321.: ricardo to mill4[Answered by 322] - 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 322]
Easton Grey 6 Septr. 1819
My dear Sir
I received your note, with Mr. Napier’s letter to you, only yesterday, and as he must be desirous of having my answer as soon as possible to the proposal which he has very much flattered me by making, of contributing the article on the Sinking Fund to his valuable publication, I lose not a moment in furnishing you with the means of giving him one. If I thought I should succeed in such an undertaking I would most willingly attempt it, but I know myself better than you, or any other of my friends know me. I know the difficulty which I at all times have in stringing a few sentences together, and this difficulty would be incalculably increased if I felt that I was under an obligation to complete a task in a given time. When I write I must be free as air; I must have the privelege of relinquishing my work if I please, of postponing it if I should think it expedient, and of committing to the flames whatever may appear to me to deserve that fate: I am quite sure that I could do nothing, even if I were placed in the most favourable circumstances, were I bound by an engagement to accomplish my work in a definite portion of time. But I am now not placed in the most favourable circumstances for such an undertaking. In the first place I very much doubt whether my books at Gatcomb will furnish me with the facts concerning the establishment and progress of the sinking fund, and it is peculiarly important that in an Essay on that subject all the facts should be minutely and correctly stated. In the second place I am under a load of engagements, expecting to have visitors of one description or another in the house with me for several weeks to come, and although I might if I pleased entirely withdraw myself from their society of a morning, and plead my engagement for so doing, yet I know by experience how difficult this is, and how apt I am to be drawn away from my work by taking rides and walks about the country. My best reason however is my inadequacy to the performance of the work in question, and though I know that I might rely for great assistance, in the way of correction, from your friendship, yet I also know I should not get that which alone could induce me to encounter these and many more obstacles, I mean literary fame. I am sure that with my best efforts it would not be deserving of a place in the company by which it would be surrounded.
Since I last wrote to you I have been at Bath to stay a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Clutterbuck. From Bath I went to Gloster for the Assizes, and served for a few days on the Grand Jury. On leaving Gloucester Mr. Shepherd accompanied me or rather preceded me to Gatcomb where we found Lady Mary and you know that in her company there can be no time for work of any description. While she was with us the Smiths passed two or 3 days at Gatcomb and we are now returning their visit. Since thursday we have been here, and shall probably go back to Gatcomb tomorrow.
I found Mr. Belsham at Easton Grey, he had arrived just before me from the neighbourhood of Manchester. He is not much of a reformer, but he speaks with great indignation, (and says that the same feeling is general in every place in which he has been staying,) against the conduct of the Manchester Magistrates. Both here and at Gatcomb we have had many political discussions, without the least loss of friendship.—Shepherd, you know, is a tory, and is by inclination and interest devoted to Ministers. Smith is a determined Whig, and my sentiments are well known to you. When the expediency of a Reform in Parliament was the subject, the whig and tory joined against me, but I found myself occasionally powerfully supported by Miss Hobhouse, who is on a visit to Mrs. Smith, and consequently was of the party at Gatcomb as well as here. She is very warmly attached to her brother, and defends the cause of reform with all the energy of a good citizen.—Our party was yesterday increased by the accession of Mr. Whishaw, who arrived here at dinner time, accompanied by a young friend of his Mr. Mac Donnel. We had very little politics yesterday. The Manchester and Westminster meetings were of course the subject of discussion but on that subject there does not appear to be much difference of opinion. Sometimes indeed they speak with so much alarm of the numerous and frequent meetings of the people as to impress me strongly with the opinion that they would be willing to forbid them by law altogether.—
Remember that I wish much to see you at Gatcomb, and depend on your availing yourself of any favourable opportunity which may offer to withdraw yourself for a time from your laborious duties.—When you see Mr. Bentham tell him I have him frequently in my remembrance.
Ever truly Yrs.
I have been reading Sismondi’s work —it is I think a very poor performance. In his attacks upon me he is not candid but misrepresents me in several instances.—He as well as Say attempts to refute the doctrine of rent, because there is no land they say which does not pay rent.