Front Page Titles (by Subject) 507.: ricardo to mill1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
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507.: 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
Geneva 17th. Sepr. 1822
My Dear Sir
I arrived here on the 9th. inst. and had the pleasure of receiving your letter,2 which had been at the Post Office with several others from my friends in England for some days. I am glad that you were able to give me a good account of yourself and of the benefit which you had derived from the pure air which you had been some time before inhaling. I trust that on my arrival in London I shall find you strong and hearty, and no longer under the necessity of living the life of seclusion which you did last winter. The news of Lord Londonderry’s death3 reached me at an obscure place on the Lake of Zurich, and I soon after learned from the Newspapers all the particulars of his melancholy end. I, as little as you, could have expected such an act from a man of Lord Londonderry’s apparent coldness and indifference, and attribute it as you do to madness, but I cannot agree with you that he had not great fatigue to undergo; on the contrary I have often wondered how he and some other of the ministers could sustain the burden imposed upon them, it has often appeared to me to surpass what the human frame could endure. His place was not filled when the last accounts which we have received here by the public papers from England left that country—I think with you that it will be difficult to find another so expert as he was in cajoling the House of Commons. From what I have seen it does not appear improbable that Canning’s destination will after all be changed; a few days will however give us correct information on this subject.1
On my arrival at Geneva you will easily suppose that I was not long in seeking out the residence of our friend Dumont. I found that during the summer he lived in the country, at a short distance from the town, and at a place very appropriately named for our friends residence, “Les Philosophes”; a name not recently given, but one which it had long before Mr. Dumont went to live there. I took the first opportunity of calling at his house but I learned there that he was at Copet and not expected home before the evening—I left my name and address, and the morning following had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Dumont enter our room at the Inn immediately after breakfast. It is impossible to tell you how friendly he was to us, he enquired concerning our stay and our intended route and when we told him we were going to Chamouny, and intended to return to Geneva he expressed a wish to get rid of an engagement which he had that he might be enabled to accompany us. He also fixed on a day for me to dine with him when I was to be introduced to many of the distinguished men of Geneva. He took me with him in his carriage, for he has a comfortable little Char with one horse, to Geneva, and shewed me whatever was worth seeing there. His first object was to get excused from his engagement, which he easily effected, and the next morning we all set off together for Chamouny. This expedition took us four days, and as we were favored by the weather nothing was wanting to our enjoyment. Dumont was in every respect a great acquisition to us; he knew every step of the country and pointed our attention to the objects most worthy of notice. At Chamouny you know that you are at the foot of Mont Blanc and that several Glaciers which descend from that mountain are not only visible but actually reach the valley. One of these glaciers is called the Mer de Glace from its extent and its wave like appearance. To see the Mer de Glace in perfection you must ascend one of the ridges of Mont Blanc called Montanvert the summit of which is more than 5000 feet above the sea. This difficult task the girls and I determined to accomplish and Dumont did not for a moment hesitate about accompanying us. We set off at 6 oClock in a very fine morning on our mules and had to ascend for two hours and a half over a road so rough that I was astonished how the mules could make their way—they rather danced than walked up the hill; for the greatest part of the way their movements seemed a succession of leaps. The mule which carried Mr. Dumont was a strong one, but he is very heavy, and from the repeated stops which the mule made, it was evident he had a very hard task to perform. After two hours and a half of these ups and downs over fragments of rock we reached the summit, and were compensated for our trouble by a very fine view of the glacier and the surrounding rocks which require a very different pen from mine to be accurately described. To reach the summit of this mountain was the least of our difficulty, we had the descent to perform, and that without the aid of mules, over the road which I have described. Even mules are not trusted to go down this mountain with persons on their backs. Mr. Dumont I am sure felt the full difficulty of the task, but he bore all patiently and followed us without a murmur or complaint for 3 hours till we reached the bottom. We are none of us the worse for the fatigue we underwent and I believe Mr. Dumont felt greatly pleased at the result of this trial of his strength. You know that Mr. Dumont was always a chearful pleasant companion, full of anecdote and fond of conversation—he is not in the least altered but retains all his former vivacity and good spirits. I found him and many other persons at Geneva in a very despairing mood respecting public liberty—they are all loud in their complaints of the conduct of England as the great enemy of all liberal principles and as combining with the kings and emperors of the continent to enslave mankind. With respect to their opinions on Government I think them all a little too much inclined to aristocratical preponderance, at least such would be the effect of the measures they recommend. There may certainly be a great difference between England and this country and different forms may in consequence be necessary. In England we know that the Aristocracy have great influence over the people from the power which they possess of injuring them in some way or other,—it is denied that any such influence is possessed here though I find it difficult to believe. They expect too much from the lower and middling class of people, they should perform their [duty]1 at whatever price it may cost them, they say, and have no idea of taking securities that their duty and interest should as little as possible be opposed to each other. Their great fear is of the apathy of the people and of the little interest they feel in the choice of their representatives. They however unite in declaring that the Government here has improved and is improving. I collected most of the information which I have given you from the conversation which took place at the Duke of Broglie’s where I dined yesterday with Mr. Dumont.
