510.: maria edgeworth to ricardo2[Reply to 502.—Answered by 511] - 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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maria edgeworth to ricardo
[Reply to 502.—Answered by 511]
Edgeworth’s Town July 9th. 1822
You have settled my mind my dear Sir about my little monies in the French stocks—and I shall leave mine in company with yours there—in safer and better they cannot be—Thank you for taking the trouble to write so fully on the subject. You must allow me to set this down to the account of your kindness for me and not to the influence of what you call the bit of flattery—Since you acknowledge that you are fond of it I should be afraid to offer you a bit,—even the nicest, for it is only those who “say they hate all flattery who are then most easily flattered.”
We are quietly settled at home again, and as happily engaged in our home occupations as if we had never seen the visions of London glories—The home-habits and thoughts are so immediately resumed and join so perfectly the past with the present,—the day we left home with the day we returned—that the intervening months would seem to me but a dream, like Mahomets dream, when his head was dipped into the tub—, were it not for certain evidences of reality, which have left impressions too strong and too grateful ever to be effaced. Every, even the slightest circumstance, of our happy visit to Gatcomb park has the stamp of reality upon it—our drives in the delightful phaeton with the two Harriets—the two dear Harriets !—and Mrs. Ricardo’s fur tippet!—I feel it still—and all her kindness to me and mine—Then our most pleasant of all parties in London,—our breakfast parties at your house and the conversations with you and Mr. Mill and M. de Broglie &c. All these we recollect with a sober certainty of having much that is really useful left in our minds as well as much that was agreeable and gratifying at the moment—
Now that I am three hundred miles from you I regret however that I did not make still better use of my time when I was with you—that I did not make more advantage of your kind readiness to explain and discuss and of that candid mild truly philosophic temper in discussion of which, tho’ I call it philosophic, there are so few living or dead examples even among philosophers.—(Do you call this flattery—No—you feel it to be truth—) Among the number of questions I should wish to hear you discuss is one of vital consequence to this country—the question for and against the potatoe which has for some hundred years past been alternately cried up as the blessing and cried down as the bane of Ireland. In Berkeley’s Querist (which by the by contains in the pressing style of interrogation as much deep thought in the subtle form of doubts as Socrates himself could have proposed had he lived in Ireland) there is this query
“Whether it is possible Ireland should be well improved while our beef is exported and our labourers live upon potatoes.”
In the article on Cottagers in the Encyclopedia Brita. the same question is ably discussed—But I do not feel that it is put at rest in my mind—At this moment when half Ireland is famishing apparently from the failure of one potatoe crop the arguments come home to the stomach I grant but when in another month new and good potatoes are in every creatures mouths, and the famishing bodies revive the case wd alter and we should recollect the many years of plenty and independence the thousands of hardy bodies and merry souls which have (in smoke perhaps—but no matter—if happy) blessed the potatoe.
As to the objection of the potatoe’s not being a store-able food M. L’Asteyrie shows how, by an easy process, it can be made into storeable flour—I enclose a sample which he gave us in 1803—
As to potatoes facilitating the cottager’s subdivision of property that is a weighty objection—
As to its encouraging the Irish peasantry in sloth—this does not appear to me a valid objection—It is only arguing from the abuse not the use—If he is at ease about this years food and has time to spare use the time but do not complain that it is not employed in another way of raising food.
As to all the Malthean objections to the potatoe, do not all these apply to machinery to manufactures to all that tends to save time and labor and encrease the wealth of a country—
In fact you in England who do not live upon potatoes and who have gone through all the prosperity and adversity of manufactures are you better off—are you happier—I don’t ask whether you are richer than we are in Ireland. Take an average of years—don’t fix your eye upon this dreadful time of famine.
I wish my dear Sir that after your return from your intended excursion to France you would come to poor little Ireland and see and judge of it for yourself.—How happy we should be to have you at Edgeworths town. What does Mrs. Ricardo say? What does my dear Mary say? and Bertha? I am sure they would be glad to see Fanny and Harriet again—Pray think of it seriously before autumn comes and then you would easily arrange how to put the plan in execution. Mrs. Edgeworth and my brother earnestly pray you to think of it—
I take the liberty of enclosing to you a copy of a letter of Mr. Strickland to the Committee for the relief of the Irish poor, which Mrs. Strickland wishes to forward to her friend, and Walter Scotts friend Mr. Morritt. I have written the direction upon it—and leave it open for you to read if you have time or inclination. I must trouble you to put it into a cover—I could not venture a cover lest it should be over-weight.
The poor in this county are not famishing—In this parish we have not had need of your generous English subscriptions.
In another frank by this post I enclose to you a letter for poor Mrs. Smith of Easton-Grey —May I still say of Easton- Grey?—I should be very much obliged to Mrs. Ricardo if she would write to tell me something of that poor lady whom we pity sincerely. I want to know whether she remains at Easton Grey—I hope so that she may be near your family whom she loves and who would be kind friends to her—I have requested her not to answer my letter—I know answering letters of condolence is dreadfully painful—But I am truly anxious to hear of her.
Give my love and Fanny’s and Harriets to your Harriet and Mary. Assure Mrs. Ricardo of our grateful remembrance of all her hospitable and affectionate kindness—and if she does not know it let me tell her that she stands as high in our esteem as in our affection.
I am dear Sir Your sincere friend
Mrs. Ricardo once asked me for some directions to trades-people in Paris—Did I send or shall I send them—Can I be of any use by letters of introduction to some of our friends in Paris—Command me and you will see whether I shall obey with alacrity.