Thomas Jefferson Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Gilmer, Francis Walker" AND Period="Madison Presidency"
sorted by: editorial placement

Francis W. Gilmer to Thomas Jefferson, 27 November 1816

From Francis W. Gilmer

Winchester Nov. 27. 1816

Dear Sir.

I owe many apologies both to you and to Mr Dupont for having delayed until now the translation of the treatise of Mr. Quesnay. I have however almost ever since I received it, been engaged in the courts: having recently commenced the practice of the profession, I have found the forms of judicial proceedings require much of my attention, I have too, to make my way thro’ a thick rank of counsel of well established reputation, and some of them certainly of no mediocrity of abilities. All these circumstances have conspired, together with the necessity of much exercise & recreation on account of my health, to suspend almost entirely every literary labour. Even now, I have been compelled to eke out the translation on the evenings of our Chancery court, after the morning has been devoted to the irksome details of depositions, cross bills &c. I confess to you too, I was somewhat dismayed in undertaking a work entirely new to me, under the disadvantages of reading a badly written manuscript, in a foreign language, on one of the most difficult and abstruce branches of elementary politics. If under all these discouraging circumstances I have succeeded in any tolerable degree in giving the meaning of the author, it is all to which I can aspire. To infuse into the translation the elegant precision, and nervous brevity of the original, would require much more attention (if indeed it be attainable at all in English) than I can hope to bestow on it. I have only aimed at giving the meaning as accurately as I could, without even an attempt at grace or beauty of composition.

Will you do me the favour to read over the translation at your leisure, make such alterations as the sense, or propriety of expression seem to require, and return it to me, that I may correct, & transcribe it for Mr Dupont? I should not presume to ask of you this favour, if I were not desirous of addressing the translation to you (by your permission) and should regret its being entirely unworthy the patronage of your name.

If your engagements will not allow you to spare the small portion of time necessary to this revision, I must ask that service of Mrs. Randolph’s kindness: one which I hope she will not be unwilling to shew an early pupil of hers in French, and who regrets that his other pursuits, and indeed his want of critical knowledge of the language, allow him to reflect so little honor on his disinterested patroness.—   accept the assurance of my admiration

and esteem.

F. W. Gilmer.

P.S. I do not send the French manuscript, because I am unwilling even to ask of you the trouble of comparing word with word. I only wish your correction as to the general meaning, as you retain it, from the perusal you gave the French; with any verbal inaccuracies which may strike you. There is however part of a sentence the french of which I have written with a pencil at the bottom of page 5. which I have translated (except a single expression) in the first sentence of the 3d paragraph of the page. I can remember no word for the French ‘surprises’ which satisfies the tact of my mind. Your complete mastery of both languages will no doubt enable you to render the meaning precisely.

RC (MoSHi: Gilmer Papers); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Dec. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Gilmer’s manuscript translation, not found, of François Quesnay’s short treatise on natural law (see notes to Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours to TJ, 12 May 1816, and TJ to Gilmer, 17 Dec. 1816).

Defendants in lawsuits use cross bills to combat allegations made in the plaintiffs’ original complaints (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ).

Index Entries

  • books; on natural law search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; and F. Quesnay’sLe Droit Naturel search
  • education; French language search
  • exercise, physical; and good health search
  • French language; study of search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; as lawyer search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; as translator search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; education of search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; health of search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; letters from search
  • health; exercise search
  • law; natural search
  • Le Droit Naturel (F. Quesnay) search
  • natural law; books on search
  • Quesnay, François; Le Droit Naturel search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); and F. Quesnay’sLe Droit Naturel search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); as teacher search
  • Superior Court of Chancery for the Winchester District search
  • Winchester, Va.; chancery court at search