mill to ricardo
[Reply to 149]
Ford Abbey Jany 3d. 1816
My Dear Sir
I received your letter last night, and think it best to answer it without delay. It stands at present fixed that we shall leave this place about the 15th. —But Mr. Bentham always lingers so long when he has a movement to make, that I do not expect we shall be in London much before the 1st. of Febry. You must not delay, therefore, till my arrival. But the time at which I think that my looking at the M.S. will stand the best chance of being useful, is when it is in the proofs; because I can then definitively take cognisance of the punctuation, which is of considerable importance—and was badly done by the printer in your last production. I am satisfied that any thing else to which I should chuse to put my hand, for fear of doing more harm than good, is so trifling that it can be easily done in the proofs, with hardly any additional expence of correction, to which I shall not grudge to submit you. I am sure the matter will be all good—and that at most there will be but a few expressions in which I may fancy that I can alter a word or two for the better. In this case, the best thing for you will be to send the M.S. to the press immediately; and to tell Murray to send the proofs to me, as many at a time as the convenience of the printer will allow. Take care to send them by a coach which passes through Chard (not Ilminster or Axminster) otherwise I may be some days late in receiving them. One of the Chard coaches (perhaps both) takes parcels at the Gloucester Coffee House Piccadilly. But it is possible that before needing to send me the proofs I may be in London. I am rejoiced that the whole may be published as it stands—and the only advice which I think I can offer, after what I have given, and which you have taken in so good part, is to dwell with some force upon the moral part of the argument against the Bank; which will not only afford a variety in the midst of the other more abstract and less familiar topics, but will really press with a more galling weight upon the parties concerned. Hold up to view unsparingly the infamy of a great and opulent body like the bank, exhibiting a wish to augment its hoards by undue gains wrested from the hands of an overburthened people. Tell them, and tell them boldly, how much it would have become them,—amidst the lamentable and disgusting propensity, which distinguishes our countrymen, to prey upon the public—to exhibit to them an example which would have helped to put them to shame, (if that be a feeling of which they are capable), an example of the voluntary renunciation of all undue gettings at the expence of the public; and thus to have set their seal upon the infamy of those who follow the opposite course of making the public their prey. Do not dread the chance of any body advancing that you, as a loan contractor, and a successful one, are in the predicament which you condemn. The case is not so. You have gained nothing from the public, but under the fair laws of an open market, exposed to all the force of unrestrained competition. Your earnings are therefore your own, in the fairest and most honourable sense of the word, in the very same sense in which the gains of any man who makes rich by selling sugar or cloth to his countrymen, whether in their public or private capacity, are truly and honourably his own. Nor are your earnings greater than the superior industry and capacity which you have displayed—in a line in which capacity is calculated to produce more than ordinary effects—most fully entitle you to.
Nothing would be of more use, than the argument which I recommend to you to use against the bank, to lead the addle-headed public to reflect upon the essential distinction between your case and that of the men whose conduct you arraign.
You have cheered me exceedingly by your accounts of Mrs. Porter—because independently of the sufferings of so excellent a creature—I knew how impossible it was for any of you to be happy so long as she continued in so painful a state. As for that noble Esther—I know not how to express my admiration of her. She deserves something far more valuable than a crown of gold. She has it, in fact, in the recovery of that dear sister to whom she has sacrificed so much. I wish I knew a husband worthy of her—and since I cannot have her myself, that I had a son ready to become a candidate for those affections which are composed of so precious a metal. That is the true affection—the affection which shines forth in the day of adversity! How contentedly would that noble girl submit to every sacrifice and every exertion which the vicissitudes of human life can call for, in behalf of the man who by his worth and his affection should truly unite her being to his own—poverty, and rags, nay the severest labour to gain his bread, with him, would be to her a heaven, compared with canopies of state, deprived of him.
I think you will have reason by and bye, to think that I have, at any rate, no aversion to letter writing—which yet my friends, as they do complain, so they have but too much reason to complain of. However, lately, the pen runs when I sit down to write to [you] and I have always made a long letter before I can stop. As I h[ave] consumed all my other paper, too, I am forced to take a long sh[eet], for your punishment at least, if not for my own.
I am happy that you do not dislike my project of setting tasks to you. I know, from former experience, of how much use it is to one who is not hackneyed in the ways of putting his thoughts to paper, to have a limited part of a great and indefinite whole presented to him. If you approve of it, I shall take care to find you in topics, and you shall go on, from one to another, till you have gone over all the ground— and then it will be easy for you, by means of marginal contents, to take one comprehensive view of the whole, to marshal the host, and prepare it in the best possible manner for meeting the enemy—i.e.—the public eye. You were right to postpone every thing to the perfecting the M.S. of the intended publication. No doubt, you will be called upon, as you say, for the elucidation of price—because it is to tell how the events in question operate upon the relative proportions of exchangeable commodities, that is the problem to be solved. Therefore you are to set down every thing which that solution requires. Whatever the place in your ultimate work, in which it will be most convenient to distribute what you have to say on the rationale of price, to that place may hereafter be consigned, whatever may then be useful, of what you here bring forth.
My best regards to ladies and gentlemen of all sorts and sizes at Gatcomb. I hope Mrs. M. Ricardo has been benefited by its good air and all its other recommendations. I long to see what beautiful roses and lillies not to speak of other attractions, Miss R. is about to carry from the hills. As for Mrs. Ricardo—she will be happy, not when every body else is happy, but when it is impossible they should ever be otherwise—and as the greater part of her friends are as nearly in that state as this jumble of a world permits any body’s friends to be, I think I may congratulate her at this beginning of a new year.
Believe me truly Yours
If you leave London before I return to it, unless all the necessary communication has passed between us, it will be proper that you should give me notice, to prevent loss of time, in the possible delay of the receipt of letters. I shall let you immediately know of my arrival.