319.: mill to ricardo1[Reply to 318] - 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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mill to ricardo
[Reply to 318]
East India House 14 Augt. 1819s
My Dear Sir
I had begun to long for some accounts of you, when your acceptable letter arrived. You appear to me to have been living in high enjoyment; and you draw a picture quite sufficient to make me wish to be with you. I can easily conceive that Mr. Wilkinson is a very interesting companion in a place of retirement—his spirits, his enthusiasm, and his flow of ideas, will communicate a share of the same pleasurable qualities to all around him. And then when you talk of delightful weather, the beauties of your country, quiet horses, evening rides, evening readings; and last of all, to tempt me beyond resistance, talk of Mrs. Osman Ricardo “as amiable and as agreeable as ever”, and reading my history of India,—I know not what to say to you. It is cruelty to tantalize a man with felicity which he cannot enjoy. And yet I must glory a little in my own virtue; for though I might procure leave of absence for the asking, there are so many despatches to answer, and the happiness and misery of so many millions are affected by what I write, that I cannot find in my heart to abstract a day from the labours of this place till I have got towards an end of my arrears, or at least till I have replied upon all the more important affairs. If there is any tolerable weather after that is done, I may after all make a run down to you of a week.—I cannot help agreeing with Mr. Osman—if I were in his situation I would live at Bromes-borrow too, which I would make a paradise of a place. Tell Mrs. Osman, if she goes there, that positively one of my first visits shall be to her; I think in consenting to go from the society of your family, and friends, to a place where she has no acquaintance, and to go without a murmur, is really being “a good girl”: although, as she likes you and you like her, it is a sacrifice I regret on the account of both of you—because she was a resource to you, and you would have been of great use to her. By the bye, if she is reading my history, she is bound to send me her criticisms, as she reads; that I may profit by them, just now, when I am preparing for my second edition. As you give me no other family history, than what I have thus adverted to, I conclude that all is going happily with all of you—I have therefore nothing to do but to be happy at the thought of it; and to entreat that Mrs. Ricardo will believe that the future will be like the past, a great deal more good in it than evil. My wife and brats are all well—but we have not yet got back to our house.
I always regret when I hear that you are abridged in your hours of study—because now you ought to consider, that you have it in your power to benefit, by these hours, your fellow creatures, in a degree that few people have—and you are therefore not blameless when you neglect them. It was good that you should make yourself acquainted with the history of Ireland, but there is a monstrous portion of surplusage in Plowden, and I half regret the time that it will require to squint him. Your inferences from that history with regard to the importance of concession to the people—contemplating only the narrow interests of the few, and not considering those of the many—are unquestionably just, wherever the few are not sure of being able to crush the many, and compell them to submitt. I never can doubt that it is safe to give the people the benefits of a real representative government unless in very low states of civilization; and even then, they would govern themselves better perhaps in that way, than by any other government that would emanate from themselves. I can have no doubt for example that a real representation of the people would satisfy the population of this country, and secure the interests of the many without violating the rights of the few. I should think a representative government, in regard to foreign dependencies, would act very much like an aristocracy or monarchy—it would, wherever the interests of the foreign country clashed with those of the home, sacrifice those of the foreign—but as it would be more enlightened, and less guided by caprice, the foreign country would suffer only when the incongruity was real; and when the home population would really be benefited by oppressing the foreign. Over taxation, for the relief of the home population would be the grand temptation. But could this go farther than the oligarchy of the East India company goes?—and besides, if the taxation of the home country were as low as I think a good govt. would make it, the people would have little interest in seeking to relieve themselves, at the cost of their dependents. And a truly representative government will always have the benefit of a truly free press—and that will exercise an efficient controul over the treatment of dependencies, as well as every thing else.
But I must now conclude, and go to talk about Zemindars and ryots, and think of the means of protecting the latter against the former—no easy task.
Most truly Yours