315.: ricardo to mcculloch3[Reply to 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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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 mcculloch
[Reply to 314]
London 22 June 1819
My dear Sir
I have too long neglected answering your kind letter, but I have been much engaged; and indeed my energy has been a little impaired by the late hours which the business of the House has compelled me to keep for the last 2 or 3 weeks.
I hope that you have received the Lords Report on Bank Affairs, which I sent you by the Mail. That Report contains an account of the yearly average of Bank notes in circulation for more than 20 years, and is I think precisely the document which you wished to see.
I thank you for your endeavors to inspire me with confidence on occasions of my addressing the House. Their indulgent reception of me has in some degree made the task of speaking more easy to me, but there are yet so many formidable obstacles to my success, and some, I fear, of a nature nearly insurmountable that I apprehend it will be wisdom and sound discretion in me to content myself with giving silent votes.
There is a disposition among many of the best informed of the two committees to adopt my plan of currency as a permanent regulation, but they think that it will have more chance of finding supporters, after it has been tried for a few years. I am of the same opinion, and only object to the Bill just passed, because it will impose on the Bank the obligation of buying gold, and preparing for coin payments, in 1821, although such payments may never be necessary.
I fear I cannot obtain the account of the expence of the Mint Establishment for so long a period as you mention. I am sure that Ministers would object to give it, and I am too young a member to move for it without previously knowing that it would be granted.
Bills are bought and sold on the exchange by brokers, who make themselves acquainted with the state of demand and supply. There is a difference in the price of bills, accordingly as they are drawn on persons, and by persons, of undoubted credit. There are also middlemen, who speculate largely on the rise or fall of the exchange and either buy or sell bills, without being entitled to do so from any previous transaction, on the expectation of the future supply and demand of bills. The practice I believe is this. The brokers go round to the different merchants, and ascertain whether they are buyers or sellers of bills. The man of most influence amongst them judging of the relation between the buyers and sellers, suggests a price at which all the transactions of the day are settled, with such deviations as particular bills, on account of their being in very high, or very low credit, may be subject to. In the evidence before the committee you will see that merchants in the best credit generally negociate their bills on better terms than the quoted price.—
I hope, Mr., or I believe, Sir W. Scott is recovered from his indisposition. His last novel is just published, but there is so great a demand for the work at present in my house that I have not yet seen it—I shall consent to wave my claim to its perusal till I get in the country. Then also I shall read Sismondi’s last work, which I am prepared to find exactly of the description which you give of it—viz a work not less extraordinary than that of Dr. Purves, if there be really any such person in existence.—
You have probably heard that Mr. Mill has got a highly respectable situation in the East India House. Considering the opinions which he has so freely given of the Government of India this appointment reflects great credit on the Directors.
Mr. Malthus with whom I am very intimate speaks confidently of publishing his work on Political economy next Spring. When we meet we carry on a most active contest but with the best disposition towards each other possible. Every opinion of his is subjected to the ordeal of a vigorous discussion between us—I tell him that he has in this respect very greatly the advantage over me—the truth is he is too timid and I am too rash.—
I shall probably quit London for Gatcomb Park in the middle of July. Whether there or in London I shall be always happy to hear from you.—Believe me to be with great esteem
Yrs. very truly