398.: mill to ricardo2[Reply to 394.—Answered by 400] - 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 394.—Answered by 400]
East India House 13th. Novr. 1820
My Dear Sir
I have been hindered from answering your last letter, because I have been busy writing my article Jurisprudence, for the Encyclop. Suppt., and have been obstructed both in that and my other occupations by a touch of the gout in my right hand. I have not however had any thing of importance to say. There has been but one public event; and about that we could pretty well anticipate one another’s sentiments. You are happy, I doubt not, at the mode of its termination, because it saves you an early removal to town, and all the drudgery of the investigation. For my part, I am not sure whether I ought to be pleased or not. There is but one fundamental good to this country at this time; and that is, the showing what an aristocracy essentially is. The present inquiry has done much toward that greatest of ends; but a good deal still remains to be done. You must think, and better think, how the work is to be forwarded. I have attempted to lay the foundation, at least to explain and make known the principles, in the article Government. By the bye, I have just had a letter from Say, complimenting me upon it. He says it is “serré de raisonnemens, et gros de consequences”. He says also he shall often have occasion to quote me in a course of lectures which he is just about to commence. I know not what is to be the subject of a course of lectures in which he will often have occasion to make mention of me. Iamin hopes I have done still more to the subject of Law, in my article Jurisprudence, than to that of Government in the other. I am myself at least better pleased with it. In short I have been able to go much farther than I expected in making every thing clear, and establishing it on the ground of evidence; in shewing what is necessary to be done for accomplishing completely the ends in view, and in shewing that it may be done easily. I am a little anxious to know whether it will appear to others as completely clear, as it does to myself—If so, it is a great job done.
Have you seen Godwin against Malthus? To me it appears below contempt. He seems not to know the point in dispute; and like so many others, is incapable of distinguishing an argument from a petitio principii, or begging of the question; the established and approved mode of proving all orthodox opinions, in religion, and in politics.
I am not at all moved by any thing you say about the Direction. The only points that weigh with me as any thing to counterbalance the strong reasons for—are the time and toil necessary for canvass, and the length of time a director is employed in the subordinate details, and has little means of employing himself to the best advantage. But as I said before we shall talk about all these things when we meet. That, I am sorry to say, will not be now till after a considerable interval. The interval I hope will by you be vigorously employed in making yourself more and more fit for all manner of high exertions. You want nothing but to believe that you are what you are. Backwardness would not then hinder you from doing the very considerable things which you are capable of doing, and which the conjunctures of the time call upon you to do. It is not enough for a man, who is good for something, to let himself be merely carried along the stream. It is not what he owes to the family of his fellow creatures. It is not what he owes to his own happiness.
I have not been very well. My stomach has been very liable to disorder; and I have found it hardly possible to keep the digesting process in proper train. I hope I am a little better—and now having done with Jurisprudence, I intend to go on vigorously with political economy. I shall be glad, when you have finished your notes on Malthus and Say, and have formed any conclusion about the mode of producing them, if you will transmit them to me, and give me an opportunity of advising with you; because, the time about which you will most probably come to town, will be the time best for publication.
I hope Gatcomb, and all its outlying members, are well. I long to hear how Mr. David has made his commencement at Cambridge. I was much edified with the account of your walks, formed and about to be formed. For pedestrians, like me, you will add exceedingly to the attractions of the place. I am glad you have disposed of the coppice—but not so glad that you have given more than its worth for Plaine’s land. I wish all manner of good things to Mrs. Ricardo, and send my best affections to the dear girls, whom I heartily thank for remembering me. John is at Montpellier and now attending classes in the university, with other sorts of lessons which have not yet been all reported to me.
Most truly yours