Front Page Titles (by Subject) 61.: mill to ricardo1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815
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61.: mill to ricardo1 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815.
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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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mill to ricardo1
Ford Abbey Septr. 30th. 1814
My dear Sir
After reading this letter you will be left inquiring what could be the motive in writing it. At least this, I think, is very likely to be the case, for I have wonderfully little which is worth your hearing, to write about. However, there is one part of your letter,2 namely your kind invitation to visit you at Gatcomb Park, which indisputably requires an answer at some time; and no time seems more proper than the present. —Oh! very well—a good come off—here’s a very satisfactory reason for writing to you, already—which I am very thankful for, because I was unwilling it should appear I had written, only because I had a pleasure in corresponding with you. That would have affected your vanity too sensibly— set you up too much.
Now as to this same visit, the only thing I can pronounce about it with certainty is, that I have a great desire to pay it. The duration of my stay here of course does not altogether depend upon myself. I hold myself engaged to remain with Mr. Bentham, who will soon have no body with him, except myself and appendages, and who would not stay a day alone, as long as he finds it agreeable to remain. The present intention is not to return to London much before Xtmass, but whether the pleasure of remaining here will not be exhausted a good deal before that time, I hold very doubtful. As for prevailing upon Mr. Bentham, unless there were something particular creating a motive sufficiently strong to overcome the reluctance he has always felt to visit among strangers, the case, I suspect, is hopeless; though he was much gratified with the terms in which you pressed the invitation in your letter. The scheme, however, which is in my head, is this. To return from this place by Bath wants not much, all things considered, of being the best mode of getting home. When at Bath, it is scarcely 20 miles out of the way, to come round by your Seat, at which I should contentedly abide for some days. The mischief is, that I cannot come without all my incumbrances, consisting of a wife, and five brats, and a maid. I am not afraid that we should be a nuisance in any other respect than that of house-room. We need, no less than four beds, but should be very well contented with two rooms. The quantity, unless you are well provided indeed, considering the numbers you draw to yourself, is very large—as to quality, you will give us credit I hope, for having no choice. Though the chance of accomplishing this scheme is not very great, for there are too many circumstances which may interfere with it, yet I shall be glad to hear from you upon the subject; and have only one thing to beg, but that I do beg very sincerely; that you will not allow your complaisance to impose upon you the smallest inconvenience; which would be without any adequate object, as so very soon after the time I could see you at Gatcomb, I shall see you all in London, and could only have the new satisfaction of seeing your new situation.
I am highly gratified to learn from you that you are all, after experience, so highly satisfied with the place. One thing only I hope; which is, that its pleasures and business, and the pleasures of those who resort to it, will not condemn you to live, as you complain of it, without opening a book. There will be so many reasons for reproaching you, if you continue in that track, that I will not enter upon them, at the fag end of my letter, but reserve them till I see whether they are wanted. I shall address myself to the ambition of Mrs. Ricardo, who has a husband that could so much distinguish himself, if his modesty, or his neglect of distinction would only allow him. That he might be of great use to a favourite science, and to a most important department of practical politics, which altogether depend upon that science, ought to be sufficient motive with him, to improve every hour and every moment, nay to place himself in that situation in which his tongue, as well as his pen might be of use.
I should like now, to address myself to the ladies, if I could find something very smart to say. As for Mrs. Ricardo, I shall get a rap on the knuckles from her, unless I take care what I am about. I am very ambitious too of ingratiating myself. But what to talk to her about, as all her occupations, and all her enjoyments at this same Gatcomb, are unknown to me, deuce take me if I know ! If she were that generous lady, I have always taken her for, she would take up her own pen, and describe to me every thing—that she would—or write part, and make those two tall, hau—young ladies, one sui juris (at least I believe so) t’other not, club their shares. What an honour, and what a delight it would be, to receive a letter from three such hands !
It is not at all unlikely that Mr. Hume, who has resided with us here for some weeks, and leaves us on wednesday next for Cheltenham, will pay you a visit as he passes. I have given him an invitation to call upon you—and you will find him a good-humoured clever man. He is hot upon the study of political economy—but with some little propensity to go wrong.1
Most truly yours
[1 ]Addressed: ‘David Ricardo Esq. / Gatcomb Park / Mincing Hampton / Gloucester Shire’.
[2 ]Ricardo’s letter is wanting.
[1 ]Joseph Hume (1777–1855) whose friendship with Mill dated from their school days at Montrose Academy; having made a considerable fortune in India, as army surgeon and paymaster, he was returned to Parliament in 1812 for Weymouth as a Tory and in 1818 for Aberdeen as a Reformer.