Front Page Titles (by Subject) 247.: ricardo to mill2 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 7 Letters 1816-1818
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247.: ricardo to mill2 - 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 mill2
Ford Abbey 6th 6th Jany. 3
My dear Sir
Having finished your third volume4 I must again write to you, to say that you have in my opinion sustained your reputation to the last, or rather in this volume exceeded it. From the manner in which you have, in the 6th. Chapr., treated of Courts of Justice, and Police, I begin to think that you are correct in an opinion I have heard you give, that the most intricate parts of Political Economy might be made familiar to the people’s understanding, for you have expressed yourself with a clearness and precision that can not fail to be understood by the least attentive reader; and a subject which appears at first view so difficult is within the grasp of a moderate share of talents.
Nothing can be more satisfactory than your review of Lord Wellesley’s administration, and the insufficiency of his reasons for the treaty of Bassein. The steps by which we have made our progress in India appear to have been first to get our troops into the dominions of our allies for a stipulated monthly payment, and then under various pretences to obtain all the powers of Government. Your arguments are convincing that the first step was the most injurious to the people of India, as it took away from the native governments the salutary dread of insurrection, and therefore opened the door to all manner of misrule and oppression. If Lord Wellesley had continued in the Government of India he would have soon discovered that the Peshwa’s administration was radically bad, and he would not have been at a loss for excuses to take it into his own hands, and thus this system might have been extended till all India was under British rule. The difficulty of the question seems to be this. In the first step, stipulating that your ally shall have the service of your troops in consideration of his paying for it, there may be a want of policy and wisdom, but there appears to be no injustice,—but in the second step there is the greatest injustice although it is demonstrable that it may greatly promote the happiness of the people. That which is free from the taint of injustice is the cause of misery to the people,— that which is manifestly unjust is the cause of their happiness. Are we to fix our eyes steadily on the end, the happiness of the governed, and pursue it at the expence of those principles which all men are agreed in calling virtuous? If so might not Lord Wellesley, or any other ruler, disregard all the engagements of his predecessors, and by force of arms compel the submission of all the native powers of India if he could shew that there was a great probability of adding to the happiness of the people by the introduction of better instruments of government. If he accomplished this end at the expence of much treasure to England I do not think the plea would be admitted by a British House of Commons however freely chosen. The difficulty of the doctrine of expediency or utility is to know how to balance one object of utility against another—there being no standard in nature, it must vary with the tastes, the passions and the habits of mankind. This is one of the subjects on which I require to be enlightened.—
Your remarks on the effects of indigence are excellent, it is the cause of selfishness, cruelty and crime.
One great cause of the misrule in India appears to be the little interest taken by the English in Indian affairs. This has been the constant complaint in Parliament. I hope your book will tend to remove this apathy. The difficulty of punishing offenders made the subject distasteful in the House of Commons.—
I shall want you when we meet to give me some additional reasons for the following opinions expressed in the pages stated. 106. How can the enormities committed by an agent prove the corruption of the person appointing that agent?295. Did not most of the difficulties of the Zemindars arise from their inability to enforce the payment of rent? If that abuse had been removed would not the object have been obtained? 296. Did the Ryots pay a fixed rent to the Zemindars or did they not. If they did what is meant by the Zemindars farming out the lands by Auction at the end of the lease? 302. If the expence of justice falls on the dishonest litigator will it in any great degree prevent the honest man from seeking redress by law, if law is purely administered.303. Is it a fair conclusion from your premises that the chances of success to the honest and dishonest litigant are equal? 304 I agree that the evil complained of exists, but in the absence of absolute corruption in the judge, it appears to me inconceivable, that granting every obstruction to justice complained of, the expectation of success in the dishonest litigant can ever equal the like expectation of the honest1 litigant. 328 What a frightful obstruction to improvement does the immoral character of the people of India present! 338 In your argument respecting the Zemindars you contend that rich landholders are not eager after small additions to their fortunes, and therefore will not improve the cultivation of the land. On the same principle may it not be contended that rich police officers would not be anxious about the small gains from corruption? 502 If it be injustice and robbery to take from any people more than the lowest sum for which they can be defended, what business have the English in India, unless it be to confer favours from a pure principle of benevolence? 600–1 Do you not leave out of your calculation the effects which would have resulted to British Interests if the treaty of Bassein had not been made and the country of the Peshwa had been forcibly wrested from him by the Rajah of Berar and Scindia? 602 Is it right to enumerate among the advantages of Scindia of which we had no right to deprive him the expectations which he had formed of obtaining justly or unjustly an influence in the Government of the Peshwa which he did not then possess. 721 In the estimate of the revenue is any deduction made for the provision established for the payment of the Nabob of Arcot’s debts? 723 Does not the expenditure of 15,551,000 include the interest of the debt contracted by Lord Wellesly? Is not the Company’s Capital included in the amount of debts? Should any thing be allowed for a redemption fund? These are the passages which I have marked for enquiry.— I have been particularly pleased with your observations on the numerous or rather powerful sanctions necessary to an efficient army—they shew the deepest reflection.—The same army in France or in the service of Scindia would be stimulated to action by a very different set of motives. Another observation which is very striking is that made in page 602 of the astonishing self delusion which prevents men from seeing in their own acts those very qualities which they are so loud in condemning in the acts of others. In Lord Wellesley’s conduct this self delusion almost surpasses belief. Your arguments in favour of colonization are very satisfactory, and to me are particularly so, because they happen to agree with the opinion which I had formed on that subject.—On the whole then I am more than ever satisfied that your labours have been eminently successful and that you will be entitled to, and will receive an ample portion of public approbation and esteem; at which no one will rejoice more than
[2 ]Addressed: ‘James Mill Esqr. / Ford Abbey / Chard / Somersetshire’.
[3 ]In MS ‘1817’; docketed by Mill ‘1818’.
[4 ]Of History of British India.
[1 ]In MS ‘dishonest’.