349.: ricardo to mcculloch1[Reply to 344 & 348] - 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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ricardo to mcculloch
[Reply to 344 & 348]
London 18th. Decr. 1819
My dear Sir
I have two of your letters now before me, the first dated the 2d. Novr., the second the 5th. of Decr., and the only excuse which I have to offer for not writing before is that my occupations have been such as to have left me little time for any thing else. With your last I received your article on Exchanges, which I have not been able yet to read throughout: from what I have seen of it, I conclude that there will be no other difference between us, but that which forms a part of the subject of your first letter. With respect to that difference too, I think that we cannot clearly understand each others terms, for I contend for nothing more than is conceded in page 208 of your article, beginning with the words “In estimating the comparative quantity” &ca., you appear there to admit the definition of the par of exchange given by the Bullion Committee, but which, in page 207, you contend to be incorrect. If sugar were the circulating medium of the world I should think it right to say that the exchange was at par when a bill “which cost 100 hogsheads of sugar in London only brought 100 in Jamaica.” You appear to think that this opinion is not quite consistent with that (to which you refer in your letter) in my answer to Mr. Bosanquet. You say you understood me to mean that any given quantity of the precious metals in Spain being worth more than the same amount in South America that therefore the nominal exchange must be proportionally in favor of the former. If you substitute the words “real exchange” for “nominal exchange” you have exactly expressed my meaning, which I think agrees with the view I now entertain on this subject. Your remark that if no expences whatever attended the transmission of the metals from one country to another the exchange might nevertheless deviate from par on account of the time necessary to transmit them is quite correct, I consider the loss of interest for the time occupied in transmitting them as a part of the expence.
I cannot express how much pleased I am with what you say respecting the article I have written for the Supplement to the E B. on the Sinking Fund. I was so dissatisfied with it that I requested Mr. Mill, who transmitted it to Mr. Napier, to tell him that I hoped he would use no ceremony in rejecting it, if he thought it unworthy of a place in his work,—what you say of it is most gratifying, and if the public think only half as well of my efforts, I shall be amply recompensed for my fears and anxiety. You have spoken too favorably of the article to make it prudent in me to attempt the alteration you propose. It is highly probable that I should make it worse rather than better, by further meddling with it. You judge of me by yourself, a standard by which I should be glad if justice would permit me to be tried. You can transpose passages, and new model the productions of your pen with great facility—I with the greatest difficulty. To compose is to you an easy task, with me it is a laborious effort—I must not then risk spoiling an article which is distinguished by your approbation. Other engagements and pursuits too would probably interfere to prevent me from paying that attention to it which would be required.
You will see by the papers that I attempted in the House to express in a short speech some of the opinions which I hold on the questions which circumstances have rendered particularly interesting at this time. My difficulty in speaking is as great as in writing, and therefore I cannot judge how far I succeeded in making my audience understand what I offered. I touched slightly on the subject of free trade, which you have treated of in so able a manner. To institute the necessary improvements in our system requires firmness and perseverance qualifications which we shall not find in our present ministers: they appear to be satisfied when they have removed an immediate difficulty by deferring its pressure for one or two years.
Col. Torrens shewed me the paper which is a copy of the one he sent to you. I am more convinced than ever that the great regulator of value is the quantity of labour required to produce the commodity valued. There are many modifications which must be admitted into this doctrine, from the circumstance of the unequal times that commodities require to be brought to market, but this does not invalidate the doctrine itself. I am not satisfied with the explanation which I have given of the principles which regulate value. I wish a more able pen would undertake it—the fault is not in the inadequacy of the doctrine to account for all difficulties, but in the inadequacy of him who has attempted to explain it.
After I shall have read Mr. Malthus’ next work, that, I mean, now in the press, I shall be able to make up my mind whether his abilities as a political Economist have not been overrated. I confess that his dangerous heresy on the corn laws affords a strong presumption in favor of the conclusion to which you have arrived.—I will be obliged to you to send me the Scotsman and to inform me at the same time to whom I am to pay the subscription for it here. I want to know this not only on my own account but on account of my brother Ralph who is uneasy at the arrears of his debt. Before I received your letter I asked Coll. Torrens to put me in the way of becoming a subscriber to that newspaper.—I remain with great esteem, My dear Sir
Very truly Yrs.