346.: ricardo to trower2[Reply to 339] - 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 trower
[Reply to 339]
Gatcomb Park—12 Novr. 1819
Trower Think not I pray you that I meant to make a charge of idleness against you—I knew full well that if you were not employed in sedentary occupations, that you were nevertheless usefully employed. Nothing can be more useful to the public than that enlightened men, with no motives for the misapplication of the powers entrusted to them, should take upon themselves the duties of magistrates. I am convinced that you are performing very essential services to the community about you by settling the disputes,—preserving the peace, and affording securities for the protection of property within the circle of your influence. Nor do I undervalue your farming pursuits; I am well satisfied that great benefits arise from men of education and liberal views engaging in such speculations. They contribute much to introduce improvements in agriculture, and to break down those obstinate prejudices against innovation, which are perhaps more conspicuous in farming concerns than in any other. My regret was perhaps selfish. Wishing ardently for the diffusion of correct principles in Political Economy, I wanted the assistance of one to effect that object who appeared to me to have imbibed correct opinions himself, and to be qualified to aid in the further improvement of the science. The subject you mention is very important to be well analysed, and explained—namely, the best means of raising the funds which may be necessary for future expenditure; it is highly interesting and merits the most patient investigation. The difficulty which encompasses it is almost sufficient to deter one from entering upon it. For my own satisfaction however, and not with any hope to throw much light on so very intricate a question, I would employ my time upon it, if I had any time at my command, which at present I have not: on some future day I will bend my whole mind to the consideration of this subject.
I am sorry to find that Malthus, whose work I believe is now actually in the press, has left off, without treating on the subject of taxation. Political Economy, when the simple principles of it are once understood, is only useful, as it directs Governments to right measures in taxation. We very soon arrive at the knowledge that Agriculture, Commerc[e], and Manufactures flourish best when left without interference on the part of Government, but the necessity which the state has for money to defray the expences of its functions, imposes on it the obligation to raise taxes, and thus interference becomes absolutely necessary. It is here then that the most perfect knowledge of the science is required, and I cannot but regret that Malthus has not given us his thoughts on this part of the subject. I hope he will immediately after publishing his volume seriously set about it.—
I am pleased to find that you are friendly to the preservation of the right to the people to meet, and to state their real or supposed grievances. This right may occasionally be attended with grave inconveniences, but I do not think that you can provide against these, in the way you mention, without making the privelege itself a mere nullity. A Government is free in proportion to the facility with which the people can overthrow it. What security for freedom should we have if no meeting, larger than a parish meeting, was legal. Such meetings might indeed talk of their grievances, but their talking would be no motive to their rulers to alter their measures, but might indeed be an inducement with them to get rid of such meetings altogether. The fear of insurrection, and of the people combining to make a general effort are the great checks on all governments—these we might have thro the means of a reformed House of Commons—now we have them by the privelege which the people have of meeting—I can not consent to weaken the latter check without having some security for the obtaining of the former, and even if we did obtain it, I am doubtful how far it might be safely accepted as a substitute for the privelege which we now enjoy.
I agree with you in thinking that the ministers have shewn very little wisdom, and as little liberality, in their dismissal of Lord Fitzwilliam;—as for the conduct of the opposition, in taking advantage of the present circumstances, or any other which may occur, to oust ministers from their places, it is quite in the regular course of ministerial and opposition tactics,—they appear to me to have no more chance of succeeding now than on many former occasions.
Before I go any further let me congratulate you and Mrs. Trower, which I most sincerely do, on the birth of your daughter. I am glad to hear that mother and infant are doing well.
I have not read Peter’s letters to his Kinsfolk, they are in our book society but have not yet reached me.
I was sworn in as sheriff at my own house, by, I believe, the Clerk of circuit, or Arraigns, in London, and in the month of Feby. or march—perhaps April. I was not called upon to do any act in discharge of the duties of the office, till I went to meet the Judges at the Assizes.
I hear with great concern that an application will be made to Parliament to defer the payment of bullion for paper, at the rate of £4. 1–pr oz. in gold, from febry. next the time fixed by law, to a later period. I am told that ministers have not discharged any part of the Govt. debt to the Bank, and are disposed to accede to the wishes of the Directors and of their friends to the undefined issues of paper, on condition of more time being granted to them for the payment of the money. Surely Lord Liverpool will disgrace himself by listening to any such compromise—nor can it be possible that after the solemn and grave consideration this subject has undergone Parliamt. will consent to further procrastination. What will you say of the House of Commons if it consents?
Have you heard any thing of an intention to propose an income tax of 5 pct.? I do not see the necessity for it. If the revenue is very deficient, it can hardly be so much so, as to leave us without any surplus at all for a sinking fund. If we are to be taxed only for the purpose of creating a sinking fund, I for one dissent from it. Besides is it fair to infer that because the revenue is from peculiar causes deficient this year, it should therefore be deficient also for years to come. Ministers told us last session that they were then arranging a system which was to be the permanent system of the country and that they did not see any probability of their requiring any further assistance excepting only a loan for five millions.—Why do they not raise the interest on exchequer bills? What reason have they to persevere in their endeavors to borrow money at 3 pc. when the market rate is 5pct.? Before you come to this place you will be heartily tired with this letter—I hasten now to relieve you. With the united wishes of Mrs. Ricardo and myself for your and Mrs. Trower’s happiness
I am ever yours