Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO DR. GEORGE GILMER - The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789)
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TO DR. GEORGE GILMER - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 5.
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TO DR. GEORGE GILMER
Paris August 12, 1787.
—Your letter of Jan 9, 1787, came safely to hand in the month of June last. Unluckily you forgot to sign it, and your handwriting is so Protean that one cannot be sure it is yours. To increase the causes of incertitude it was dated Penpark, a name which I only know as the seat of John Harmer. The handwriting too being somewhat in his style made me ascribe it hastily to him, indorse it with his name, and let it lie in my bundle to be answered at leisure. That moment of leisure arriving, I set down to answer it to John Harmer, & now for the first time discover marks of its being yours, & particularly those expressions of friendship to myself and family which you have ever been so good as to entertain, and which are to me among the most precious possessions. I wish my sense of this, & my desires of seeing you rich & happy may not prevent my seeing any difficulty in the case you state of George Harmer’s wills; which as you state them are thus:
1. A will dated Dec 26, 1779, written in his own hand & devising to his brother the estates he had received from him.
2. Another will dated June 25, 1782, written also in his own hand, devising his estate to trustees to be conveyed to such of his relations. I. H. I. L. or H. L. as should become capable of acquiring property, or, on failure of that, to be sold & the money remitted them.
3. A third will dated Sep 12, 1786, devising all his estate at Marrowbone, & his tracts at Horsepasture & Poisonfield to you, which will is admitted to record & of course has been duly executed. You say the learned are divided on these wills. Yet I see no cause of division, as it requires little learning to decide that “the first deed, & last will must always prevail.” I am afraid therefore the difficulty may arise on the want of words of inheritance in the devise to you: for you state it as a devise to “George Gilmer” (without adding “& to his heirs”) of “all the estate called Marrowbone” “the tract called Horsepasture” and “the tract called Poisonfield.” If the question is on this point, and you have copied the words of the will exactly, I suppose you take an estate in fee simple in Marrowbone, & for life only in Horsepasture & Poisonfield, the want of words of inheritance in the two last cases being supplied as to the first by the word “estate” which has been repeatedly decided to be descriptive of the quantum of interest devised, as well as of its locality. I am in hopes however you have not copied the words exactly, that there are words of inheritance to all the devises, as the testator certainly knew their necessity, & that the conflict only will be between the different wills, in which case I see nothing which can be opposed to the last. I shall be very happy to eat at Pen-park some of the good mutton & beef of Marrowbone, Horse-pasture & Poisonfield, with yourself & Mrs. Gilmer & my good old neighbors. I am as happy nowhere else & in no other society, & all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello. Too many scenes of happiness mingle themselves with all the recollections of my native woods & fields, to suffer them to be supplanted in my affection by any other. I consider myself here as a traveller only, & not a resident. My commission expires next spring, & if not renewed, I shall of course return then. If renewed, I shall remain here some time longer. How much I cannot say; yet my wishes shorten the period. Among the strongest inducements will be that of your society & Mrs. Gilmer’s, which I am glad to find brought more within reach by your return to Pen-park. My daughters are importunate to return also. Patsy enjoys good health, & is growing to my stature. Polly arrived here about a month ago, after a favorable voyage, & in perfect health. My own health has been as good as ever, after the first year’s probation. The accident of a dislocated wrist, badly set, has I fear deprived me for ever of almost every use of my right hand. Nor is the extent of the evil as yet known, the hand withering, the fingers remaining swelled & crooked, & losing rather than gaining in point of suppleness. It is now eleven months since the accident. I am able to write, tho for a long time I was not so. This inability was succeeded by a journey into the Southern parts of France and Northern of of Italy, which added to the length of the chasm in my correspondence with my friends. If you knew how agreeable to me are the details of the small news of my neighborhood, your charity would induce you to write frequently. Your letters lodged in the post office at Richmond (to be forwarded to N York) come with certainty. We are doubtful yet whether there will be war or not. Present me with warm affection to Mrs. Gilmer & be assured yourself of the unvarying sentiments of esteem & attachment with which I am Dear Doctor your sincere friend & servant