454.: ricardo to malthus1[Answered by 455] - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ricardo to malthus
[Answered by 455]
Gatcomb Park 10 Sep 1821
My Dear Malthus
I do not know whether you received the last letter which I addressed to you at St. Catherines, as it must have arrived there just about the time you were leaving that place for Haileybury. Perhaps you may be this way again at Christmas, if so we shall hope to see you.
Mr. Place’s reply to Godwin is finished—he wishes much that Murray should publish it, and for the purpose of conferring with him on the subject, asked me for an introduction to Murray. To enable me to speak my sentiments of the merits of his book he sent me the MS copy, which I have read, and returned to him. Nothing that I have ever seen from Place’s pen ever appeared to me to have half the merit of this Reply—he meets Godwin on all his grounds, and every where triumphantly answers him. On the question of the American population he is quite successful, and shews by official documents what the amount was of emigrants from these kingdoms to America, and how utterly inadequate immigration has been to the actual increase of population in that country. He has stated the case of the poor with great force, and I think in many respects with great justice. He tells you what their complaints are against the rich, the chief of which are a want of sympathy with their distress, and oppressive laws—such as combination laws, corn laws, restraints on commerce and many others. In some of his charges he is I think most unjust to the rich, and the only injustice which he does to you is in charging you with giving countenance to the calumnious accusations which are so generally brought against the poor. From the representations I have made to him I trust that he will alter this part of his work.
He does not wish to take any measures at present to get rid even gradually of the poor laws; he thinks that the situation of the poor would be made worse by their abolition. He would rely entirely on appeals judiciously made to the understandings of the people—on their being instructed that their happiness or misery depends mainly on their number compared with the demand for their labour, and therefore on themselves. I think his arguments are popular, and will be easily understood. If you had answered Godwin you would have dwelt very much, and very properly, on the arguments which you have before advanced in Chaprs. 11 and 12—Book 2d. of your own work —Place has said little on that source of error in our conclusions from Registers. Place speaks of one of Owens preventives to an excessive population —he does not dwell upon it, but I have a little doubt whether it is right even to mention it.
Have you seen a work on Population and Polit. Econ. by Mr. Ravenstone. I have read it. I think it is full of errors and shews that the author has a very limited knowledge of the subject, yet I felt great interest in perusing it. The cause of the distress of the la[bour]ing class is well stated, but he appears not to be aware of the diffi[cul]ty of providing a remedy.
I have received a long letter from Say in vindication of his doctrine of value, utility &ca.—I send it to you by this day’s post for your perusal—when you have read it return it to me in two parcels—it is too heavy for one frank.
Tell me your opinion of it. It appears to me to be a poor piece of reasoning.
Sydney Smith has been at Gatcomb with his family—they staid 2 nights here, on their way from Taunton to their own house. He was as agreeable as usual and we were all much pleased with his society.
Pray make our kind regards to Mrs. Malthus and believe me
Ever truly Yours