trower to ricardo
[Reply to 461.—Answered by 471]
Unsted Wood—Godalming Novr. 2—1821
My Dear Ricardo
Your Letter from the neighborhood of Ledbury reminds me of a flying tour I made through that Country, some years ago; of whose beautiful scenery I have a general recollection—The Malvern hills command an extensive view, over a rich Country; but, I recollect turning my back upon Worcestershire, to look to the glorious Mountains of Wales—A bird’s eye view, however extensive, surprises at first, but soon fatigues the sight; whilst the eye delights to range over a bold and broken prospect.—
I remember, that my Uncle, some years ago, resided near Ledbury, and I think he called the name of the place he inhabited, Berrow Court ; but I was not aware, that it was the place now belonging to your Son.—
Sydney Smith’s performances in the Edingburgh Review are all very well; but, it is a shame, that he should dissipate his powerful understanding in disjointed performances, which cannot cost him any effort, and will never add to his reputation. The fact is, he is a very idle fellow, and will not exert, as he ought to do, the talents with which nature has blessed him. Living in retirement the larger part of the year, with little necessary occupation to fill his time, he might, with due dilligence, have distinguished himself among the litterati of the age—As it is, his bon mots, and his jokes, will perish with the circles they enliven.
Although I dont go quite so far as Mr. Tooke does in thinking that, in the event of the ports being open to Corn, there would be as much probability of our importing as of our exporting that article—Yet, I believe, that the difference between the cost of production of Corn here and abroad would not eventually be considerable. I am satisfied, that the case is the same with respect to the powers of the soil, as with the powers of the mind. Much more depends upon cultivation, than upon natural fertility. And this Country has so infinitely the advantage in its knowledge of the science of agriculture, as greatly to counteract the disadvantages arising from any inferiority of soil.—It is true, that this knowledge will ere long spread to our neighbours; but, is it not equally true, that the causes in full operation, upon the continent, must shortly lead to the cultivation of lands, there, of inferior quality.—
In the Article on the Agricultural Report, in the Quarterly Review of the last Month, there appears to me a good exposition of the real nature of Rent: and the effects of an accumulation of capital on Agriculture and Manufactures. But, I cannot agree with the author in thinking, that this view justifies the opinion, “that it is an error to consider these as governed by the same rules.” He says, “the price of Manufactures is governed generally by the cost of production, and only as an exception, by supply and demand; whilst the price of raw produce is governed by supply and demand, and only as an exception, by cost of production; and that an increased demand will eventually sink the former, and raise the latter.”
The reason of the distinction, here made, appears to be this—that it is only the portion of Corn, grown upon the land last taken into cultivation, that is actually governed by the cost of production; and that all the other corn sells at a price much above its cost of production; and therefore cannot be said to be governed by it. But, surely, the same remark may be applied to manufactures, although its truth may not be equally obvious. Competition, no doubt, will, eventually, bring manufacturing machinery nearly to a level; but it can only do so, by slow degrees, and never entirely. At all times, and under all circumstances, the natural prices of manufactures must, in some degree, be different, although their market price is the same. Competition, in the long run, puts an end to monopoly; but, every inventor of an improved machine enjoys that monopoly for a time, and, during that interval, he is placed precisely in the same situation as the farmer, whose Corn is grown upon land of superior quality. The same rule therefore applies to Manufactures and Raw produce, although the application of that rule is somewhat different—The only difference is, that the machines, which produce Corn are constantly deteriorating, whilst those that produce manufactures are constantly improving.—
The bounty of Sr. R. Wilson’s political adherents, it seems probable, will prevent his losing in a pecuniary point of view, from his dismissal from the Army, whatever injury he may sustain in other respects. I understand, among the Officers of the Army, who would appear to be as much interested in the question as any part of the public, there is no doubt entertained as to the propriety of his dismissal. The facts of the case are not, as yet, before the public; nevertheless, as usual, this impartial and unprejudiced public, are deciding with all possible violence and obstinacy.—
In a constitutional point of view, I take it, there can be no question, whatever may have been Sr. R. Wilson’s offence, the King has exercised a power vested in him by his prerogative. He is the sole head of the Army, which is under his entire control. The Mutiny act provides for the treatment of military offences, whilst those, of another description, committed by military men, are subject to the decision of the Crown. I admit, that it is, and must be, at all times, a fair subject of enquiry on the part of the public, whether the prerogative has, or has not, been judiciously exercised. But, upon that point we cannot, and therefore ought not, to decide, till the facts are before us—In point of principle I take the case of Lord Cochrane to be perfectly analogous, and most people were of opinion, that the prerogative was then wholesomely exercised. —
What is your opinion of the probable prices of the Funds. Should you deem it advisable to invest money in good mortgages at 5 p C. which is now in the Stocks. I hear that the rate of interest on mortgage is falling.
Adieu my Dear Ricardo. Mrs. Trower begs to join in kind remembrances to Mrs. Ricardo and Yourself, and believe me
Yrs very truly—