334.: brown to ricardo1[Answered by 336] - 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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brown to ricardo
[Answered by 336]
Newcastle upon Tyne 25 Sep. 1819.—
When you have done me the honor to peruse this letter, I think you will be able, distinctly to perceive the real motives which have induced me to use such freedom—these motives constitute my apology—I cannot pay you a higher compliment.—A few days ago your treatise on Political Economy and Colquhoun on the Wealth &c of the British Empire were lent, or rather procured for, me by a Friend for a particular purpose—Until then I had never seen either—I was aware of their existence and of the character attached to them chiefly by means of the newspapers—I am no Political Economist in the common acceptation of the phrase—none whatever—I am 50 years of age and for more than half of that period have been connected with the operations of Manufactures, Trade and Agriculture to a considerable extent—like other men I can examine, compare and combine in a certain degree according to the opportunities for doing so that come in my way or attract my attention—for the last ten years I have read very little except the newspapers occasionally,—this has been not altogether from want of inclination—formerly I read not a little according to the leisure I had and the means I possessed.—
I had not then much time for reflexion—Since then I have had more than I could have wished—no man is a competent judge of the value of his own notions or reflexions—I have taken the liberty to inclose a specimen of mine on a subject deeply interwoven with what is called Political Economy.—
The powerful intellect, sound judgement and extensive experience so visible throughout your valuable publication will enable you at once to detect the fallacy of my notion if it is not correct or to appreciate the utility of it, if it is.—
I have not as yet read the Book—I have only dipt into it as it suited the purpose I had in view—I could not however refrain from taking an early opportunity of expressing to you my sense of its value, and of my respect for the Author.—
One of the great difficulties attending the solution of the Problem to which you allude in your judicious preface is owing, in my humble apprehension, to the want of defining the words or terms necessary to the elucidation of so very complicated a subject—the true meaning must be sought for and can only be obtained from the invariable or at least general practice of mankind—whether I have succeeded in any tolerable degree with respect to this rule in the instance I have sent you I know not—You will be able to judge, I am certain.
On many other subjects, some of them connected with yours, I have been led to entertain notions or opinions which do not at all correspond with the received doctrines or maxims usually held of such matters and differ in some cases so much from what are considered authority that I have been induced to doubt without being able to know why—
For the present I will avail myself of this doubting faculty, and make my retreat, fearful of being deemed an intruder or guilty of impertinence by one whom I hold in high respect.—
I have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient and very humble servant