114.: ricardo to mill3[Reply to 109.—Answered by 134] - 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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ricardo to mill
[Reply to 109.—Answered by 134]
Gatcomb Park 30th. Aug 1815
My dear Sir
You would soon have had a history from me of our proceedings if I had not received your letter, which I found here on my return from London, where I was obliged to go for 3 or 4 days. I began indeed to think that there was no other way of obtaining some account of you but by writing first. I thought it probable that you had quite determined that I should, this time, make the first move; and I did not in my heart blame you for your determination, because you had a clear right to expect it of me. Disposed, as all men are, to view my own omissions in a favourable light, I consider my disinclination to write rather as a misfortune which deserves your pity, than one amongst the number of my sins which calls for repentance. If you do not so regard it I am sorry for your want of charity.
You are right in some part of your conclusions respecting our movements after you quitted London. We remained there at least a month after you. I was employed, very busily employed during that month in making money, but not in such quantities as you seem to intimate, and though sufficiently rich to satisfy all my desires, and the reasonable desires of all those about me, I am not “Bless me how rich!!” On that plea then I have no excuse for not devoting my time to those pursuits in which you think by perseverance I should succeed in making myself a name in the world. Whether it be art in you, knowing how effectual the desire of distinction is in calling forth exertion and talent, to persuade me that I have certain capabilities, in order by the reward which you display in such glowing colours, and to which I am feelingly alive, to stimulate me to exertion and put my power to the test,—or whether you are really satisfied that I have those capabilities I am not quite sure,—but of this I am certain that if the latter is your opinion you are completely deceived. If you could witness the small progress which I make in writing on the subject which I have most considered you would be convinced of your error, and as my friend would recommend to me to be satisfied with a private station, and not by attempts which are beyond my strength court unhappiness and disappointment. The experiment shall however be tried,—I will devote as much time as I can to think and write on my favorite subject,—I will give myself a chance for success and at any rate the employment itself will, if nothing else comes of it, have afforded me instruction and amusement. I find, that at this season of the year, the visits of friends make great encroachments on my time; and the temptation of being out in the air in fine weather frequently draws me from my books, but with proper management I shall no doubt find leisure for all these objects. Your other project—your parliamentary scheme is above all others unfit for me,—my inclination does not in the least point that way. Speak indeed! I could not, I am sure, utter three sentences coherently, and if I attempted it should probably from vexation and disappointment turn my back on the house for ever. Your favourable opinion of my honesty is in striking contrast with your opinion of the honesty of those who at present constitute the house of Commons. On this subject you are, as I have often thought you unjustly severe. That there are many venal men in Parliament who get there with no other view but to forward their own personal ends, no one can doubt,—but as a body they have more virtue than you are willing to give them credit for. No other assembly is perhaps so much under the influence of public opinion which you will allow is a great security for virtue. The bias of private interest will always have its effect. No human assembly can I think be constituted where its voice will not be heard. Our efforts should therefore be directed so to constitute Parliament that no particular interest should be predominant, or rather that no man could better serve himself, or better promote his own happiness than by serving the public. Whether this be attainable I have great doubts, yet I am convinced if any thing will tend to produce so desirable an end, it is general information. Where all men are enlightened as to what their own happiness and welfare consists in they will be more likely to enter into a judicious compromise by which each in giving up a little will best secure to himself the greatest attainable sum of good.
I am very much pleased that my brothers and sisters made so favourable an impression on Mr. Bentham’s mind. You, I knew before, were very partial to them. Their union, and affection for each other, I delight to contemplate, and often congratulate myself that I am one amongst them loving and I hope beloved by them. I know no people less selfish— none more disposed to make sacrifices for their mutual comfort. If you witnessed the sufferings of my poor sister Sally your heart would be filled with commisseration. If you saw the daily attention of my brothers and sisters to her your sympathy would be still further excited, but if you beheld the absolute devotion of all my sister Esther’s time, amusements and recreations to the one object of lightening Sally’s afflictions admiration would be added to your other feelings. Perhaps it is hardly pardonable to pronounce so warm a panegyric on those so nearly related to me but I remember Mr. Bentham’s and your argument that nothing should be suppressed which tends to elucidate the history of the human mind and in this instance it appears under a pleasing form.
Do you and Mr. Bentham mean to return my visit here this year? I have few temptations to offer you, I can only engage for a hearty welcome and for my best endeavors to make your stay agreeable.
Have you seen Mr. Say’s Catéchisme D’Economie Politique? He sent it to me by young Basevi who saw him in Paris. I like it very much though he has not altered the definitions to which you and I objected last year. I hope Mrs. Mill is well,—pray remember me most kindly to her.