394.: ricardo to mill1[Reply to 389.—Answered by 398] - 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
[Reply to 389.—Answered by 398]
Gatcomb Park 14th. Octr. 1820
My Dear Sir
I am writing to you in the evening, at that time of the day when I am generally attacked with a sleepy fit, so that if you perceive any thing more than ordinarily stupid in this letter, you will know to what cause to ascribe it. I have within these few days received two letters of application for my vote on the next vacancy for the Direction. This is as it should be, I am glad that the candidates are so early in the field, and are so active in their operations, as it will satisfy your prudence, if your judgment is not already satisfied, that it would be inexpedient for me to aspire to the honor of sitting at the Honble. Board, which in name, if not in reality governs so many millions of men. The more I reflect on the proposal you were induced to make, the more I am convinced that I should be wrong to be tempted by it. There is no commoner mistake for men to make than to place themselves in situations for which their habits and talents render them unfit;—this they often discover too late, when to retreat is a matter of difficulty, and they are left exposed to all the mortifications which a responsible situation under such circumstances cannot fail to bring with it. I shall act very unwisely if I deviate from the quiet sober path in which I am now moving—it is not one in which I can do much good, but still it affords me opportunities of doing all the good which I am capable of performing.
Since you left us, we have had a visit from the Smiths, the Miss Bayleys, and Mr. Warburton, and on monday next we are engaged to go to pass a few days with them at Easton Grey. Mr. Knyvett accepted the invitation we gave him, and Mr. Smith no further kept his engagement of meeting him, than by staying one night at Gatcomb.—I had to entertain Mr. K by myself, and as I have often before experienced, the task was not so difficult as I apprehended. He is a good natured man—has seen a good deal of the world, and is very well disposed to be agreeable and satisfied—he went away, I hope, quite contented with his visit.
The walk is finished from the house up the hill, and down it on the further extremity, till it joins the field. On monday we begin the walk in the field, where we projected the shrubbery, to hide the wall which is now so conspicuous from the house. The other walks are all in contemplation. I have disposed of the Coppice to Mr. Playne for £1600, and the right of throwing a net in the lake is relinquished by him. Under his superintendance, and by his advice, I am building a wall across the lake to prevent the fish from going up the Brook, where he says they are mostly destroyed. This wall will be rather ornamental, as it will give me a waterfall—and it will be useful too as forming the side of a small pond which will answer as a preserve for fish. Since selling the Coppice I have bought a field of Mr. Playne, which rather impertinently intruded itself amongst mine. So much money was asked for it, that I confess I was not disposed to purchase it, but by the advice of friends, but still more for the sake of peace and quietness, as Mr. Warburton observed, I have sacrificed my money. It appears to be doubtful whether the road from Nailsworth will be undertaken,—the projectors are disposed to be very civil to me, and to do nothing without my consent.—
I take advantage of every leisure hour to work on my reply to Malthus—I consider it as an agreeable amusement, and say every thing that offers. It will not probably be desirable to publish it—if I do send it forth it will want a great deal of lopping. I hope you are proceeding with your work.—In a letter I received from Malthus, a short time ago, he begs to be kindly remembered to you. In speaking of your projected work, he observes that it should not be done till the disputed points are settled. If you waited till we had his assent to these points, your work would I fear never appear.
I have done what I at present think necessary to my first chapter, and have laid it by for fresh inspection after I have forgotten it a little. I am too familiar with it at present to be able to form a tolerable judgment of the repetitions &ca. &ca..
I received from London, to day, M Say’s letters to Malthus, sent by himself, and a very kind letter accompanying it —he says “Je desire vivement que les explications que je donne ici de ma doctrine des valeurs, vous satisfasse mieux que celles qui se trouvent dans mes précédens ecrits. Cette doctrine me semble maintenant digne d’etre adoptée et etendu par vous &ca. &ca.”—In this I cannot agree with him—it will be necessary I think to take some notice of his late publications in the next edition of my book, for he says [“]J’attendrai avec impatience les premiers ecrits que vous publierez pour savoir ce que vous en pensez; car je crois avoir montré qu’elle n’est autre que la vôtre en d’autres termes.”
Mrs. Osman Ricardo’s father Mr. Mallory is dead—he has suffered very much for this last twelvemonths, and his best friends must rejoice that his afflictions are at an end.
Well, what do you think of the Queen’s defence? It is not exactly what I wish, but still much more satisfactory than I ventured to expect. What a storm has been raised! How glad ministers would be to go back to their position at the King’s death! What will be the end of it? Surely the House of Lords cannot now pass the bill. The Queen preaches pure radicalism. Church and state are treated by her with very little ceremony.
Mrs. Ricardo, Mary and Birtha desire to be most kindly remembered to you—they are the only parts of my family now at home. David is gone to Cambridge, and my sister Rachel who came to us a fortnight ago, to Bath—she will return in a few days.
Ever most truly Yrs.