Front Page Titles (by Subject) 250.: ricardo to malthus1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818
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250.: ricardo to malthus1 - 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 malthus1
London 30 Jany. 2
My dear Sir
During your visit in London next week I hope you will stay with us in Brook Street, and I am commissioned by Mrs. Ricardo to add her solicitations to mine to induce Mrs. Malthus to accompany you.—
Lord King,3 Mr. Whishaw and you have done me a great deal of honour in making my work the subject of your discussions, but I confess it fills me with astonishment to find that you think, and from what you say4 they appear to agree with you, that the measure of value is not what I have represented it to be; but that natural price, as well as market price, is determined by the demand and supply,—the only difference being that the former is governed by the average and permanent demand and supply, the latter by the accidental and temporary.—In saying this do you mean to deny that facility of production will lower natural price and difficulty of production raise it? Will not these effects be produced; after a very short interval, although the absolute demand and supply, or the proportion of one to the other, should remain permanently the same? At any rate then demand and supply are not the sole regulators of price. I should be glad to understand what Lord King and you mean by supply and demand. However abundant the demand it can never permanently raise the price of a commodity above the expence of its production, including in that expence the profits of the producers. It seems natural therefore to seek for the cause of the variation of permanent price in the expences of production. Diminish these and the commodity must finally fall, increase them and it must as certainly rise. What has this to do with demand?
I may be so foolishly partial to my own doctrine, that I may be blind to its absurdity. I know the strong disposition of every man to deceive himself in his eagerness to prove a favourite theory, yet I cannot help viewing this question as a truth which admits of demonstration and I am full of wonder that it should admit of a doubt. If indeed this fundamental doctrine of mine were proved false I admit that my whole theory falls with it, but I should not on that account be satisfied with the measure of value which you would substitute in its place.
I am sorry that you have determined not to publish this spring.
I have not seen Torrens, and do not know what his intentions are respecting the work which he promised to give to the public.—1
Sir James Mackintosh is indeed a great acquisition in more respects than one to your College.2 It must be particularly agreeable to you.
I thank you for your congratulations on the honor [which]3 has been conferred on me by the appointment [to] the office of Sheriff—an honour which I could well have dispensed with. Under all circumstances I think it best not to offer an objection to it.—
I wish you were of our party to day. Mr. Whishaw Mr. Smyth, Mr. Mallet, Mr. Sharp and Mr. Warburton dine with me.
I am glad that you have heard Mill’s book favourably spoken of. I hope it may be as well thought of by others as it is by me.
Very truly Yours
[1 ]Addressed: ‘To / The Revd. T. R. Malthus / East India College / Hertford’.
[2 ]In MS ‘1817’; postmark, 1818.
[3 ]The author of Thoughts on the Restriction of Payments in Specie, 1803, a pamphlet to the merit of which, according to Romilly, Whishaw had ‘contributed something’ (Memoirs of Sir Samuel Romilly, 1840, vol. ii, p. 105).
[4 ]Malthus’s letter is wanting.
[1 ]Cp. above, p. 35, n. 2.
[2 ]He had been appointed Professor of General Polity and the Laws of England. ‘Poor Mackintosh, I am heartily sorry for him, but his situation at Hertford will suit very well (pelting and contusions always excepted.) He should stipulate for pebble money, as it is there technically called, or an annual pension in case he is disabled by the pelting of the students!’ (Sydney Smith to Whishaw, 7 Jan. 1818, in The ‘Pope’ of Holland House, p. 313.)
[3 ]MS torn here and below.