261.: ricardo to trower1[Reply to 259.—Answered by 268] - 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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ricardo to trower
[Reply to 259.—Answered by 268]
London 27 June 1818
My dear Trower
Your kind letter dated the 7th June ought not to have remained so long unanswered, but various things have encroached on my time, and I have also been a journey to Gatcomb, and Gloucester, for the purpose of returning the members for our County to Parliament. As there was no contest my task was easy, and we have, with our usual consistency, sent one member to vote with ministers, and another to vote with the opposition, both I believe disposed implicitly to follow their leaders.
My own endeavors to get a seat in the House have not been attended with success, but I believe that amongst all those who are disappointed, in a similar manner, there is not one more resigned than I am. I could meet with nothing where I should not have had a contest, which I was exceedingly unwilling to encounter, particularly as I should have been thrown, alone, amongst persons with whom I was wholly unacquainted, and therefore ignorant how far I might depend on their statements. From all that I have seen I am more and more convinced that the system requires great amendment— that Parliament should really represent the good sense of the nation—that the expences of election should be reduced to the minimum—and that the choice should be made by ballot. Under such a mode of choosing representatives we should get rid of the disgusting spectacle of the lowest blackguards in every town assembling about the Hustings, and insulting in the grossest, and most cruel manner, those respectable candidates against whom their antipathies are excited. Why is such a man as Sir Murray Maxwell to be exposed to the disgraceful treatment which he has received? —I am for Sir Saml. Romilly’s system of Reform, as avowed to a gentleman whom he authorised to communicate it to Mr. Bentham, and to any other person.—His system is to extend the suffrage to Householders—to limit the duration of parliament to 3 years, and to vote by ballot. This is all the reform that I desire, and I cannot help thinking that if you had continued your walks with Mr. Mill and me, we should have got you to join in so moderate a scheme. Mill says you distinctly admitted that there should be an effectual check on the Government in the people, and as you are a fair and candid reasoner, he is persuaded that you could not fail to admit the conclusions also which would follow from that principle. Those conclusions are that the House of Commons as at present constituted does not afford that check—that it really represents the Aristocracy, or rather a narrow Oligarchy, and not the people.—You are I fear surrounded by Anti-reformers,— wealthy alarmists who have in consequence of the French Revolution and the unhappy circumstances which attended it, associated the idea of insecurity of property with the exercise of popular priveleges. They must necessarily have some influence on your opinions, but I pray you to counteract the effect by reading what the rational reformers have to urge in favour of their view of the question—read Madame de Stael’s posthumous work on the French Revolution which contains an admirable defence of liberal institutions.
I cannot agree with you in thinking that Brougham’s was a good speech in answer to Burdett,—it was not in the least degree argumentative, nor did it shew what his own principles now are respecting reform. Brougham is a very clever man, but will never rank very high as a politician, for there is no steadiness in his opinions, and he appears to me [to] sacrifice too much to his immediate objects. Sometimes he wishes to conciliate the Whigs, and then the violent reformers receive no mercy at his hands,—at other times one would conclude that he went as far in the cause of reform as even Burdett himself. A man who wishes to obtain a lasting name should not be a vacillating statesman too eager for immediate applause.
I am sorry that you could not consistently with your ideas of prudence seek to be returned for Guildford. You would be quite in your element in the House of Commons, and provided you started with the opinions which I deem right, there are few among my acquaintance whom I think would be more useful members, or whose talents would be more likely to be made manifest by the discipline which the business of the House of Commons would afford.
We shall leave London in little more than a fortnight for Gatcomb. If Mrs. Trower and you should at any time during the next six months find it convenient to absent yourselves for a short time from home you will give both Mrs. Ricardo and me great pleasure if you will come into Gloucestershire, and let me shew you the beauties of our country. We might take our walks and rides on the banks of the Severn instead of in Kensington Gardens, and might too have Mill for our companion, for he has positively agreed to make me a visit this summer. Pray think of it and if practicable come to us.— Mrs. Ricardo joins with me in kind regards to Mrs. Trower.
Believe me ever My dear Trower very sincerely Yrs.