303.: mill to ricardo2[Reply to 298 & 302] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 8 Letters 1819-June 1821 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 8 Letters 1819-1821.
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mill to ricardo
[Reply to 298 & 302]
Westminster 14 Jany. 1819
My Dear Sir
I am roused by your talk of being in town the week after next, and must not let you arrive without another letter from me. As Hume sent me word he would probably call here to day, I shall also have a chance of a frank for you.
I have received all your communications; and congratulate you upon them most sincerely. The points cannot but be regarded as of unusual difficulty; because there are so few persons whom it is possible to bring to have clear conceptions upon them, and to reason consistently. And yet you both see to the bottom of them, and state the reasons upon which your own opinions are founded, and the objections which are made to them, with the utmost clearness; and give the last a conclusive answer. This is the general character of the whole. We shall go over them one by one; and they will afford us interesting subjects for a variety of our walks.—As you gave me no directions to do any thing with your answer to Torrens, I concluded you had sent a copy to the Magazine, and so keep this waiting your arrival.
I am much gratified with your remarks upon Lord Greys speech, because they so exactly correspond with my own. You see through it completely, and describe most exactly the whole purport and temper of it, as well as the artifice, the flimsy varnish with which it is covered. You have been most struck with the morality of it: As my mind has been long made up about Whig morality, I am more surprised at the intellectuality. To be sure it is a pretty bold stretch in Ethics, to make all political morality consist in supporting the Whigs, and turning out the ministry; as you so well describe him as doing. This, however, I am not so much surprised at Lord Greys thinking; as at the weakness of the intellect which supposes that other people can be brought to think the same thing. You well describe the speech as a tissue of inconsistencies and contradictions: which of necessity happens when a man wishes what he is unwilling directly to say: and thinks himself obliged to say something which he does not really wish: As when his lordship wishes people to believe that all political morality consists in hoisting the Whigs into place, which he does not dare to say in plain words; and thinks himself obliged to say at the beginning of his speech that he is for reform; though the whole of the remainder of it tends only to shew that he is for no reform.
Another of their artifices is the cry about retrenchment. They turn aside from parliamentary reform, and substitute the cry of retrenchment. They think that this will make them popular; and that the people fondly hoping for an abatement of taxes, will join in a cry to put out the present expending ministers and bring them, retrenching ditto, in! Now what is surprising is, the intellect of this. This is neither more nor less than the intellectual cry, Do, pray, exert yourselves, with us, to alter the effect without altering the cause! Get a different effect, by all possible means; but get it by the same cause! What has been the cause of that profligate expenditure, which has existed since the revolution, and of which they now cry that we have such unspeakable need of retrenchment? Of course, it has had a cause. And of course that cause has not been the wish of the people to be plundered. The cause has been the interest of the parliament to concur in plundering. Shall we put an end to that interest, the cause of the plunderage, by an effectual reform? Oh, no! By no means! For God’s sake, think of nothing like that! It is wild! Immoderate! Ungenteel! Never think of altering the cause: only think of altering the effect, without altering the cause!—Is not this logic! Would it not be incredible that any men, above the rank of idiots, should impose upon themselves so far, as to yield up their understanding, to this irrationality, and to expect the same effects from it with regard to others; if we had not so much experience, that when men herd together who have the same interests, and when they are accustomed almost wholly to talk only with one another about these interests, there is hardly any conclusion, favourable to their interests, which they are not capable of embracing, however absurd.
I am well pleased to hear that Macculloch is again dealing with you in the Edinr. Review. I, too, I believe, am to be in the next No.. I have looked at the passage you point out where Say is quoted, and about his inconsistency there can be no doubt. He is but a poor creature, I fear. This, with the new edition of your book, will do for you, all that is necessary. You are now, beyond all dispute at the head of Political Economy. Does not that gratify your ambition? And who prophesied all this? Tell me that! And scolded you on, coward that you are? Tell me that!
I dined at Bow with Mr. Moses Ricardo on monday—and was very happy, and very merry. All this may prove to you that I am in no small degree better: so that there is no fear of the walks—they will complete the cure.
I have no idea that there will, or can be any doubt about the seat. And they must keep to their bargain, too. The matter I understand rests till Sir H. Parnell comes, which will be near—and then it will be concluded. Mr. Ralph, I think, told me, that your solicitors have not yet got the extra copy of the title-deeds; but this, I conclude, is only the usual delay of d—d attorneys.
About your deriving profit from your reading, I have no doubt at all. Bad memory! Why every body has a bad memory. I have a bad memory, as well as you. But I can remember what I take sufficient pains to remember; and so can you. Memory is an effect; and you cannot have it without the cause; though lord Grey thinks otherwise of retrenchment. And as for speaking, you must speak—so there is no more to be said about that matter.
I beg to offer my best respects to Mrs. Ricardo, and whoever else is of your party—in particular to my friend, Mrs. Osman, for whom, since she likes Rousseau, I mean to send his very beautiful, and in many respects very instructive work on Education.
Most truly yours