Front Page Titles (by Subject) 465.: tooke to ricardo1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
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465.: tooke to ricardo1 - 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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tooke to ricardo1
Wimbledon 13th. Octr. 1821.
My Dear Sir
On my return hither last night I found your few lines of the 11th.—I will speak to Mr. Jno. Thornton, who is only very distantly related to my partners2 but with whom I am sufficiently acquainted, in behalf of Mr. Basevi Jr.—and I will use my best endeavors to engage in his favor such of my friends as I may find to be embarked in this new Fire and Life insurance Company to which you allude but of which I have hitherto heard few particulars.3 If Mr. Basevi Jr. would call upon me in the City I should be happy to see him and he might then point out to me more distinctly the channels in which I might be useful to him.—
I have not during the long interval which has elapsed since the interchange of our last letters been unmindful of yourself and my other friends at Gatcomb Park, and I have really been frequently on the point of addressing you a line of chitchat, but have as often been prevented by the pressure of business when in town and by domestic avocations during the short intervals that I have passed here. Of the degree in which I am occupied you may judge when I tell you that this is the first day for the last six weeks (Sundays excepted) that I have been able to stay down here.—It was said by the celebrated Ld Chesterfield of the old Duke of Newcastle, that the Duke having lost half an hour in the morning seemed all the rest of the day as if he was looking after it:—so I may say that having spent a fortnight (a delightful one) in the summer away from business I am obliged to work double tides thro the rest of the season to make up for it.
In the second week of next month I propose striking my tent at this place and pitching it for the following six months in Russell square. I shall then have a little more leisure by the saving at least of my daily journeying from here to town and back and I may probably avail myself of that increased leisure to treat you at greater length with my lucubrations, not worth much at best, than I can now do; for even now I am called off by Mrs. Tooke and our gardener for my opinion and sanction to improvements and other operations with a view to winter work here; this being one of the few opportunities which they have of consulting me. I must therefore dispatch your queries in a summary way. Your execration of the Corn laws cannot exceed mine.—The ports will certainly not open in November; and the chances are rather against their opening even in Febry. We must in the meantime submit thro the winter to eat bad bread at a high price.1 —I received the Copy of the Minutes of Evidence2 which you were so good as to direct to be sent to me. On a reperusal of my own evidence I perceive too many sins of omission and commission but particularly of the former, to admit of my being fully satisfied.—On one point however passing events confirm the justness of one of the opinions which I expressed and in which I believe that I had the advantage of your concurrence, viz: that low prices arising from superabundance of agricultural produce and a consequently distressed state of the Agricultural interests would not necessarily entail a decline in the revenue.—If you continue to take in that blackguard Cobbet you will have seen that he has honored me with a portion of that abuse of which he is so lavish upon you.—Your being deservedly the highest authority on such subjects is quite a sufficient cause for his omitting no opportunity of attacking you. He has let me off as easily as I could expect, and he has left untouched the position that similar distress was complained of in the middle of last Century when the state of the currency could not account for it.3
Tomorrow Mr. Mill and his son, Mr. Warburton and one or two other Economical friends pass the day with me here and you may reckon that at 8 oClock in the evening, precisely, London time, we shall be drinking your health, not omitting that of Mrs. Ricardo and the rest of your family circle, to whom Mrs. Tooke and our Eyton1 join in kindest regards with
Yours most truly
I dined at my neighbor Murray’s two days ago (where by the way I met Belzoni)2 and he told me that Mr. Malthus explains the improvement in the revenue by ascribing it to an increase of population proceeding from the stimulus of former high prices.
[1 ]MS in R.P.
[2 ]Tooke was partner in and ‘chiefly conducted’ the house of Stephen Thornton, Brothers, & Co., Russia merchants. (See ‘First Report from the Lords’ Committee on Foreign Trade, Minutes of Evidence’, p. 25, in Parliamentary Papers, 1820, vol. iii.)
[3 ]The Guardian Fire and Life Assurance Company was established about this time, and John Thornton (1783–1861), of Clapham, was one of the directors. At their first meeting on 5 Nov. 1821, the directors, out of four candidates for the appointment of surveyor, elected George Basevi, junr. (1794–1845), the architect. (See A. W. Tarn and C. E. Byles, A Record of the Guardian Assurance Company Ltd. 1821–1921, London, privately printed, 1921, pp. 64–5, 132.)
[1 ]Cp. Tooke’s History of Prices, vol. ii, p. 83.
[2 ]Before the Agricultural Committee.
[3 ]See ‘Cobbett’s Letters to Landlords, on the Agricultural Report and Evidence, Letter III’ in Cobbett’s Weekly Register, 29 Sept. 1821. Cobbett attacks the Committee for their ascribing the distress to ‘redundant production’, rather than to Peel’s Bill, and for amusing themselves ‘with the curious conundrums of Mr. Tooke’. ‘The ingenious Mr. Tooke has discovered (and the Committee “entirely concur” with him;) this ingenious person has discovered that the people do not eat more bread in times of abundance than they do in common times; and that the increased consumption in times of abundance “can amount to little more than waste”. Nothing so monstruous as this was, surely, ever put upon paper before’ (p. 726).
[1 ]‘William Eyton Tooke [1806–1830], son of the eminent political economist, a young man of singular worth both moral and intellectual, lost to the world by an early death’(J. S. Mill, Autobiography, p. 81).
[2 ]Giovanni Belzoni, the African traveller, was at this time ‘one of the fashionable lions of London’. John Murray, his publisher, had recently bought a country house at Wimbledon. (S. Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends, Memoir and Correspondence of the late John Murray, London, 1891, vol. ii, pp. 82, 97.)