260.: ricardo to malthus1[Answered by 264] - 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
[Answered by 264]
London 24th. June 1818
My dear Sir
Your letter arrived here whilst I was in Gloucestershire. I came to town last night, having on monday presided at the County Meeting, and made a return of our two members.
I thank you for your enquiries after the infant that you left so ill. Its miseries lasted but a short time, for it died at 2 oClock on the day you left London. Dr. Holland was surprised at the rapidity with which the disease advanced, but has since ascertained that it was entirely confined to the bowels, and is indeed the complaint to which children are most subject. Mrs. Osman Ricardo’s distress was very great, but I am happy to say that she soon became calm and resigned. In my journey to Gloucester I conveyed her home on saturday last, and left her yesterday morning tolerably well and comfortable.—
I believe it is now finally settled that I am not to be in Parliament, and truly glad I am that the question is at any rate settled, for the certainty of a seat could hardly compensate me for the disagreeables attending the negociation for it. Mr. Clutterbuck’s answer announced to me that the seat he had in view for me was disposed of, and thus end my dreams of ambition.
Having once consented to yield to the opinion of my friends I let no opportunity slip of getting into the Honourable House, but I am fully persuaded that if I consult my own happiness only I shall do wisely in stopping where I am. It is easier to animadvert on the actions of others, than to act with wisdom ourselves, and I strongly fear that I want both the judgment and discretion which are requisite to make a tolerable senator. I am surprised at the kindness and consideration with which my friends now treat me, and it would be a great want of prudence to afford them more easy means of sifting my claims.
I am equally pleased with you that Sir Samuel Romilly’s election is going on so well in Westminster, and more pleased than you will be at Sir Francis Burdett’s recent success on the Poll. Sir Francis is I think a consistent man. I believe Bentham’s book has satisfied him that there would be no danger in Universal Suffrage but his main object I am sure is to get a real representative Government, and he would think that object might be [obtain]ed by stopping very far short of Universal suffrage. [With] such opinions it is a mere question of pru[dence] (as to the obtaining of his object) whether he shall ask for the more, or the less extended suffrage. I agree with you that it would be more prudent to ask for the less, and I agree also with you in thinking that with our present experience we should not venture on Universal Suffrage if it could be had.—I am glad however to find that you think the election in Westminster will afford us a fair sample of the sense of the nation.—
I will take care that all demands against you shall be faithfully discharged.—
I have not left myself room to enter at any length into the question of the comparative advantage of employing capital in agriculture or on manufactures . If by wealth you mean, as I do, all those things which are desirable to man, wealth, I think, would be most effectually increased by allowing corn to be grown, or imported, as best suits those concerned in the trade. You say that in the one case the corn obtained would only be sufficient to support the workmen employed and pay fully the profits of stock; and in the other case it would pay in addition the increased amount of rent, and support an additional population proportioned to it. Now if the profits of stock to be paid fully in one case would be much greater both in value as defined by you, and in value, as defined by me than in the other, it is evident that the difference might not only equal the additional amount of rent, but exceed it. I contend that the profits of stock would be higher than this whole amount, if we consented to import corn; and therefore, although I will admit, that in the case supposed, our wealth has increased by the increase of rent, from 1793 to 1813, yet I would contend that if the trade had been free, and corn had been imported in preference to growing it, under the new and improved circumstances of agriculture, our wealth would have increased in a still greater ratio than it now has done.
Mrs. Ricardo begs to be kindly remembered to you.