423.: trower to ricardo3[Answered by 426] - 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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trower to ricardo
[Answered by 426]
Unsted Wood—1. April. 1821.
My Dear Hunter
Since I had the pleasure of seeing you I have met with an accident that has confined me to the Sofa, and very near cost me my life. This day 3 weeks I went into the stable to look at one of my Carriage Horses, which was unwell; and whilst I was in the Stall he was siezed with a fit of mad staggers, broke his halter, reared up, and before I could get out of the stall, fell down, and, in falling, struck my leg very violently with his head. The injury is on the tendons of the leg, which though very painful, will not, eventually, be of any serious consequence—Had I been a foot or two nearer the Horse I must have been smashed in pieces. In justice to my prudence, I must tell you, that when I went into the Stall the Horse was quiet, and the Coachman with him. I can hobble about with a stick, and I hope soon to be able to resume my usual exercise.—
It gave me great pleasure to observe, that justice was done to the “Ricardo System,” in the debate the other night. Upon the whole Mr. Baring’s appeared to be a very able speech; and that part of it which was faulty I think you answered very triumphantly. No theory was ever more compleatly established by facts, than the doctrines, you have taught, have been by the evidence of the last few years. We are now in the right course, and all that is requisite is patience to give time for the natural development of the causes in operation. I have been reading Godwin’s attack upon Malthus. It is not written in the true spirit of philosophick enquiry. It is intemperate and abusive; and with all the pretence of systematick investigation, it is a rambling disjointed performance. It proceeds upon a gross misconception of Malthus’ system, and is supported by scandalous misrepresentations of his opinions. As an attack upon the great principle inculcated in the Essay it is perfectly impotent. Whether population will double itself in 25 or in 50 years is of no moment as far as the principle is concerned; and Godwin himself is forced to admit the tendency of population to increase. I have always thought Malthus did not place his doctrine upon its proper basis. It is not the more rapid multiplication of animal life, than vegetable life, which occasions population to out run food, but it is the limited extent of land, and the rate at which it can be encreased—that is to say, at which fresh land can be taken into cultivation. The mere increase of vegetable life is infinitely more rapid than that of vegetable life; and the industry of every man, properly directed, is capable of producing much more food than is necessary for his own existence. But, the quantity of land from which that produce can be obtained is limited, whilst the growth of population is not affected by that limit, consequently this growth will have a tendency to run on till it is stopped by the want of subsistence. Of course, this is what Malthus means, but it is not what he has said; and therefore he has laid himself open to the attacks of those, who object to the litteral terms in which his doctrine is delivered.—
Pray let me know what is your opinion of Godwins Book, as I recollect you said you were reading it, when I was in London.—
When is Mr. Mill’s Work to make its appearance? What is its object? A new digested system? Or an answer to Malthus? Or new views of any part of the system? I am very impatient to see it. Of course his opinions are identified with your own?—
I begin to hope the Catholick question will succeed in both Houses. Lord Castleregh’s language does not appear to me to anticipate any difficulties in the Lords. Is this the case? I dont know how to respect the opinion of any man, who seriously entertains the apprehensions, that have been expressed by the opponents of the measure. But, in fact I dont believe they do entertain them. The real fear is the ultimateconsequences of that spirit of concession in which the measure originates. Test, and Corporation Acts, Tithes, Church Establishment, these are the real foundation of the alarms attributed to “the Old Whore of Babylon”! Dont forget to let me have your Notes upon Malthus. How does your Agricultural Committee come on? What is to be done? Shall you collect any important evidence? Perhaps, as a Member of the Committee, you will be able to procure me a Copy of your Report? I should like to see it very much.—
The Catastrophy in Italy disappoints me very much—I had hoped better things from the people. But, if they have really acted in the dastardly manner that is represented, it proves, that they are not deserving a better state of things; or perhaps, it would be more just to them to say, they are not yet ripe for it. To be sure, one good may arise out of the result that has occurred; it will prevent the lighting up of a general war in Europe, which a successful resistance on the part of the Italians might, ultimately, have occasioned. And, I think there can be no doubt, that the general prosperity of Europe, and, perhaps, under all the circumstances, even of Italy itself, will be more essentially promoted by the preservation of peace, than by the benefits of a more liberal government, encumbered, as it would have been, by the evils of war. Rest, Rest is what we want; leave nature to herself and she will work her own cure.
Let me hear from you soon. Mrs. Trower begs to join with me in kind remembrances to you and Mrs. Ricardo, and believe me
Yrs very truly—