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A SELECTION OF FAMILY AND PRIVATE LETTERS - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 10 Biographical Miscellany 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 10 Biographical Miscellany.
About Liberty Fund:
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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A SELECTION OF FAMILY AND PRIVATE LETTERS
Early Letters to J. H. Wilkinson
The five letters of Ricardo which open this series, the first of which was written when he was 23, are much the earliest of his that have survived. They give us a glimpse of his life at a period of which we know almost nothing. The recipient of the letters, Josiah Henry Wilkinson, was a younger brother of Ricardo’s wife, Priscilla: he had recently been married (his wife Sarah is often mentioned in the letters), and they had their first child in the same year as the Ricardos. His practice as a surgeon was not very remunerative, and the contrast between his impecunious circumstances and Ricardo’s growing prosperity forms the background of several of these letters.
A sixth letter to Wilkinson of a later period has been included because of the interest of the personal relations which it illuminates. The rest of the correspondence between Ricardo and Wilkinson is listed on pp. 117–19.
The MSS are in the possession of J. H. Wilkinson’s great-grandson, Canon Horace Ricardo Wilkinson.
ricardo to wilkinson1
Brighton Sepr. 10–95
We left home this morning at a ¼ before seven oClock, and after travelling as expeditiously as we could, only allowing ourselves time to take a luncheon of cold meat, we arrived here at three oClock where we dined.—The boy2 behaved admirably well and we had no difficulties to contend with.—Granville had not taken a house for us but had seen several and had partly agreed for one to which he immediately took us, which pleased us so much that we mean to take up our residence in it during our stay, we have a charming view of the sea and a better house than ours at Kennington, we have five bedrooms and two parlors for which we pay the extravagant price of 4 guineas pr. week, but when I determined to come here I made up my mind to spend a great deal of money and I am now convinced I shall not be disappointed. It would give us great pleasure if you and Sally and yr. child would pay us a visit our house is large enough to accomodate you comfortably.—I am sincere when I say I shou’d be really glad if you wou’d come.—We have already hired a cook at ½ a guinea pr. week but find we cannot do without another servant,—therefore, will be obliged to you to send to our house at Kennington for Thomas and put him in the way how to come down to us in the cheapest way,—which I think will be by the slap-bang, or on the top of a Brighton coach—you will excuse the trouble.—We are now going to supper it being past nine, we were up at five this morng. and are rather sleepy.—I hope you will write to us, and give us a good account of Sally and the little one. I was sorry to see her so indifferent yesterday.—
Direct to us:—at No. 4 Belle-vue—Brighton which direction I will be obliged to you to give to Thomas.—Priscilla’s kind love to you and Sally—Yrs. sincerely
ricardo to wilkinson1
[Brighton, 20 Sept. 1795] Sunday morng.
We were very much concerned to hear of Sally’s illness at Kennington and are sorry that that shou’d prevent her from venturing there again, as she might in all likelihood be more successful in a second attempt and quite re-establish her health,—however if she is determined not to go again, Priscilla particularly wishes that she wou’d have our Pamela home, who, I am sure, wou’d contribute all in her power to make the task of nursing &ca. less painful to Sally. Let me intreat you not to be unnecessarily ceremonious but send for her; I have some interest in wishing it as I should be sorry to see you excel me in the art of nursing, quieting and feeding children.—
Fanny in spite of all our wishes is not with us, the reason given, is yr. fr.’s2 very ill state of health with which F herself seems to be perfectly satisfied.—I confess I am not, and attribute it only to that detestable disposition of his, which makes him unwilling to give pleasure to any human creature unless he is a partaker of it.—
This place is fuller than ever,—The Prince3 is returned but we have not yet seen him.—There are above six families here with whom we are intimate and who are so sociable, that our time passes very agreeably. We were at the play last wednesy. when J Bannister and Mrs. Bland performd. for Sedgwick’s benefit, but the house which is exceedingly small, was so much crouded that the heat was intolerable, and we were obliged to leave it before the play was over without having enjoyed one moments comfort.—We see the Princess1 every day, she is very fond of children and in passing our house looked up and took particular notice of our boy, which Priscilla is so proud of that I fear she will become a violent aristocrat.
We have been sailing three times on the sea—the last time the wind blew very fresh and the dancing on the waves had so great an effect on Priscilla’s stomach that she vomitted almost the whole time we were out, she says she will content herself with the amusements on shore and will not again trust herself on an element which so ill agrees with her.—
The lump on Osman’s arm has broken and discharged a great deal of matter, but he is in very good health and spirits and I hope you will find him improved on his return.
Fish is in great plenty here, but they take care to keep it at a good price. Lobsters, soles, turbot, plaise &ca. are all sold by the pound.—We again repeat that if you wou’d come down to us tho’ for ever so short a time, you wou’d give us great pleasure, I think it might be of service to you, and do away all the ill effects of the Burgundy and claret you swallow’d so copiously.—Our Dear love to Sally.—
ricardo to wilkinson1
Fortune has persecuted you from your infancy,—you are a signal instance of its injustice; perhaps I am so too, for she has been as unjustly bountiful to me as she has been cruelly neglectful of you; there cannot be therefore much merit in parting with the trifles which you think far too highly of.—I do not mean to say much, I am sick of professions of friendship,—I only hope my feelings with respect to you and Sally may never alter. I love and respect you—
Monday Eveng. [17 Sept. 1798]
ricardo to wilkinson2
I, my dear Wilkinson, have been one of Fortune’s chief favorites, whilst you have met with nothing but disappointments at her hands;—but I reckon as one of the best priveleges she has bestowed on me, the power of repairing her wrongs. Therefore, it appearing to me, that a small sum of ready money will be of more service to your affairs than the little annual assistance which I have lately afforded you,—I beg you to accept the inclosed.—You will greatly add to the pleasure which I feel in giving it, if your acceptance is unaccompanied with any feelings but those of unfettered and unrestrained friendship. If our situations were reversed, I should have no reluctance in receiving a similar proof of your good wishes.
S.E. Novr. 29th 1802
ricardo to wilkinson1
I learnt, with much concern, the manner in which you were affected at my house on monday last.—You attach an importance to this proof of my good wishes, which I am sure on cooler reflection you must be satisfied it does not deserve.—The merit of a donor materially depends on his ability, and little would have attached to me, if with the ample means which I possess I had not endeavored to render you a real not a nominal service. After all, the sum what is it? in my view small indeed if it perform what I should hope it would.—I wish it to clear you from the incumbrances which have been so long weighing heavy on you, and rid your future prospect of the difficulties under which it laboured.—Nothing can be more discourageing than working, as you have done, for many years against the stream, and to remove incumbrances which were neither caused by dissipation or extravagance, but in the attainment of what was necessary to the practise of your profession.—You will be cheared, I hope, in your fatiguing avocation, by the reflection that what you obtain by it will be your own, and the probability of being able to make some little provision for your family. I am a little disappointed in your thinking so much of what I have done.—Remember, my good fellow, that it was but the other day we started together,—I mean that my prospects were no better if so good as yours,—we compared notes, and we made calculations of the probable amount of my expences. In our course what different success has attended us? and now forgetting the spot from whence we took our departure, you are overwhelmed because I dispense one atom of my success to my friend whom I esteem. If you do not wish to abash me, talk no more in the strain in which you have done, but let us meet and be as unrestrained and comfortable as ever. I embrace the opportunity which Sally has afforded me, by asking us for to-morrow, when I hope we shall get rid of all uncomfortable feelings.
Mile-end Wednesday eveng. [1 Dec. 1802]
ricardo to wilkinson1
Upper Brook Street 31 March 1815
In justice to Frank,2 William3 and myself it is necessary that you should be made acquainted with all that has passed between us, relative to William’s quitting me, as Priscilla’s letter to William might otherwise make an impression on your mind to the disadvantage of some or all of us. Much as I am sometimes surprised at Priscilla’s warmth and energy on trifling occasions, on the present occasion I have been more than usually puzzled to account for her thinking it necessary either to feel strongly or to interfere in a business which I tell her is wholly out of her department. Since I have had it in contemplation to leave business, or to carry it on in a very limited way, I have been thinking of some arrangement about William. He has had little to do for me for some months and if I carried my intention into execution he would have still less to occupy his time at the Stock Exchge. I intended to have told him that he should remain with me till he was of age, and then with a little assistance of Stock in trade he must endeavor as other young men do, to get his livelihood and push his own fortunes. Frank knew my intention, and observed a day or two ago, that William appeared to him to be so timid that he had great doubts whether he could do any thing in the way of business for himself yet,—but if I meant to part with him he might have all the advantages which I proposed and a sure resource of about £80 pr. Annm. besides. He said that he had a number of small commissions which brought in about £160 and William should have half if he liked to take all the trouble which they occasioned. He observed too that he could have no particular personal motive for this proposal as he could easily get a young man to give him the necessary assistance at that, or at a less salary, but he proposed it for William because he might keep it or relinquish it accordingly as he found himself equal to carrying on a little business for himself, and which he might do at the same time that he assisted him.
As a friend of William, considering this arrangement as something better than what I had myself in contemplation for him;—as it was something in addition to it, I readily agreed and accordingly spoke to William on the subject (not he to me) and recommended him if he liked the proposal made by Frank to accede to it. He said all that was necessary about leaving me unprovided, and rejected the idea of receiving a salary from me, even for a year, if he was not doing any thing for me, and wished to alter that part of the arrangement, but it was finally settled as Frank and I had agreed.
Now it appears to me that we have all three behaved very civilly to each other:—I am sure we all three thought so.—Priscilla, however, persuades herself that Frank has imposed upon me and made me consent to an arrangement which is not agreeable to me, and has worked herself up to write, unknown to me at the time, to William. She has told me the substance of her letter, and of her consent that you should see it. I write therefore to give you a true statement of the case, that you may not be induced from any other considerations than those of William’s interest to withhold your consent from the above arrangement.
I cannot see it in any other light but as one which may be of use and cannot be of detriment to him.
other correspondence with j.h. wilkinson
The following is a list of the other letters between Ricardo and J. H. Wilkinson which are preserved. Except where otherwise stated the MSS are in the possession of Canon H. R. Wilkinson.
Ricardo to Wilkinson. ‘Mile End 10 Jan. 1803’. Written in French as an exercise when after the Peace of Amiens the two of them, together with George Basevi, intended to go on a visit to Paris.
Wilkinson to Ricardo. Undated draft [paper watermarked 1803]. Probably 2 April 1806. Returning £500 in Exchequer Bills and Stock which had been given him by Ricardo.
Ricardo to Wilkinson. ‘Stock Exchge. 3 April 1806’. Acknowledging the preceding letter.
Mrs Ricardo to her brother J. H. Wilkinson. 12 Nov. 1809. Just returned from the funeral of her father; informing him of the disposal of her own share of the inheritance by settling £700 on J. H. Wilkinson’s children, as Ricardo had done with the £500 which Wilkinson had returned to him three years before. (Quoted above, p. 45.)
