Front Page Titles (by Subject) 506.: ricardo to mill1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
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506.: ricardo to mill1 - 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 mill1
Coblentz 4 Augt. 1822
My Dear Sir
I wrote a very long letter to you in the form of a daily journal of our proceedings and movements, but it was so inexpressibly dull and stupid, that although I did send it to you I resolved not to plague you with any more like it.2 As it may be agreeable to me to know hereafter the names of the places through which we pass, the time at which we did pass through them, and some of the trifling occurrences with which the remembrance of the places may be associated in my mind, I have not wholly discontinued noting, in the journal form, the events of each particular day, and as they may have some little interest with Osman and Harriet, I continue to send them a sheet as soon as it is completely scribbled over. To you however I will not be so troublesome but will from time to time let you hear from me that you may be able to trace our progress, and that you may be informed of some of the feelings which are excited in our little party at the view of so many novel objects. Our journey has hitherto proceeded without disappointment or accident, over roads with very few exceptions as good, and many of them much better than we have in England. We approached Cologne, from which place the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Rhine commences, through Holland, and after we had quitted the frontiers of that country at Nimeguen till we arrived at Cologne, the roads were execrably bad, but this is the only bad road over which we have hitherto travelled. In Holland the roads are admirably good, they are mostly paved with the small Dutch clinker, over which there is a thin layer of sand, so that the carriages run upon it with the same facility with which they would do on our favorite walk in Kensington gardens. This improvement was made in King Louis Bonaparte’s time, and it is not the only one for which the slow methodical Dutchman is indebted to the Revolution. I had not been in Holland for 30 years and I saw it again with pleasure—it is a very peculiar country: there is not a spot in it, which does not give you the idea of cleanliness and comfort. Their doors and window frames appear always newly painted, the glass is so clean; the stone posts, and iron chains suspended from them so much ornamented, the houses so universally good, that you cannot divest yourself of the idea of being amongst a wealthy and thriving people. The sight of their shipping in every place; their excellent rivers, and the immense internal trade which is carried on by means of their peculiarly constructed boats, never fails to give me pleasure. In short I find I have a great regard for the Dutch, and I think you as a political Economist would view them with an equal degree of favor. Although to my eyes the appearance of their houses, their harbours, their streets and their people conveyed no other impression than that of wealth and prosperity, I have heard from many individuals the most pathetic complaints of the decay of trade, and the approaching ruin of Holland. I have asked myself repeatedly whether the complainants, or I, were most likely to be mistaken, and I should have decided against myself did I not remember the instructive remark of Dr. Smith, that during a long period, which he mentions, the English were always complaining of ruined trade and delapidated resources, and yet during that time they had made the most rapid advances in wealth and prosperity.1 All countries I apprehend have this disposition, and they think themselves ruined if their progress is only checked, although it may be positively in an advancing state. In speaking however of the towns in Holland I must not forget those which lay in our way to them. I mean those in Flanders: Ghent, Brussells, Antwerp, and particularly the last, are very handsome towns. Through what a great number of fine towns you may pass in a few days: besides Lisle, and those I have mentioned, there is Rotterdam, The Hague, Leyden, Harlem, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Nimeguen. After seeing these it is enough to make one melancholy to enter the first Prussian town. Cleves, Gueldres, Neuss are very dull; Cologne is something better, and the one from which I am now writing the best of any which I have visited during this journey. The situation of Coblenz is beautiful. Since I was here last,1 a bridge on boats has been built over the Rhine to Ehrenbrestein; there was formerly a Pont Volant. The fortifications of Ehrenbrestein, a place incredibly strong by nature, were destroyed by the French, but are now nearly formed again since the peace. They are to be stronger than ever. The material part is already accomplished, and they are now proceeding very slowly with them. The whole expence will be 13 millions of Prussian Dollars, or nearly 2 millions sterling. We have been all over the works—they are well worth seeing, but principally, according to my view, for the beautiful prospect which the high ground commands. The Mosselle forms a junction with the Rhine at the entrance of this town, and I am sure I know enough of your taste to say that you would be greatly pleased with the lovely country by which we are here surrounded. We have also been this morning to see a curious garden formed on the side of a high hill by an old eccentric Priest, who has a number of curiosities in his house. He very courteously came out into his garden to meet us, but we could very imperfectly converse as he could not speak French, nor English, though he could in a slight degree understand those who spoke in the former language. His garden commands a very extensive view of the fortifications; of the surrounding country; and of the town of Coblentz. I have no doubt that the old gentleman is very happy in his agreeable domain. We arrived here yesterday, and in the evening witnessed some of the festivities on account of the King of Prussia’s birth day. A fire balloon was sent up from the square in which our Inn is placed, and it performed its part very well. It rose slowly, dwindled in appearance to a speck, and at last disappeared. We were pleased to see the good feeling which animated the adults towards the children. A cord was stretched around a circular place to give room to the operator to perform the office of filling the balloon, and the children were without exception allowed to occupy the front places, the men and women standing behind them. To-morrow we shall leave Coblentz for Mayence, next day we shall go to Frankfort, and after seeing Heidelberg, Carlsruhe, and Baden, shall, in a few days afterwards, proceed to Schaffhausen and Berne. If you write, which I hope you will, pray direct to me at Geneva. I am always afraid that our letters should follow rather than precede us. It is difficult while moving about so incessantly as we do, to fix accurately the time at which we shall arrive at each place.
I see very little of the people; when I say, I see little, I mean I converse with very few. I do not know enough of French to keep up a conversation in that language, but I do very well when I can find any one who can speak French, and understand English. I met one or two in Holland, amongst those who were known to me slightly, who could do so, and I had much pleasure in speaking to them. These gentlemen had very little knowledge of Government, although they had bestowed much attention on the subject. They spoke of the rights of kings, as if Government could be legitimately intended for any other purpose but the happiness of the people. I wish I had brought a few copies of your article on Government with me. I did however use the arguments with which it supplied me to refute their theories. They had much more sympathy with the King of Spain than with his long misgoverned subjects.
Mrs. Ricardo is very much pleased with the life of a traveller, under the favorable circumstances that she enjoys that title. She has always been an admirer of every thing foreign, and she is much pleased with the many novel things which she every day meets with. The girls are also pleased, and are very observant of the different costume of the women, as we proceed from place to place. We had an eccentric waiter at the Hague who afforded them a great deal of amusement. He took an early opportunity of telling us that he had travelled all over Europe, mentioning with great precision each place that he had visited. I did not blame him for this, it was a very pardonable piece of vanity; but nothing could be mentioned, while he was waiting on us, which had reference to any place, but we had some new history of his travels. One complained of the money of Holland, he wished we had seen the money of Poland, which was much worse. Our courier said something to displease him, and he came to make a formal complaint to me. He said he had travelled far more than the Courier, and would not therefore be talked to by him in the way in which he addressed him.—This man was a great oddity.—You will be glad that I have got to the end of my paper, but I must not conclude, without giving you the kind regards and wishes of my fellow travellers. We also desire to be kindly remembered to Mrs. Mill.
Ever truly Yours
[1 ]Addressed: ‘James Mill Esqr. / East India House / London’.
[2 ]That letter forms the first section of the Journal of a Tour on the Continent in Vol. X below.
[1 ]‘The annual produce of the land and labour of England, for example, is certainly much greater than it was, a little more than a
[1 ]In 1817.