Front Page Titles (by Subject) 508.: ricardo to mill1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
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508.: 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
Bologna 10th. Octr. 1822
My Dear Friend
My last letter to you was dispatched from Geneva, on the day that I was engaged to dine with our friend Dumont. I met a very agreeable party at his house, and he gave us the best dinner I had seen at Geneva. Monsr. Sismondi, Mr. Simond, The Duc de Broglie, Monsr. De la Rive, Monsr. Bellort, Monsr. Prevost, young Romilly, and one other gentleman, whose name I forget, partook of our friend’s hospitality. He appears to live very comfortably at his country seat, and to be very much respected by the circle in which he moves at Geneva. We quitted Geneva the morning following, and had a delightful journey to St. Maurice. We passed the rocks of Meillerie, which Rousseau has so beautifully described in his Nouvelle Heloise. Nothing can be more beautiful than the country as this place—we stopt the carriage, and we, young ones, devoted three fourths of an hour to the climbing of these rocks, from which we had a fine view of the lake, and of the various interesting spots which are on its borders, such as Chillon, Clarens, Villeneuve, Vevay, Lausanne &ca. &c. a ; the whole way to Martigny is through the most beautiful and interesting country. The next day we proceeded to Martigny, and the day following to the Convent at the summit of the Grand St. Bernard. This was a great undertaking with a lady of Mrs. Ricardo’s weight, and the elements seemed to conspire to make the undertaking more difficult. We, however were not to be daunted by these obstacles, and with much exertion succeeded in our object of paying a visit to the good monks of St. Bernard;—they received us very kindly, lodged us tolerably comfortably, fed us as well as “un jour maigre” would allow them, and gave us their blessing at departing next morning. After this expedition we prepared to cross the Simplon, and in two days after our return to Martigny we found ourselves at the South side of the Alps at Domo D’Ossola. The weather was uncommonly favorable for this journey, and we were all filled with admiration of the grand road which has been made over the almost inaccessible spots through which it has been carried. Enough is not said by travellers of this excellent road;—it is perfect as a road independently of its situation, but when we consider the difficulties which nature opposed to its formation too much cannot be said in praise of those who projected and accomplished the work. On the Piedmontese side the traveller passes thro’ some terrific and sublime valleys, overhung by rocks, which appear to threaten his destruction at every step, and just under him there rages a foaming torrent which hurries every thing before it. It is impossible to give any just description of the grandeur of this part of the road; it must be seen to be understood. No part of this long road exhibits any mark of neglect, on the contrary a great many persons are at work upon it to render it (if possible) more perfect than it is.
From Domo D’Ossola we proceeded to Baveno, on the Lago Magiore, which we crossed in our way to Como. From Como we went to Cadenobia, about the center of the lake, or rather of the 3 lakes, which join in this spot. We saw two or three palaces on the lake of Como among others that of the late Queen, which is falling into decay for want of an inhabitant. We stayed 3 or 4 days at Milan, and saw the chief objects worthy of notice in that town. The Cathedral alone is an object which would repay one for a long journey, but there are many other things well deserving of attention. Bonaparte has left traces of himself at Milan as well as in so many other places, but the grand gate at the end of the Simplon road is only half finished: he intended it as a memorial of his successes over the Austrians at Marengo and Ulm, and the history of those battles, in Alto relievo, in which he himself is of course the most prominent person, lies in the workshop and was quite ready to be put up. They say at Milan that the gate will be finished, but of course the stone which is to record the defeat of the Austrians will not be put up. We passed thro’ Verona, at which place the congress was about to meet. We slept there two nights, and employed ourselves actively, as travellers should do, in seeing the curiosities of the place. From Verona we went to Venice, a curious and interesting town, in which a horse is not to be seen, and if there he would not find a street in which he could put his foot. Canals, alleys, and bridges, are the only means of communication in Venice. I find it very difficult to account for the want of streets—they could not indeed be made now, without destroying one half of this populous town, but why were they not made originally as they are in Holland? what could induce the first inhabitants to be contented with the miserable courts and alleys which deprive them of the benefits of a free circulation of air. There are some beautiful spots in Venice, and it abounds in grand and magnificent churches and palaces. It would be impossible to give a just idea of the treasures it possesses in buildings and pictures—I never saw finer pictures in my life. They are chiefly by Titian, Paul Veronese, Tintoretto, Palma &ca.. How much of the public property must have been devoted to the purpose of embellishing the town in the days of the prosperity and glory of Venice! We visited the dungeons in the palace, to which state prisoners were formerly condemned, but which are no longer in use at the present time,—they are dreadful places, and many a deed of blood has been performed in them. We left Venice yesterday morning—slept last night at Ferrara, and arrived here in the middle of this day. In our travels in Italy we have found the people generally in employment, and with the means of subsistence in tolerable abundance. We have not met with any great number of beggars till we came to this town, and here they swarm. I walked this afternoon into one of the large churches with the girls, and to my great surprise was addressed by a fat well dressed priest, who I thought was about to give me some information respecting the church, when I found to my great surprise that he was telling me a piteous story which I could not understand, and was asking charity of me. I do not know whether I was right or wrong, but I did not give him a single sous.
I have not met any one who can give me any interesting information respecting these countries. I met Cowell and Norman at Milan, they will go on to Florence and Rome. Norman is very assiduous in procuring useful information, and he will have a great deal to tell us when he gets home. They have had some difficulty in getting the consent of the Government at Milan to Mr. Norman’s brother proceeding with them into Italy, on account of some informality in his passport. Mr. Cowell exerted all his powers of eloquence and persuasion, and at last succeeded in getting the informality rectified.
I have met in my travels two young Poles,1 who have been travelling for some time—they addressed me, and asked me whether I was the author of a work on Political Economy. I found they had been pupils of Say, were very fond of the science, and one of them had hopes of becoming a professor of it in the College at Warsaw they drank tea with me at Milan—they told me that they had been in England for a short time, and knew Mr. Lefevre—I hope they will be the means of disseminating correct opinions in their own country.—
Have you seen our friend Tooke lately? I hope he has been employed in writing during my absence: when you see him give my kind regards to him. I find it very difficult to get any very accurate information of the variation in the relative value of gold and silver in the places where I have been. M. Carli an intelligent Banker at Milan told me that the agio on Napoleons had been for a very long time 15 cents of a franc, but since the peace it had risen to 26, at this price of 26 he paid me the francs which I was entitled to demand of him, in Napoleons. Another banker to whom I applied would have furnished them at 28. Without knowing accurately the French mint proportions it is impossible to know what proportion this value of gold bears to the value of it in England.
I hope this letter will find you, and those with whom you are nearly connected, well and happy. I wish you could partake with me in the enjoyment of this delightful climate. The weather is heavenly fine; it is as warm as in July in England. We are revelling in the abundance of grapes which are very excellent, but we are too late for any other good fruit. I had some fine figs at Como, they were small but delicious. Since leaving Como I have not seen any. We have not met with any mulberries which I expected to see here in perfection. We propose being at Florence on sunday—we shall stay there several days and on quitting it I shall be gradually approaching towards home, which I shall be glad to reach. Mrs. Ricardo, Mary and Birtha desire to be most kindly remembered to you they also join me in best wishes to Mrs. Mill.
Ever truly Yrs
[1 ]Addressed: ‘James Mill Esqr. / East India House / London ’.—MS in Mill-Ricardo papers.
[1 ]Kunatt and Rulikowski, on whom see below, Vol. X, Journal of a Tour on the Continent, entry for 23 Sept. 1822.