you see how I grow upon your goodness: but it is so frank [generous]that one cannot but grow on it. I do not foresee however that I shall impose upon it but once more. that will be by & bye, when I am ready at Monticello for carpets. the handsomest I ever saw was on your floor … were mrs Edwards or yourself in traversing Philadelphia ever to have your eye caught by any as handsome as that, I should surely ask you to arrest it for me.
To Enoch Edwards, May 7, 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need honest friends they can trust completely.
In a previous post, Jefferson commissioned Edwards, a Philadelphia-area physician, to arrange for a carriage to be made for him. Earlier in this letter, he asked Edwards to stop in at a certain art dealer’s shop and inquire about the price of a Samuel Adams portrait there. (Chances are Jefferson subsequently acquired that portrait, but I can’t say for sure.)
Now, Jefferson expressed his growing appreciation for his Revolutionary War era friend and fellow patriot. He was drawn in by the man’s openness and honesty. Edwards made it easy for others to rely on his judgment.
Not wanting to abuse the relationship, Jefferson asked only one last favor. If Edwards or his wife ever happened to find carpets in Philadelphia as “handsome” as the ones he had seen in their home, they were to “arrest” (buy) them for him. Such was his confidence in them, Jefferson didn’t need to know the price or give prior approval.