192.: mill to ricardo1[Reply to 185.—Answered by 193] - 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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mill to ricardo
[Reply to 185.—Answered by 193]
Ford Abbey Novr. 18th. 1816
My dear Sir
If the length of time I have taken to read your M.S. has not interrupted your progress, I shall make for it no apology. I wished to read it carefully, writing marginal contents for my own use, as I went along. And I could not conveniently bestow upon that subject more than a limited portion of each day. However I now have got through the whole, and have the contents of each paragraph, regularly numbered, before me.
Perhaps I ought to begin by speaking ill of the whole production, that I might give you confidence in my sincerity; as that seems to be your grand test. However I have time for nothing just now, but to come to the point as directly as possible. And I authorize you to believe, that I shall not even employ one word for the sake of encouraging you, as a young beginner, but shall speak the truth to you as I would have done had you been as hackneyed a stager as I am myself.
My opinion may be given in very few words; for I think you have made out all your points. There is not a single proposition the proof of which I think is not irresistible. With the curious result pointed out in your letter with respect to the effects produced by the rise of wages, on the price of those commodities which are chiefly the return from fixed capital, I was very much struck; but have no doubt whatsoever as to the validity of your conclusions, the proof of which I think is incontrovertible.
Your explanation of the general principle that quantity of labour is the cause and measure of exchangeable value, excepting in the cases which you except, is both satisfactory, and clear.
Your exposition and argumentation to shew, in opposition to A. Smith, that profits of stock do not disturb that law, are luminous. So are the exposition and argumentation to shew that rent also operates no such disturbance.
And to this extent the disquisition is remarkably free of that sin which most easily besets you, of crowding too many points into one place; and summoning all the parts of the science at once to prove a particular point. The argument thus far is not only convincing, but clear, and easily understood.
At page 79 you begin the inquiry concerning the causes of alterations in the state of wages; and from this to p. 105, I think the topics are somewhat mixed together. I have not meditated sufficiently to be able to say how far that is avoidable; but I consider the inquiry in these pages as an inquiry not into the causes of change in the rate of wages alone, but the causes of changes in the wages, profits, and rent all together. The grounds laid down for every one of the opinions carry the firmest conviction to my mind; and several of the doctrines which puzzled me formerly, are now perfectly clear.
The inquiry concerning foreign trade, which commences at p. 106, and continues to the end, is like the rest, original, and sound, and excellently demonstrated. That foreign trade augments not the value of a nations property: that it may be good for a country to import commodities from a country where the production of those same commodities costs more, than it would cost at home: that a change in manufacturing skill in one country, produces a new distribution of the precious metals, are new propositions of the highest importance, and which you fully prove.
You have, therefore, made great progress toward the production of a most admirable book. The stile also, is really excellent. You have improved in that respect exceedingly. There are but a few expressions in the whole which, if you had been going to print immediately, I should have recommended it to you to alter. Of these I have taken no notice at present, because they are not worth your minding. What I am anxious for is, that you should go on, exactly as you are doing, till you have got all your thoughts, in this shape, upon paper; and have gone over the whole subject. It will then be easy to give you advice about marshalling, and separating. And easy then for you to put the last hand to a work which will gain you immortal honour.
The M.S. was sent yesterday to Illminster, addressed to Mr. Clutterbuck, and is by this time at Bath. Send me the rest of what you have done. I long to hear you on tithes. I beg to hear from you without delay; and am most truly