He is living at Copet the residence of Madame de Stael. Mr. Sismondi was there and our conversation turned entirely on Politics and Political Economy. Mr. Sismondi you know has many of Mr. Malthus opinions on the latter science which he advanced with great boldness, but I think with very little skill. He found it impossible to answer the objections made to his system by the Duke and myself and contented himself frequently with saying that they were answerable—he was sure altho’ he could not at that moment reply to them.—I was quite charmed with Madame de Broglie. She appeared to me to conduct herself with such admirable propriety taking just so much part in the conversation as to give one the idea of its being interesting to her, at the same time that her remarks were pertinent and shewed she was tolerably familiar with such subject. Her gentlewomanly ease appeared to me admirable and I think her greatly entitled to my gratitude for making me feel so much at home in her company.—A few days ago I dined with Monsr. La Rive where I met a Doctor Bruttini and his son, and Mr. Simond the author of travels in England, and of a Tour in Switzerland. The latter book I have read and was pleased to observe that he was the advocate for the anti malthusian doctrines of Political Economy. Mr. Simond was born at Lyons, lost his father and brother during the horrors of the Revolution, went to America at an early age where he long resided. He married a relation of Jeffreys but lost his wife. He is now again married to a Genevese lady, has become a citizen of the Republic and is probably settled here for life. He is an agreeable and an intelligent man, and I had great pleasure in conversing with him. Lausanne and this place abound with English—I was surprised to find at this Inn on my return from Chamouny Mr. Norman and Mr. Cowell—I was very glad to meet for they are both very pleasing, clever, and excellent men—they drank tea with me that night and the next day proceeded on their journey to Italy. They had been here a week or two ago and were then hospitably entertained by Mr. Dumont. I am sorry that Mr. Norman’s health is but indifferent and that he has not very much improved it by his journey.
Before I received your letter I had determined to go into Italy. I shall not however proceed further than Florence. Give my kind regards to Ralph if you see him—he is a good fellow and is wise in knowing how to choose a judicious path to happiness. Remember me kindly to Mr. Tooke. I hope he is at work and that he will be prepared with the result of his labours when I see him in England. Mr. Dumont desires to be kindly mentioned to you—I gave him Mr. Bentham’s message—he did not appear to plead guilty to the charges made against him.—This is the day that I am to dine with Dumont. The Duke whom I like very much, Sismondi, Simond, Prevost, La Rive, and perhaps Humboldt, the traveller, who is here for a day, will be of the party. A Monsr. Rossi of whom Dumont speaks highly was to be there if he returned from a tour in time. I shall have much to tell you when we meet. To-morrow we quit Geneva. Mrs. Ricardo and the girls thank you for your remembrance of them and beg their kindest regards to you. With our united kind wishes to Mrs. Mill I remain
Very truly Yrs.
MARY sends her particular love to you.—1
[1 ]Addressed: ‘James Mill Esqr / East India House / London’.
[2 ]Mill’s letter is missing.
[3 ]He had killed himself on 12 August.
[1 ]Cp. above, p. 182, n. 2.
[1 ]Omitted in MS.
[1 ]This line in Mrs. Ricardo’s handwriting.