135.: ricardo to mill1[Reply to 134.—Answered by 138] - 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 134.—Answered by 138]
Gatcomb Park 24th. Octr. 1815
My dear Sir
I have been absent in London for nearly a fortnight the greatest part of which time your letter lay here waiting my return home. I lose no time in thanking you for it, and returning my answer. Against much of what you say concerning the noble and honourable houses I have nothing to offer. I have no doubt that your principle is correct, but I think you apply it too rigidly. It appears to me that you allow too much force to the stimulus of money, and the praise of Princes, and too little to the effect of public opinion, and the consciousness of deserving approbation.—With some men these latter rewards are held so valuable that there are no difficulties which they will not incur to obtain them, which shews that badly constituted as the two houses may be in not securing every motive on the side of duty, yet that there is a natural corrective in every nation which possesses the forms of a free government which will considerably ameliorate the evil of its institutions. I do not urge this as an argument for the continuance of the evil, but as a proof that you are severe in your judgement when you say that there is no virtue to be found mixed up along with the vice. After all it is no prejudice to suppose that the high born would under similar circumstances act differently and better than the low born. Where would be the advantages of education if the balance of virtue were not on the side of those who received it, and if it did not in some measure teach us to raise our thoughts above the mere covetousness of money? Is not Montesquieu too severe when he says not only that all men are disposed to abuse the power they possess, but also to carry that abuse to its utmost limits?
Now for a little family history. My sister Sally was during my stay in London safely delivered of a girl. We were all apprehensive that this severe trial in her weak state would be too much for her, but she has had better nights and her skin has been less irritable since than before her accouchement. Her spirits too are improved. The child happily is healthy, strong and without a spot, and the interest which it excites in her has given a new hue to the prospect before her. Hope has not yet forsaken us that she may still recover, and enjoy health with more delight than any of us, from the contrast which it will form to the gloomy state from which it will commence its date.— Ralph returned from Paris the day after I left London.— I have not yet seen him, but I understand that he is delighted with his journey.—He received very kind attention from Monsr. Say, to whom I gave him a letter.
Here at Gatcomb we go on much as usual,—we are always full of visitors, some of which make great demands on my time. I often say that I must go to London for retirement, for here not only have I to entertain the visitors who are staying with us, but all our Gloucestershire neighbours, living within 10 miles, in all directions, are very much inclined to be sociable, so that with them we have to find time, not only for the visit, but for the journey also. At the present moment we are full to overflowing. Last night we had a dance and sat down to supper a party of no less than 49 which did not disperse before 4 oClock this morning. I have been satisfied with four hours bed, not so my guests, which has given an opportunity of writing to you. Mr. and Mrs. Basevi are here, they have a house at Cheltenham and have come home for a few days. Mr. and Mrs. Clutterbuck are also among our guests and I am glad to say that the latter is looking better than she has done for many months.
After giving you this detail of our proceedings you will not be surprised to hear that I have done very little in the way of studying or writing. As the affairs of the Bank are to be considered next session, I have been putting my thoughts on paper respecting their concerns. I have endeavored to shew that a well regulated paper currency is less variable in its value than a metallic currency, and therefore more desirable. I have recommended a simple plan to obviate the scarcity of money, which, to the distress of the mercantile world, always takes place before the payment of the national dividends. I have again pointed out the advantages which would result from making paper convertible into bullion and not into specie. After which I have followed the ground of Mr. Grenfell, and have endeavored to shew that the Government in its last agreement with the Bank for a participation of the advantages resulting from the public deposits, and the management of the public debt, made a very improvident bargain for the public, and recommend more caution in the agreement now about to be made. Finally I have attempted to calculate the present treasure of the Bank, and have insisted (very disinterestedly for I have only £500 Bank stock) on the right of the proprietors of Bank Stock to a division of their enormous gains.—I have shewn it to Mr. Grenfell and to Mr. Malthus. The former urges me to publish it. The latter agrees with almost all my matter, but thinks, as I think myself, that the performance is inferior even to my first two pamphlets. I am not much inclined for this reason to publish it, but before I finally determine I should like to have your candid opinion about it, and I am sure you will give me no other, and I will if possible send it to you from Bath, the latter end of this or beginning of next week with all its imperfections and before I attempt to make it better, which I think I can do.—
In the Philanthropist and the Edinburgh I think I have recognized your articles. I am glad your history is nearly finished, I hope it will bring you abundance of fame and money.—
I shall be very happy indeed to see Mr. Hume and his new married lady here. If you write to them say so in the strongest terms for me. In the mean time I will write to Cheltenham myself for the purpose of urging the same request.— Mr. Malthus and I continue to write to each other but not so actively as we sometimes do. We differ nearly as much as ever. There appears to me an astonishing mixture of truth and error in the opinions which he holds on the subject of rent profit and wages. Oh that I were capable of writing a book! He is preparing a new edition of his Essay on Population for the press. He ought candidly to confess that he has committed great errors in his chapters on the Agricultural and Mercantile systems, as well as in that on bounties.
I hope Mr. Bentham is well.—I have to thank him for his small pamphlet which was sent to me in Brook Street. I hope soon to be able to study it.—Make my kind compliments to him and to Mrs. Mill and believe me
very truly Yours
I shall direct my MS to you at Ford Abbey near Chard.