404.: malthus to ricardo1[Reply to 402.—Answered by 405] - 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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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.
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malthus to ricardo
[Reply to 402.—Answered by 405]
E I Coll [27 Nov. 1820]
My dear Ricardo
I was just thinking of writing to you when I received your letter. I saw Miss Sims at the Hertford Ball the other night who said that Mrs. Ricardo had been very ill. I trust from your silence on that subject she is now quite well.
I quite agree with you in your opinion of the foolish and insulting conduct of ministers with regard to the Queen. If things go on in their present train, I shall think it the greatest proof I have yet seen of the want of a reform in Parliament. There is however still a great body of the higher classes against the Queen; but it is one of the specific evils of the whole proceeding that it has tended so much to increase the separation of the higher and middle classes, as well as lower.
I cannot but congratulate you on your liberty of staying at Gatcomb, though personally I am sorry to miss seeing you in Town during any part of our vacation which commences next week. I had deferred answering regularly your former letter till I could see you in Town, and now I am quite thrown back. We had intended to go into Surrey to my brothers, but his younger son is not well, and our visit will be deferred. As I should like much to see your remarks upon my book before I publish another edition, I am half inclined to propose calling upon you at Gatcomb for a week, if it will be convenient and agreeable to you and Mrs. Ricardo, to receive me sometime before Xmas. Mrs. Malthus of course cannot leave her children, and the journey for the whole party would not suit us, even if we could suppose it would suit Mrs. Ricardo; so let me know whether you can receive me as a batchelor, and when it will be most convenient to you that I should come. Perhaps you could tell me also at the same time what coach goes the nearest to you.
The case you mention in your book is expressly stated to be temporary; but this makes all the difference. If the taste for luxuries and conveniences, or unproductive labour be absolutely necessary to the existence of a neat surplus from the land, permanently nothing can be more clear than that saving may be carried too far with a view to such neat surplus, and the general principle is obviously impugned.
I answer your question most readily, that I never believed you thought that fifty oak trees would cost as much labour as the stone wall; but it was precisely because I was sure you could not think so that I stated the question, conceiving it a most fair and proper one to shew you, that a theory of exchangeable value which rejects rents, and considers labour almost exclusively, cannot be well founded.
Every day I am more and more convinced that I am right in what I have said of unproductive labour, in the latter part of my work, and I dont yet quite despair of seeing you of my opinion five years hence. Every thing that I have seen and heard since I wrote my book confirms me in my principles, though I feel confident that I am still open to conviction, and shall listen with a docile mind to your arguments. Mrs. M joins me in kind regards to Mrs. Ricardo
Ever truly Yours
T R Malthus