Front Page Titles (by Subject) 197.: ricardo to malthus2 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818
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197.: ricardo to malthus2 - 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 malthus2
Gatcomb Park 3d. Jan 1817
My dear Sir
A long time has elapsed since I had the pleasure of seeing you, during which time I have often intended writing as I did not hear from you, but my natural indolence prevailed, and I have procrastinated it till now. I had some faint hopes that you might be in the neighbouring county this vacation, in which case I should have hoped to prevail on you to pass a short time here, but I learnt from Mr. Binda, who is on a visit to Mr. Smith, that he had met with you at Holland house, and that it was not probable you would go far from home. I had previously enquired about you of our young neighbour George Clerk,—he, however, could only tell me you were well, he knew nothing about your intended movements.
By an advertisement in the public papers I perceive that you have been occupied in writing about your College,3 which I regret, as I believe the task was not very agreeable to you, and as it may have prevented you from proceeding with other works, in which I imagine you are more interested. I should be glad to hear that every thing you think defective in the College was remedied, and that it was placed on such a footing as to require only the ordinary routine of your attention.—
I have been occasionally employed, since we met,1 in putting my thoughts on paper, on the subjects which have often passed under our discussion. I have encountered the usual obstacles from difficulties of composition, but I have resolutely persevered till I have committed every thing to paper that was floating in my mind. There are a few points on which there is a shadow of difference between my present and my past opinions, but they are not those on which we could not agree. I hope I shall succeed in putting my MS. in some tolerable order, as on that will depend whether I shall again appear before the public. What I have hitherto done is rather a statement of my own opinions, than an attempt at the refutation of the opinions of others. Lately, however, I have been looking over Adam Smith, Say, and Buchanan and where I have seen passages in their works contrary to the principles I hold to be correct, I have noticed them, and shall perhaps make them the subject of some comment.
I fear I shall not have the satisfaction of receiving your acquiescence to my doctrines, particularly as I have reverted to my former views respecting taxes on raw produce.2 Whatever may be correct on that subject surely Adam Smith is wrong, as there are various passages in his book inconsistent with each other.3
We shall, I hope, soon meet, and renew our discussions on some of these difficult matters. I shall be in London on friday next, and hope to see you in Brook Street as our inmate, as soon after that day as business, or inclination, may draw you to London.
I want to hear your opinion of the measures lately adopted for the relief of the poor.1 I am not one of those who think that the raising of funds for the purpose of employing the poor is a very efficacious mode of relief, as it diverts those funds from other employments which would be equally if not more productive to the community. That part of the capital which employs the poor on the roads for example cannot fail to employ men somewhere and I believe every interference is prejudicial. Pray make my kind compliments to Mrs. Malthus and believe me
[2 ]Addressed: ‘To / The Revd. T R Malthus / East India College / Hertford’.
[3 ]Malthus’s Statements respecting the East India College, with an Appeal to Facts, in Refutation of the Charges lately brought against it, in the Court of Proprietors, London, Murray, 1817. The Preface is dated 4 January.
[1 ]This may refer either to their meeting at Gatcomb early in the summer (see p. 48), or to a meeting suggested by Ricardo for 17 October (see p. 80).
[2 ]For Ricardo’s ‘former views’ that such taxes are paid wholly by the consumer, see above, III, 241–2, IV, 34, n., and VI, 173; for their restatement at this time, I, 156–7.
[3 ]See quotations above, I, 183 ff., and 252 ff.
[1 ]The relief works carried on in London and various parts of the country since the autumn of 1816, with funds raised by private subscriptions; in Edinburgh 1600 men were employed in making and improving roads. Later, on 28 April 1817, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced what has been described as ‘the first experiment of the century in what are now called Relief Works’: he proposed to issue Exchequer-bills to the amount of half-a-million for employing the poor on the completion of public works (W. Smart, Economic Annals, 1801–1820, p. 543).