Wilkinson to Ricardo. ‘Abchurch Lane—Thursday night’ [21 June 1810; cp. n. 1 below]. Paper watermarked 1809. A long letter in a light vein to Ricardo who was at the seaside (probably at Brighton) with part of the family, expressing concern for the latter’s house at Mile End, after ‘the robbery committed at Dr Lindsey’s house’.1 He had ridden there at ten at night to reconnoitre: ‘I got into such a fidget of fear, that if your volunteers had been in existence, I might have call’d them out at that time of night, to have guarded their Captain’s mansion;2 —but, as that brave corps was annihilated,’ it was arranged for a man to sleep in; in order to dissipate ‘the dreadful dismality of the house’, he decided that a light should be kept burning; also, he took Ricardo’s boys, Osman and David, to sleep at his own home. He asks whether Ricardo has had an opportunity of introducing ‘Sr. Philip’ (no doubt Sir Philip Francis) to Priscilla: ‘he might be an agreeable companion,—not by his exhibition of vanity, but by anecdotes of the Prince of Wales &c.’ The rest of the letter is a facetious report on the patients of Moses Ricardo (who was with the seaside party) whom Wilkinson was looking after during his absence. (MS in R.P.)
Ricardo to Wilkinson. Upper Brook Street, 2 July 1819. Dealing with miscellaneous matters and inviting him and his wife to stay at Gatcomb. (Quoted above, p. 95 and VIII, 46–7, n.)
Wilkinson to Ricardo. Peckham, 2 Dec. 1821. Consulting Ricardo as to the career of his own son Norman. (MS. in R.P.)
Ricardo to Wilkinson. ‘Upper Brook Street, 9 March 1822’. A jocular letter acknowledging a pamphlet by Wilkinson on skin diseases.
Wilkinson to Ricardo. Peckham, 21 April 1822. Praising Ricardo’s pamphlet On Protection to Agriculture. (MS in R.P.)
Ricardo to Wilkinson. Florence, 16 Oct. 1822. A long letter covering similar ground to the description of Florence in the Journal of a Tour on the Continent. (Some passages are quoted below, pp. 317n. and 319–20.)
Wilkinson to Ricardo. Peckham, 16 Nov. 1822. Reply to the previous letter. (MS in R.P.)
‘Ricardo’s Letter to the Old Doctor’
This remarkable letter was written by Ricardo at the age of 31 to his father-in-law, who was then 75. Besides its interest for the light which it throws on Ricardo’s character, it gives a clearer and fuller picture of the family situation than was available hitherto (cp. above, p. 44–5). It was found by Canon Wilkinson among his family papers, and kindly communicated to the editor, while the present volume was in the press (May 1954). The manuscript is a copy, partly in Ricardo’s handwriting (fromp. 122, n. 1), and partly in another hand and spelling. It is endorsed ‘D. Ricardo’s letter to the Old Doctor,’ and one of the sheets is watermarked 1802.
Of the three children of Edward Wilkinson mentioned in the letter, Josiah is the Wilkinson to whom the preceding group of letters was addressed, Priscilla is Ricardo’s wife and Fanny who had left her father’s home was a few years later to marry Moses Ricardo.
ricardo to his father-in-law edward wilkinson
12 Sepr 1803
As a spectator of the scene now before me, and as a friend to all parties, allow me, without disguise, to offer my sentiments to you; and if in the course of so doing, you shoud observe anything bordering on severity, attribute it to a sincere desire on my part of producing harmony and peace to a divided family. Let me begin, by laying before you a history of the system which you have followd, and to which may be attributed the unfortunate result which you now experience.
From the earliest infancy of yr children you have exacted from them the most painful obedience; you have taught them to consider you as their master, rather than their friend, and affectionate father. You have never encouraged them to confide their cares to you as to a sympathizing friend. How could they consider you in that light, when your will was made the absolute rule for their conduct? You wishd to be considerd as the fountain of power: no enjoyments, no comforts, no pleasures were to be obtaind by the highest or lowest in yr family unless they emanated from you. Yr. system was that of an eastern monarch ruling over abject slaves. When you smiled, they were to smile:—when you felt sad, they were to shew grief; they were to participate in yr. resentments, and were to be humbly thankful for the favors you bestowd. This system was too fatally encouraged by that good woman your wife, who, instead of resisting these imperious claims, was the foremost in submission, and by her example, led your children, one and all, to acquiesce in your authority. But, as they were growing to manhood, it might easily have been foreseen that this extravagant power could not be much longer unquestiond. How did you at this period participate yr. fortune with them? Humble as you say it was, would not candour and confidence have taught them, that their claims upon it ought to be moderate? But no,—these were virtues not necessary to be practised towards those whom you had placed at so degrading a distance. You were satisfied with giving them the most scanty pittance, and that too in a manner most painful to their feelings, as it tended to convince them of their dependance on your bounty. How could you flatter yourself that this order of things would have long duration, or that you could, in this way, secure the affection of your children. They considerd you as their tyrant, the source from whence flowed every affliction, instead of the guardian, and anxious promoter of their happiness.
Josiah, at length, under the most discouraging circumstances broke from his chains, and after combatting obstacles which would have overwhelmed a mind with less energy, has, without the assistance of a parent, with all the disadvantages of an unfinishd education, happily placed himself in a situation respected and courted by all who know him. If he had become profligate and vicious, a dreadful responsibility would have laid with you.—Priscilla left you without a pang of regret; her only painful feeling was commiseration at leaving her sister under the rod of a man who knew so little how to appretiate the good qualities of those about him, doomed to live with a parent who contrivd to destroy all sympathy, and to banish all affection from the breasts of his children.—Fanny has borne her trials with exemplary patience, as the letters, which Priscilla still has, can testify: she has accused you of bringing upon her a premature old age. In your family dissentions she has been the principal sufferer. If a child offended you; if a servant committed the slightest fault, she had daily to witness the effects of an ungovernable temper. Amidst all these her sufferings, her friends were silent. For her sake, they were in some measure influenced by the prejudice which the world entertains against children, in any difference they may chance to have with their parents; but, without their interference the crisis at length arrivd, beyond which Fanny woud endure no more. She then resolved to leave you. It was at this period, that we all pressd forward to offer her a home, but that her motives might not be misinterpreted, she preferrd that of her brothers.—She is in search of peace only. Against you she harbours no resentment, neither do any of yr children;—they attribute the evils which they have sufferd, to causes which are antecedent to their birth. They request you still to live near them, still to come amongst them. They wish not ever to be possessed of any part of yr. property,—they would rather that you would buy an annuity on your life which woud produce you a handsome income. Live with them as a friend. Let them no longer look upon you with dread, or stand in awe of what you may think or say. Relinquish every idea of having Fanny home again, and be persuaded that one mark of pure affection1 which proceeds from a natural impulse is worth all that can be exacted from the most slavish submission. Too long, Sir, have you tried what authority on one side and humility on the other will produce; What has been the result? Without fortune or any flattering prospect of obtaining any, your children have shaken off your yoke as too heavy and oppressive. Such a uniformity of conduct can proceed only from a similarity of causes. The most partial of your friends cannot acquit you of blame. You have mistaken their silence for an approval of your conduct. Your system has not been attended with happiness to yourself, and to others it has been productive of misery. You still insist on every reliance being placed on your affection, at the same time that you refuse to place the least on that of Fanny. Think no more of unconditional subjection,—the very sound is repulsive to a liberal mind. No father should exact it,—No child arrived at years of discretion can be expected to submit to it. Try the opposite course, trust every thing to affection and exact nothing. Come among us as a friend and a father and confide in our willingness to sooth your cares and contribute to your happiness,—so shall the remainder of your days be passed in comfort and in peace, and at the end of them you will confess your regret at not having made this simple experiment at an earlier period of your life.—These, sir, are the impressions which have been made on my mind from what I have heard and seen since I have been in the family.—I have to request that you will excuse the frankness with which I have made you acquainted with them, having nothing more in view than by tracing the evil to its source to remedy it for ever. With sincere wishes for your happiness I am Sir
The Fraud of 5 May 1803
On 5 May 1803, when war with France was about to break out again after the short-lived Peace of Amiens, a daring fraud was committed upon the Stock Exchange by the posting of a notice at the Mansion House announcing that the negotiations with France had been ‘brought to an amicable conclusion’. The prices of the Funds rose by about 10 per cent before the news was denied by the Lord Mayor. A meeting of the Stock Exchange was held and all bargains were declared void.1 The three stockbrokers to whom the following letter is addressed were presumably a committee appointed to clear up the consequences of the fraud: a process with which Ricardo was obviously very much concerned.2 Of this nothing is known in detail. But the author of the hostile pamphlet which has been quoted above, p. 93–4, suggests that it was Ricardo (even though he does not mention him by name) who ‘harangued upon the adopting, if he did not move,’ the cancellation of bargains.1
A similar fraud on the Stock Exchange was again attempted in 1814, which is known as the Cochrane hoax. Ricardo’s activity on that occasion as a member of the Committee for the Protection of Property against Fraud has been described above, VI, 106–7.
letter to a stock exchange committee2
I had little expectation that any circumstance connected with the transactions of the 5th of May 1803 could have afforded me gratification, but your letter,3 which I received this day, expressing your approbation of my conduct subsequent to that day, in terms so particularly grateful, has given me the most cordial satisfaction.—I have always placed too much value on your good opinion, Gentlemen, not to receive this testimonial of it with pride.—It shall be a further stimulus to me to endeavour to deserve your esteem.
I beg again to return my thanks for your disinterested services in a cause in which I was so particularly interested, and which by your zeal is at last brought to a happy termination.
May prosperity and happiness ever attend you.
Believe me Gentlemen with the greatest regard
Your obliged friend and Servt
Mile-end July 22d 1806.
Podmore C. H.
The Loan of 1807
The Loan of £14,200,000 for England which, with a Loan for Ireland, was negotiated in March 1807 was the first in which Ricardo played a prominent part. He was one of four ‘contractors’ who acted on behalf of members of the Stock Exchange1 and made a successful bid for the Loan in the face of several competitors among whom were the Barings and the Goldsmids. It was the task of the contractors, having secured the Loan, to distribute it among the subscribers whom they represented, while retaining a share of it for themselves: an operation which in the past had been the subject of abuse and had given rise to much complaint. The fairness of the distribution on this occasion resulted in the exchange of letters which follows. The MSS are in R.P.
letter to ricardo2
We have particular satisfaction, in enclosing you, a Copy of Resolutions passed at a General Meeting of Subscribers to the Loan of 1807, held on the 20th May in the same year; the object of which has been to mark with distinguishing memorials the Integrity of your Conduct as Joint Contractor, on that occasion, as well as, to convey to you that Testimony of public Approbation which you and your Brother Contractors, have so eminently deserved, at the hands of your Subscribers, for the equitable arrangements and final distribution of the Loans, entrusted to your joint appropriation amongst them.
We present you at the same time with a Silver Vase made under our directions, as The Committee appointed to carry the enclosed Resolutions into Effect.
We present it to you in the Name of your Subscribers as a Token of their respect and of their unanimous Approval, in which Number we most cordially join our own; requesting you to accept the assurances of our friendly consideration, we have the honor to subscribe ourselves Sir
Your very obedt Servts
C. H. Hancock
Stock Exchange 11 March 1808
To David Ricardo Esqre.
COPY OF RESOLUTIONS OF THE SUBSCRIBERS TO THE LOAN OF 1807
At a General Meeting of The Subscribers to The Loan of 1807, held the 20 May 1807.
It was unanimously Resolved
1st That, The conduct of The Contractors, in the distribution of the English and Irish Loans had been such as to entitle them to the united acknowledgements and Approbation of their Subscribers.
2dly That, In conformity with the wishes of the general body of The Stock Exchange Subscribers, some appropriate and lasting Testimony of such approval should be presented to each of the Contractors.
3dly That, A Silver Vase, be accordingly presented to each of The Contractors, with an appropriate Inscription thereon; the cost of such Vase, to be regulated, by the Amount of Sums subscribed thereunto.
