400.: ricardo to mill3[Reply to 398 & 399] - 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 398 & 399]
Gatcomb Park 16 Novr. 1820
My Dear Sir
Your last note must be answered first, and I am sorry that it cannot be answered satisfactorily to Mr. Bentham, for to most of his questions I must answer “Non mi ricordo”. The only recollection I have on the subject of the annuity notes is something of the plan itself, but nothing of the papers, or of their form, which gave me the knowledge I have. I am sorry that I can be of so little service to him, but mine is the worst head for recollection in the world.
My objections to Mr. Bentham’s scheme was, I believe, that it did not appear to me the best mode of establishing a paper money. It is clear that the whole advantage that can be obtained by the use of paper money is from the substitution of a commodity of little or no value, as an instrument of trade, instead of a very valuable one. This advantage may be enjoyed by the State, or by one or more individuals. I think it should be enjoyed by the State, and that you cannot go too directly to the object. Mr. Bentham seemed to me to aim at this advantage by a circuitous and intricate course, and this I believe formed the principal ground of my objection.
The whigs I think have little chance of coming in. I wish they were tried once more. Good would I think result from it. Either they would do something for the people and then the result would be good, or they would follow the course of all other aristocratical administrations. In the latter case we should at least derive this good from the trial, that the eyes of the public would be opened, and they would know that the means for good government must be sought in another direction and could be only obtained by their own strenuous exertions. It would more thoroughly convince us of the justness of your conclusion, provided it be a just conclusion, that an aristocratical engine will never give us those improvements in our institutions which are so much required.
I am glad that there is at length a termination to the persecution of the Queen. The joy that is felt in this neighbourhood cannot be described. At Wotton, Tetbury, Stroud, and Hampton there has [been] an incessant ringing of bells—in some of those places they have roasted oxen whole, illuminated every house and cottage, and not a poor person is seen without a label, a cockade, or a sprig of laurel in his hat. If Parliament is not prorogued before tuesday I think I shall go to town. I have written to Hume to ask for information from him of the intentions of the leaders on both sides the house.
My notes on Malthus (such as they are) are finished. I cannot think of imposing on you the task of reading them, particularly as it would be necessary for you to read also the passages in Malthus on which I comment. I sometimes think of writing to M’Culloch and offering to send them to him. He is so warm in the subject that he might perhaps not dislike going over the points in dispute between Malthus and me. You do not give me any great wish to read Godwin. How strange it is that the real question respecting population should not be known to all who make the subject the object of their attention and consideration.
I am glad you have finished the article Jurisprudence for the Supplement to the Encyclopedia,—I long to see it, and augur well from what you say concerning it.—
With respect to myself I shall say nothing except this that I am not destined by my talents or knowledge to fill the place in society to which your partial judgment would raise me. The least I can do in return for your good opinion is to employ myself in endeavoring to get useful information,—this I will not neglect doing.
I am sorry that you have complaints to make of the state of your stomach, and digestive organs. I hope a perseverance in an abstemious regimen will soon set all to right.
You will now be going on with your Political Economy and will be able to ascertain whether you can explain all the principles of the science without defining value. I hope you may succeed in making the difficult points clear.
I am glad you have good accounts of John. I hope Mrs. Mill and your family are well, pray remember me kindly to them.—
Mrs. Ricardo has been very unwell—she is now recovering. A faulty digestion has been the cause of her suffering, but she is now relieved from the immediate inconvenience. She and my girls are obliged to you for your kind remembrances and beg me to assure you of their good wishes.
David is pleased with his residence at College, and assures me in his letters that he is studying with assiduity and diligence.
Ever truly Yours