Front Page Titles (by Subject) 6.: ricardo to george cumberland - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 10 Biographical Miscellany
Return to Title Page for The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 10 Biographical Miscellany
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
6.: ricardo to george cumberland - 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:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
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.
[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.