Front Page Titles (by Subject) 509.: ricardo to mill1 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
509.: 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ricardo to mill1
Turin 3 Novr. 1822
My Dear Friend
A long time has elapsed since I last wrote to you but you have often been present to my thoughts, and if I have not written it was because I did not think I had any thing interesting to communicate to you. You will remember that I have very little intercourse with any one out of the small circle of my own family, and therefore I could have little to say to you except I was to give you some account of the places through which I have passed, and the objects which are chiefly shewn to strangers in those places. To venture on this would be a foolish attempt, when I might refer you to so many publications in which you could obtain the most satisfactory information on such points. Till lately we have passed quietly from one town to another, generally finding good Inns and civil waiters, excellent roads, and all the facilities which are afforded to modern travellers, but after leaving Florence, or more properly, after leaving Pisa, in our way to Genoa, we met with almost every cross accident to which travellers can be exposed. The roads were rendered nearly impassable by the torrents of water which descended from the mountains, and the Inns were the most detestable hovels into which weary travellers could enter in search of a little wholesome food, and refreshing repose. A part of the way from Pisa to Genoa, till within this month, was by water, but a new road has been for sometime preparing, and it was thought to be in so forward a state as to justify the opening it for travellers. I had heard a great deal of this new road, and of the facilities which it afforded, and approached it with the most perfect confidence. As I got near to it I heard some whispers of its being a little difficult to pass for a mile or two, and when close upon it I discovered that for a mile or two, I was to substitute a post or two. For about 3 or 4 posts the road is the worst I ever travelled—we were obliged to cross and recross torrents, and to go over rocky ground which threatened destruction to the carriage at every step. We were obliged for several stages to have 6 horses, and for 2 out of the 3 or 4 abovementioned posts we were constantly attended by a dozen men, to steady the carriage, and prevent it from overturning. We walked a considerable distance, but were obliged to go inside the carriage over the torrents, and also over much of the rough road. Over one of the torrents we were all carried, it was not thought safe to cross it in any other way. After a day of great fatigue we expected to get at a tolerably comfortable Inn, but we were obliged to stay all night at a place such as I fancied only existed in the imagination of a novel writer. The new road has been commenced at both ends, and it is the centre of it only which is in the state of desolation I have described,—the part which is finished, and which goes over very steep hills, is excellent, and would not suffer by a comparison with the justly famous Simplon road. It is, I doubt not, the intention of the Government to complete the whole on the plan commenced, and if they are not impeded by the accumulation of water in the low ground, they will finally accomplish a very desirable work. The present bad state of the road is in some measure to be ascribed to a great fall of rain which has lately taken place, and which carried away 3 stone bridges in Genoa, and made the town inaccessible to a carriage, on the side we entered it. We arrived at the suburbs after dark, and had to walk 4 miles, often thro mud and water, to get to a comfortable Inn. At Genoa our misfortunes ended, we got into excellent quarters, and were very much pleased with the town and harbour. We stayed there three days, and then left it for Turin. Turin is also a very good town;—it would very much please you, as you may walk almost all over the town under lofty arcades, which protect you alike from sun and rain. The palace of the King is magnificent, particularly on the inside; almost every room is lined with glass, or with gilded pannels, and I never was in a more extensive habitation.—The Kings of Sardinia have also provided themselves with a most magnificent burying place on the top of a very high hill, a few miles from Turin—it is the grandest place of the kind that I have ever seen.—To-morrow I shall leave Turin, and the following day I expect to be in France, on my way to Paris. I have not been further than Florence, for which you will probably blame me, and ask, why, when only four days from Rome, I did not go on to that city. If I had, you would then have probably asked why I did not go on to Naples. My answer to your first question is that to go to Rome would have detained me 3 or 4 weeks longer, and have forced me to travel at a time of the year the most unpleasant. To confess the truth too my curiosity is satisfied, and all my wishes incline towards home;—I have been out long enough, longer than I calculated upon, and if I had gone to Rome I should still have seen churches, pictures, and antiquities, of which I have seen enough to satisfy me. For the distance we have been we have seen a great deal of Italy, for from Milan we went to Verona, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Leghorn, Pisa and Genoa. Most of these towns are very good, but Venice, Florence, Pisa and Genoa are much superior to the rest. At Leghorn there is a superb burying ground, called the English burying ground, in which there are a great number of very handsome monuments erected to Englishmen who have died abroad and who have been buried in this ground. I accidentally stumbled on poor Horner’s—it is a very handsome one, and there is a basso relievo very like him upon it. I wish he had lived; he was much superior to the general race of young politicians.
I have not seen a newspaper since I left Florence, so I know nothing of what is going on in England.—I hear that Corn is very cheap, and landlords in despair—I am surprised at the depression continuing so long. I suppose Cobbett is in high spirits;—does he continue his attacks on me? My brother tells me in a letter which I have just received from him, that Hume has been receiving great honours in his native country, I am glad to hear it, I thought his fame was rather sinking before I left England.
I hope Mr. Bentham is well—I saw a bust of Franklin in a Sculptor’s shop at Leghorn, it struck me as being very like Mr. Bentham, and as I am a great admirer both of Franklin and Bentham, I thought I could not do better than buy it. It must be a bargain because it answers the object of two busts.1 It led however to a piece of extravagance, for having Franklin, and seeing Washington staring me in the face, as if asking me if he also was not worthy of favor, I could do no less than acknowledge the justness of his claim, and accordingly bought him also—I hope to find them both in England on my arrival.
The last time I saw Mr. Cowell and Mr. Norman was at Milan, I saw them at the Opera there, the evening before I left the place. They gave us every reason to expect to see them again at Florence, but I neither met them there, nor heard any tidings of them. I began this letter at Turin, and have finished it at Susa, at the foot of Mont Cenis, which we propose crossing to-morrow. On friday I hope to be at Lyons, and on friday sen’night at Paris.
Pray remember me kindly to such of my friends as may ask after me, particularly to Mr. Tooke. Mrs. Ricardo and my girls join with [me]1 in kind wishes to Mrs. Mill and yourself—
Ever truly Yrs
Susa 4th. Novr.
Lyons 8. Novr. I have brought my letter with me to this town, where we arrived safe yesterday eveng.—
[1 ]Addressed: ‘James Mill Esqr. / East India House / London’.—MS in Mill-Ricardo papers.
[1 ]Cp. the version given by the biographer of Bentham: ‘His countenance so greatly resembled that of Benjamin Franklin that David Ricardo purchased the bust of the American, supposing it was intended for the English philosopher.’ (Autobiographical Recollections of Sir John Bowring, 1877, pp. 338–9.)
[1 ]Not in MS.