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other correspondence with j.h. wilkinson - 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.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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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
[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.