228.: ricardo to malthus2[Reply to 225] - 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 malthus
[Reply to 225]
Gatcomb Park, Minchinhampton 4 Sepr. 1817
My dear Sir
I thank you very much for your kind letter of the 17th. Augt. I am pleased to hear that your journey to Ireland turned out so well. The account you give of the improvements before the check which they received during the last two years, as well as of the situation of the people, agrees exactly with what I should expect to find. Humbold in his account of New Spain points out the very same evils as you do in Ireland, proceeding too from the same cause. The land there yields a great abundance of Bananas, Manioc, Potatoes and Wheat with very little labour, and the people having no taste for luxuries, and having abundance of food, have the privilege of being idle. No other advantage would I think result from the disposable labour being employed in manufactures than in preventing its being turned to profligate and mischievous pursuits, dangerous to the public peace. Happiness is the object to be desired, and we cannot be quite sure that provided he is equally well fed, a man may not be happier in the enjoyment of the luxury of idleness than in the enjoyment of the luxuries of a neat cottage, and good clothes. And after all we do not know if these would fall to his share. His labour might only increase the enjoyments of his employer.
Mr. Smith has heard from Mr. Whishaw,—he was at Paris when he wrote, on the eve of recommencing his journey. I hope he may enjoy his tour. It is a pity that he is without an agreeable companion—he is of so sociable a disposition that he would have had pleasure in communicating his feelings, and comparing them with those of another intelligent person. Mr. Smith has also heard from Mr. Warburton, who has set out on the very same tour that I have been taking, with the addition of Holland, through which country he means to pass. He has a very intelligent companion in Dr. Woolaston. —
At the very moment that we were beginning to despair of the weather it has changed and is now beautiful. Our hopes will I trust not be disappointed, and we shall be enabled safely to house the abundant crops with which our lands in every county are loaded. I doubt whether we have even during the late distresses ceased to advance as a nation in wealth, but at present I think no one can doubt that we are again making forward strides in prosperity,—a bad harvest does not perhaps very much check the progress of wealth but it materially interferes with the general happiness.—
You flatter me very much by your second perusal of my book, and I am happy to find that there are but a very few important points on which we materially differ. I certainly allow that my theory of value does not hold good in different countries when profits are different. If you look to Page 156 and the following pages you will see my ideas on that subject.
It is only yesterday that I received the book from Dover which M. Say entrusted me with for you; I send that and this letter together by Mrs. Ricardo who is going to London for a few days—she has undertaken to send my parcel to the Hertford Coach.
Osman who is very desirous of residing near us has met with a house in a delightful situation within 1½ miles of us, and it is to oblige him that his mother undertakes the long journey to town for the purpose of exercising her skill, and of giving him the benefit of her experience in the choice of furniture.—
I still hope that Mrs. Malthus and you will be able to visit us at your next vacation,—if you go to Bath and do not come over to us I shall not know how to forgive you.—
I have heard lately from Mill —he is still hard at work in correcting the press and finishing his book—he tells me that Sir Saml. and Lady Romilly are expected at Ford Abbey.— I fully expect that I shall see him here before he returns to London.
I do not know when I shall be obliged to go to town but whenever it may happen I will let you know as I would not willingly forego any chance of meeting you.—
Mr. Smith’s house is the centre of attraction for all his able London friends and he is kind enough always to allow me to participate in the pleasure which their company affords him. We have already had Mr. Warburton and Mr. Belsham, and in a few days he expects to see Mr. Mallet. Mr. Smith continues to reign pre-eminent in the goodwill of all his neighbours and indeed I do not know any one who is entitled to dispute the palm with him. Mrs. Ricardo joins with me in kind regards to Mrs. Malthus.
Ever truly Yrs.
This is a sad blundering letter,—bad even from me, but you must excuse it, and will I am sure when I tell you that I am just recovering from the languor and weakness caused by the powerful medicines which I have been obliged to take in consequence of something of a bilious attack, accompanied by fever. The night before last I was very ill,—yesterday I was better, and to day I have no complaint left but weakness.