Front Page Titles (by Subject) 363.: ricardo to malthus2 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 8 Letters 1819-June 1821
Return to Title Page for The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 8 Letters 1819-June 1821
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
363.: ricardo to malthus2 - 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 malthus2
London 4 May 1820
My dear Malthus
You, and Mrs. Malthus, will hear with pleasure that Mrs. Ricardo is quite well, and bears her late loss3 with much more tranquility and composure than could have been expected. Osman and his wife, with Mr. Clutterbuck, and my daughter Henrietta, have been with us for some time,—their presence has been very acceptable on this sad event.
I have read your book4 with great attention. I need not say that there are many parts of it in which I quite agree with you. I am particularly pleased with your observations on the state of the poor—it cannot be too often stated to them that the most effectual remedy for the inadequacy of their wages is in their own hands.1 I wish you could succeed in ridding us of all the obstacles to the better system which might be established.—
After the frequent debates between us, you will not be surprised at my saying that I am not convinced by your arguments on those subjects on which we have long differed. Our differences may in some respects, I think, be ascribed to your considering my book as more practical than I intended it to be. My object was to elucidate principles, and to do this I imagined strong cases that I might shew the operation of those principles. I never thought for example that practically any improvements took place on the land which would at once double its produce, but to shew what the effect of improvements would be undisturbed by any other operating cause, I supposed an improvement to that extent to be adopted, and I think I have reasoned correctly from such premises. I am sure I do not undervalue the importance of improvements in Agriculture to Landlords, though it is possible that I may not have stated it so strongly as I ought to have done.2 You appear to me to overvalue them, the landlords would get no more rent while the same capital was employed as before on the land, and no new land was taken into cultivation, but as with a lower price of corn new land could be cultivated, and additional capital employed on the old land, the advantage to landlords would be manifest. Because the landlord’s corn rent would increase without these conditions, you appear to think he would be benefited; but his additional quantity of corn would exchange for no more money, nor for any additional quantity of other goods. If labour were cheaper he would be benefited in as far as he would save on the employment of his gardeners, and perhaps some other menial servants, but this advantage would be common to all who had the same money revenue, from whatever source it might be derived. The compliment you pay me in one of your notes1 is most flattering. I am pleased at knowing that you entertain a favorable opinion of me, but I fear that the world will think, as I think, that your kind partiality has blinded you in this instance.
I differ as much as I ever have done with you in your chapter on the effects of the accumulation of capital.2 Till a country has arrived to the end of its resources from the diminished powers of the land to afford a further increase, [I hold]3 it to be impossible that there should [be, at the] same time, a redundancy of capital, and of [population. I] agree that profits may be for a time very l[ow] because capital is abundant compared with [labour but] they cannot both I think be abundant at one [and the same time.]
Admitting that you are correct on this [point, I doubt if the] inference you draw is the correct one, and i[t does not seem to me] wise to encourage unproductive consumption. If individuals would not do their duty in this respect, Government might be justified in raising taxes for the mere purpose of expenditure.—
MCulloch has a short review of your book in the last Scotsman—it is chiefly on the subject of value—he differs from you but does so with the greatest civility and good humor.
Torrens has an interest in, (I believe he is Editor of) the Traveller evening paper—He also has some remarks on your book written in the right spirit, and as his arguments are on my side I of course think his criticism just.4
Pray give our kind regards to Mrs. Malthus and believe me ever
[2 ]Addressed: ‘Revd. T. R. Malthus / East India College / Hertford’.
[3 ]The death on 17 April of Ricardo’s daughter Fanny (wife of Edward Austin).
[4 ]Principles of Political Economy.
[1 ]See above, II, 262.
[2 ]Cp. above, II, 116 ff.
[1 ]Above, II, 222–3.
[2 ]Chapter vii, Section iii.
[3 ]MS torn here and below: similar statements occur below, p. 278 and above, II, 426.
[4 ]‘The Traveller is not a new, but a newly-conducted evening paper; which, if it has not much wit or brilliancy, is distinguished by sound judgment, careful information, and constitutional principles’ (Edinburgh Review, May 1823, p. 368). Torrens was the new proprietor and Walter Coulson, who had been an amanuensis of Bentham, was (or became shortly afterwards) the editor: ‘Colonel Torrens himself wrote much of the political economy of his paper’(J. S. Mill, Autobiography, p. 86). Two articles, unsigned, on ‘Mr Malthus’s New Work’ appeared on 26 April (on profits and on free trade) and 1 May 1820 (on rent); a sequel was promised, but did not appear.