Front Page Titles (by Subject) 487.: ricardo to trower1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
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487.: ricardo to trower1 - 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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ricardo to trower1
20 Feb. 1822 London
My dear Trower
I thank you for the account you have given me of your proceedings at the County meeting.2 I was sorry to find, before I received your letter,3 that your speech had been cut short by the impatience and clamor of your audience. I wish you had not ventured on the delicate topic of the repeal of taxes having been the cause of Agricultural distress, for if that doctrine be true, which I very much doubt, it was one which could not be successfully handled in such an assembly. They would not perhaps have been more civil to you if you had supported the less unpalatable doctrine of which I profess myself to be the advocate, that taxation is not the cause of Agricultural distress, and that a repeal of taxes will lighten the burthens of all, but will not afford particular relief to the Agricultural class.—This doctrine I was advancing in the H of Commons on the same day you had been speaking at Epsom, and as I had a more polite, and a less numerous audience, the expression of my opinions was listened to with patience and attention.1 I flatter myself that in the progress of the debates on this subject many will be found to advocate the same doctrines.—I wish that the Table you gave the reporters may be published—if it is not, send it to me, and I will endeavor to get it into some of the papers.2 Every thing which tends to shew the excessive quantity at market, whether of corn, of cattle, or of sheep, will be highly useful towards the establishing of correct notions on this important subject. Cobbett and his followers contend that the alteration in the value of money has been of inestimable advantage to the working classes,3 they contend therefore that it has increased the demand for provisions, and yet he as well as others give us constant accounts of the quantities of corn remaining at market unsold, and of cattle and sheep penned at fairs for which there is no adequate demand—can we have a stronger proof of increased supply? An alteration in the value of money is a sufficient reason for an altered price of commodities, but it can have no effect on quantity. If it plunges the farmer and landlord into distress, why are the other classes of producers exempted from its effects? Is not taxation from the same cause increased to the merchant, the manufacturer &c., &c.? Never was there a greater fallacy than that of ascribing the present distress either to taxation, or to the altered value of money. Cobbett is a mischievous scoundrel; he ascribes the evils under which the country is laboring to the altered value of money, and yet recommends the people to hoard gold, which he knows will increase the value of money still more.1 It is confusion he wants, and he cares not what means he takes to produce it. But in spite of him the country will get over its difficulties, and when it is again prosperous he will have the insolence to say that he foretold it.—
What say you to Brougham’s speech? What a falling off was there! I have not heard for a long time from any man who pretends to know anything of Political Economy so many absurd opinions as were delivered by him on Monday sen’night2 ,—they will be a standing dish for the remainder of the Session.—Believe me ever
Most truly Yrs.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Hutches Trower Esq / Unsted Wood / Godalming’.
[2 ]The meeting of the freeholders of Surrey, held at Epsom on 18 Feb. 1822, to petition Parliament for a reduction of taxation and for parliamentary reform. ‘Mr. Trower expressed his regret that the important questions of agricultural distress and parliamentary reform had been mixed up together on the present occasion. It was not so much to Mr. Peel’s bill, as to that lamentable corn bill which was passed in 1815 that the present low prices of agricultural products were to be attributed. In saying this he did not intend to advocate the fooleries of Mr. Webb Hall. He thought that much of the present agricultural distress was attributable to the late abundant harvests. The hon. gentleman proceeded in this position at some length amidst general outcries from the meeting; in the midst of it he was interrupted by some person asking him whether he thought taxation to be among the probable causes of the distress now existing among the farmers. Upon his answering that the farmers had suffered most from the taxes that had been taken off, so great a confusion was created in the multitude that the speaker found it impossible to proceed. Having made two or three ineffectual attempts to obtain a farther hearing, he gave way to Mr. Grey Bennet, who stated that he was not surprised that the startling proposition of Mr. Trower, that the country was too little taxed, had caused the commotion which had just taken place.’ (Report in The Times, 19 Feb. 1822.)
[3 ]Trower’s letter is missing.
[1 ]See above, V, 137.
[2 ]The Editors of Letters to Trower identify this Table with ‘Statistics of quantities and prices of grain, etc. after harvest, for 1820–1, and 1821–2’, fragments of which they found among Trower’s papers. They also give (pp. 178–9) a letter from John Grenside, a Corn Factor, to Trower, 15 Feb. 1822, which contains ‘An Account of Corn Imported into the Port of London (including Foreign)’ from 1819 to 1821, which may be the Table referred to.—The figures cover part of the same ground as, but do not agree in detail with, those in Appendix B of Protection to Agriculture.
[3 ]‘The labourers are better off than they were, and will get better still’ (Cobbett’s Weekly Register, 16 Feb. 1822, p. 437).
[1 ]‘Get sovereigns with the money, and lock those sovereigns safely up for a little while, at any rate. They will neither eat or drink. They cannot prove a loss; and they may be a very great gain’ (‘To the Money-Hoarders’, in Cobbett’s Weekly Register, 22 Dec. 1821, p. 1531).
[2 ]11 February, on his own motion on the Distressed State of the Country; cp. above, V, 124–5.