Front Page Titles (by Subject) 517.: ricardo to trower1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
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517.: 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
Wedcomb House, Bath 30 Jany. 1823
My Dear Trower
Before Parliament meets it will be wise in me to discharge my debt to you, and to assure you that I felt great gratification at the receipt of your letter.2 It was very kind of you to write to me so soon after the receipt of mine. I was very desirous of hearing from you, and am glad to find that you are well, and as usual in the road of improvement, storing your mind with useful knowledge.
In my last I told you I intended to go to the Hereford meeting, but I could not be at it on account of the late period to which it was postponed. Cobbett as usual asserted falsehoods respecting my opinions; and the landed gentlemen being strongly inclined to confiscate a part of the property of the fundholder sought to cover their projects with a shew of justice—they of course will magnify the effects of Mr. Peel’s bill, and will admit no other cause for their distress but the augmented value of the currency.1 I am rather singularly circumstanced—agreeing as I do with the reformers, on the subject of parliamentary reform, I can not agree with them that taxation and bad government has been the cause of our present difficulties: I believe that under the best possible government, and without taxes, we might have been involved in similar troubles. Still less can I support the doctrines of the new converts to reform, who attribute our distress to every cause but the right one, and who not being governed by principle will quit the cause of reform the moment that the times mend. I on the contrary am a reformer on principle, and whether we get rid of our difficulties or continue to struggle under them shall advocate a reform of the house of commons, because I think it would very materially contribute to good government and to the happiness of the people. I am sorry that you do not agree with me on this subject,—the objection you make, that reformers are not agreed in what they want, is not I think a weighty one,—all real reformers are agreed on the principle: they want a house of commons which shall speak the sentiments of the people, and are willing to agree to any details which shall not interfere with that important principle. Lord Folkestone has become a staunch reformer, and more nearly agrees with the views which I think correct than any man in the H of Commons, Burdett and Hobhouse not excepted.1 You will soon have an opportunity of giving your opinion on this interesting question at the County meeting of Surry—I hope you will speak there—I know beforehand that I shall applaud every thing you shall say on Agricultural distress, but I shall condemn your opinions on Reform.2 Strange that you should like a House of Commons which represents only the interests of a very small fraction of the people!
Thinking as you do that much service would be done to the science of Political Economy by an examination at some length of the different systems advocated by Malthus and me, why do you not undertake it? I cannot help thinking that you have already prepared the materials for such a work, because you have given a great deal of consideration to the subject and are in the habit of making notes and remarks on every book which greatly interests you. You ought to let us have such a work from your pen. Without half the pretensions which you have to offer, I boldly ventured, and as I have had no reason to repent it why are you not encouraged to follow my example?
The die appears to be cast, and war will immediately recommence in Europe. One would have thought it impossible that France would have exposed herself to so much risk, as a war with Spain, against principles of freedom, must involve her in. I hope her defeat will follow, and that the consequences of this rash step may be the establishing of real representative Governments all over Europe. I wish to approve of the conduct of our ministers, and as far as it is yet known it appears to have been firm and judicious. I hope we shall keep out of the contest, but it will be a difficult task to do so if the war should be of long duration.
You have I conclude read the pamphlet in defence of Government.1 Many of the points are well put, but how miserably the question of the Sinking fund is handled. A tolerably good case may be made out in favor of the Sinking fund, but the author of this pamphlet has taken up untenable ground, and is constantly contradicting himself, and exposing his ignorance. What sort of a Chancellor of the Exchequer will Robinson make? He is a good tempered man, a tolerable political economist, and well inclined to liberal principles of trade, but he is a very timid man. He will never I fear dare to act on enlarged views of policy, but will like his predecessors be always for conciliating particular interests. I did not like what he and Lord Liverpool said lately at a dinner in the city given by the Shipping interest—I am sure they did not speak their real sentiments.2 I am surprised that Huskisson was not appointed to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, every body expected that he would be Van’s successor.1
There has been a talk, I believe nothing more, amongst ministers about restoring the two standards, but I am assured all thoughts of it are relinquished.—Lord Liverpool is very decidedly against it. I am sorry to hear that Huskisson is not much disinclined to it. I have lately seen a letter from Lord Grenville on this subject to one of his friends, in which he expresses himself strongly and ably in favor of the single standard. His Lordship’s opinions on the subject of the currency appear to me to be very sound. Lord Lansdowne I have been informed is inclined to the two standards—Baring I suspect is the ringleader in this conspiracy.—
I leave Bath on Saturday next—I hope I shall soon see you in London.
