300.: ricardo to mcculloch1[Reply to 290 & 299] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 8 Letters 1819-June 1821 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 8 Letters 1819-1821.
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ricardo to mcculloch
[Reply to 290 & 299]
Gatcomb Park 3 Jany. 1819
My dear Sir
I have read with great pleasure the article on currency, for the next Edinburgh Review, which you have been so kind as to send me. It appears to me so able, so clear, so convincing, that I shall be puzzled to account for the obstinate prejudices of those who no doubt will continue to refuse their assent to doctrines so mathematically demonstrated.
Your kindness has again led you to bestow unmerited praise on me. I assure you that I feel very proud of the favourable opinion which you have formed of my speculations.
I have read the article with an endeavour to discover blemishes in it, but excepting on one or two trifling points, not in the least affecting the reasoning, I cannot discover any. Those points are as follows. In page 56 a few lines from the bottom, you say “and if one half the usual supply were brought to market, it (the price of commodities) would be increased one half.” It is evident that you meant they would be doubled in price.
In page 64 you give your readers reason to infer that the Bank advance the paper issued on occasion of the payment of the interest of the National Debt; now I believe that this never really happens. Certain taxes are pledged to the national creditor, they are paid into the Exchequer, and from the Exchequer to the Bank, and are never for one moment at the disposal of ministers. Your argument however is not affected by this fact; because by means of direct loans, and by the purchase of Exchequer bills in the market with their notes, the Bank and Government together can issue any amount of paper they please besides that which is issued through the means of discounts.—
In page 66 you say “that all the difference that can take place in the value of gold and silver currencies, among nations trading together, will generally be limited to the expense of the transfer of bullion from the one to the other.” This observation is true of the exchange—that can never differ more than this expense, but I do not think that it is equally so of the value of the precious metals. The value or price of cloth or of hats may in France be not only so much higher than in England as will pay the expenses and profits of the clothier and hatter who export them, but also the additional expense of conveying the money for which they are sold from France to England. Gold being a commodity is subject to the same rule. I have endeavoured to explain this in my book from Page 174 to the end of the chapter. It is of little importance in your essay but I am more induced to mention it to you now, as you should guard against a misapprehension in the article on Exchanges which you have it in contemplation to write. And here my observations end. I see no other expression that I can cavil at.
In your quotation from me page 74 you end it by the word “performed ”, on referring to my pamphlet page 25 I find, in my copy which is one of the second edition, the words “they had been so advantageously applied” the first is inaccurate though I may inadvertently have used it.
The subject, of which metal to chuse for the standard, is I think of little importance. On the whole I am quite contented with the present mint regulations, 1st, because I do not like a change without there is a very manifest advantage in it and 2dly because it is confidently expected that the introduction of the most perfect machinery known into the silver mines may very considerably lower the value of that metal. If so it is unfit for a standard. The same objections cannot be made to gold.
Lord Lauderdale in his speeches and several writers in the Times have endeavored to shew that if the Bank paid in gold it would all leave the country in consequence of the mint regulations, notwithstanding that g[old] only is a legal tender in payments above 40/-. This is very absurd and if you had shown it to be so, I should have been glad, for that is now the plea on which the continuance of the restriction is defended.
If you think I can be of any use to you in looking over the proof sheets of your article on exchanges I shall have great pleasure in doing it, but from what I have already seen you will make it all that it should be. To the best of my recollection Mushet did correct his tables in a subsequent edition. I have not his book here.—
I have attended to some of your suggestions for the improvement of my book. I cannot agree with you in thinking so lightly of the extinction of our national debt. I should agree to no other means of getting rid of it, but by paying it, which would relieve us from many of the evils you enumerate, such as the encouragement to gambling &ca. We agree as to the evil, but not as to the remedy. Having noticed Buchanan in the former edition I cannot now omit making the same references to him, particularly as his objections are popular objections and such as I would wish to answer. I will consult with Murray about introducing a few pages from the pamphlet which you have honoured with your approbation.
Murray sent me for a few days the only copy that was in London of a French translation of my book, with notes by M. Say. He speaks very respectfully and kindly of me, but does not agree with my doctrine. He does not appear to me to have seized my meaning. He attempts to shew that there is no land which does not pay rent, and then thinks that I am confuted—never noticing the other point on which I lay the most stress, that there is in every country a portion of capital employed on land already in cultivation for which no rent is paid,—or rather that no additional rent is paid in consequence of the employment of such additional capital. Believe me My dear Sir
This is a very confused letter, but I have written it in haste, and cannot undertake to write it over again.—