4thly That, A Committee be appointed, consisting of the following Gentlemen, to order the vases, and to present the same to The Contractors vizt Messrs John Hodges, John Street, John Spicer, Willm Shepherd and C. H. Hancock.
5thly That, The Subscription be considered open to every Subscriber to the Loan of 1807 and as perfectly voluntary.
6thly That, A Copy of these resolutions, with the Names of the Subscribers, be addressed to each of the Contractors, at the same time that The Vases, shall be presented to them, by The Committee aforesaid.
C. H. Hancock Chairman at the General Meeting.
Stock Exchange 11th March 1808.
[There is also enclosed with the letter a ‘List of Subscribers to the Four Vases voted to The Contractors’ which comprises 222 names.
The silver vase which was presented to Ricardo and which he bequeathed to his son Osman is now in the possession of Mr Frank Ricardo. It bears the following inscription:
Presented to David Ricardo Esq.—by the—Subscribers to the Loan of 1807 in Testimonyof their unanimous approval of his conduct as Joint Contractor on that occasion—Whereby—the just and equitable principle of mutual participation between Contractor and Subscriberhas been so manfully asserted, and so fully recognised, to the honor of Himself and his Brother Contractors; and to the satisfaction of the Subscribers at large]
Anxious as I have ever been to merit the good opinion of the gentlemen of the Stock Exchange, amongst whom I have passed so many years of my life, it would be difficult for me to convey to your minds the gratification which I feel at receiving the proofs, which you have this day presented to me, of their approbation of my conduct at a period of considerable anxiety to me, an anxiety caused by the importance of the concern which I had undertaken and by my desire to give satisfaction to those who had placed so flattering a confidence in me. That I had succeeded has been repeatedly manifested as well by the support which the loan experienced at their hands, as by the demonstrations of kindness which my colleagues and myself have received since and which have more than compensated the little merit that may have belonged to us. But the approbation of the subscribers as expressed at their general meeting and the elegant Vase with its accompanying inscription which you have this day in their name presented to me, are so disproportioned to that merit, that it is impossible for me not to feel that I owe them to their viewing my zeal in the common cause through the most partial medium. As they record their approbation they will ever be highly prized by me, and they will recall to my mind at the most distant time of my life a period of unalloyed gratification. Be pleased to accept yourselves and to assure the gentlemen who have so highly honored me of my heartfelt thanks, and my earnest wishes for their1 unceasing happiness and prosperity.
I have the honor to be Gentlemen Your obed Servt.
March 11. 1808 Mile end
Messs. John Street
C. H. Hancock
The interest of these two letters is as a document of Ricardo’s attitude to a younger brother who was in a fit of despondency while beset by the difficulties of the early years of his business career (difficulties of which no more is known than is told in his letter).
Jacob, or Jack, Ricardo was some seven or eight years younger than his brother David, and was for the whole of his life a stockbroker. He entered the new Stock Exchange on its foundation in 1802 as clerk to his father, and in 1806 was admitted as a full member in his own right, on David Ricardo’s recommendation. His later standing is shown by his election as a member of the Committee of the Stock Exchange in 1815 and as its Chairman in 1820.1 Unfortunately the letters do not indicate the year. The paper of Jacob’s letter, however, has a dated watermark which is torn but seems to be of 1807; and Ricardo’s handwriting resembles that of other letters of the period about 1810.
The MSS are in R.P.
jacob ricardo to his brother david2
I have wished for some time past to have a conversation with you but as I cannot summon resolution sufficient to speak to you I will endeavour to put in writing what I wish to say.—Oh David if you knew my sensations if you could read my heart every time I saw you, you would pity me, I feel so contemptible so abject in your presence that I can scarcely endure it with any degree of manly fortitude, many times have I been obliged to withdraw to conceal an agitation that I cannot controul as I fancy you treat me with determined and premeditated coolness and contempt, perhaps I deserve that you should behave so to me, but speak to me, pray speak to me, tell me so, but do not treat me with contempt, advise me, or command me, I swear by the Almighty I will endeavour to obey you in any thing.—You know that I always had a particular respect for your advice or opinion, but since last July that has amounted to veneration. Oh God when I think of the situation I might then have been in but for your noble and generous interference my gratitude is unbounded, you saved my credit, you saved my life, for I never could have survived a public exposure and my obligation to you can never cease while life remains. I did hope by my exertions and economy to repay you part of the money before now, but nothing that I undertake will prosper, if I gain a few pounds one week I lose them and more to it the next. I fondly cherished the idea that by economy and attention I might become again independant, but the prospect is so black that I almost dispair and God only knows how long I may be able to procure the bare necessaries of life—I cannot reproach myself with being at all extravagant or profuse in my manner of living, I have no society whatever from home but the family, I never ask any one to come and see me, I never have any one, but still I am far from being satisfied, every thing that I enjoy which can be deemed a luxury I reproach myself with every farthing that I have, every farthing that I get is yours, I only exist by your sufferance, what a miserable unhappy way of living.—You will pardon me I hope for not having paid you the interest of the money you advanced for the House I live in, What right have I to live in this House? (I have often asked myself the question) none, I have thought so for some months back and have endeavoured to dispose of it, the person of whom I bought it has flattered me that he would be able to find a purchaser in the spring, under that impression I did not give it you as I was in hopes to pay the [debt]1 before now, but as that is not the case I take the liberty of inclosing a draft for a year and half—You may depend I will continue to use every means to sell it and at least repay you that money, do not despise me my dear Brother and forgive me for writing you such a whining sort of a letter.—That God may make you always happy with your family is the sincere prayer of yr grateful and affectionate Brother,
Your letter my dear Jack has given me a great deal of pain. I am sorry to see in it so many proofs of an unhappy and despairing mind. You talk of the service which I had it in my power to render you in terms which both astonish and grieve me, and if I were not well acquainted with your heart I should conclude that you would find it as difficult to confer an obligation as you seem pained at receiving one.
This is a degree of pride amongst brothers which should be for ever banished, it is a foe to all affection and sympathy, and the only return which I claim from you is confidence and the absence of all restraint in our intercourse. You speak to me as if I were a creditor whose demands you were under some obligation to consider and against which you were under extreme anxiety to provide, but this is a species of ingratitude; I never wish to receive a guinea from you till fortune shall again have taken you by the hand, and till your success in business shall have become clear and unequivocal. Banish then from your mind all thoughts of your obligations, if such you persist in calling them, to me, and be assured that you cannot give me more satisfaction than by being happy yourself.
As for the house be under no care about it. I insist on your continuing to live in it till your circumstances become more favourable.—
You have greatly mistaken my behavior to you if you suppose that there has been any thing of contempt or coolness towards you;—as for the first feeling it is impossible that you should ever excite it. Whatever I may think of your errors I have never ceased thinking of you with respect and it would be as severe a punishment to me as to you if I ceased to do so. That you have not always chosen the path which was most likely to reward you with happiness, has to me often appeared too certain,—and that you have erred again and again in spite of experience and friendly advice has caused me some regret,—a regret which would not have kept me silent had it not been for the pressure of other afflictions which have lately so much overwhelmed you. On this subject however I do not now wish to speak because it would be worse than useless, as I could only reproach you, without offering any other advice than to follow the very course which the first step has imposed on you the obligation to pursue. I view these things precisely the same as if you owed me nothing. To sum up then my dear Jack I beg you to believe that I feel the greatest interest in your happiness and welfare; that though I may question the wisdom and sometimes the propriety of your conduct that it is impossible contempt should mix itself with such feelings. I beg you too to put the draft which you inclosed and which I now return to you in the fire and bury in oblivion every uneasy sensation respecting your debt to me
Two Sisters Decline a Present
The two young sisters of Ricardo, Esther and Sarah, who wrote this demure letter, were greatly attached to one another. And Ricardo in a letter to Mill of 30 August 1815 expresses his admiration for the devotion of Esther during a prolonged illness of Sarah.1 Sarah some time before 1815 was married to G. R. Porter, whereas the present undated letter, signed in her maiden name, must have been written at an earlier time, possibly several years before. The letter is entirely in Sarah’s handwriting, and to it Esther simply adds her signature. Esther was born in 1789 and Sarah in 1790; so that they were nearly twenty years younger than Ricardo. Abigail and Rachel who are mentioned in the letter were two other unmarried sisters.
The MS is in R.P.—Ricardo’s reply, if ever there was one, is not extant.
esther and sarah ricardo to their brother david2
We had hoped our former truly ungracious manner of accepting your kind presents would entirely have disgusted you and effectually prevented you from ever again bestowing your gifts on such unworthy objects—It is a most unpleasant task to be obliged to refuse those favors which arise from the most delicate attention but as we feel we cannot accept them with that kindness with which they are proffered we think it right to decline them. Then do not be offended but indeed we cannot accept the present (which through Rachel) you have offered us—We have a feeling which we call an independent spirit,—you perhaps insufferable pride, which renders the idea of pecuniary obligations most repugnant to us. Under which ever of these terms it may be classed we certainly possess it and even if it were possible you could convince our understandings it was the latter and most wrong the feeling itself would still remain unconquered—Any pleasure you might have conceived must be considerably if not totally abated when what you proffer as a mark of affection is received as an unnecessary superfluity for as such we candidly confess we must ever consider it. Indeed we have quite as much money as we are entitled to, or require for all reasonable wants and Believe us when we assure, if ever we should exceed our usual limits and be inconvenienced for a trifle we would rather apply to you than to anybody convinced you would remove our difficulties with more delicacy and promptitude. We at present feel for you as for our other brothers—if then you do not wish our sentiments to be changed towards you, you will not think us wrong in our present conduct—however we may abstractedly reason on the subject and assert that it ought to make no difference yet few will deny but it does; for while one party is constantly receiving obligations from the other, there certainly cannot subsist that perfect equality so necessary to the unrestrained affection we at present feel towards each other, such frequent and at length settled donations must in time fetter our warm regard for you it will be exchanged for newly awakened sentiments occasioned by our respective situations and perhaps insensibly dwindle into only cold gratitude—we had better then avert the possibility of such a thing. We covet your good opinion we ardently wish for a continuance of your love and esteem, bestow on us these and we are amply satisfied. We do not fear you will persevere in again pressing upon us any of your kind offers since you know our present opinion, but we fear to offend you and we would rather submit to act contrary to our inclinations than you should for one minute entertain any feeling of displeasure towards us you may perhaps condemn our ideas on this subject as wrong but let not that reprehension be mixed with anger and although you may call us foolish and proud do not think us unkind or ungrateful—do not suppose that our refusal is dictated by any want of sisterly feelings towards you for never did we feel more real affection for you than at this moment—we are most grateful for your kind offer but oh how much more really grateful shall we feel if after reading this, you do not feel hurt or angry with us.—We have troubled you with this long letter as we felt we could not speak to you on the subject.—
Believe us dear brother your truly grateful and affectionate Sisters
Abigail is from home and therefore ignorant of the transaction
A Visit to Cambridge
Ricardo’s eldest son Osman, who had been at school at the Charterhouse, came up to Cambridge at Michaelmas 1812 as a pensioner of Trinity College. Soon after, Ricardo travelled from London to see him, while the rest of the family were at Ramsgate; and he remained in Cambridge from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, writing this account of his visit to his wife Priscilla. Of the persons mentioned in the letter, Edward Swatman, who gave Ricardo so favourable a report on Osman’s studies, was a former chaplain of Trinity; John Hudson, who took Ricardo to dinner in Hall, was Tutor of the College and Latin Lecturer; and the Hon. R. S. L. Melville, a fellow-commoner of Trinity who was a few years older than Osman, had just arrived from Ramsgate and was bringing letters for Osman from his mother and his sister Henrietta.1
Osman remained at Cambridge until 1816, when he took his bachelor’s degree. He was followed at Trinity by his two brothers, David in 1820 and Mortimer in 1825.
ricardo to mrs ricardo2
Saturday morng. 9 oClock. [Cambridge, 24 Oct. 1812]
Our dear boy is just gone to a lecture, and I am anxious to make you a participator in the delightful feelings with which my meeting with him has been accompanied. I arrived here at ¼ before 4 yesterday afternoon, and as soon as I entered Cambridge looked out of the windows on both sides the coach with the hope of soon seeing our Osman. We stopped however at the Inn and he did not appear. I walked to the Rose, where I had requested him to take a bed for me,—he had done so, they said, but did not know where he lived, and advised me to apply to the porter at Trinity College. In my progress to the College, near to the Inn where I first stopped, I recognized his well known features, although disguised by his gown and trencher. He had been twice before at the Inn enquiring after the coach, and was, when I met him, just come from the hall, where he had been dining. His pleasure at meeting me was not inferior to my own, and after ordering a chop, at my habitation, I accompanied him to his lodging. Its exterior was not very prepossessing, but it is tolerably commodious, and he is quite satisfied with it. He appeared as comfortably settled as if he had been here for months, and in displaying his cups and saucers his plates, his tea board, toasting fork &ca. &ca. expected more compliments to his taste, than I generally am disposed to bestow. If he would have been satisfied with one effort, I would have willingly made it,—but at one time he asked me how I liked his plates,—half an hour after he observed that I had not admired this,—then I had not noticed that, so once for all I told him every thing was superb.
