375.: ricardo to mcculloch2[Reply to 372.—Answered by 377] - 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 372.—Answered by 377]
Brighton 2 Aug 1820
My dear Sir
I have been for sometime in this place enjoying the sea breezes. My own inclination would have led me into the more retired situation of my own house in Gloucestershire, but my family were very desirous of a few weeks residence here, and I was induced to comply with their wishes. I shall be at Gloucester on Wednesday, and at Gatcomb Park in a very short time after. This is the proper place for me to request you to give directions to have the Scotsman sent to me at Minchinhampton, and it is also the place to ask you to direct the agent of the paper, in London, to receive from my brother, and me, our respective subscriptions, which I understand from him they now will not do without instructions.
It will be some time before your article on value can appear in the Suppt. of the Encyclop. Brit. I shall be very eager to see it, for I am sure you will divest the subject of value of some of the clouds in which it is at present enveloped. I am glad too that the subject of Tithes has engaged your attention. You will not fail to make the nature of this tax, on which much error and misapprehension prevail, well understood. Nothing occurs to me to say upon it at present, which can have the least claim to your attention.
The papers which I moved for respecting the duties on French and other wines I have directed to be sent to you. There is another set not yet printed which will continue the information till July last, they shall be sent to you also. I moved for them at the request of a committee of the trade, who expected that they would convey information on which they might found a petition which they would have requested me to present, but I understand that the facts which these papers disclose are not exactly such as they expected, and therefore they have abandoned their intention of presenting a petition. I believe that they contain the information you wish to have. I hope you will find them useful. When I wrote to the vote office to request Mr. Mitchell to send the papers to you I mentioned the petition to which you refer presented by Mr. Sharp and begged if they had it to forward it to you. I fear it is of too old a date to be in the Vote Office.
I was sorry to see that Mr. Wilson was elected to the Professorship of Moral Philosophy, after all the meritorious exertions you had made to shew how improper a person he was for so dignified a situation. The world is getting better than it was but, I fear we are yet at a great distance from that time when merit will be considered as the best claim to such important offices.
Since I have been here I have been giving a second reading to Mr. Malthus’ book. I am even less pleased with it than I was at first. There is hardly a page which does not contain some fallacy. He dwells incessantly on the importance of giving increased value to commodities, which he thinks of much more consequence than securing an abundant supply of them. He is always for sacrificing the interest of the consumer to the interest of the merchant. His increased profits are of the greatest moment, altho’ they may be partial, and really derived from a partial monopoly. To be consistent he ought to be friendly to all kinds of monopolies, for there can be no doubt that these would benefit merchants and dealers at the expence of consumers, and would give a high value to commodities. If you increase the quantity of commodities by means of facility of production (he says) you do an injury to society, unless they give as much or a greater employment to labour. This is clearly not true, for if with less labour you can obtain the same quantity of commodities, one of two things must happen, either you will give employment to the same or a greater number of people, and still further increase your means of enjoyment, or you will by the payment of the same or even less wages in money enable the employed to command more commodities, and if they prefer indolence to the rewards of labour they may with less labour command the same quantity of enjoyments. How an abundance of productions can lead to a less demand for labour I cannot make out. Mr. M appears to me to confound two things which ought ever to be kept very distinct. A man may produce commodities the return for which may not repay the value of the labour that has been bestowed on them. Such commodities would be cheap, and we should say they were abundant, but their cheapness would be attended with this effect—the national capital would be diminished by their production. But when commodities are produced in abundance, and at a cheap price, from facility of production, and really more than replace the capital employed on them, it is an unmixed benefit, and is essentially different from the other case. That the first sometimes happens cannot be denied, but it is always the effect of miscalculation. It may take place with respect to one, or to a thousand commodities, but cannot at once happen to all.
Mr. Malthus speaks of an indisposition to consume being very common—I say it never exists any where, not even in South America to which he has so triumphantly alluded. In South America there is no indisposition to consume, the indisposition is to produce. To entitle a man to consume there as well as elsewhere he must produce, but he prefers indolence to the gratification which the commodity he would demand would give him, and this Mr. Malthus calls an indisposition to consume, and makes him deny the proposition that effective demand depends upon production. If one man were industrious, and all others idle, it is possible that he might produce commodities which no other person might have the means of buying, but what was his object in producing them—he can have but two, either to consume them himself, or to exchange them with others for the objects which he wishes to consume. If he does the last, when there are no others to give him the objects he wants, he is guilty of miscalculation—he should have produced directly the objects he wants. How then can the accumulation of capital be mischievous? It may be under certain circumstances without benefit to the capitalist, and then it will be proportionally more beneficial to the labourer. Unless it be beneficial to the capitalist it will cease; on that point we are all agreed, but how can it be said to be prejudicial to the whole community, and to be as injurious to the labourers as it is to their employers? This appears to me as great an absurdity as to say that twice 2 do not make four.
Believe me to be with great regard Very truly Yrs.