ricardo to mill
[Answered by 539]
Gatcomb Park 7th. Augt. 1823
My Dear Sir
As no letter has yet reached me from you, I suppose I must be the first to commence our correspondence. I charge you however to give me an early reply, as the interval for letter writing is short before you will appear in person at Gatcomb. You have been lately so feasting your eyes with beautiful country, that I do not expect ours will make much impression upon you,—yet you will see something to admire in our walks, which were projected during your last visit, and which are now in a very improved state. Our plantations too have made great progress, and to my eyes, which have not been contemplating the beauty of Dorking and Leatherhead, our woods, water and groves appear delightful. We have had the common lot of being deluged with rain yet we have not been without intervals of fine weather, and one advantage has attended the wet, our grass looks green and luxuriant, and our cattle contented and happy. I do not know whether you are aware of the great care Mrs. Ricardo has taken, to appropriate the middle pond, before our house, for her gold and silver fish. That they might be unmolested by intruders of the sealy tribe the pond was emptied before they were put into it, and a number of men were employed for about 6 weeks, 2 or  years ago, to clear it of all the mud which had collected in it.
These were not the only precautions taken, for the water, with which it was fed from the upper pond, not only passed through a grating, but a plate of iron was made with innumerable small holes thro’ which the water was also obliged to pass, that no stray fish might enjoy the luxury of associating with the gold and silver fry. Before Mrs. Ricardo introduced her favourites to their new abode, she observed in the glass globes, in which a few of them had a temporary residence, 3 fish which were of a lighter hue than the gold fish, but she had admitted 2 of them into the pond with the rest before she shewed either of them to us. After the two were in their comfortable quarters, she shewed us the third, when we unanimously decided it was a perch. There was however no remedy for the error that had been committed, and the two perch have been at free quarters ever since. A few days ago one of these perch shewed himself, as Mrs. Ricardo thought, to her view, and she persuaded herself that a little expert angling might enable her to get rid of these unwelcome intruders. In the upper pond Mr. Samuda had in vain tried all the resources of his art to catch fish, but not one would bite, yet he was the champion fixed upon to wage war with the two intruders. He commenced his work at a moderate early hour, and prepared himself with a good stock of patience to wait the result—but he had scarcely thrown in his hook before a perch was safely landed on the bank. Again he threw it in and after another minute appeared a second perch. It was hardly necessary to try any further but it was thought prudent to throw in the hook once more, a third perch was caught, and so he went on till he caught 50. He commenced hostilities again the next morning and caught 40 more, since which he has made other attacks, with success, though not with as great as before. Mrs. Ricardo is quite in despair and knows not what to do to protect the young gold and silver fish against these rapacious intruders.
There is a great difference of opinion among us as to the source from whence our misfortunes spring. Mrs. Ricardo, in this instance, seems to have embraced Mr. Malthus’s theory of population, and stoutly contends that all the perch which have been caught, and all which remain in the pond, are the progeny of the original pair. Others think that in spite of the precautions taken some spawn, or young fish, has found its way from the upper pond. We beg of you to bring with you a good theory on the subject, and above all to ascertain whether the perch is a deadly enemy to young gold fish.—
We have seen most of our neighbours since we have been here—they have most of them imposed upon themselves the irksome duty of paying us a morning visit, for the omission of which I would have given them my licence. They are kind hearted people and I must not repine at the trifling sacrifices required of me. We miss very much our poor friend Smith; with his company we were always pleased. Our girls and boys have all been with us;—on one occasion they were all here at the same time. Mrs. Clutterbuck now lives within 18 miles of Gatcomb, which will give us great facilities for seeing her often.
I must not omit to mention the schools to you—they are going on well—Both of them are always full, and many boys and girls are waiting for vacancies to be admitted. The boys and girls in the upper classes read, write, spell and cipher very well, and many are constantly leaving the school after having become tolerable proficients in these branches of learning. Considering the little attention which I can pay to the school from my occasional absence from it, the master had done very well. I cannot help flattering myself that I am performing a real service to this place by supporting these institutions.
I have devoted a few days to the writing of a short tract to prove the practicability of the Government becoming the sole issuers of paper money. I feel fully assured that Commissioners might be appointed on such a plan, to manage the whole concern, that ministers would have much less influence over them, to make them swerve from their duty, than what they have possessed, and have indeed exercised over the Bk. of Engd.
Malthus has written to me 2 long letters in defence of his measure of value. His arguments are not very cogent; indeed I am often puzzled to find any connection between the premises and conclusions of his propositions. It would be a real service to the science of Political Economy to shew what the real difficulties are in the way of finding any accurate measure of value. We can at last only come to an approximation of a correct measure of value, and that must be the best which is itself the least liable to variation. I believe we have hit upon the best, but something more should be said to prove it such. I wish I could perform that task, but a more able pen must undertake it.
Remember that we shall expect you early in September, and shall hope to see as many of your family as you can bring with you. Mrs. Ricardo has already expressed her wish of seeing Mrs. Mill, I hope it is unnecessary for me to say my wish coincides with hers, and that if she come we will endeavor to make her visit agreeable to her. Mrs. Ricardo and my girls desire their kind regards