503.: mcculloch to ricardo1[Answered by 504] - 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.
mcculloch to ricardo
[Answered by 504]
Edinburgh 22 June 1822
My Dear Sir
The conduct of the Lord Advocate in reference to the Treasury press of this part of the Empire is, I understand, to be discussed on Tuesday next in the House of Commons—I am told on what I consider good authority, that the Advocate means to urge the example of the Scotsman as an apology for the outrageous personalities of the papers patronised by him—But supposing it to be true that the Scotsman had been as personal as the John Bull or the Beacon, surely that is but a very indifferent reason for the first law officer of the Crown in Scotland, and whose duty it is to prosecute for libels, becoming a partner in a manufactory of blackguardism—Still however the prevalence of any habit is to a certain extent an excuse for others indulging in it; and the Lord Advocate will probably use the argumentum ad hominem so frequently resorted to in the House, and say “how can you, the gentlemen on the opposite side, accuse me of patronising a libellous paper when you are yourselves the patrons of one that is still more so”? As I am well acquainted with the Lord Advocate’s regard to truth, I am almost certain that this or something like it will be said; and I assure you the idea that any Journal with which I am connected should be stigmatised as affording an example for indulging in attacks on private character is anything but agreeable—
Now as you have been a subscriber to the Scotsman for upwards of three years, you must be well able to say whether it really deserves the character which I believe the Lord Advocate and his friends will give of it—If you are of opinion that it does not deserve this character you will oblige me extremely by saying so in the House—Removed as you fortunately are from our petty broils and contentions, your opinion would have infinitely more weight with the country and also with the House than that of any of the other party members who are likely to speak on the question; and I would rather have your suffrage than that of half the House—
The only case in which the Scotsman could be said to be personal was that of Wilson now Professor of Moral Philosophy—But what had Wilson done? He was proved by evidence under his own hand to have written a most scandalous libel on the Editor of the Scotsman who had never even mentioned his name; and it was also proved by the same unquestionable evidence that Wilson had been in the habit of libelling, calumniating and traducing his most intimate friends—It was a disgrace to Government to send such a man to teach morals; and nothing too severe could be said in reprobation of such a scandalous proceeding—
I have been obliged to interrupt the writing of my Lectures in order to write a general article on Political Economy for the Supplement to the Encyclopaedia Brittannica—I was very averse to engage in this undertaking, but I could not get it avoided—I have not time to execute it as I could wish—
Mr. Buchannan the Editor of Smith has lately been engaged in an attempt to overthrow your system de fond en comble! You have little, however, to fear from his attacks—He is an extremely feeble antagonist—He writes well but he has no stuff at bottom—I reviewed some of his positions about demand and supply in a late Number of the Scotsman —
I was very well pleased with the result of Mr. Westerns motion—It is not easy to fathom Brougham—I should think he must have gone far to destroy all reliability on his knowledge of the principles of economic science —
Have you seen Colonel Torrens of late? He has, for what cause I dont know, given up all correspondence with me—I am sorry for this but cannot help it—
I hope you have resolved to visit Edinburgh this summer—
I am with great regard
Yours most truly
J. R. McCulloch