424.: mcculloch to ricardo1[Reply to 422.—Answered by 428] - 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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mcculloch to ricardo
[Reply to 422.—Answered by 428]
Edinburgh 2 April 1821
My Dear Sir
Your letter of the 23rd ulto gave me great satisfaction—I never doubted that you had been grossly misrepresented on the subject of the Corn laws; still however I am not sorry that I took the liberty of calling your attention to the subject —I knew you were not one of those who would take offence at any fair animadversion on their public conduct, and the ingenuous manner in which you have been pleased to reply to my hasty remarks would, had that been possible, have sufficed to have given you a higher place in my estimation—
Still, however, I must acknowledge that I am not a convert to your opinion respecting the prospects of the country—I admit that a considerable relative reduction in the price of manufactured goods might sustain the rate of profit in a country which had high corn prices—But, in point of fact, we can never be in this situation—Our corn, which is the main regulator of wages, may be double or triple its price in other countries but owing to the facility of transport, and their great value in small bulk, it is next to impossible that our manufactured goods can be from 15 to 20 per cent cheaper—The opposing forces do not, therefore, balance each other, and there must be a drain of capital from the country with low profits—You appear to me to lay far too much stress on the love of country—This passion is, I believe, strongest in low states of society—There is no reason why the capitalists of Great Britain should be more disposed to remain satisfied with comparatively small profits than the capitalists of Holland—Indeed I feel a firm conviction that it is owing infinitely more to the unsettled state of the Continent and the distance of America than to any other circumstance that an infinitely greater quantity of British capital has not been transferred to other countries—Were the United States as near us as France the love of country, I am afraid, would be found to be a very small restraint indeed upon the desire to get larger profits by sending capital across the channel—
It has frequently occurred to me that it would be of the greatest importance to have accurate accounts of the prices of corn in other countries, for as long a period as possible such as at the markets of Amsterdam, Dantzick, Archangel, Paris, Medina de Rio Sico in Spain, New York, &c.—By comparing the prices in England with these prices many curious conclusions might be deduced, and much light might be thrown on the provision made by nature for regulating the differences of climate and of seasons—May I, therefore, be allowed to suggest to you either to move in the House or in the Agricultural Committee that instructions be sent to our Consuls in foreign countries to procure accurate, and well authenticated, lists of the prices at these or such other places as may be judged proper—I presume that such a motion would be at once acceded to; and I am sure that the information it would furnish, particularly the Amsterdam prices, would be of the greatest service—It would be necessary that precise instructions should be sent out to have the prices at each place calculated in the same measure and carefully converted into so many grains of gold, or into coins of a known weight and fineness—They might be obtained at Paris for a space of 200 years—Permit me, from selfish as well as from public motives, to entreat of you to submit a proposition to this effect to the House—Our information respecting the state of the corn trade is quite incomplete without these lists—I have, during the course of the winter, given a course of instruction in Political Economy to a few young gentlemen attending the University here—The greater part of them were foreigners—I hope I have been of some use to them—At least it is not from any want of attention on my part if they are not well acquainted with the principles explained in your great work—
I shall send you in a few days the sheets of my article on Machinery and Accumulation—It will not I am well aware communicate any information to you; but I hope it will have a good effect in counteracting the influence of the poisonous nostrums, for they can be called nothing else, of Messrs. Sismondi and Malthus —Believe me to be with the greatest esteem and regard
Yours most faithfully
J. R. McCulloch