310.: ricardo to mcculloch1[Reply to 309.—Answered by 314] - 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 309.—Answered by 314]
London 8 May 1819
My dear Sir
The public papers will have informed you, better than I could have done, of the substance of the Report from the Bank Committee, which was read in the House of Commons on wednesday last. As I knew you would get correct information from that source, I did not write immediately after I became authentically informed of the plan which the Committee recommended. The Committee have deviated in two points from the plan as originally suggested—they think that the bars of bullion delivered by the Bank, in exchange for notes, should be assayed, and stamped, at the Mint; and they have advised that after 1823, at the latest, we should revert to the old system of specie payments. Perhaps, in both instances, they have done right, for the Bank persisting in the most determined opposition to them, they were under the necessity of having the bullion stamped that it might be legally called money of a large denomination, and that the Bank might not raise a clamour against them for having imposed upon that corporation the obligation of paying in Bullion, from which they said their charter protected them. In the second place they had to contend with public prejudice, and perhaps too with prepossessions which they themselves felt in favour of coin. If no inconvenience is suffered from the working of this plan for the next 5 years, the Bank will be amongst the foremost in contending that it should be adopted as a permanent system.
I have been very much surprised that with the opportunities for making large profits, which the monopoly of the Bank has given them, their surplus capital does not exceed 5 millions. How very much they must have mismanaged their affairs. With good management they ought to have been possessed of double that sum.
The Bank have uniformly contended that they have not issued too much paper. It will hardly be believed that in Aug. 1814 their loans to Government, alone, amounted to the enormous sum of 35 millions. In Feb. 1816 they sank to about 20 millions, were seldom less after that time than 27 to 28 millions, till the present year, when they again fell to 23 millions.
An account will be published in Appendix to the Lords’ report of the quantity of silver and gold coined at the mint since 56 Geo 3 (1816) to Jany. 1819, also an account of the expence attending such coinage from which a tolerably accurate estimate may be made of the expence attending the coinage for any particular year, or any number of years. I fear that Ministers would not give me so particular an account as that which you suggest.
I thank you for making me acquainted with Mr. Leslie —I have as yet only seen him for a few minutes.
I have so little information to give you that it is hardly worth troubling you to read my letter but it is the best I have, and therefore you must not complain.
I thank you for the various numbers of the Scotsman which you have sent me, but I beg you will not trouble yourself to do so in future, as I never miss reading them at Brookes’ , where they are taken in. I had read, before I received it from you, the paper of the 17th of April, and was highly pleased with it. I am sure that it cannot be answered. —I am doomed every now and then to hear the grossest absurdities on the subject of the agricultural interest and the necessity of upholding it by further restrictions on the importation of corn, in the House of Commons, and wish that I had the talent of repelling these foolish arguments with my tongue as ably as you do with your pen—they should not then go without an answer.
Believe me with great esteem Yrs. very sincerely