548.: ricardo to mill1[Reply to 539] - 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 mill
[Reply to 539]
Gatcomb Park 30 Augt. 1823
My Dear Friend
Your last letter ought to have been noticed sooner, but I am always more pleased at receiving letters than in writing them, and in hearing what is passing in the minds and in the neighbourhoods of my friends, than in relating the less interesting matter that is passing in my own.
I am very much disappointed at the intelligence you give me that your visit here is to be a short one. Not only have you delayed it much beyond the time stipulated, but it is to be most unreasonably shortened. Mr. MCulloch and you have managed this matter very badly, and I cannot yet help hoping that you will, before you leave London, speak to your good natured chairman, and arrange with him for a longer absence from London than you now project. We should have been glad to have seen some of your children with you, and beg you now to bring any of them if you find it convenient. We regret that Mrs. Mill cannot on this occasion accompany you.
Since you have spent part of your holiday at Dorking, which ought to have been spent here, I am rejoiced to know that you have employed it profitably, and have actually got upon paper all that has been long floating in your mind on the difficult subject of Thought, Sensation, Association &ca.. I shall be greatly indebted to you if you make all these matters clear to me, for hitherto though I have occasionally paid a little attention to them, I have never been sure that I have accurately understood what the authors whose works I have read have wished to express. I believe the subject to be very difficult, but if any one can place it in a clear point of view, I am sure it is you. I long very much to see what you have done, and to profit by your labours.
It is singular that you and I should have selected the same book to read just at the same moment,—I was in the course of reading the correspondence between Voltaire and D’Alembert when I received your letter. Their letters have very much interested me, and nothing surprises me more than the fire and activity of Voltaire’s mind, when borne down by age and infirmities. On the whole I think D’Alembert the best reasoner, and the most consistent man. His reproof to Voltaire for complying with some absurd religious ceremony, which every body knew Voltaire contemned and laughed at, is very well done; though I think he himself is not free from the imputation of useless and unnecessary hypocrisy on these matters, witness his remark on Bayle in the Encyclopedie which Voltaire notices. Voltaire’s conduct in the affairs of Calas, Sirven, and De la Barre, was intrepid and manly, and entitles him to the gratitude and respect of all lovers of justice. The account of Voltaire’s last visit to Paris and of his death which followed soon after as given by Grimm, and which is to be seen in the Review of his work in the Edinburgh, is very interesting.
A great number of letters have passed between Malthus and me on the subject of “value”. I have also had a couple from MCulloch on the same subject, but hitherto we have not much advanced the question. We proposed our measure, not as a perfect one, for we acknowledged its imperfections, but as the nearest approximation to a perfect one, and I still think that no better can be proposed, but Malthus tells us that his is perfect in every respect. He has always said, and says now, that if all commodities were produced under the same circumstances as our measure, it would be a perfect one, and he acknowledges it is a good measure for commodities now produced under the same circumstances. If this be true these commodities ought to vary exactly in the same degree, whether we use his measure or ours. Do they do so? certainly not; either then he must say that there may be two perfect measures of value which nevertheless measure unequally, or he must give up one of them.
The grand cause, good government, is always present to my mind, but I hope it will have a better champion in the House of Commons. In every argument with my friends I do what I can to maintain the cause of truth, as far as I can see it, and frequently flatter myself that I am successful. I am quite sure that the good cause is advancing, though at a very moderate step, and all we can hope to do in our time is to help it a little forward.
My brother Moses has been with me some time, and will I hope not have quitted me when you come. He is in very good health and in excellent spirits. When in this state he is a most agreeable companion, for he is always ready to join in any pursuit. He is very deservedly a great favorite in this house.
Mrs. Ricardo and my girls are sensibly alive to all the kind expressions which you use in regard to them,—they confidently rely on retaining your favorable disposition, there is no chance of theirs towards you undergoing any change.
Mrs. Austin has been with us for a few days with her children, while her husband has been on a little jaunt of pleasure to Plymouth. We have all had great pleasure from this visit and it would have been without alloy if she had not had the misfortune of breaking a needle in her hand, one half of which went into it. She suffers a little pain, but cannot use her hand—I hope it will not be attended with any serious inconvenience to her.—
We have had two or three days, with scarcely any rain, which gives me hopes that we may be enabled to get the corn on the land safe into our barns—they say the harvest is a good one. I am very much surprised that the late weather had no greater effect on the markets.—
Ever truly Yours