428.: ricardo to mcculloch1[Reply to 424.—Answered by 431] - 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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ricardo to mcculloch
[Reply to 424.—Answered by 431]
London 25th.. April 1821
My Dear Sir
Coll. Torrens sent me your article on accumulation, and on the effects of the use of machinery, which I think very good, although there are parts of the article which do not quite accord with my present opinions. I think that I informed you, in a former letter, of a change in my sentiments respecting the advantages of machinery, and that it was my intention to write a chapter on that subject in the new edition of my book. As you have probably read the chapter by this time, as I requested Mr. Murray to send you a copy last week, it will not be necessary for me to explain my views here—I should be glad however to hear from you whether I have satisfied you of the correctness of the opinions which I have ventured to give. You will not find much of novelty in the new edition; all that is new is pointed out in the advertisement at the beginning of the volume.
Mr. Malthus second edition will not appear for the present, he has had my notes ever since you returned them to me, but I fear they have made very little impression on him.
The labours of our Agricultural Committee are suspended during the holidays.—I have called two merchants before it, whose evidence I think valuable. Mr. Tooke is one, and from him I have got sound opinions to appear on our minutes. I do not entirely agree with him, nor will you. He thinks that the Corn laws have no effect whatever in raising the average price of corn, and consequently that they are of no use to the landed interest—he thinks further that the United Kingdom would if no corn laws existed grow on an average the quantity of corn which she annually consumes, as in his opinion we can compete with other countries in the growth of corn. I do not believe this. If our ports were regularly open at all times I am confident that we should be an importing country. You will read his evidence with interest. Mr. Solly, the other merchant I called, gave some valuable information respecting the price of corn in Poland, and in the Prussian Ports, and also regarding the expences of conveying corn from the interior, to the Ports of Embarkation, and from those Ports to London.
The character of the evidence generally is bad;—farmers are very bad legislators, and ought not to have been asked their opinions on the policy of laws. As they were asked however, I thought it right to endeavor to shew their ignorance of the subject—and I flatter myself that I have been of a little use in making them talk nonsense and having it on record.—
Mr. Huskisson tells me that Lord Castlereagh has written to all our consuls and ambassadors abroad for an account of the prices of corn in foreign countries for a series of years which will be laid before Parliament as soon as it arrives.
The criticism on Say in the last number of the Scotsman is I think very just—he is certainly very far behind in his knowledge of the present state of the science.
Mill’s book on Political Economy is nearly finished—he recognizes all the principles which you deem the correct ones, and I have no doubt you will think his work well calculated to disseminate useful information.—
On tuesday my labours recommence—I hope it will not be long before we shall make our report. I know that there is a slight difference in our opinions on the corn laws, but I am not conscious of having deviated in the slightest degree from those which I expressed in my book.
Ever truly Yrs.
[The following letter contains the earliest statement we have that Ricardo had changed his views on the effects of machinery.