He attended me at my dinner, after which I returned with him to his lodging,—drank tea with him, and stayed with him till bed time, when he walked with me to the Inn and we parted for the night. This morng. at ¾ past seven he was in my bed room, and waited for me till I was ready to go to his lodgings, to breakfast, which I assure you was very comfortably served. He is waited upon by a very civil young woman and his provisions are furnished by the college. Immediately after breakfast he was obliged to attend a lecture but we shall not be long separate to day. The impression which his first appearance made on me, and which I had predetermined should be unbiassed by the affection which I have for him, was exceedingly pleasing. He may have grown something taller but certainly very little,—I think he is stouter, and this was particularly observable about his legs, which are too thick for beauty. They are particularly conspicuous when his gown is off, from the circumstance of his wearing “shorts”, and white stockings. His hair had been lately cut and his whole appearance was that of a gentleman.
He has been in excellent spirits and his attentions to me have been unceasing; but all the circumstances which I have detailed have not given me one quarter of the pleasure which I received from the perusal of Mr. Swatman’s letter to me which Osman delivered to me. For your gratification I must extract the following passage “I have to offer you my sincere congratulations on the prospect of the greatest happiness that can await a father in the prospect of seeing his son adorn the situation in which he is placed. I have found in Mr. O. R. every thing that is desirable in a pupil—capacity, docility, attention, and perseverance. I have accordingly taken him over much more ground than I should have ventured to do in common cases—deeply impressed as I am with the extreme danger of inaccuracy or confusedness in elementary knowledge. We have gone through the whole of his 1st. years lectures in Euclid Algebra and Arithmetic and we have gone through it carefully. Nor have we neglected his classical studies having read more than the lectures of one term. I will say no more of him than that both as a gentleman and a pupil he has occasioned to myself and family no other sensation than that of satisfaction.” I am sure you will read this eulogium with the same pleasure that I have done and will think that it forms the best part of my letter. Since I have begun writing Mr. Melville has sent the letters with which you entrusted him. His servant said he arrived here last night, and wished to know whether I was here, and where I was to be found. I sent him word that I should be here the greatest part of the day.—I am now going to call on Mr. Hudson and expect to meet Osman here on my return.
I have seen Mr. Hudson from whom I have had an invitation to dine in the Hall, which I have accepted. On my way home I met Mr. Melville w[ho had ca]lled1 in my absence,—when I told him that Mr. Hudson had ask[ed me to] dine in the Hall, he said he had anticipated him [and] he said [he would c]all on Osman again in half an hour. I h[inted] with Mr. [Huds]on that Osman should have a private tutor, he has promised [to] furnish him with one who will be really useful to him. I fear I shall not be able to dispatch this letter to day, unless that being a cross post the rule of not receiving letters on a saturday may not apply on this occasion. Osman is this moment returned and has some writing to do which will detain him for a little time. I have offered to read the packet of letters for him, but to this he will not consent. I am glad to see him desirous of attending first to his duties, that he may go to his pleasures with an unburthened mind. (¼ past 5) Mr. Melville called again as he promised, and we were very comfortable together. Osman was very much pleased with him. He accompanied us in our visits to the different colleges which engaged us till nearly 3 oClock the dinner hour at the Hall. After washing our hands at Mr. M’s lodgings I went to Mr. Hudson at whose house I found Mr. Maitland the youngest son of Lord Lauderdale who is just entered of Trinity. We dined at a particular table in the Hall. Mr. Melville at another. As for Osman amongst so many wearing the same livery he was totally invisible to me. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order imaginable and before we had finished our cheese all the pensioners had vanished. We adjourned to a room above stairs where these learned men enjoyed their wine much as other people. I have just left them. Osman is now going to Chapel. I have charged him with an invitation to Mr. Melville and a friend of his to whom he has introduced Osman, to dine with us to-morrow at the Rose. I am endeavouring to conquer every thing that is shy and reserved in my disposition, that I may contribute as much as I can to procure a few agreeable acquaintance for Osman. Several of his Charterhouse friends have called upon him, and there is more risk perhaps of his being too gay than too dull.
(Sunday morng.) I could not send my letter yesterday I will therefore give you the latest intelligence of our movements. We have been breakfasting with Mr. Melville, he had two friends to meet us one of whom was a very agreeable well informed man,—the other may be so too but does not so readily shew it. We are to go with Mr. Melville at 3 oClock to St. Mary’s Church where the members of the whole University meet on this day, all seated according to rank and dignity. He will afterwards dine with us at the Inn. I have already taken my place for to-morrow morng. and hope to be with you before the end of the week.
Give my dear love to the girls amongst whom I always class Priscilla and believe me unceasingly
Yrs. David Ricardo
Osman’s dear love
A Letter to a Wine Merchant
The following draft letter in Ricardo’s handwriting does not indicate the person for whom it was intended. While it has some interest in itself, this interest is enhanced by the probable identity of the addressee; the suggestion, however, that this was his uncle Abraham Delvalle, can be more conveniently discussed in a note at the end of the letter.
The draft is not dated; but a comparison with the MSS of the letters to Malthus shows that the paper it is written on is identical only with that of the letter to Malthus of 17 March 1815, and this fact in conjunction with the reference to the year 1815 in Delvalle’s letter below makes it highly probable that it is of that period. The MSS are in R.P.
[London, ca. March 1815]
Your letter to me contains a defence against accusations never brought against you. You have clearly and satisfactorily proved that in the sale of the claret to me you were neither neglectful as to the selection of the hoghshead, nor actuated by any selfish regard to your own interest; but by whom have you been suspected or accused of the opposite conduct? certainly not by Mrs. Ricardo. She perhaps might be prejudiced,—she might partake of the ignorance of many others, if you please, on these matters, and might fancy that better claret might be obtained from French houses but she never suspected that in furnishing me with wine you were not dealing fairly by me,—and if such a mean suspicion could have entered her mind you would not have received such a letter as she sent you. That letter was written in the most friendly spirit with a view to ascertain whether the exchange March 1815 of the claret for other wine would be attended with any loss to you.
She little expected such a reply as she has received which to speak the least harshly of it is neither very conciliatory, nor very polite.
A man of integrity should be quickly alive to any attack upon his honesty, but the consciousness of the purity of his views should secure him against that extreme touchiness which on the slightest grounds makes him suspect that1 thoughts are harboured to his disadvantage. Such extreme instability is a torment to the possessor of it and a mortal foe to peace and harmony. It is ever prone to strike the first blow2 on a vague supposition that hostility is intended and must be promptly guarded against. For your omission in not sooner answering Mrs. Ricardo’s letter, or for any other trifling inadvertence of that sort I could have made your peace immediately3 but the tone of your letter has made an impression to your disadvantage on her mind which it would not be in my power to remove.
I am Yrs. very truly
That this letter of Ricardo was addressed to his uncle Abraham Delvalle, who was a wine merchant at 11, York-street, Covent Garden,4 is suggested both by its tone, unusual in a letter to a tradesman, and by the following letter of Delvalle himself which refers to an interruption of Ricardo’s orders for wine since ‘the early part of the year 1815’.
delvalle to ricardo1
I avail myself of the opportunity of sending your way to inquire after your health and family, and to remind you of the great length of time since you promised to favor me with a call here, and how much obliged I shall be by your recollection of me.—I have a variety of wines of most kinds—and have imported some very superior Champage, Burgundy, Claret, Sauterne &c. and lately a few cases of Seltzen water.—I am aware how you are circumstanced—but when I call to your mind that since I had the pleasure of sending you a pipe of wine in the early part of the year 1815 I have not been favored by an order of any sort from you—hope you will at your first convenience bear me in mind.—
With best wishes I remain, dear Sir Yours faithfully &c
York Street 6th Nov. 1820
This letter achieved its object, and Delvalle supplied wine to Ricardo in 1822 and 1823 as is shown by an invoice and a receipt which are in R.P.
The Cumberland Affair
The Cumberland family has a place in history owing to the unique collection of their private papers, which now rest in the British Museum. These consist largely of the correspondence of George Cumberland with his two sons, George and Sydney, and with his brother Richard, Vicar of Driffield in Gloucestershire. The correspondence concerning them given below, however, belongs to the Ricardo Papers. The circumstances from which this correspondence arose are as follows. Mrs Ricardo had dismissed a young maidservant, Catherine Harrison, who early in January 1816 started on the return journey from Gatcomb Park to her home in Burford. But on the stage-coach by which she was travelling she met a young gentleman, Sydney Cumberland, and proceeded with him to London. On arrival he took her to the house of a Mrs Whiting, which seems to have been a place of illrepute. When some weeks later Ricardo first heard of the matter, he asked one of his brothers in London to make enquiries; and at the same time, on 21 January, wrote to Sydney Cumberland (this letter has not been preserved; the reply to it, however, opens the series of letters below). After hearing from his brother, Ricardo wrote again on the 25th to Sydney Cumberland, this time evidently in strong terms, and also wrote to his own neighbour, the Vicar of Driffield. These letters of Ricardo (neither of which is extant) evoked the angry retort of Sydney Cumberland (letter 2 below) and a mild reply from the Vicar’s brother, George Cumberland, who was also the father of Sydney (letter 3 below), and whom Ricardo may have known as a fellow-member of the Geological Society.1 The rest of the story is contained in letters which have survived and which are given in full below. All the MSS are in R.P. (Ricardo’s letters being in draft.)2
sydney cumberland to ricardo3
Army Pay office 22d Jany 1816
I have had the honor to receive your Letter of 21st. Inst. this morning, and according to your request I have lost no time in making myself acquainted with every circumstance I could respecting the young woman you mention.
I learnt from her while on the Journey that she had been engaged to a Milliner of the name of Card, in Pall Mall, and on our arrival I pointed out to her the way—to-day I made inquiry and find she had not been ever heard of there, but I found on further inquiry she was residing at No. 56. Whitcomb St. in the situation of House maid and your brother calling on me I have given him her direction.
