335.: 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 28 Sep. 1819.—
Before I can possibly know what reception you may give to my first messenger (of 25th.) I cannot refrain from dispatching another—I have seen a little more of your Book.—
You are in the road to Truth—You merely want a little more scepticism to proceed much farther—perhaps to arrive at the solution of that Problem to which you allude in your preface—In order to this You must lay aside prejudice or reverence for received or admitted doctrines or Maxims—You must suspect them to be false and not only examine them with rigor, but likewise cross-examine them with the utmost severity—Try them by the standard of facts—if they will not bear this—they are false or erroneous—Very few men, Sir, know how to think—In this occult operation of the mind the difficulty is to distinguish cause from effect—the great danger and fruitful source of error is in mistaking one for the other—to avoid these as much as possible first principles must be resorted to and carefully sifted and scrutinised—You are capable of all these—You have done much—if You have not done more it is owing in some degree to your situation in life and to a circumstance I have already noticed—Before proceeding to some observations on some passages in your treatise I deemed it necessary to make these observations, relying on your candour to forgive the freedom with which I have made them.—The passages I allude to begin at P. 560 with “M. Malthus appears to me” &c &c—I write on the supposition that you have now the vol. before You, or the substance clearly in Your mind—
You there contravert the favorite doctrine of Mr. Malthus “that population is only increased by the previous provision of food &c &c”—You are right, Sir, and Mr. Malthus is wrong—His error is in mistaking cause for effect, or not being able to distinguish one from the other—Every fact connected with the history and practice of man is on your side—on his there is nothing but plausible theory and fine writing—When such errors as his are merely theoretical, they are comparatively harmless, but when they are adopted by Statesmen entrusted with the government of a great nation like this, and converted into practical effect, no man can estimate the mischief they are calculated to produce—I suspect Mr. Malthus to be the father of the Corn Law as it now stands—If so, he has produced the most mischievous and illegitimate bantling this country ever saw—It and another delusion are now pressing upon the vitals of this great and powerful nation with a combined force that must be attended with the most ruinous consequences if some adequate remedy is not speedily applied—
This Country is possessed of powerful resources—far beyond those of any other nation—the machinery of action is however so very complicated—its props and joints of so nice and delicate a texture that the prudent management of it can never be understood but from an accurate knowledge not only of the materials of which it is composed but of their relative value in respect to each other—It is so much the fashion to place Agriculture in the front rank that it would be dangerous for any man except yourself to turn her into the rear—I mean as a source of wealth—Yet that is her natural place—
Manufactures, Trade or Commerce and Agriculture—A very little reflexion will convince you this is their proper order and rank—Agriculture could not exist at all without Manufactures—how could her operations be carried on?—
Without Trade she would be indolent and therefore miserably poor—Where is the Agricultural Nation that ever was rich—it will be difficult to find her I believe—Sparta was the only Agricultural nation in the proper sense of the word I ever heard of—Even she was not without Manufactures but she had no Trade—she was therefore poor—Tyre, Carthage and Athens were rich and popolous—Was it their Agriculture that produced their Wealth and population?—Holland, Venice and Genoa have been rich—Look at them—Look at Poland—
The singular advantage of this country is in having the means of carrying on all these sources of wealth together and that we have got the start of other nations to a great degree—if we lose it it will be our own fault and we are now in no little danger—The great cry of the Agriculturists is to export Corn—One year with another it is perfectly evident they cannot supply the home consumption—
Do they mean to sell a part here at 100/π qr. and export the rest at 30/ or 40/.—I really believe they know nothing of the matter or even of their own real and solid interests—
Do you proceed a little farther in the road in which You now are and You will soon be able to tell them, and to convince every man of sense, that corn is exported and in the most profitable way for them—namely—in the immense supply of her Manufactures furnished by Great Britain to Foreign Nations called the Export Trade, by means of which she absolutely levies a very heavy tax on every Nation who uses them and without which all this Unique piece of mechanism would get into instant confusion, if it did not fall entirely to pieces.—
I am certain You will comprehend me—for the Moment I must stop—assuring you of my respect &c &c.
D. Ricardo Esq.
[The following is written on the back of the cover]
N.C. 29 Sep 1819.—
I am rather anxious to save the post.—It is not upon Corn but Butchers Meat that Agricultural prosperity rests—the value of it consumed by the Manufacturing and Trading part of the Community is more I believe than that of all the Corn put together—a very slight research and reflexion will convince you of this—if ever the price of this gives way then the Landed interest as it is called will have reason indeed to cry out—Monday and yesterday all the Keelmen on this river struck work—the Pitmen or Coal hewers will soon follow—their example will be imitated by those on the Wear—30 to 40,000 will be added to the prosolytes or followers of Hunt &c—Really, Sir, if men like you do not step forward and insist on Parliament being immediately assembled to take into consideration the state of the country, no one can foresee the consequences—What is really the nature of the case? it seems like this—Mr. M. or some one else is the State Physician—he has prescribed—the Corn bill—the Ministry have applied the Physic—the Patient is sick—and runs after a mischievous Quack (Hunt) who tells them of Annual Parliaments, Universal suffrage and Election by ballot being infallible nostrums for all their evils—the people want employment and nothing else.—
They neither understand nor value such impracticable nonsense beyond the pressure of the moment—What can Military do? Can they remove Poverty, hunger and want?—
My time will not admit of more than that I have the honor to be most respectfully Sir
Yr mo ob st