328.: ricardo to malthus1[Reply to 324.—Answered by 338] - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ricardo to malthus
[Reply to 324.—Answered by 338]
Gatcomb Park 21 Sepr. 1819
My dear Malthus
I must not longer delay answering your kind letter. I have had you often in my mind, and was on the point of writing to you a short time ago, when I received a letter from Mill, inclosing one from Mr. Napier, the editor or manager of the Encyclopedia Britannica, requesting him to apply to me to write an article on the Sinking Fund for his publication. The task appeared too formidable to me to think of undertaking, and I immediately wrote to Mill to that effect, but that only brought me another letter from him, which hardly left me a choice, and at last I have consented to try what I can do, but with no hopes of succeeding. I am very hard at work, because I wish to give Mr. Napier the opportunity of applying to some other person, without delaying his publication, as soon as I have convinced Mill and him that I am not sufficiently conversant with matters of this kind. This business has lately engrossed all my time, and will probably continue to do so for at least a week to come.
So you moved from Henley to Maidenhead!—You were determined not to lose sight of the Thames. I shall expect to see your name entered as a candidate for the annual Wherry.
I am glad that you are proceeding merrily with your work. I now have hopes it will be finished. You have been very indolent, and are not half so industrious, nor so anxious as I am, when I have any thing in hand.
I have not been able to give a proper degree of attention to the subject of your letter. The supposition you make of half an ounce of silver being picked up on the sea shore by a day’s labour, is you will confess an extravagant one. Under such circumstances silver could not as you say rise or fall, neither could labour, but corn could or rather might. Profits I think would still depend on the proportions of produce allotted to the capitalist and the labourer.—The whole produce would be less, which would cause its price to rise, but of the quantity produced the labourer would get a larger proportion than before. This larger proportion would nevertheless be a less quantity than before, and would be of the same money value. In the case you suppose the rise of money wages does not appear to be necessary in the progress of cultivation to its extreme limits, but the reason is that you have excluded the use of capital entirely in the production of your medium of value. You know I agree with you that money is a more variable commodity than is generally imagined, and therefore I think that many of the variations in the price of commodities may be fairly attributed to an alteration in the value of money. It is difficult to conceive that in a great, and civilized country any commodity of importance could be produced with equal advantage without the employment of capital.
By what you tell me in your letter you have respected my authority much too highly, and I do not consent that you should attribute to that respect the little activity you have displayed in getting your work finished. I wish that Mrs. Malthus and you would come to us here at Christmas. I shall then be quite in the humor to discuss all the difficult questions on which we appear to differ. My family is now in a settled state, and I think I can promise you more comfortable entertainment than I have yet been able to give you here. You must no longer plume yourself on being the principal object of Cobbett’s abuse. I have come in for my share of it, and just in the way that I anticipated. Even when he agrees with you he can find shades of difference which calls forth his virulence. —
I had the pleasure of passing a few days lately in Mr. Whishaw’s company at Mr. Smith’s at Easton Grey—He was in very good spirits, and very agreeable. We had some political discussion, particularly on Reform, and he was more liberal in his concessions than I have usually found him. I had Miss Hobhouse heartily on my side, and Mrs. Chandler, an enthusiast for the Whigs, declared that mine were the true Whig principles. Mr. Belsham was of the party, but he did not take a decided part. Mr. Macdonnel, who came with Mr. Whishaw, was, I thought, all but an ally. Are you not weary?
Mrs. Ricardo joins with me in kind regards to Mrs. Malthus. Believe me ever