I am Sir Your obt. Servt.
sydney cumberland to ricardo1
The Language you have presumed to make use of in your Letter to me of 25th. Inst. is of that ungentlemanly and impertinant nature, that I cannot find words sufficiently strong to express the contempt it has taught me to hold you in. I could, did I not consider your character unworthy of it, enter into an explanation of the circumstances of this affair which would I conceive shew it in such a light as to prove your brother to be a man capable of the Grossest falsehoods, and that what I did for the Girl, so far from reflecting dishonor on me, ought to be considered by those who have any friendship for her, as an act of Generosity.
I despair of any kind of satisfaction from your brother, who yesterday proved himself both to me and my friends, a person as void of manly courage, as he is of common principles of honor.
27th. Jany 1816.
george cumberland to ricardo1
Culver Street. 28 Jany. 1816.
I have this instant received a Lettr. from my sister in Law enclosing yours of the 25th. Inst to my Brother—containing a narrative that has inflicted on me the greatest pain, as it charges a young man hitherto of irreproachable character with a very base and cruel act.—I wish you had written to me instead of his uncle, who cannot at present be told of anything unpleasant—as you might have been sure of my strictly searching into the affair, and punishing my Son for his conduct—I have no apology to make for him as I cannot doubt the truth of your narrative and shall instantly set about a close enquiry—but It appears to me to be very extraordinary that a Girl of good character intending to go only to Letchlade should in so short a Journey as Six Miles be persuaded to go to London with a perfect stranger leaving her parents when so near her home—and that with a view to prostitution—for I know when my Son (who is not yet 20 years of age) left Can-Court my Brother’s farm 4 Miles beyond Cirencester he was riding outside, as James the servant told me when he returned to Driffielde and, as I think, he told me the coach was then empty. This girl then must have been at that time outside—and Can-Court is Just 8 Miles from Letchlade—you will see therefore that this Girl must have been of a very debauched character on so short an acquaintance as little more than one hour to go on to London with so very young a man—and no doubt he must have taken her for such a character—but this is no excuse for him for forming such a connection, and still less for abandoning her instead of trying to send her back to her relations when cool reflection must have told him how bad a part he had acted.—I suppose she had shared his last shilling, and he dreaded to disclose to his Brother or me his situation.
I shall write instantly to him very severely on the subject—and desire his Brother to procure all the circumstances and state them to me fairly—so that Justice may be done on all sides—in the mean time I must request you not to write to his uncle on the subject, or to state any thing to Mr Haultain his superior in his office as it can do no good any way.
I am Sir Your very obedt hume Servt
You do not state the young womans age.
ricardo to george cumberland 1
Widcomb House Bath 30 Jany 1816
I received your letter dated from Culver Street, which I conclude is Culver Street Bristol, this day, it having been sent after me from Gatcomb Park. Had I known of your near connection with Mr. Sidney Cumberland, or of your brother’s illness I should certainly not have addressed my last letter to him—my complaint would naturally have been made to you. The age of the young woman, after which you enquire, is not known to me, I should guess it to be about 20. She lived with us but a few months—she came to our place from Burford where I believe she was born, and in the neighbourhood of which she had been in service. Mrs. Ricardo had a good character with her, which she never forfeited while with us, and her father when he came over to Gatcomb, spoke of her behaviour as being so correct as to diminish his apprehensions from her mysterious absence. The conduct which she has lately pursued convinces me that we must have formed too favorable an estimate of her character, or notwithstanding her known credulity she would not have been prevailed upon to do as she has done by a perfect stranger.
With respect to her being so easily persuaded to go to London I have to observe that Mrs. Ricardo gave her warning because her abilities were not equal to the situation she filled, and to suit Mrs. Ricardo’s convenience, and to which she did not object, she was paid her months wages and sent away about a week after receiving warning. Her father was not aware of this and did not therefore expect her home. She felt some reluctance against returning to Burford as the loss of her place might have been considered, being so sudden, as the evidence of some fault. She often expressed a strong desire to get a place in London and said she would go there if she had one friend or acquaintance. This information I have had from my servants. She left our house however with the declared intention of going to Burford and had engaged to go with the coach no further than to Lechlade. I also understand that both she and your son rode outside the coach till they arrived at Lechlade, when she expressed her determination to go on to London and then they got inside.
The worst feature in the conduct of your son appears to be his not sending her back to her relations, or providing her with a more reputable residence after they arrived together in London. What justification can he offer for answering my letter of enquiry, when I had obtained his direction, by telling me that the girl was living as housemaid in Whitcomb Street, which he found out he said by making further enquiries after ascertaining that she was not at Mrs. Card’s in Pall Mall where she told him in the coach she was going. Under strong feelings of indignation for such conduct I wrote to your son, and used language which under other circumstances might be improper. On receiving my letter he addressed himself to my brother, a most respectable man, and presumed to call him out for writing information to me which had called forth the expressions at which he took offence. He added that I should be called upon to retract and apologize for those expressions or I too should be called upon to give him the satisfaction of a gentleman.1 My brother with a forbearance very ill deserved wrote to him and told him that if he had any complaint to make of me it was to me he must apply—that he was not a party concerned and was no way accountable to him for what passed in a private correspondence with his brother. He nevertheless communicated to him the information he had received in consequence of enquiries instituted at my request. Your son instead of applying to the respectable ladies who had given him that information,—instead of attempting to disprove to my brother, who had given him no offence the testimony which was so injurious to his fame, then wrote to me, not sending me indeed the challenge with which I had been threatened but to tell me that he could not find words sufficiently strong to express the contempt he held me in—and if he did not consider my character unworthy of it he could enter into explanations which would prove my brother to be a man capable of the grossest falsehoods, and that what he did for the girl so far from reflecting dishonor on him ought to be considered by those who have any2 friendship for her as an act of generosity, and he concludes by calling my brother: a person as void of manly courage as he is of common principles of honor.—Instead of attempting to depreciate the characters of those who are invulnerable to his or any other persons assaults he woud have been better employd in defending his own.—Why did he withhold this explanation which he says he cd. give of his conduct? If he thought my brr. calumniated him and that I had used the strong language I did in consequence of believing his information, he might be sure that I would offer any reparation for the injustice I had been guilty of toward him if it had been proved such.—On the other hand if I without any grounds had insulted him that could be no reason why he should not justify his fame to my brother who in that case could have given him no offence.—Happily Sir, my character is too well established to need the favorable testimony of Mr. Sydney Cumberland; and he may possibly find that that character is sufficiently respectable to procure me an introduction to those whose reproofs may have some influence on his future prospects.—
From the tenour of yr. letter I am pleased to observe that he will have no encouragement from you for his very incorrect conduct, as the judgement you have pass’d upon it supposing the facts to be true perfectly coincides with the opinion I have formd—
I leave Bath for Gatcomb tomorrow and on Monday next I quit the country for some months which I shall pass in London.—My direction in Town, if you should have occasion to write to me is No. 56. Upper Brook St. Grosvenor Square—
Yr. Obedt. Servant
george cumberland to ricardo1
I thank god I can now answer your Letter of the 30th Jany last from Widcombe house, so as not only to clear my injured Son from blame but to convince you and all his Relations also that he has acted in the most humane and honourable manner in the whole affair.—I say convince you:—for it is by the precipitate manner in which you have taken up this worthless girl’s cause [that it has]1 now become necessary that you also, who brought such heavy charges against him to his nearest and dearest relations, on no other grounds as it now appears than the suggestions of a heated imagination or the reports of a stage Coachman and your menial servants,—that you likewise should be convinced that the whole was totally groundless.
With no small trouble I have made rigid enquiry, and can now therefore state all the facts as correctly as If I had been present.
This bad Girl rode outside to Lechlade between my son and the Guard, during which ride she suffer’d freedoms from the Guard not very usual even in such a situation.—She then got inside and my son was persuaded she had taken her place to Town from Cirencester by her manner of talking, at any rate she was not persuaded by his advice (—as you will see presently by her own confession)—a gentleman rode with them the next stage, and a female part of the next—afterwards they were alone, and he paid for her Supper, as well as that of the Coachman.
His idea then was, that she was a girl of the Town going from Cheltenham at that time, but on going on she represented herself as never having been in London before, but that she was going, by engagement, to a Millener in Pall Mall pretending further not to recollect the name; and on his naming a well known house in that Street, Mrs Cards, she said—That was the name—This, and her manner, made him then suspect that she was imposing on him.—On approaching Town she, of her own accord, proposed that he should take her to some house where she might repose till the afternoon and recover her fatigue of travelling; requesting him, as a favour, to call in the afternoon and shew her the way to Mrs Cards—which he did still suspecting her of falshood; and notwithstanding he saw her go in he sent the next day to know if she really was there, and then found they knew of no such person nor had ever engaged such an one—Previous to his taking leave, she requested him to give her a second meeting at the same house where she first stopped—but now being convinced she was training him—he called at the house, and desired them to say he had discovered her character and would keep no appointment with her—but by way of satisfying himself if she really came, he called next day and there found the following Letter, left for him, which I copy verbatim from the original laying before me—and which fortunately has been preserved, perhaps providentially—
After the trouble you have taken, and the kind interest you have evinced towards me, I think it my Duty to lay before you my real situation, at the same time humbly begging your pardon for the deception I practiced in informing you of my coming to London to live with Mrs Card, whose name I am ashamed to confess I never heard of till you mentioned it to me in the coach—I am indeed an unfortunate Girl—friendless Girl—without Parents or friends, who brought me up in a respectable manner, and as I learned the Dress Making business and could not get sufficient employment for the maintenance of myself and my two little Brothers at home, I thought if I came to London I could get a situation, but that to my great disappointment I find quite impossible.—I was ashamed to own my distressed situation to you being an intire stranger, and if I have deceived you in that instance I have not in any other, and am grieved to think you should harbour such a bad opinion of me.—if after this acknowledgemt you will condescend to see me, I will repeat to you, who I esteem as my friend, my real distressed friendless and unhappy situation without disguise being unfortunately your most wretched
To this cunning, lying epistle, the young man gave not the least credit of course, until he got your first Lettr from Gatcome Park when he was first informed what she really was—on the receit of it he instantly went with a friend to her Lodgings, and read in her presence that Letter making her promise to return to her parents the next morng. and that she might not deceive them took the Lettr (of which I here give a correct copy) and put it into the Post himself at the same time generously offering her any Money she might want—which she refused saying, “she had quite sufficient to pay her fare down”, (another falsehood it seems if as you say she wrote for money)
Dear Father and Mother,
I am sorry you should have taken the trouble of sending after me to Gatcombe—I could not give satisfaction and therefore I was determined to go to London and seek for a situation which I now find quite impossible; and therefore shall return tomorrow by the Coach without hesitation, and I hope to receive a kind reception from you who I reverence—this is the reason I could not come as I engaged, and am now in a respectable house as a house maid and shall if I continue your ever undutiful daughter Catherine
To Mr Harrison Hair Dresser
On returning to his office he found your Brother and gave him readily the girls address, telling him he had just left her and there no doubt your brother ascertained that she had come with my son—left it to go to Pall Mall in his company, and that she returned the same day and told the people she had been disappointed in not getting the situation she expected as Mrs. Card had engaged another person because shewas a day after her time and begged to have a Bed there till she could return to the Country—some female who was present, as she says, offer’d her a Lodging at her house which she accepted and thus she came to Widcome Street: This woman is a Dress Maker and she says the girl promised day after day to return but did not seem to intend to keep her word.
