549.: ricardo to trower1[Reply to 547.—Answered by 551] - 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 trower
[Reply to 547.—Answered by 551]
Gatcomb Park 31 Augt. 1823
My Dear Trower
To make up for my former omissions I lose no time in replying to your last kind letter, and I am the more induced to do so, from a hope I entertain that you may not find it inconvenient to pay me a visit here in Gloucestershire. You say in your letter that you feel a great desire to become acquainted with my residence, and to take a peep at the beautiful country that surrounds me. Let me ask you then what hinders you from doing so? Travelling is now so easy all over England that it is no undertaking to go from your house to mine, and I beg seriously to call upon you to do it. I have some temptation too to offer you. I know you are pleased with Mill’s company and although you do not quite agree in opinion with him, I am certain that you derive both pleasure and instruction from his conversation. Mill is coming to me in the middle of the next month (September), and you cannot do better than come at the same time—we shall all enjoy ourselves together—we shall walk and ride, we will converse on politics, on Political Economy, and on Moral Philosophy, and neither of us will be the worse for the exercise of our colloquial powers. I entreat you to take this matter into your serious consideration, and to assure Mrs. Trower that we will take great care of you if she will join us in promoting this little scheme.
Several letters have passed between Malthus and me on the subject of value, and one or two between MCulloch and me. We none of us exactly agree. MCulloch says he is not in search of a measure of value, his only object is to know what it is which regulates the relative value of commodities one to another, and that, he insists, is the quantity of labour necessary to produce them. But MCulloch uses the word labour in a sense somewhat different to Political Economists in general, and does not appear to me to see that if we were in possession of the knowledge of the law which regulates the exchangeable value of commodities, we should be only one step from the discovery of a measure of absolute value.
Malthus avows that he is in search of a measure of absolute value, he does more, he contends that he has found it, and that it is the value of daily labour which is the only permanent and unalterable measure of value. The reasons indeed by which he supports this opinion are far from satisfactory to me they seem so little convincing that I am sure he has not aided us in the search for this important measure.
I will mention only one contradiction as it seems to me of his. He says that my measure would be a perfect one if all commodities were produced under the same circumstances as my proposed measure, and that it is a perfect one for commodities so produced. Should not then my measure be as applicable to this description of commodities as his? and should not the commodities so particularised vary equally in his measure as in mine? they do not, therefore either my measure or his is not a correct one, or equally good measures will give different results.
The rain has given us a little respite here for two or three days, and we live in hopes that we shall be able to house the harvest from our fields.—The crop is said to be a good one. It is quite wonderful to me that corn has continued at so steady a price with the prospect which we have lately had. Can any thing more strongly prove that the supply in the country must have been very abundant than that corn should have risen no higher with so dismal a prospect as has lately been p[resen]ted to us. Your maxim of “whatever is, is right” i[s in other] words [sayi]ng that what is inevitable must be patiently borne.
The preservation of the peace of Europe is a grand object, yet I cannot help regretting that the Spanish cause has not been better supported by the Spaniards themselves. If the French had been driven out of Spain, I do not see why the peace of Europe wd. have been disturbed. Other powers might indeed have joined in the attack, and the war would have probably ended as soon as the contest between liberty and despotism had been decided. I fear that Despotism will reign triumphantly for a time in consequence of the result of the present contest. I have sold my Spanish stock, I got for it rather a better price than that at which I purchased it.
I suppose that you continue to plant and improve at Unsted Wood and that you are now seeing in full beauty the effects of your former efforts in the same line. I forget whether your land is of a very good description, its being so or not makes a great difference in the progress of trees. I am living in a country where the soil is very poor. Beech flourishes with us, and larch and fir get on very well. I scarcely saw the place last year and therefore see the improvement of my small plantations more marked now than at any former period. As for improvements I attempt very few and am very much disposed to be satisfied with things as they are—Mrs. Ricardo on the contrary would always like to have a dozen men active in her employment, for the mere purpose of altering and improving.
Mrs. Ricardo and my family join with me in kind remembrances to Mrs. Trower.
Ever My Dear Trower Truly Yrs.