229.: ricardo to mill1[Reply to 227.—Answered by 232] - 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 mill
[Reply to 227.—Answered by 232]
Gatcomb Park 12 Sepr. 1817
My dear Sir
When you breakfasted with me the morning I quitted London I ought to have secured you—to have had you tied neck and heels, put into a post chaise, and have brought you with me. All my other chances of seeing you here are I fear but slight. You say not a word of coming, in your letter, and Dumont, on whose visit at Ford Abbey your visit here in some measure depended, is I understand doing the honours of his country towards Mr. Whishaw, whom he is hospitably entertaining. Let me request you to take this matter into your serious consideration, or you may be exposed to some other scheme of violence when you least expect it.
My wishes for good fortune to you shall in future be limited to that smaller amount which you I think wisely have determined best secures happiness. After your avowal of the manner in which you would employ the larger sum if you had it, I am not desirous of entrusting you with it. Such mighty things are not to be accomplished with such comparatively insignificant means—you would meet with disappointment at every step, because you would fail in your object, and if you succeeded it would in all probability still produce disappointment. You shall have only a small independent fortune.
I am glad to hear that so much of your work is printed as 2 volumes and part of the third. I shall be more glad when it is fairly launched, and you are free from the anxiety which the period of publication inevitably brings.
Sir Saml. and Lady Romilly have been on a very short visit to a neighbour of mine a Mr. Phelps. He lives about 4 miles from here in a curious ancient house and is I believe a barrister —he has not been here more than a few months, he came from another part of Gloucestershire. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, with Mr. Mallet, who is their visitor, met Sir Saml. and Lady Romilly. They are probably now on their way to Ford Abbey.
I shall be very proud of having Mr. Place a convert to my doctrines, I am sure he reads without prejudice, and with an earnest wish to discover truth—he will not continue to hold opinions merely because he held them before, and I shall be sure to have at his hands, all I want, impartial justice.— I hear from Mr. Grenfell that Lord Grenville has written to him that he also is not reading but is studying my book; I should like to have such a Lord amongst my disciples.
I am employing my time very badly, I am reading without plan or order. I have got through Humbold’s New Spain, Mackenzie voyage in North America —part of the travels of Ali Bey and have been looking at Pinkerton’s Geography, and at some articles in Bayle’s Dictionary. My object is only amusement. I am fully convinced that you very far overrate the powers of my mind. It would be misplaced modesty in such a case as the present to speak of myself otherwise than I think I deserve, and therefore I am to be believed when I conscientiously declare that I think your opinion of my capabilities far too high. In the first place I am not very persevering, unless the object for which I work is steadily before my eyes.—I have all the disadvantages too of a neglected education, which it is now in vain to seek to repair. It would be wise in me to stop where I am, and not like a desperate gamester venture my gains to the fearful odds to which they are exposed. My mind often misgives me about the Parliamentary scheme, and I think if you knew me as well as I know myself you would advise me against it. In my intercourse with you I have always armed myself with my Political Economy, a subject on which I have thought a good deal, and in which you are very much disposed to magnify my success—You have formed your general opinion from a partial view. Tell me however what to undertake and I will put my powers to the test but do not be surprised if I should hereafter come to you and say that the burden is greater than I can carry.—
I have bought the ground in Leicester Fields for £3300.— I hope there will be no difficulty about the Title.
Mrs. Ricardo has been in London about a week, I expect her home to day.—She has been assisting the young folks in the selection of furniture for their house, at which, in spite of your neglect of the rules of etiquette, for which they freely forgive you, they hope to see you. They are now with us, and will stay here till their own house is ready to receive them. Pray remember me kindly to Mrs. Mill and Mr. Bentham