441.: ricardo to mill1[Reply to 438.—Answered by 448] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823.
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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 438.—Answered by 448]
Gatcomb Park 9 July 1821
My Dear Sir
Your letter, in which you announce to us that you must give up your intended visit to Gatcomb, has disappointed us all, as we had made sure of seeing you either this or the following month. We cannot exactly see the cogency of the reasons which you give for absenting yourself. We do not think that the Article on the Liberty of the Press should not be written, but think so well of our Glostershire air, that we are of opinion it would not have suffered although you had worked upon it at Gatcomb instead of Marlow. We would have allowed you an ample measure of time for this important duty, and yet enough would have remained to permit our enjoying the country together. I do not know how you can reconcile it to your conscience, to induce me to make walks, and otherwise improve my grounds, and then desert me in the way you do. I beg that you will take all these matters into your serious consideration, and make me such amends as may be in your power, by presenting yourself at Gatcomb at the very earliest moment that your engagements will permit.
Bonaparte was I think too distant from France, and his confinement too certain, to have produced much influence on the councils of that country; his death therefore will add nothing to the chance of the progress of despotism, but may rather have a beneficial influence on the government, as his son may be considered in the light of a Pretender to the crown, of whom the disaffected may make more use than they could of his incarcerated father.
I see by Denman’s speech that he does not attach so little importance to the “August ceremony” as you do. He says I think a great deal too much of the importance of adhering to old customs. According to him Institutions are not to be preserved or given up as they may be really beneficial or otherwise, but we must enquire what have been their date, and how long they have had the sanction of custom and usage, and in proportion to their antiquity they are entitled to our respect and veneration. I think there is some respect due to old customs; as much as to induce one to preserve them until their inutility is most manifest, but that once established, I can see no reason for adhering to them merely because they were venerable in the eyes of our fathers.—
I have had a letter from M Culloch in which he appears to me to allow that the effect of the use of machinery may be to diminish the annual gross produce of the country—this I conceive is giving up the question, for with a diminished gross produce, there must be less ability to employ labour.—
Malthus is at Bath, and I had hopes of seeing him here, but the time for his absence from London is necessarily so limited, that he cannot afford the time necessary to pay me a visit. I have received a long letter from him in which he says I have misunderstood his book, as the principal object of his enquiry was as to the motives for producing, and to account why with such vast powers of production adequate motives were not afforded to produce. I think he has not understood himself, for what are all his attacks on Say and on me, surely not because we have said that in all cases there would be motives sufficient to push production to its utmost extent, but because we have said, that, when produced, commodities would always find a market, and some consumers would be found for them who had an equivalent to give for them.
The country here is looking very beautiful—our haymaking is now in full vigor, and no superabundance of agricultural labour in the market. The barley and oats I am told do not look well, but the wheat is promising. The manufacturers have full employment for their men; Osman told me yesterday that Mr. Hicks was employing his men extra hours, and of course giving them extra pay. If the labouring class, in Agriculture, and Manufactures, are doing well, we must console ourselves for the misfortunes of landlords and tenants—they form but a small proportion of the whole population, and it is no small comfort to reflect that the losses they sustain are more than made up by the prosperity of other capitalists.
Mr. and Mrs. Clutterbuck are staying with us. Mrs. Clutterbuck is in better health, and stronger, than I have known her for some time. Osman and his wife only got home on wednesday. On friday they came here, and we have insisted on detaining them here the whole of this week. They and all the rest of our circle desire to be kindly remembered to you.