Thus just when my son was congratulating himself with having contributed to restoring her to her parents and home—your second Lettr came in which (I doubt not from warmth of virtue and misinformation) you treated him in a manner that your relative situations could by no means warrant, owing to the mistaken view your brother had taken of the case and written to you—taking it as he did from outward appearance—for I think my Son was generous in not giving him such evidences of her deceit as would have ruined the Girl in his opinion, and perhaps caused him to abandon her to her own crooked ways—from this unfortunate misunderstanding arose his just resentment in which I find by your Lettr. he used language also rather intemperate in his reply—and for which I should councel him to apologise if I did not know his just way of thinking when cool and that his own sense of propriety will urge him so to do—
What followed you all know and when you reflect that this youth was free from blame under all this ill usage, and very properly felt himself yours or any mans equal in point to a right to respectful and honourable treatment, you will, if you have a Son, rather applaud than blame him.
If my fortune is small and my Brothers large we are equally gentlemen, and this very young man has only a great fortune I trust in the principles of honour and probity which I believe I have planted deeply in his heart—all who know him love him as well as I do—and I know he has so firm a friend in my oldest friend the Paymaster of the forces, that if he had committed a fault of youth that would not have served to ruin all his prospects in Life, which, from his correct attention to all his Duties, I trust are very good.—A threat therefore of this sort twice repeated might well irritate a person who knew (tho you did not,) his innocence of all the charges you made—add to this that he must have felt that you had callumniated him (not intentionally) with my sister, his uncle, and his Parents, creating a scene of real distress through the whole family—which is only now removing by these lights—and doubtless some part will be long removing from the breath of those, who love it, or are strangers to him and whom it will reach in Ecchos.—
In one instance, I know no amends can be made. You alone, therefore, who have, through misrepresentations of others, and too hasty a belief, mixed with a little too much contempt of his rank in Life, (for he has, in his office, followed all the campaigns of Wellington, which is no small honour for one so young) you who have caused all this trouble I doubt not will, with the feelings of a gentleman, have the courage to heal all these open wounds by an observation that you have been imposed on, and that due apology we all owe to each other when, with the best intentions, we have been wrong—and I engage myself that we shall all meet you with cordial goodwill, an esteem for your virtuous motives, and then this indignant youth will be the better all his Life for the Lesson this bad girl has given him not to make stage coach acquaintances.
I am Sir Yours very truly
Culver Street. Bristol 2 Feby 1816.
When I receive your reply I shall write to my Son immediately.
ricardo to george cumberland
Gatcomb Park 4 Feb. 1816
As a father and the father of a son older than Mr. Sidney Cumberland, I can readily enter into your feelings when you first saw my letter to your brother, containing a very serious charge against the moral character of your son; and sincerely do I hope that if ever I should be placed in circumstances any way similar I may be enabled to act with the same temper and propriety which you have manifested.
After reading the details which you have given, and the copies of the letters which accompanied them, I should be of opinion that your son was rather entitled to praise than to blame, in the transactions which took place concerning C. Harrison, if he had not taken her to Mrs. Whiting’s house, for though she might propose “that he should take her to some house where she might repose till the afternoon and recover the fatigue of travelling” unless he knew her to be, (which he does not say he did), an abandoned girl, he should not have taken her to Mrs. W’s house. I can now however have no hesitation in saying that my second letter to your son would not have been written by me if the facts which I now know had then been before me. The expressions which have given offence were used under the influence of resentment for the supposed wrongs your son had committed against a young woman whom I considered as being in some measure under my protection. To you Sir I most willingly declare my regret for having used those expressions,1 and I should have been ready and desirous of now saying the same to your son, if he had not by his intemperate conduct forfeited all claim to any apology from me, The letter he wrote to me was as insulting as could well be written by a young man of 20 to a man more than double his age. On the scrupulous veracity of my brother I would stake every thing dear to me,—he is incapable of any thing mean and paltry, yet your son has accused him of being capable of the grossest falsehoods, and of being void of the common principles of honour without offering the shadow of a proof to justify his accusation.1 By such2 behaviour his cause has been no wise mended. If on the contrary he had been candid and open, and had not suffered what I cannot but call false delicacy towards the young woman to induce him to conceal her conduct in this business I should not have been misled as I have been.3 If you had been firmly persuaded as I was of the girls innocence and virtue; if after receiving the following letter of explanation you had heard that the writer had conveyed her to such a house as Mrs. Whiting’s; If you had known that Mrs. Card and every other person in London were unknown to this girl; and if you further found that she wanted money to enable her to get home and to pay for a portion of her board and lodging,4 would not your conclusions have been very similar to those which I formed? and would not your indignation have broken out in language as severe as mine?
Extract from Mr. S. Cumberland’s letter: [“] I learnt from her while on the journey that she had been engaged to a milliner of the name of Card in Pall Mall and on our arrival I pointed out to her the way,—to-day I made enquiry and find she had not been ever heard of there but I found on further enquiry she was residing at No. 56 Whitcomb Street in the situation of housemaid.”
I cannot help remarking that in this letter Mr S. Cumberland states his enquiries at Mrs. Cards to have been made on the day the letter was written namely the 22d. Jany. but it appears by the accounts which he has subsequently given you that they were really made on the 3d or 4th.
The copy of the letter from Harrison to your son has indeed surprised me. I am not less surprised at the manner than the matter of that letter, it being so far superior to what I thought could be dictated by such a mind as hers has been represented to me to be. That letter has convinced me of the falsehood and duplicity of her character and with the rest of her behaviour affords a satisfactory1 solution for the opinion which your son formed of her virtue and innocence. Knowing however what I do I cannot help being of opinion that notwithstanding her levity duplicity and falsehood, too severe a judgement has been passed upon her.2 If she were an abandoned girl would her mother have felt so acutely anxious about her,—would her father have taken the trouble he did in going such a distance from home to make enquiries after her,—and would she have lived in so large a family as mine for months without exciting suspicions to her disadvantage?
It is but justice to say too that I find she has two little brothers, but whether she ever contributed to their support I cannot learn. She appears to be a compound of inconsistencies for at the very time that she stated to your son that she did not want money, she told my brother that she had written to her father to send her some, and he actually gave her £2 to pay the expences of her journey, and asked me in his letter whether he should pay the balance of £1. 15 which Mrs. Fiske claimed for board and lodging, which to avoid all disputes with such a woman I requested he would do if she applied to him for that purpose.
I have further to observe that you do me injustice in supposing that in any part of this unpleasant business I have considered your son’s rank in life in any way inferior to my own. Towards you Sir I hope I have in no instance departed from that respect to which I think you so much entitled and which would be in no degree increased if your fortune were as large as I hope it soon may be.
I very much regret that a combination of circumstances should have led me to entertain an opinion which has been productive of so much uneasiness to yourself, your brother, and your sister in law, and I hope that the explanation which I have now given will have the effect of removing every uncomfortable feeling from your minds
I am Sir Your obedt. Servant
I leave Gatcomb Park to-morrow for London.
G. Cumberland Esqr
A Servant and Two Masters
Philip Sheppard was the former owner of Gatcomb Park from whom Ricardo had acquired it in 1814. It appears that some time before these letters, Sheppard had warned Ricardo against employing Thomas Darby who formerly had been Sheppard’s own servant and whom he now denounced as ‘a Scoundrel’. There ensued the ill-tempered letter from Sheppard and Ricardo’s equable reply which are given below.1
There is a Darby mentioned in one of the letters from the Continent (below, p. 265) as having been dismissed by Ricardo in 1822 for misbehaviour; but it is doubtful whether this man, who was a gamekeeper, is the same Darby.
sheppard to ricardo1
37: Ludgate Hill. Decr:21st: 1816.
To my great Surprise, and astonishment, I was yesterday informed by a friend that Thos.. Darby is still in your Service, of course, you could not give credit to one Word of the just Character, I conceived myself bound as a Gentleman, to give you the moment I heard he was in your employ.—
I must therefore request the moment you come to Town, you will appoint some place to meet me, that this unpleasant Business may be properly investigated, as I cannot (for all my misfortunes) for a moment suffer myself to be suspected of having told you a falshood.—I remain,
Sir Yr Obedient Servant
ricardo to sheppard
Gatcomb Park Minchinhampton 25 Decr 1816
On my return home yesterday after a short absence I found your letter of the 21 inst. and was very much surprised at its contents.
On my taking Thos.2 Darby into my service you volunteered some information to me respecting his character for which I returned you my thanks, and have never to you nor to any other person expressed the least suspicion of your having told me anything but what you believed to be true. It seems however that you have heard that I have not dismissed Thos. Darby from my service and from thence you conclude that I suspect you of having told me a falsehood and therefore you request “that the moment I come to town I will appoint some place to meet you that this unpleasant business may be properly investigated.” This is claiming too much, no less than that I shall dismiss from my service those whom you do not think proper I shall retain: Suppose Darby to be all you represent him, a villain and a thief yet if I chuse to retain a villain and a thief in my service I owe no account, nor will give any explanation of my reasons for doing so to any man.
It is my anxious wish that you should receive from me, whether in adversity or in prosperity such treatment as one gentleman is entitled to from another, but I can never allow that because you deem a man an infamous character that therefore I am precluded from employing him.
In the autumn of 1818 Fanny, Ricardo’s third daughter, resolved upon marrying Edward Austin, much against the will of her parents. But the state of her health and the anxiety caused her by this business were such as to induce them to yield. Ricardo had no objection to the family: in fact, his daughter Priscilla with his consent had previously married Austin’s brother Anthony. His grounds for opposing this marriage (which he gives in detail in letters to Mill)1 were not only that Edward Austin was 16 years older than Fanny and in bad health in consequence of a dissipated life, but also because of the undesirable character of the companions with whom he constantly associated. Although Ricardo admitted that nothing could be said against Austin’s moral character, he did not think that one who was intimate with such people and whose chief enjoyment consisted in hunting could be ‘the protector and companion’ that he would wish for his child.1 When Trower hearing of the approaching marriage wrote to congratulate, Ricardo replied that it was ‘not a subject of congratulation’ to him.2
The two letters exchanged between Ricardo and Edward Austin senior, the father, are concerned with the financial arrangements of the marriage, and with Ricardo’s intention of treating Fanny less favourably than the other daughters. It is not certain whether Ricardo persisted in this intention after her marriage; but in his will, dated 4 April 1820, he left to her the same bequest as to his other married daughters. Fanny, however, died, a year after her marriage, on 17 April 1820 before her twentieth birthday.
The MSS are in R.P.
edward austin sen. to ricardo 3
Clapton Middlesex 30 Novr 1818
When first I had the pleasure of meeting you I omitted to mention property I had in the French funds which I believe I inform’d you at a subsequent conference. I have liquidated nearly one third of that property and have had upwards of eleven Thousand Pounds the remainder I make no doubt will produce more than twice that sum, you mentioned that on ye marriage of Mr Clutterbuck you gave two Thousand Pounds and Mr C—Father gave the same sum if its agreable to you to do the same now, I will give to Edward the like sum I shall at ye same time give to Anthony the like sum say £2000 and to My Son John also, last Xmas I presented to each of My Sons £1000 and I gave to Edward and Anthony in addition a Pipe of Port and a Pipe of Madeira. Merchts who have good and extensive connections and large Manufacturers and we combine both, can better provide for a Family than almost any other situation, if I had an Estate of five or six thousand per annum with no other recourse I could not provide for My Family so well as I can and shall do I hope Sir you will excuse my troubling you with these particulars which I should not do on any other occasion than such as the present
I am Sir Yours sincerely
NB At your leasure please to favor me with your answer
ricardo to edward austin sen. 1
Gatcomb Park, Minchinhampton 5 Decr. 1818
In answer to your letter of the 30th. Novr. I beg to inform you that on your declining to agree to the proposal which I made to you, respecting a gift of £2000, from each of us, to your son Anthony and my daughter Sylla on the occasion of their marriage, I allowed my daughter 5 pct interest on £2000 from the day of her marriage till last year, when I gave her £1000, and am now allowing her interest on the remaining £1000.
