526.: mcculloch to ricardo1[Reply to 524] - 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
[Reply to 524]
Edinburgh 11 May 1823
My Dear Sir
I am greatly indebted to you for your letter of the 3rd inst. I shall certainly profit much by the observations you have made on my article on Mr. Blakes pamphlet—I fully agree in all that you say as to the possibility of a case occurring in which, owing to the difficulties in the way of the conveyance of other commodities, gold might be sent from a country where it was dear to one where it was cheap, and I regret that I did not state this in the article in the Scotsman—But then to be of any use to Mr. Blake he must make out that this possible case, was actually realised for a period of six years; and this not in reference to one only but to all descriptions of commodities we had to export, which would certainly be a very wild supposition—Though I believe it would have been as well not to have said it, still I cannot help thinking that I had pretty good grounds for affirming that Mr. Blake has become the apologist of theories he had formerly condemned—All the more intelligent opponents of the doctrines in the Bullion Report held the very opinions that Mr. B now holds—They said the value of gold has risen, but the value of paper has remained constant; and in contending that gold had risen they used almost the same arguments that Mr. B now uses—But Mr. B was then of an opposite opinion—Gold he then said is constant, it is the paper which has sunk—Has he not then contradicted himself?—Is he not become the apologist of theories he had formerly impugned? He may now, as before, disapprove of the Restriction in 1797; but he certainly ascribes very different effects to that measure now from what he did in 1810—
I have read Mr. Malthus pamphlet—Though he should gain no other palm, he must be allowed praise for having rendered himself so very unintelligible—I have not had time sufficiently to reflect on the subject; but it occurs to me that human labour must have different values in different countries and at different periods, according to the dearness or cheapness of the maintenance of the labourers, or of the machines which labour, and according to their different degrees of skill &c—But suppose that the skill of the labourers continues invariable, and that they are now fed on wheaten bread and beef, and that ten years hence they are fed on potatoes exclusively: In the latter case a given quantity of commodities will certainly command a much greater quantity of labour than in the former case, and yet, it appears to me that, the exchangeable value of any given quantity of the commodities produced at the two periods would be equal—An equal quantity of cloth, corn, or any other commodity is produced at the two periods, and by an equal quantity of labour—The one must, therefore, be exactly equivalent to the other; and the only difference will be that the profits of stock have increased proportionally to the fall of wages. If there be no fallacy in this case it shews conclusively that the labour which commodities will command is not a measure of their exchangeable value or any thing like it—I trust, however, that you will have the goodness to give me your opinion at some length on this pamphlet—I cannot say how much I have been advantaged by your notes on Mr. Malthus former work—
It was my intention to have left this for London a fortnight since; but as my evil genius would have it, I was seized with a sore throat, a disease which has been very general here, a day or two before I intended setting off—I have now got rid of the sore throat, and though I am still affected by a very bad cough, I propose sailing for London on Wednesday —
Mr. Stuart requests me to offer you his thanks for the trouble you took in presenting the Petition about the stones —The repeal of the duty is a great object to Mr. Stuart—he has one of the best quarries in the kingdom—It was formerly nearly worthless; now it is expected to bring some thousand pounds a year—Excuse me for encroaching so much on your valuable time; and believe me to be with great esteem
Ever truly yours
J. R. McCulloch