Pray give Mrs. Ricardos and my kind remembrances to Mrs. Trower and believe me My dear Trower
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Hutches Trower Esq/Unsted Wood / Godalming’. MS at University College, London.—Letters to Trower, LX.
[2 ]Trower’s letter is missing.
[1 ]The meeting at Hereford, on 17 Jan. 1823, had been called to consider a petition to Parliament for the relief of ‘the unparalleled and daily increasing distress of the agricultural interest of the country’. Cobbett was present and said: ‘It was Mr. Ricardo who had persuaded the ministers that the landlords and tenants were doing so well—it was he who repeated the old Scotch doctrine of Adam Smith, that all taxes fell on the consumer; this doctrine might be very well as applied in several instances to persons in trade, but not so to real property. The error was in laying down the proposition at all in an extensive way, for it nowhere universally applied.... Ministers, proceeding on this false foundation, were resolved not to alter the currency—not to make bank-notes a legal tender’. Another speaker, the Rev. Mr Smithies, ‘agreed that much of the existing evil might be traced to the calculating economy of Mr. Ricardo, and the cold-blooded sophistry of Mr. Peregrine Courtenay; and also that, in its consequences, an adherence to the system would transfer their estates to the Jew-jobbers of Changealley.’ The petition adopted prayed for an investigation into the variations of the currency with reference to the adjustment of debts. (The Times, 20 Jan. 1823.)
[1 ]Lord Folkestone (1779–1869), M.P. for Salisbury, afterwards third Earl of Radnor.
[2 ]The meeting took place on 10 Feb. 1823. Trower did not speak.
[1 ]Administration of the Affairs of Great Britain, Ireland, and their Dependencies, at the Commencement of the Year 1823. Stated and Explained under the Heads of Finance, National Resources, Foreign Relations, Colonies, Trade, and Domestic Administration, [Anon.] London, Hatchard, 1823. Cp. above, V, 250.
[2 ]At the Anniversary Dinner of the Ship-owners’ Society, 12 Dec. 1822, Lord Liverpool said: ‘We owe our security to our navy, and we owe our navy to that system of navigation laws under which our country has so long acted with so much advantage to her best interest’; it was in the application of those laws, and ‘not by the adoption of fanciful and impracticable theories’, that England could find her security. Robinson, still President of the Board of Trade, ‘was deeply impressed by the truth of the opinions just expressed by his noble friend’. (The Times, 13 Dec. 1822.)
[1 ]Huskisson had been appointed President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy in succession to Robinson; but he did not obtain a seat in the Cabinet till the autumn of 1823. ‘Canning wanted Huskisson for his Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he was so far right that Huskisson has no competitor for that situation; but although Lord Liverpool values Huskisson’s talents very highly, bringing him into the cabinet was out of the question. The louche origin of Huskisson, the reports afloat as to the early part of his life, and his admirable pamphlet on the bullion question in 1812 [should be 1810], which the monied men of the City will never forgive him, are insuperable obstacles to his promotion to a seat in the cabinet’(J. L. Mallet’s MS Diary, entry of 16 Jan. 1823, when the changes in the Administration were about to take place. On the alleged Jacobinism of Huskisson in his youth, see the ‘Biographical Memoir’ [by E. Leeves] prefixed to his Speeches, 1831, vol. i, p. 9 ff.).