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v: Jacob Ricardo - 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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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
[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.