Front Page Titles (by Subject) x: A Servant and Two Masters - 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:
x: A Servant and Two Masters - 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.
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.
[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.