388.: malthus to ricardo1[Reply to 379.—Answered by 392] - 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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malthus to ricardo
[Reply to 379.—Answered by 392]
E I Coll Sepr 25th. 
My dear Ricardo,
I am glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself at Gatcomb. I have no doubt it looks very delightful now, and it would give me great pleasure to pay you and Mrs. Ricardo a visit there, if we were not so completely tied by the leg in the intervals between the vacations. You will leave it I have no doubt with regret in October to attend on this terrible business of the Queen. I am inclined to think perhaps that there is rather more in the State part of the question than you do; but whatever evils might have arisen from her having all the rights and privileges of a Queen, they would have been less than the evils attending the present unfortunate discussion. One can hardly see any tolerably good termination to it.
When I received your letter I had not seen Say’s publication. He promised to send it to me and I had been expecting it, but at last I got tired of waiting, and sent to my bookseller for it. I do not think it is a very able performance. There are more contradictions in it than those which relate to value, and there are some doctrines, besides those which directly concern me that appear to me to obscure, rather than to throw light on the general subject. I cannot agree with him in making no distinction between services and products, in his strange and useless application of the term utility, in his opinions respecting the immateriality of revenues, and in his mode of reasoning by exclamations which enable him to stop short when he comes to the stress of the argument. After all, in a note referring to you p. 101 he fully concedes all that I contend for. He says “qu’il y a beaucoup d’epargnes qui ne se placent pas lorsque les emplois sont difficiles, ou qui etant placées se dissipent dans une production mal calculé”—and this he illustrates by the present state of France. The present state of things indeed in England America Holland and Hamburgh still more than in France does appear in the most marked manner to contradict both his, and your theory. The fall in the interest of money and the difficulty of finding employment for capital are universally acknowledged, and this fact, none of your friends have ever accounted for in any tolerably satisfactory manner; but what confidence can be placed in a theory, as the foundation of future measures which is absolutely inconsistent with the past and the present state of things.
I quite agree with you in regard to the error committed by Say and Torrens about the necessity of counter commodities in all cases. The commodity in which there is a glut should as you say be produced in less quantity; and the true question is, whether the capital and labour so withdrawn can with certainty find employment without any other fall of profits than that which arises necessarily from the state of the land, or temporarily from the improved condition of the labouring classes. You say that no other fall can take place. I say, not that such other fall must necessarily take place, but that it may take place according to the justest theory of demand and supply, and may occasion a positive diminution in the will and power of capitalists to command labour, which will of course throw labourers out of employment and deteriorate their condition. On these two different statements I conceive issue is joined between us. I am very sorry that a second attentive reading of my book has made no sort of impression upon you: but greatly as I respect your authority, yet if yours, as you say, is the true faith, I much fear that in spite of my orthodox tendencies, I must continue a heretic. I do not acknowledge however that I am heretical in reference to my former doctrines as stated by Say. I never affirm that necessaries if distributed to the labourer in abundance will not increase population rapidly; But I affirm that if the farmer has no adequate market for his produce, he will soon cease to distribute more necessaries to his labourers, an event which is continually occurring all over the world. This important distinction however Say does not make for me, but runs off into an ‘Eh! Monsieur!’
It is quite true as you observe that we do not mean the same thing in speaking of value, and I am willing that the question should be tried by the relative utility of the two definitions in an inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth. It is not however merely a question of arbitrary definitions. You assert that with few exceptions the quantity of labour employed on commodities determines the rate at which they will exchange for each other. This is a proposition; and one that is not well founded, so that I should doubt whether you will be able to alter your first chapter satisfactorily to yourself. I shall like however much to see it, and am very glad to hear that you are preparing another edition. I am surprised that Torrens has not continued his remarks in the Traveller. I shall like to see Mccullochs article on tithes. I doubt whether I agree with him quite in the principle. Pray when you see or write to Mill remember me kindly to him. I shall expect his work on political economy with great pleasure though I think that an elementary treatise on this subject should be delayed for a few years.
I have not yet seen the last volume of the Encyclopaedia, where your funding paper is, but I expect it soon.
Mrs. Malthus sends her kind regards to Mrs. Ricardo. We hope all the family are well at Gatcomb.
Ever truly Yours
T R Malthus.