345.: ricardo to malthus2[Reply to 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.
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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 malthus
[Reply to 338]
Gatcomb Park 9 Novr. 1819
My dear Malthus
I am sorry to find by your letter that there are so many difficulties in the way of your and Mrs. Malthus’ paying us a visit at Gatcomb during your next vacation. According to your account of them they appear to be insuperable, and I must content myself with hoping that circumstances may be more propitious on some future occasion.—I shall go to London, alone, on the 22d., and of course I shall continue there until Parliament adjourns for the holidays:—perhaps you may have occasion to visit town during that time, if so, I shall have a bed at your service, and such fare as can be furnished by my factotum in Brook Street.—
I am glad that Mr. Whishaw has expressed satisfaction with his very short visit here. I was very much pleased with his company—no one could be more agreeable, nor more disposed to be satisfied with every thing about him. We had many conversations on the subject of Parliamentary Reform, and I was glad to find that our sentiments accorded much more than I had previously imagined—I should be quite contented with such a reform as Mr. Whishaw was willing to grant us. I am certainly not more inclined than I was before, to Radicalism, after witnessing the proceedings of Hunt, Watson and Co., if by Radicalism is meant Universal Suffrage. I fear however that I should not think the moderate reform which you are willing to accede to, a sufficient security for good government. Your scheme of reform, if I recollect right, is as much too moderate, as the universal suffrage plan is too violent,—something between these would give me satisfaction. Do you think that any great number of the people can really be deluded with the idea that any change in the representation would completely relieve them from their distresses? There may be a few wicked persons who would be glad of a revolution, with no other view but to appropriate to themselves the property of others, but this object must be confined to a very limited number, and I cannot think so meanly of the understandings of those who are well disposed, as to suppose that they sincerely believe a reform in Parliament would give them work, or relieve the country from the payment of the load of taxes with which we are now burthened,—neither do I observe in the speeches which are addressed to the mob any such extravagant expectations held out to them. If there were I am sure they know better than to believe the speakers who make such delusive promises. I expect that we shall have a very stormy session of parliament.—
With respect to my calculations, I have only this to say in defence of them, that I never brought them forward for any practical use, but merely to elucidate a principle. It is no answer to my theory to say that “it is scarcely possible that all my calculations should not be necessarily and fundamentally erroneous,” for that I do not deny, but still it is true that the proportion of produce in agriculture or manufactures, retained by the capitalist who sets the labourers to work, will depend on the quantity of labour necessary to provide for the maintenance and support of the labourers.
You ask me “whether when land is thrown out of cultivation from the importation of foreign corn, I consider the new rate of profits as determined by the state of the land, or the stationary prices of manufactured and mercantile products compared with the fall of wages.” You have correctly anticipated my answer: “Capital will” I think “be withdrawn from the land, till the last capital yields the profit obtained (by the fall of wages) in manufactures, on the supposition of the price of such manufactures remaining stationary.[”]—
I am glad to hear that your book will be so soon in the press, but I regret that the most important part of the conclusions from the principles which you endeavour to elucidate, will not be included in it, I mean taxation. In a letter which I have lately received from Trower, he is full of regret that the important subject of taxation receives so little attention from Political Economists:—at this time he thinks it peculiarly important, and I cannot but agree with him.—As soon as you have launched your present work, I hope you will immediately prepare to give us your thoughts on a subject in which are all practically interested.—
I have received a letter also very lately from M’Cullock —he has been writing an article on Exchanges for the Ency. Brit. which is very well done, I think; altho’ I cannot agree with one or two of his definitions.
I finished in my hasty way the article I had undertaken to do on the Sinking Fund, and then became so disgusted with it, that I was glad to get rid of it.—I have given so many injunctions not to regard my supposed feelings in deciding whether it shall or shall not be published, that I much doubt whether it will ever see the light.
Mrs. Ricardo joins me in kind regards to Mrs. Malthus