It is my intention to give her the second £1000 whenever I shall think it most useful.
As to my daughter Fanny it is not my intention to place her upon the same footing with her sisters. She has displeased me and I shall therefore limit her portion to the ten thousand Pounds which will be settled on her. Of course I have not a word to say respecting any arrangements you may think proper to adopt with regard to your sons.
I hope Sir you will excuse my not having sooner answered your letter
I am Sir Very faithfully Yrs.
Ricardo to Miss Mary Ann
The young lady who had asked Ricardo for an autograph for her collection, and to whom this letter was written in response, has not been identified. The MS formed Lot 1907 at Sotheby’s sale of 15 October 1945 and was bought by Maggs Bros.
Upper Brook Street 20 April 1822
My Dear Miss Mary Ann
I hasten to comply with the request of a young lady for whom I have a great regard, although in so doing I run some risk of losing a portion of the good opinion which she now has of me. You require a letter from me, and a letter you shall have; but what shall it contain? that is the difficult point. About what is a man of fifty, for that was the age I attained last thursday,1 to write to a young lady under twenty? When I was young I shone little in such a correspondence, now how much less? On thursday last, on this birth day of mine, my saucy children with half a dozen cousins of theirs who were dining with us, headed by Mrs. Ricardo, suddenly started up with wine in their glasses to drink my health, and Mortimer2 insisted on their accompanying him in three cheers on the occasion, with which they complied. I thanked them for the compliment they had paid me, but that did not content them, they were clamorous for a speech. I assured them that I could not make speeches unless they were about rent, or profit, or currency, or some such dry subject:—a speech of this description they declined hearing, and thus I got rid of their importunities. If I were to write to you on any of the above subjects I should be taking a mean advantage of you.—I have you in my power—you cannot help yourself, and if I spare you, you must be beholden to me for my forbearance. Well then I will be generous. For your father’s sake to whom for many years I have been indebted for innumerable acts of kindness—for your sisters’ sake, who are great favorites of mine—and though last not least, for your own sake, I forbear to give you an Essay on rent, profit, or currency. I may however say a few words about wealth, just for the purpose of wishing you may have just as much of it, and no more, as will make you happy and contented. Too much wealth would I fear spoil you, too little would make you suffer privation—I like neither extreme. There is a medium most favorable to independence of character, and to the due cultivation of the mind, and it is this medium quantity which I desire for you. I should be sorry if any thing took from you the enjoyments which books are calculated to afford—they teach us how to think justly, and to think justly is one of the best sources of happiness. You must not however suppose that I limit my wishes for your welfare to the possession of money and to the love of books; I go a great deal further, and you will easily imagine that the other concomitants to the happiness of an amiable young woman, are present to my mind at this moment. I wish them all to you, and not to you only but to those sisters of yours who are so deserving of them.
When I look back on the quantity I have written I am surprised at the facility with which I have advanced. I hope my success will not make me rash. I luckily recollect the object you had in view in requesting me to write to you. I cannot but be sensible of the danger I am running that even in your opinion my letter may not be deemed deserving of a place in your collection—you who are disposed to judge me leniently. You have involved me into a difficult situation. If I write I appear to advance a claim—if I refuse to write I am guilty of unkindness to one whom I greatly wish to oblige. In this choice of difficulties it is wise to chuse the least and therefore I lay my letter with due humility at your feet, with assurances of my regard and esteem.
Ever my dear young friend Yours truly
From Maria Edgeworth’s Letters to Her Family
Several passages from Maria Edgeworth’s letters to her family have been quoted in notes to these volumes, and some account of her relations with the Ricardos has been given in the introduction to the Correspondence.1 Of the following extracts, the first three are from letters which she wrote while she was on a visit to Gatcomb Park with her young sisters, Fanny and Harriet. These appeared originally in A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth, with a Selection from her Letters, ‘by the late Mrs Edgeworth’ (her stepmother), ‘Not Published’, London, 1867, vol. ii, pp. 150–55, from which they are here reprinted (the original MSS could not be found among the Edgeworth papers in the possession of Mrs H. J. Butler). They were also reproduced in vol. ii of the Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth, ed. by Augustus J. C. Hare, London, 1894. The fourth is from a letter of 9 March 1822, which was published both in the Memoir and in the Life—with the omission of almost the whole of the passage given below. This was kindly supplied by the late Professor H. E. Butler from the MS in the possession of his mother; and part of it has since been published in the exhaustive enquiry into ‘The Wilkinson Head of Oliver Cromwell and its Relationship to Busts, Masks and Painted Portraits’ by Karl Pearson and G. M. Morant in Biometrika, December 1934, Vol. xxvi, p. 293.
Of the persons mentioned in the letters Pakenham and Lovell were Maria Edgeworth’s brothers, Honora her sister and Francis Beaufort her stepmother’s brother.
to her stepmother mrs edgeworth from gatcomb park 9 nov. 1821
We arrived here on Wednesday evening to tea—beautiful moonlight night. At the gate, the first operation was to lock the wheel, and we went down, down a hill not knowing where it would end or when the house would appear; that it was a beautiful place was clear even by moonlight. Hall with lights very cheerful—servants on the steps. Mr. Ricardo very glad to see us. Mrs. Ricardo brilliant eyes and such cordial open-hearted benevolence of manner, no affectation, no thought about herself. “My daughter-in-law, Mrs. Osman Ricardo,” a beautiful tall figure, and fine face, fair, and a profusion of light hair. Mr. Ricardo, jun., and two young daughters, Mary, about fifteen, handsome, and a child of ten, Bertha, beautiful.
I was frightened about Fanny, tired and giddy after the journey; however, her first answer in the morning, “much better,” set my heart at ease. A very fine day, all cheerful, a delightfully pleasant house, with up-hill and down-hill wooded views from every window. Rides and drives proposed. I asked to see a cloth manufactory in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Osman Ricardo offered her horse to Fanny, and Mr. Osman rode with her. Mr. Ricardo drove me in his nice safe and comfortable phaeton; Harriet and Mrs. Osman in the seat behind. The horses pretty and strong, and, moreover, quiet, so that though we drove up and down hills almost perpendicular, and along a sort of Rodborough Simplon, I was not in the least alarmed.1 Mr. Ricardo is laughed at, as they tell me, for his driving, but I prefer it to more dashing driving. Sydney Smith, who was here lately, said, that “a new surgeon had set up in Minchin Hampton since Mr. Ricardo had taken to driving.”
We had delightful conversation, both on deep and shallow subjects. Mr. Ricardo, with a very composed manner, has a continual life of mind, and starts perpetually new game in conversation. I never argued or discussed a question with any person who argues more fairly or less for victory and more for truth. He gives full weight to every argument brought against him, and seems not to be on any side of the question for one instant longer than the conviction of his mind on that side. It seems quite indifferent to him whether you find the truth, or whether he finds it, provided it be found. One gets at something by conversing with him; one learns either that one is wrong or that one is right, and the understanding is improved without the temper being ever tried in the discussion; but I must come to an end of this letter. Harriet has written to Pakenham an account of the cloth manufactory which Mr. Stephens explained admirably, and we are going out to see Mrs. Ricardo’s school; she has 130 children there, and takes as much pains as Lovell.
to the same from gatcomb park 10 nov. 1821
Yesterday evening a Mr. and Miss Strachey dined here, nephew and niece of the Mr. Strachey my aunts knew at Lady Holte: he pleasing, and she with a nice pretty-shaped small head like Honora’s, very agreeable voice. Mr. and Mrs. Smith of Easton Grey had come, and there was a great deal of agreeable conversation. An English bull was mentioned: Lord Camden put the following advertisement in the papers: “Owing to the distress of the times Lord Camden will not shoot himself or any of his tenants before the 4th of October next.”
Much conversation about cases of conscience, whether Scott was right to deny his novels? Then the Effie Deans question,1 and much about smugglers. Lord Carrington says all ladies are born smugglers. Lady Carrington once staying on the coast of Devonshire wrote to Lord Carrington that his butler had got from a wreck a pipe of wine for £36, and that it was in her cellar. “Now,” said Lord Carrington to himself, “here am I in the king’s service; can I permit such a thing? No.” He wrote to the proper excise officers and gave them notice, and by the same post to Lady Carrington, but he did not know that taking goods from a wreck was a felony. As pale as death the butler came to Lady Carrington. “I must fly for it, my lady, to America.” They were thrown into consternation; at last they staved the wine, so that when the excise officers came nothing was to be found. Lord Carrington of course lost his £36 and saved his honour. Mr. Ricardo said he might have done better by writing to apprise the owners of the vessel that he was ready to pay a fair price for it, and the duties.
to her sister lucy edgeworth from gatcomb park 12 nov. 1821
We are perfectly happy here; delightful house and place for walking, riding, driving. Fanny has a horse always at her command. I a phaeton and Mr. Ricardo to converse with. He is altogether one of the most agreeable persons, as well as the best informed and most clever, that I ever knew. My own pleasure is infinitely increased by seeing that Fanny and Harriet are so much liked and so very happy here.
In the evenings, in the intervals of good conversation, we have all sorts of merry plays. Why, when and where: our words were—Jack, Bar, Belle, Caste, Plum, the best.
We acted charades last night. Pillion excellent. Maria, Fanny, and Harriet, little dear, pretty Bertha, and Mr. Smith, the best hand and head at these diversions imaginable. First we entered swallowing pills with great choking: pill. Next on all-fours, roaring lions; Fanny and Harriet’s roaring devouring lions much clapped. Next Bertha riding on Mr. Smith’s back. Pillion.
Coxcomb.—Mr. Smith, Mr. Ricardo, Fanny, Harriet, and Maria crowing. Ditto, ditto, combing hair. Mr. Ricardo, solus strutting, a coxcomb, very droll.
Sinecure.—Not a good one. Monkey.—Very good. Mr. Ricardo and Mr. Smith as monks, with coloured silk handkerchiefs, as cowls, a laughable solemn procession. Re-enter with keys. Mr. Ricardo as monkey.
Fortune-tellers.—The best: Fanny as Fortune; unluckily we forgot to blind her, and she had only my leather bag for her purse, but nevertheless, she made a beautiful graceful Fortune, and scattered her riches with an air that charmed the world. 2nd scene: Mr. Smith and Harriet tellers of the house—“the ayes have it.” Fanny, Maria, and Harriet, fortune-tellers; much approved.
Love-sick.—Bertha, with a bow made by Mr. Smith in an instant, with a switch and red tape and a long feathered pen. Bertha was properly blind and made an irresistible Cupid; she entered and shot, and all the company fell: Love. 2nd: Harriet, Mr. Smith, and Maria, all very sick. 3rd: Fanny, a love-sick young lady. Maria, her duenna, scolding, and pitying, and nursing her with a smelling bottle.
Fire-eater.—1st: Harriet and I acted alarm of fire, and alarmed Mr. Ricardo so well—he was going to call for assistance. 2nd: I was an epicure, and eating always succeeds on the stage. 3rd: Harriet devoured lighted spills to admiration, and only burnt her lip a little.
