198.: trower to ricardo2[Answered by 201] - 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 ricardo
[Answered by 201]
January 17—1817—Unsted Wood—
Many thanks for your last letter, by which I am happy to hear of Mrs. Clutterbuck’s addition to her family. Mrs. Trower begs to join with me in congratulations to Mrs. Ricardo and yourself upon this joyful event. The most effectual way I believe of adding to our happiness is to multiply the ties by which we are bound to society.—
I am very desirous of satisfying your mind with respect to the advantage to be derived from a clause in the Provident Fund Bills authorising the extending of Parish relief under certain restrictions to Depositors, who may require it. Because, when in London, you may be of essential service to the cause, by enforcing sound opinions upon the subject; and by removing prejudices which seem to exist to a considerable degree respecting it.—
You say “by granting parish relief to poor Depositors you are deferring that salutary lesson, which must, at last, be taught them, and in so far, prevent wages from settling at so high a rate as they otherwise would be.”
But, surely, the great question of the support of the Poor, is not merely a question of Wages; other important considerations are involved in it. Let us look more closely into the subject of wages, and see how the matter stands. In this point of view the poor are naturally divided into 2 classes— 1st. the single having themselves only to support; 2ndly. the married, who have their families to support also—For the 2d. the present rate of wages, no doubt, is inadequate, and ought to be encreased. But for the 1st. it is more than sufficient. This surplus, if prudently preserved, would form a fund for the supply of future extra demands, but it is all idly spent—as long, therefore, as this want of foresight exists any further encrease of wages to the single man would be productive of mischief instead of good. But you cannot encrease the wages of the married, without also encreasing those of the single, it is not practicable to make any distinction between them. You must therefore endeavour to encourage habits of prudence and economy in the single, and such is the object of the Provident Funds. But, no person will belong to these Institutions if they perceive, that they are saving, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of their neighbours. And they must perceive this, when they find themselves denied that relief, which is extended to the extravagant. An alteration in the habits of the lower classes must be the foundation upon which any measure is built, calculated for their permanent benefit.—It is obvious, that it would be impossible to establish the rate of wages at such a sum as will be adequate to the support of a man and his family. Nor would it be expedient if it were—for it would be tantamount to giving a Bonus to the extravagance and profligacy of the single. For instance 16/- in this part of the Country are necessary for the support of a man his wife and 2 children, whilst 8/ are considered sufficient for a single man. The rate of wages is now 12/-. If then on account of the married they were raised to 16/- see what would be the situation of the single. He would be receiving double what was requisite for his necessities and this, without habits of economy, would be productive of most mischievous effects. The grand object therefore appears to me to entice the single and the young into habits of prudence, and in order to obtain this object, it is well worth while to make some sacrifice, even admitting the clause in question to be one. But, I believe, that however important in principle, and by way of example, it would be rarely necessary to act upon it; because the prudent Depositor is not likely to become chargeable, except through sickness or misfortune, in which case he would have a strong claim on his Parish. Many other considerations are connected with this very interesting question, but no doubt you will think you have had enough and more than enough in one letter, therefore I shall conclude.
Greenough has been staying a few days with me. He is as enthusiastic as ever in his favorite pursuit. His map is not yet published, nor does it appear likely to be. In the meantime, inferior works are daily depriving him of that merit of originality to which his Map is entitled —
Our united kind remembrances to Mrs. Ricardo and family and believe me My Dear Ricardo—
Yrs very truly