We agree with the trial court that as the property in question was devised to Annie W. Owens “in fee simple forever” in item two of the will, the conditions subsequent, in so far as they are repugnant to the fee originally devised, must be regarded as unwarranted restrictions on the jus disponendi or the jus dividends, and, therefore, void. Williams v. Sealy, 201 N. C., 372, 160 S. E., 452; Schwren v. Falls, 170 N. C., 251, 87 S. E., 49; Hambright v. Carroll, 204 N. C., 496, 168 S. E., 817; Combs v. Paul, 191 N. C., 789, 133 S. E., 93; Barbee v. Thompson, 194 N. C., 411, 139 S. E., 838; Carroll v. Herring, 180 N. C., 369, 104 S. E., 892; Wool v. Fleetwood, 136 N. C., 460, *3248 S. E., 785; Latimer v. Waddell, 119 N. C., 370, 26 S. E., 122. Compare Greene v. Stadiem, 198 N. C., 445, 152 S. E., 398.
Tbe general rule is, that where real estate is devised in fee, or personalty bequeathed unconditionally, a subsequent clause in the will expressing a wish, desire, or direction for its disposition after the death of the devisee or legatee will not defeat the devise or bequest, nor limit it to a life estate. Griffin v. Commander, 163 N. C., 230, 79 S. E., 499; Daniel v. Bass, 193 N. C., 294, 136 S. E., 733; Lineberger v. Phillips, 198 N. C., 661, 153 S. E., 118; Roane v. Robinson, 189 N. C., 628, 127 S. E., 626; McDaniel v. McDaniel, 58 N. C., 353. Conditions subsequent, in the absence of compelling language to the contrary, are usually construed against divestment. Cook v. Sink, 190 N. C., 620, 130 S. E., 714. Compare Jolley v. Humphries, 204 N. C., 672, 167 S. E., 417. The absolute devise is permitted to stand, while the subsequent clause is generally regarded as precatory only. Brown v. Lewis, 197 N. C., 704, 150 S. E., 328; Weaver v. Kirby, 186 N. C., 387, 119 S. E., 564; Brooks v. Griffin, 177 N. C., 7, 97 S. E., 730; Bills v. Bills, 80 Ia., 269, 20 A. S. R., 418; 11 R. C. L., 476; 28 R. C. L., 243.
This rule is not at variance with the cardinal principle in the interpretation of wills, which is to discover and effectuate the intent of the testator, looking at the instrument from its four corners, but is in fact in aid of such discovery and effectuation. Heyer v. Bulluck, 210 N. C., 321, 186 S. E., 356. Moreover, it is provided by C. S., 4162, that when real estate is devised to any person, the same shall be held and construed to be a devise in fee simple, unless such devise shall, in plain and express language show, or it shall be plainly intended by the will, or some part thereof, that the testator intended to convey an estate of less dignity. Jolley v. Humphries, supra.
In the will before us, the testator carefully refrained from limiting the first devise or bequest to a life estate, or from interfering “in any way . . . with the use or disposition of said property.” Three times in Item YIII of the will he speaks of the property left to his wife (1) “in fee simple,” (2) “in fee,” (3) “same being hers in fee simple.” Nothing having been retained by the testator, his attempted disposition of his wife’s property at her death must be regarded as inoperative. Griffin v. Commander, supra; Carroll v. Herring, supra.
The judgment dismissing the petition will be upheld.