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vii: A Visit to Cambridge - 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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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
[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.