483.: ricardo to mcculloch2[Reply to 479 & 480.—Answered by 484] - 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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ricardo to mcculloch
[Reply to 479 & 480.—Answered by 484]
London 8 Feby. 1822
My Dear Sir
I have found the book which I once mentioned to you. The title of it is “Elementary Thoughts on the Bullion Question, the Natl. Debt, the resources of Great Britain, and the probable duration of the Constitution” and I will send it to you immediately if you will like to have it. Perhaps you would prefer to have it sent with the Manuscript lectures, which I shall have to return to you, when you put me in possession of them.
I have read your article on money in “the Suppt.” with great pleasure—it is sound in principle, and full of information respecting the various changes which our money has at different times undergone.
I have written to Mr. Murray to thank him for the copy of Sir Dudley North’s Discourses on Trade. I had no idea that any one entertained such correct opinions, as are expressed in this publication, at so early a period. I have a perfect recollection of meeting Mr. Murray at the King of Clubs; indeed I have reason to do so, for he expressed himself very kindly towards me. I hope I shall soon have an opportunity of improving my acquaintance with him.
I very much fear that you will not agree with me in the opinion which I gave in the House of Commons the other evening that Taxation was not the cause of Agricultural distress. A relief from taxation would be useful to farmers and landlords, as well as to all other people, but that is no proof that the distress is owing to taxation. The question I conceive is simply this “Could England have been in a state of great agricultural distress if she had been absolutely without any taxation?” the answer I think is clear and obvious that she could, because she might have a redundant quantity of agricultural produce. If a country has prohibited the importation of corn, and all at once opens her ports, and corn can be imported at a cheap price, she will be involved in Agricultural distress. If a country has a succession of good crops, she will have agricultural distress. If she suddenly and greatly improves in her agricultural processes she will suffer distress. All these causes have combined to produce distress in England, for we have opened our ports to the unlimited importation of cheap corn from Ireland, we have had 2 or 3 good crops, and we have improved our husbandry.
We shall probably not agree in our opinions of the actual state of the country. I think it is on the whole in a flourishing condition, and that our wealth is daily increasing. Every thing indicates that our manufactures are in a progressive state of improvement, and from the produce of the revenue I should conclude that their prosperity more than makes up for the losses and adversity of the agricultural class. I cannot help thinking that the distress in Agriculture will not be of long duration, and cannot help fearing that we may have a reaction which will be very beneficial to farmers and very hurtful to all other classes. I hope we shall escape through this crisis without aggravating the evil by bad legislation—I have no hope of good measures being adopted, the landlords are too powerful in the House of Commons to give us any hope that they will relinquish the tax which they have in fact contrived to impose on the rest of the community.—They appear very much discontented and out of humor, and I almost doubt whether I should obtain a hearing if I attempted to express views so very opposite to their own.
I attended a meeting of our Political Economy club on monday last,—we had a full attendance, and several knotty points were discussed. There is a note in the last edition of my book, in which I express an opinion, that if a commodity be raised in price, in consequence of being taxed, and the same quantity as before be consumed, the additional price will not make it necessary to employ any more money for its circulation. The same opinion is expressed by Mill in his book. The correctness of this view was doubted, and it was accordingly made the subject of conversation:—the majority of the company were I think convinced that the proposition was a true one. My opinion of the effects of machinery on the demand for labour, was also discussed, but I could hardly satisfy myself of the general opinion on that disputed point—we are to resume the conversation on both subjects when Mill and Torrens are with us—they were both absent on account of ill health.
With great regard I remain Ever truly Yours