274.: ricardo to mill3[Reply to 273] - 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 273]
Gatcomb Park 29th. Septr. 1818
My dear Sir
I thank you much for the communication of the passage, from Mr. Brougham’s letter, respecting me. It appears indeed more probable than it has ever yet done, that I shall have a seat in the House of Commons, and in proportion to the increased probability do my fears also increase, that I shall never be fit for any other duty in it, but to say aye, or no, accordingly as my judgement may direct me, on the different questions offered for discussion. Because you have been successful in one of your prognostics, and my book has excited more attention than I had dared to hope, you, like other prophets, begin to think that you may foretell the most improbable of events, and like them too you trust to chance or good fortune for their proving true,—for to suppose that the discipline you recommend will enable me to take a part in the debates, and offer any thing which shall do me, and my instructor, credit, is building on good fortune alone. The ground work is wanting. Years of neglect at the most essential period of life cannot be balanced by weeks or months of application. Not only do I labour under a defect of memory which prevents me from retaining to any useful purpose what has been the object of my study, but I have difficulties in composition—in clothing my thoughts in words, in a degree that I seldom witness in others. This defect I fear is unconquerable, and you will agree with me that no man can write or speak well, if he cannot express his ideas with facility and ease. Look at the evidence before the Usury Committee, and you will observe that, in point of expression, mine is the worst evidence given before them. As I told you on a former occasion I tell you now: I have no disinclination to work, and it is sufficient for me that you recommend the course which you have pointed out, that I will follow it, but I prepare you before hand for disappointment, for most assuredly I shall never be able to speak in an Assembly which can boast of the talents of a Romilly, a Tierney, a Canning, and a Brougham.
My brother Moses continues to improve in health. He now takes a little exercise on horseback, and I have great hopes that he will be restored to that standard of health at which he was for some years fixed, before his late attack.
Gatcomb is now quite a different place from the Gatcomb you saw—the change that took place during my absence in London was surprising. When I left the country every thing was burnt up, so that not a green blade of grass could be seen; on my return to it the verdure was every where beautiful, and every field was sending forth in abundance its supply of food for the cattle which were before half-starved. I regretted that you had seen us under such disadvantageous circumstances but I comfort myself in the hope that you will often repeat your visit and perhaps again make the little tour from which we had so much pleasure.
I am glad that you are so pleasantly situated at Bagshot, and that your family are enjoying themselves highly. I have no doubt but that the pure air they are breathing will be very serviceable to them.
Mrs. Osman Ricardo is in the 4th. vol of Heloise and is very much pleased with it. She as well as Mrs. Ricardo and all our circle request to be kindly remembered to you.
I am told that it will be difficult to obtain the information respecting the proportion of Paupers in the surrounding parishes who can read and write, as the information in many cases cannot without much trouble be got from the paupers themselves, as perhaps the persons receiving the money are few, although they receive it on behalf of many,—and the few are often unacquainted with facts of that description which regard the many. I will however use my best efforts to comply with Mr. Brougham’s wishes.
I am now doing very little either in reading or writing, having Mr. Basevis family here. I cannot settle to any regular employment till I am alone or till I can separate myself entirely of a morning from the rest of the inmates of this house.—
Since I commenced this letter I have recd. a letter from Messrs. Bleasdale & Co. my solicitors in which to my great surprise they tell me that they have not yet received any communication from Lord Portalington or his solicitor on the subject of the proposed advance. They add “Should this business go off I am told a seat may be procured elsewhere upon eligible terms but I am not at present in possession of particulars.” To this last intimation I cannot of course attend as I consider the business which Mr. Brougham has managed for me as really settled if the title to the property is good,— yet I may after all be disappointed and I cannot be quite certain of the seat till I know that my solicitor or one equally capable of judging is satisfied with the security.—
Ever truly Yrs.
I have had another friendly letter from Mr. McCulloch.