In “conundrum,” Mrs. Osman was a beautiful nun; she is a charming creature, most winning countenance and manner, very desirous to improve herself, and with an understanding the extent and excellence of which I did not at first estimate.
to her aunt mrs ruxton from london 9 march 1822
But above all others I have had the greatest pleasure in Francis Beaufort going with us to our delightful breakfasts at Mr. Ricardo’s—they enjoy each other’s conversation so much. It has now become high fashion with blue ladies to talk political economy. There is a certain Lady Mary Shepherd1 who makes a great jabbering on the subject, while others who have more sense, like Mrs Marcet, hold their tongues and listen. A gentleman answered very well the other day that he would be of the famous Political economy club whenever he could find two members of it that agree on any one point—Mean time fine ladies now require that their daughters’ governesses should teach political economy. “Pray Ma’am” said a fine Mamma to one who came to offer herself as a governess “Do you teach political economy?” The governess who thought she had provided herself well with French Italian Music drawing dancing etc. was quite astounded by this unexpected requisition she hesitatingly answered—“No, Ma’am, I cannot say I teach political economy, but I would if you think proper try to learn it.”—“Oh dear no Ma’am—if you don’t teach it you wont do for me.”
Another style of governess is now the fashion,—the ultra-French: a lady-governess of this party and one of the Orleans’ or liberaux met and came to high words, till all was calmed by the timely display of a ball-dress, trimmed with roses alternately red and white,—“Garniture aux préjugés vaincus.” This should have been worn by those who formerly invented in the Revolution “Bals aux victimes.”
But to go back to our breakfasts and Mr Ricardo.—After the last at which Capt Beaufort was with us, we saw—What do you think? Oliver Cromwell’s head—not his picture—not his bust—nothing of stone or marble or plaister of Paris, but his real head, which is now in the possession of Mr Ricardo’s brother in law (Mr Wilkinson)—He told us a story of an hour long explaining how it came into his possession. This head as he well observed is the only head upon record which has after death been subject to the extremes of horror1 and infamy—it having been first embalmed and laid in satin State—Then dragged out of the coffin at the restoration—chopped from the body and stuck upon a pole before Westminster Hall, where it stood twenty five years—Till one stormy night the pole broke and down fell the head at the centinels feet who stumbled over it in the dark twice, thinking it a stone, then cursed and picked it up and found it was a head. Its travels and adventures from the centinel through various hands would be too long to tell—it came in short into the Russell family and to one who was poor and in debt and who yet loved this head so dearly that he never would sell it to Coxe2 of the Museum till Coxe got him deep in his debt arrested and threw him into jail—Then and not till the last extremity he gave it up for Liberty—Mr Wilkinson its present possessor doats upon it—a frightful skull it is—covered with its parched yellow skin like any other mummy and with its chesnut hair eyebrows and beard in glorious preservation—The head is still fastened to the inestimable broken bit of the original pole—all black and happily worm eaten. By this bit of pole Mr and Mrs Ricardo and family by turns held up the head opposite the window while we stood in the window and the happy possessor lectured upon it compasses in hand—There is not at first view it must be owned any great likeness to picture or bust of Cromwell—but upon examination the proofs are satisfactory and agree perfectly with historic description—The nose is flattened as it should be when the body was laid on its face to have the head chopped off—There is a cut of the axe (as it should be) in the wrong place where the bungling executioner gave it before he could get it off—One ear has been torn off as it should be—And the plaister of Paris cast which was taken from Cromwell’s face after death, being now produced all the measures of jaws and forehead agreed wonderfully and the likeness grew upon us every instant as we made proper allowances for want of flesh—muscles—eyes etc. To complete Mr W’s felicity there is the mark of a famous wart of Olivers just above the left eye brow on the skull precisely as in the cast. But then Captain B objected or was not quite convinced that the whole face was not half an inch too short. Poor Mr Wilkinson’s hand trembled so that I thought he never would have fixed either point of the compasses and he did brandish them about so afterwards when he was exemplifying that I expected they would have been in Fanny’s eyes or my own and I backed and pulled back. Mrs Ricardo gave her staff to whom she listed—she could not bear the weight of Old Noll thro’ their whole trial. Mr Ricardo gave up too when a bit of cotton-wool was dragged from the nostrils—(“Oh I cannot stand the cotton wool”) He delivered over the staff and went to the fire to comfort himself dragging up the skirts of his coat as men do in troubles great—
I was glad Captn Beaufort let the poor Mr Wilkinson off easy about the length of the face and we all joined in a chorus of conviction—He went off with his head and staff the happiest of connoisseurs—Moreover I suggested that for future convenience he might have it fixed under a glass case—the broken staff to fit into a tube as candle in candle stick.—
How much time and paper it takes to tell anything in writing!—Excuse tiresomeness! inevitable when I have not time to make things properly short.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Mr. J. H. Wilkinson / Surgeon. / Church Court / Clements Lane / Lombard Street / London’.
[2 ]Ricardo’s first child Osman, then three months old.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Mr. Wilkinson / Surgeon / Church Court / Clement’s Lane / Lombard Street / London’.—Postmarks: Brighton, undated; London, 21 Sept. 1795 (a Monday). Seal: shield surmounted by a cat, with motto touch not the cat but a glove.
[2 ]‘your father’ refers to Edward Wilkinson, and Fanny is J. H. Wilkinson’s sister, future wife of Moses Ricardo.
[3 ]The Prince of Wales, later George IV.
[1 ]The future Queen Caroline of the Trial of 1820.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Mr. Wilkinson / Church Court / Clements Lane / Lombard Street’. London postmark, 18 Sept. 1798 (a Tuesday).
[2 ]Addressed: ‘Mr J. H. Wilkinson / Abchurch Lane’. Not passed through the post.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Mr. J. H. Wilkinson / Abchurch Lane’. Not passed through the post.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘J. H. Wilkinson Esq’. Not passed through the post.
[2 ]Ricardo’s brother Francis.
[3 ]William Arthur, son of J. H. Wilkinson, had been Ricardo’s clerk on the Stock Exchange since 1811; he was now twenty years old.
[1 ]The Times of Monday 25 June 1810 reported that ‘Mr. Lindsey’s Academy, near Bow’ had been broken into and robbed during the night of 19–20 June. Although both sources spell ‘Lindsey’, this must refer to Dr James Lindsay, the Unitarian minister, who had an Academy at Bow (see Bain, James Mill, p. 121 n.).
[2 ]Cp. above, p. 47.
[1 ]From this point the copy is in Ricardo’s handwriting.
[1 ]See John Francis, Chronicles and Characters of the Stock Exchange, London, 1850, p. 185–6.
[2 ]These three (Podmore, Hancock and Steers), along with Ricardo, had been among those elected to the first Committee for General Purposes of the new Stock Exchange on 8 Feb. 1802. A few weeks later, on 3 March 1802, the three of them resigned from the Committee, and, the Minutes add, ‘Mr Ricardo, who was present, stated his reasons also and withdrew his name from the Committee.’ The reasons, however, are not recorded. (MS Minutes in the possession of the Stock Exchange.)
[1 ]An Exposé..., 1821, p. 6–7. Ricardo is alluded to as ‘one who afterwards led the combination against Goldschmidt’ and who ‘has risen to conspicuous importance in a certain assembly’.
[2 ]Addressed: ‘R. Podmore, C H Hancock and Jas. Steers Esqres’. MS (a copy in Ricardo’s handwriting) in R.P.
[3 ]This letter is missing.
[1 ]Of the four, only John Barnes and James Steers, besides Ricardo, are named in the contemporary newspapers.
[2 ]Addressed ‘David Ricardo Esq.’
[1 ]A draft in Ricardo’s handwriting.
[1 ]First written ‘and you and they have my wishes for’.
[1 ]See applications for admission to the Stock Exchange and Minutes of the Committee for General Purposes, entries of 10 Sept. 1806 and 10 April 1815; MSS in the possession of the Stock Exchange. The list of Chairmen is given in The Book of the Stock Exchange, by F. E. Armstrong, London, 1934, p. 368.
[2 ]Addressed: ‘Mr David Ricardo’.
[1 ]Covered by seal.
[2 ]The MS is a draft in Ricardo’s handwriting.
[1 ]See above, VI, 264.
[2 ]The letter is addressed: ‘Mr D. Ricardo’.
[1 ]See a letter to Ricardo in London from his daughter Henrietta at Ramsgate, dated 15 Oct. 1812; unpublished MS in R.P.
[2 ]Addressed: ‘Mrs. Ricardo / Ramsgate’. Postmark, 26 October 1812 (a Monday).—MS in R.P.
[1 ]MS torn here and below.
[1 ]‘his honesty is’ is del. here.
[2 ]‘under pretence’ is del. here.
[3 ]‘with Mrs. Ricardo’ is ins. and then del.
[4 ]Post Office London Directory, issues of 1816 and 1820.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘D. Ricardo Esqre. M.P./56 Upper Brook Street’.
[1 ]See H. B. Woodward, History of the Geological Society of London, p. 273.
[2 ]The Cumberland Papers in the British Museum are uninformative on this affair, although allusions to it are to be found in Add. MSS 36,505, fols. 220–241.
[3 ]Addressed: ‘D Ricardo Esqre. / Gatcomb Park / Minchinhampton / Gloucestershire’.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘Mr. David Ricardo / Comb Park / Mitchinhampton Gloũster’.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘David Ricardo Esqr / Gatcombe Park / Minchin Hampton / near Stroud’
[1 ]The first part of the MS is a draft in Ricardo’s handwriting, the second part a copy in another hand.
[1 ]This sentence is ins.
[2 ]Here ends the part in Ricardo’s handwriting.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘David Ricardo Esqre / Gatcombe Park / Minchinhampton / Glocestershire’.
[1 ]Omitted in MS.
[1 ]‘used those expressions’ replaces ‘written that letter’.
[1 ]The last eleven words are ins.
[2 ]‘unjustifiable’ is del. here.
[3 ]This sentence replaces: ‘In my justification I could say much, but you are already acquainted with all the circumstances as, for want of openness and explicitness on the part of your son, they appeared to my eyes.’
[4 ]‘whilst she was in town’ is del. here.
[1 ]‘satisfactory’ is ins.
[2 ]Replaces ‘on her character.’
[1 ]The MSS of Sheppard’s letter and of the draft of Ricardo’s reply are in R.P., as are also two short letters from Sheppard on the same subject, of Oct. 1816, here not published. The original letter, however, giving the ‘character’ of Darby, is not extant.
[1 ]Addressed: ‘D: Ricardo Esqre / Gatcomb Park / Nr Minchin-Hampton / Glousr.shire.’
[2 ]Replaces ‘John’, here and below.
[1 ]Above, VII, 325 and 335.
[1 ]Above, VII, 335.
[2 ]ib. 345 and 370.
[3 ]Addressed: ‘D Ricardo Esqre / Gatcombe Park / nr M Hampton / Glostershire’.
[1 ]A draft in Ricardo’s handwriting.
[1 ]18 April.
[2 ]Ricardo’s youngest son.
[1 ]Above, VI, xxxii.
[1 ]The old road up Rodborough Hill, near Minchinhampton, was so steep that to a later generation it seemed strange ‘that it could ever have been traversed by horses and carriages.’ (P. H. Fisher, Notes and Recollections of Stroud, 1871, p. 151.)
[1 ]Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian had been published in 1818.
[1 ]See above, VIII, 56.
[1 ]Should probably read ‘honour’.
[2 ]James Cox.