445.: trower to ricardo1[Reply to 437.—Answered by 447] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823.
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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
[Reply to 437.—Answered by 447]
Unsted Wood. July 22. 1821.
My Dear Ricardo
I returned yesterday from Muntham, where I have been passing a week with my Brother. He has a pleasant residence in an agreeable Country, where he enjoys his retirement very much.—He is almost as little of a Country Gentleman as you are, and passes his time, principally among his Books, and in exercise—His eldest Son is a young man of very considerable promise, who in about a year, or so, will be going to Oxford; and who naturally forms a subject of great interest to his father. He has a great taste for poetry, and is continually composing pieces of great merit.—
Many thanks for the Report which you were kind enough to send me. I approve it very much; and have no doubt its circulation will do much good. The great desideratum is to propagate sound notions upon the subject. Such notions the Report, upon the whole, contains. I judge from its doctrines, that you have had a considerable share in its construction; and I also hear from many quarters that such is the fact. I hope they mean to publish the evidence, as, no doubt, it must contain many important facts, interesting to an agriculturist.—
I entirely agree in what you say in your last letter on the subject of exchangeable value: The difference between us, if any, is merely in the mode of stating the question. When I say “that the labor, which a Commodity can command is what actually constitutes its exchangeable value”—I do not mean to confine the term labor, so as to exclude commodities; but to express, that the labor, or other commodities, which a given commodity can command is what actually constitutes its exchangeable value, as, the labor which a Commodity contains (if I may so express myself) is what actually constitutes its cost.
You say, “I do not, I think, say, that the labor expended upon a commodity is a measure of its exchangeable value, but of its positive value. I then add, that exchangeable value is regulated by positive value and therefore is regulated by the quantity of labor expended.” But if you will refer to your Chapter on value, I think you will find, that the inference from what you say is, that you consider the labor expended as the measure of exchangeable value—for you observe page 3/4 . “In the early stages of society the exchangeable value of these commodities, or the rule, which determines how much of one shall be given in exchange for another, depends solely on the comparative quantity of labor expended on each.” Again page 12. “In speaking however of labor as being the foundation of all value, and the relative quantity of labor as determining the relative value of commodities”&.
I know very well, that in laying down the principle, you intend to exclude the consideration of the temporary fluctuations of the market; but, then, the question is, whether, in so doing, you have properly employed the term exchangeable value; this is in fact the sole question; you consider exchangeable value as synonimous with natural price, whereas I confess it appears to me, that exchangeable value should be applied to the market price, to the value you can actually obtain in exchange for the commodity you part from. No doubt, the foundation of that value is the natural value of the commodity exchanged—but then, the natural and the exchangeable value are rarely ever alike; and require to be distinguished by different terms.
This is almost the only point in which I think Malthus is in the right in his controversy with you; and it relates merely to the employment of a term, although he endeavours to magnify it into a question of principle, and of considerable importance. I confess I think, that ambiguity and confusion are avoided by expressing by the term cost the labor expended upon a commodity, and by expressing by the term exchangeable value the amount of labor, or of other commodities, which that commodity can command—
Well! so the mighty Corronation’s over; and without the turbulence some persons apprehended. The Queen, I think, has acted in this matter with bad judgment; and has shewn, beyond dispute, how much she has sunk in public estimation—Her law officers made out but a poor case as to her right of Corronation; and after that, prudence required she should remain quiet. However, as I am one of those, who think as ill of her as possible; the more she puts herself in the wrong the better I am pleased, for the more will the eyes of the public be opened to her real character. Ministers, in the first instance, put themselves as much in the wrong as possible, and now Her Majesty is following their wise example.
How have you found matters in your part of the Country? Are rents, tithes, poor rates, wages and tradesmen’s Bills coming down? These are the points to attend to—but the grumbling stupid farmer is looking only for increased prices.—
How should you value Tithes; in reference to value of money or land. I say the former—I have been offered mine at 28 years purchase and I think I ought to purchase them at 26—
Mrs. Trower begs to join with me in kind remembrances to Mrs. Ricardo and family and believe me
Yrs ever truly