from 6/- to 7/- a week for a single man, 10/6 for a man and his wife, and 1/9 for each child. Our wages are 12/- week—
I have it in contemplation to act as a Magistrate, in this neighbourhood, as I see, that, by so doing, I may make myself useful, and I do not wish to be one of the drones in the hive—This makes it necessary for me to turn my attention to these subjects, and to consult Blackstone Burns and the other guides in this humble walk. But as it makes up in utility, what it wants in importance, I trust you will follow my good example; for sure I am your assistance in the great manufacturing district in which you reside must be most desireable—
Our provident fund advances slowly, indeed the times do not lead one to expect a different result. We possess £1100. Stock—The importance of having the question of extending parish relief to Depositors settled by Parliament consists in this. That unless their right to relief, under certain circumstances, should be recognised by the Legislature, Magistrates may think themselves bound, looking to the strict letter of the law with respect to paupers, to withhold it; in which case the poor would abstain from connecting themselves with a concern, which might deprive them of parish assistance. And altho’ I admit, that these persons constitute a part only of those for whose benefit these institutions are established, yet they are a most important part, in as much as it is by withdrawing them from the parish funds, that we hope eventually [to] diminish the poors rates. Besides, this question of relief must be determined somewhere, if by the Magistrates, without parliamentary sanction, it will most likely be settled differently in different parts of the Country, in which case the poor will be left in doubt on the subject, and will not therefore run the risk of becoming depositors; whereas the sanction of Parliament will enable the Magistrates to consider, that by the general rule they are authorised to grant relief, and their withholding it will depend upon the circumstances of the particular case in question—
How are Ministers to meet the financial difficulties? What do you hear or think upon that subject? Pray do not follow my bad example but write to me soon—Make our united kind remembrances to Mrs. Ricardo and family and believe me yours very sincerely
[2 ]Addressed: ‘To / David Ricardo Esqr / Gatcomb Park / Minchin-hampton / Glocestershire’. Probably received by Ricardo on 28 November, when he passed through Gatcomb on his way from London to Bath; see below, p. 101.
[3 ]Ricardo’s letter is wanting.
[1 ]See above, p. 46, n. 1.