219.: ricardo to trower1[Answered by 224] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818.
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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
[Answered by 224]
Antwerp 15 June 1817
You will be very much surprised at receiving an answer to your letter dated from this place, but here I am, enjoying in the most delightful weather, one of the most agreeable journeys I have ever taken. My Brother Ralph only is with me. We landed on tuesday last at Calais, and have already been through the towns of Cassel, Lisle, and Ghent. Each place appears to improve on the last, and Antwerp, where we now are, is certainly the grandest. I am quite astonished at the magnificence and splendour of the Cathedrals and Churches in this country,—they far surpass any thing that I have seen in our own country, and the pictures which are to be found in them are the chefs d’oeuvres of the masters by whom they are painted. To see the descent from the Cross by Rubens, which is in the Cathedral here, is alone worth all the trouble of a journey from London. There are others nearly as good in this and in the other churches, besides innumerable beautiful specimens of the delightful art of painting in the public and private collections. We intend leaving this place to morrow for Brussells from which place we propose going by Namur to Liege and thence to Cologne. From Cologne we shall proceed up the Rhine to Franckfort and Heidelberg and then we shall make the best of our way to Paris, and after seeing the beauties of that luxurious capital we shall return home. I have long had a desire to make a tour on the continent, but one week before setting out I had not any idea that it was so near its accomplishment. Our pleasure is damped by witnessing every where the greatest distress and poverty, proceeding in a great degree from the last bad harvest. We are told that bread is more than 3 times its ordinary price, and would be higher if other causes did not abridge the ability of the purchasers to pay for it. The poor are obliged to have recourse to food which is never eaten by human beings but on the greatest emergencies. It is some consolation however to see every where around us in this fertile country abundant fields of corn, looking beautifully, and holding out the fairest prospects of an abundant harvest. Besides the evils resulting from dear food the people have to struggle as well as ourselves with a stagnation in trade. At the table d’hote yesterday in conversation with an intelligent man he ascribed much of this to the disadvantage of their trade with England, although he was abundantly inconsistent on this subject. First he complained of the goods which were imported from England, they were totally unlike what were formerly obtained from that country, and were made only to please the eye. Secondly he insisted on the necessity of rigourous enactments against the introduction of British manufactures on the continent while England continued her prohibitory system—they were now obliged, he said, to buy every thing, and were not allowed to sell any thing, and therefore were under the necessity of paying the balance in gold and silver. As well as I could, in my bad French, I endeavoured to set him right, and to correct his erroneous theory, but I fear I have not satisfied him that retaliation in such a case only aggravates the evil sought to be removed.—I cannot but lament however that England who ought to be the example to other nations for liberal and correct principles, should be justly accused of being the foremost in departing from the maxims of free trade, and shackling the most advantageous distribution of the general commerce of the world.
You will conceive my surprise when I tell you that while I was present at the celebration of Mass to day, in the great Cathedral, with all my attention fixed on the mummery by which I was surrounded, I was tapped on the shoulder by our friend Elwin, who had the evening before arrived from Bruxelles, in his way to Douay, where he is going to see a nephew whom he had a week before left at that place, after which he will immediately return to England. I experienced from him his usual kindness, for he insisted on our dining with him and his companion, Mr. Oxley I believe his name, at his hotel. We accepted his invitation and after very much enjoying his company we went together to the Play, from which we are just returned. He will I have no doubt soon write to you himself.
I have scarcely left myself room to say how very much pleased I was with your observations on my book.—I shall take it very kind of you indeed to furnish me with every observation which you may think of importance to enable me either to explain what is obscure, or to correct what is faulty, previously to my publishing a second edition. Murray tells me that a second edition will most assuredly be required and you will of course conclude that I shall be most anxious to give it every improvement in my power,—you cannot therefore oblige me more than freely to animadvert on every part of it.
Pray make my compliments to Mrs. Trower. I hope that she and your children are well,—and believe me with the greatest regard,
Yrs. very sincerely