mill to ricardo
[Reply to 537.—Answered by 548]
East India House 8th. August 1823
My dear Friend
It was set down in my minds calendar to write to you this very day, and forestall your letter. I remained at Dorking till wednesday morning, and deferred writing till I should get to town, and be more able to speak with precision about my Gatcomb movements.
I must first tell you, that I have been at work, and, I think, to good purpose, at Dorking. Last year I did something considerable towards the exposition of all the phenomena classed under the title of Thought. I have pursued the subject, during the last few weeks; and all the phenomena called intellectual, (still leaving the moral) have undergone investigation. You know my opinion was, that they might all be expounded upon the principles of Hartley, and might be satisfactorily shewn to be nothing but sensations, and the ideas, the copies of these sensations, combined in groups by association. I think I have now made this satisfactory exposition; that I have not left one point doubtful, or likely to be disputed but by those who lie under the dominion of previous associations, and are not capable of the degree of attention which is necessary to break their fetters. After explaining, in an elementary manner, the phenomena of sensation, and the representations of sensations, the ideas, and also the laws of association, and the artifice of naming, I proceed to apply these elements, and examine how far they go in accounting for all the complicated phenomena, included under the titles, Imagination, Memory, Belief, Judgement, Ratiocination, Abstraction, and so on. No body has seen the papers but John, whose mind however is perfectly ripe to judge of them: and to him the expositions appear to be easy of comprehension, and perfectly satisfactory. I doubt not that they will appear equally so to you. I confess that the evidence has turned out to be shorter, more simple, and conclusive, by far, than I had dared to anticipate. I should like to have your opinion of it; and if I can get it copied, so that you would be able to read it, I will send it to you. The whole is within a very narrow compass; and it will need to be a good deal dilated, and made familiar by illustrations, in writing it afresh for the public. In its present shape, the analysis is given in the naked state in which it presented itself to me, as I advanced step by step.—I mean to go on, next, to the exposition of the Will, and the different phenomena commonly classed under it, the desires, passions, &. c., called the “active Powers of the mind”, by the Scotch and other philosophers. This will be easy; and when this is done, the whole of what we call mind will be explained. I shall then look upon myself as having rendered no small service to the cause of light. I got so full of my subject, that I could not tear myself away from Dorking. There was, however, another reason. For as it is necessary that McCulloch and I should so arrange our matters, that one of us shall always be here; and as business came on which rendered it impossible for him to go away at the time which had been originally settled between him and me, that so I might have the half of my holidays now, and the other half to go to Gatcomb with, the latter half of September; I lost nothing by staying at Dorking: for now the time of my getting to Gatcomb will be necessarily postponed for some weeks beyond the time when I hoped I could be with you, and as my stay will also be shortened I shall make my run down to you by my single self. I shall have an ostensible week for you, which I shall make all but two; for I can come off by the night coach on a wednesday evening; and I can be with you all the evening of the next tuesday week. I regret that I shall not see your country in all its beauty; but I come to enjoy yourselves, my own dear friends; and I shall be happy in spite of all the rest. My wife prays me to say every thing to Mrs. Ricardo expressive of her sense of her kindness, in her wishes to see her and girls. With respect to her, however, she hardly proposes to wean her little one so soon; and would not be easy at leaving her in the hands of those she has at Dorking. We must look forward to a future time. I beg my own kind regards, and all my gratitude to Mrs. Ricardo. A propos of gratitude, tell her that the turtle came in admirable order, and was a high treat to some friends we had with us from London, who celebrated her health in a bumper. Tell the young ladies not to forget me, nor to let absence deprive me of one jot of their affections: for I cannot consent to lose an atom. Mine, they may be assured, will stand the trial of time.
I am happy to hear that you have been employed upon your proposed Tract: and have no doubt of your proving the merits of your plan. Poor Malthus, and his Measure of Value! I am more and more satisfied that your account of the matter, which both Mc.Culloch and myself have adopted, is the true exposition; and that it wants nothing but to be somewhat better expressed than any of us has yet done it, to satisfy every body, except Malthus and Torrens. Mc.Culloch gave me hopes that he would write an article Value in the Suppl. on purpose. He also told me that you were to reconsider the subject with your pen in your hand. Why should you despair of putting what you conceive clearly down upon paper clearly? Why despair of doing any thing? Where is that able pen you talk of? I shall try mine upon the subject one of these days. Some one of us three must do it—or it will not be done. Let us all try, and we can adopt the best.
I have been reading the correspondence of Voltaire and D’Alembert, the two last Volumes, in the large collection of Voltaires works. I think it would interest you much. It contains some of the most interesting points of the history of literature at that time in France; one of the most interesting of all the portions of that history—also much information on the state of the human mind, and the instruments by which it was worked upon both for good and for evil—in short I recommend it strongly to your perusal. You will be much entertained, and somewhat edified, by running over a good deal of the works of Voltaire. For elegance and wit, they are almost always delightful; and frequently admirable in tendency.—
Whatever you do, let the consideration of the grand cause be always uppermost. The real principles of good government have you alone, among public men, who thoroughly understand them. You alone therefore can be their real champion.
I must say a word about the poor fishes. I think the error was in not making the pond for the gold and silver darlings, higher up than all the rest. For the spawn of these cormorant fish is so very small that it will make its way through almost any thing through which water will go. The stronger fish, which will be sure to devour the spawn of the weaker, will prevent the favourites from multiplying, I should fear; though they may not consume the grown ones. They all devour the young of one another. What sport for Mr. Samuda! How happy!