318.: ricardo to mill2[Answered by 319] - 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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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
[Answered by 319]
My dear Sir
Ever since I have been here I have been determined not to delay writing to you. I was resolved that during this separation I would be the first to commence our correspondence, recollecting as I did with gratitude that you had generally been the one who had written first. I take this opportunity then of renewing my assurances of the undiminished pleasure which I derive from your regard and friendship, and of expressing my hopes that I may continue to enjoy them while you have them to bestow, or I am in a condition to receive them.
I wish I could have had your company here now. You would enjoy this beautiful weather, and would pronounce our country, now that the fields are green, and vegetation in high perfection, to be more entitled to compete with Bromesberrow, and Pauntley, than when you last visited it. We dine at 3 oClock, on account of the children’s holidays, and after dinner we find it cool enough to enjoy very agreeable rides. We have ponies in abundance, and a couple of very quiet horses, so that you would be easily suited with a charger to your mind. Instead of this you are a close prisoner in London, performing with perseverance the new duties which have devolved on you. I by no means however relinquish the hope of seeing you here before we return to London. The Directors must reason as Robt. Owen does—he finds it his interest not to exact too much from those he employs; he finds that he gets more work done by employing them a less number of hours; by so doing, he keeps them in good heart with their energies both of body and mind undiminished. By giving you an opportunity of changing the scene, and of inhaling the balmy air of the country, your strength both of body and mind would be increased, and what the Directors lost in time they would gain in power.—
Mr. Wakefield came here yesterday from Bath, and is gone this morning to Bromesberrow. He is accompanied by Osman, who is more than ever desirous of taking up his residence there, and as one of the houses must be to be let he thinks it may as well be his own at Hyde, as mine at Bromesberrow. I have no objection to his removing, and therefore after a few absolutely necessary repairs at Bromesberrow, he will I believe become its inhabitant. His wife has seen it, and although she is not equally delighted with it as Osman, she is very willing to go there.—We have all been over there lately, on a day when it could not be seen to more advantage, but the ladies of our party did not view the house with much complacency; and even the country about it did not draw from them such warm admiration as we are accustomed to bestow. Mr. Wakefield rode over all my property here—he thought the country very delightful, but not so uniformly beautiful as Bromesberrow and its neighbourhood.—
Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson have been staying with us—they left us this morning on their way to London. Mr. Wilkinson is enthusiastically fond of fishing, and has scarcely missed a day passing several hours at the side of one of our ponds. His success however has not been equal to his perseverance for he has had but few trophies to boast of.—He is an agreeable companion, being possessed of excellent spirits, and taking a great interest in many books which are universally agreeable. The reading of these of an evening, for the general advantage, made our time pass very agreeably.
I am much interrupted in my studies of a morning, but yet I do not wholly neglect reading. I have got through, with great pleasure, Bayles “Pensées Diverses” and nearly two thirds of Plowden’s History of Ireland. —The latter I have not read thoroughly, as I have passed over the account of those periods which are the least interesting to an English reader. The perusal of this book confirms me in the opinion which I have long entertained, that most of the difficulties of Government proceed from an unwillingness to make timely concessions to the people. Reform is the most efficacious preventative of Revolution, and may in my opinion be at all times safely conceded. The argument against reform now is that the people ask for too much, and that Revolution is really meant. Would they be better able to bring about Revolution, if Reform was conceded? I think the disaffected would lose all power after the concession of Reform. Reform may be granted too late, but it can never be given too soon, if the people are sufficiently well informed to know the value of it. If catholic emancipation and a reform in Parliament had been granted to the Irish at the time that Lord Fitzwilliam was Lord Lieutenant would there have been a Rebellion in Ireland? The difficulty would then have been how to direct the councils of two independent countries towards the same objects. One might wish for war, when the other was inclined to peace. One might dethrone its monarch, while the other retained him. In this view the union became desirable, yet it is difficult I think to unite the interests of two countries, and there is great risk that in a legislative body, such as our House of Commons, in which not one sixth of the representatives are chosen by Ireland, the interests of England will prevail in all cases where they may happen to clash with those of Ireland. Is there any remedy against this but independence?—Do you think that a representative Government is more or less disposed to tyrannise over its distant unrepresented possessions than a pure Aristocracy or Monarchy?—
Mrs. Osman Ricardo is reading your history of India—I hope she will persevere.—She is as amiable and as agreeable as when you saw her.—
Ever most truly Yrs
Gatcomb Park 10 Augt. 1819