Francis W. Gilmer to Dabney Carr
|most worthy Chancellor.||Richmond 15. January 18201|
I have just received your letter apprizing me of your resolution of being in Albemarle soon after the 20th. The more the pity that I cannot join you.
Mrs. R. left Richmond near a week ago and is now at Tuckahoe. She was much admired as she ever will be where she is seen. I was at many parties with her: and if she had been any thing short of six feet high I should have been her principal escort: as it was, I visited her often & shewed her all manner of civility.
The Montium custos nemorumque Virgo—did not accompany her. She takes her revenge by pining in the winds & woods of Mo. I have seen but little of her of late years—what I had to do, she bore with better grace than she used to do—and seemed quite willing to be very friendly. her aunt Mrs D. M. R has done her much injury—and her visit to Phila some winters ago ruined her quite. She is destined to be extremely unhappy & sadly mortified—and in sooth considering the very small share of sensibility she has shewn toward others—it is not much amiss that a little bitter should be mingled in the cup of her bliss. She is one of the worshippers of prosperous folly, and never sees merit, in suffering virtue. The curse of God is on her house, and my love of her mother & Father make me pray that it may be averted.
Rees v. Berrington (by way of digression) you will find reported 2. Ves. jr 540 and is a principal case on the doctrine of the surety being released by any meddling between Principal & [. . .] obligee.
Don Pomposo I hear is as sour as a bear with a bruised head. I believe he is a little gravelled as R. calls it. Mr Jefferson wrote me one of the neatest pieces of compliment you can imagine. He concurs with us entirely; Mr Madison to whom I sent a copy wrote a longer letter—concurring with us too in the main but tinctured with the political mysticism which I ever thought belonged to his mind. Rely upon it, his ha views are neither great nor distinct—objects loom because of the haze about them. He admits needy borrowers should be protected, but thing thinks that those not impelled by necessity should not have the benefit of the exception. His exception to the exception, is about as practicable, as Gullivers, for setting a dial on a weathercock. It is in short, little less than sheer nonsense—and his idea about it as he himself has expressed it, is downright absurdity. I was struck as I have ever been at the contrast between his way of thinking and that of Mr J. There is no comparison between the two men. Madison I hear was logical in debate. But in every thing I have seen from him, his logic is artificial & shallow. In conversation he is a disputatious polemic; but I think by no means a powerful adversary. He is however as much superior to his successor as he is inferior to his predecessor. Write to me from Albemarle, and give me the news. My best wishes to Mrs C. & your family
P.S. in the Vindication p 18 line 1. with a pen—put for departments—apartments. there are several other errors of the press I did not perceive
montium custos nemorumque virgo, “Virgin who guard[s] the mountains and the woods,” is from Horace, Odes, III.22.1, in Horace: Odes and Epodes, trans. Niall Rudd, Loeb Classical Library , 194–5. Jefferson’s neatest pieces of compliment was his 26 Dec. 1820 note to Gilmer, acknowledging receipt of the latter’s publication, A Vindication of the laws, limiting the rate of interest on loans; from the objections of Jeremy Bentham, and the Edinburgh Reviewers (Richmond, 1820). In Part III, ch. 5 of Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, by Jonathan Swift (London, 1726), more familiarly known as gulliver’s Travels, an “Astronomer had undertaken to place a Sun-Dial upon the great Weather-cock on the Town-House.”