Tag Archives: Heart

Your mind alone will get you into trouble!

… with a heart disposed to do whatever is honest and honorable, and a head able to decide by calculation that what is not right can under no possible circumstances be useful … that by going strait forward and doing exactly what is just and moral, the way will open before you, and the mountains of difficulty subside: when by resorting to head-work and contrivence, one only gets more & more entangled in the mazes of their own cunning, and finally enveloped in a self-woven web of disgrace. but I catch myself sermonizing again, & have again to seek my apology …
To Lewis Harvie, January 25, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know intellectual cleverness alone is never enough.
The 21 year old Harvie (1782-1807) was the son of Jefferson’s childhood friend and grandson of his guardian upon the death of his own father in 1757. The young man requested an appointment as secretary to James Monroe during the latter’s service in Europe negotiating the future of American shipping on the Mississippi River.

Jefferson declined the appointment, not because Harvie was unqualified, but because Monroe would probably want to choose his own secretary. The President then outlined a deliberate and lengthy course of action for a young man who wanted a career in public service, similar to one Jefferson himself began 40 years earlier.

The President concluded with this advice for Harvie:
1. He should have the heart always to do what was “honest and honorable.”
2. His mind should be clear enough to warn him away from dubious enterprises.
3. Governed by sound mind and heart, the right course would become clear.
4. If he abandoned the moral compass of his heart and relied only on his mind, he would come to ruin and disgrace of his own making.
He then admitted he was preaching to the young man and apologized.

Later in 1803 Jefferson appointed Harvie to replace Meriwether Lewis as his personal secretary when Lewis left to lead the exploration up the Missouri River. Harvie took ill in 1805 and died two years later at the age of 25.

“Mr. Lee’s research and knowledge of Thomas Jefferson is very complete
and he plays the role comfortably and with enthusiasm and authenticity.”
President, California Land Surveyors Association
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11 H (OR I love the pleasure and will take the pain.)

 [This is the 18th & final post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is the end of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart: We are not immortal ourselves, my friend; how can we expect our enjoyments to be so? We have no rose without its thorn; no pleasure without alloy … True, this condition [Maria’s absence] is pressing cruelly on me at this moment. I feel more fit for death than life. But when I look back on the pleasures … they were worth the price I am paying … Hope is sweeter than despair ..

Know then, my friend (Head), that I have taken these good people into my bosom … that I love them, & will continue to love them through life: that if fortune should dispose them on one side the globe, & me on the other, my affections shall pervade its whole mass to reach them. Knowing then my determination, attempt not to disturb it …”
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Faithful leaders know “hope is sweeter than despair.”
Jefferson acknowledged that life brings both pleasure and pain, sometimes arising from the same event. If he enjoyed happiness, he was prepared to accept any sadness that might follow. It was part of life.

He concluded his internal dialogue by affirming undying love for his friends, even though he was suffering in their absence. No matter how far away they were, his affections would reach them. He instructed his Head not to bother him about it any longer.

With the Head & Heart dialogue over, he addressed Maria Cosway directly, promising shorter letters but inviting longer ones from her. Even if she wrote one “as long as the bible,” it would be “short to me.” He ended with this personal assessment, “As to myself my health is good, except my wrist which mends slowly, & my mind which mends not at all, but broods constantly over your departure.”

Jefferson and Cosway saw one another the following year, but the infatuation of their first meeting had faded. They corresponded throughout their lives. Cosway died in 1838, at the age of 78, a dozen years after Jefferson’s death.

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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 4

[This is the 4th interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure. He reported the entire dialog to her in this letter.]

… My visit to Legrand & Molinos had public utility for its object. A market is to be built in Richmond. What a commodious plan is that of Legrand & Molinos; especially if we put on it the noble dome of the Halle aux bleds. If such a bridge … can be thrown across the Schuylkill at Philadelphia … what a copious resource will be added, of wood & provisions, to warm & feed the poor of that city? While I was occupied with these objects, you were dilating with your new acquaintances …

Oh! My dear friend, how you have revived me by recalling to my mind the transactions of that day! … Go on then, like a kind comforter & paint to me the day we went to St. Germains. How beautiful was every object! … Every moment was filled with something agreeable. … Retrace all those scenes to me, my good companion, & I will forgive the unkindness with which you were chiding me. The day we went to St. Germains was a little too warm, I think; was it not?
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders have to balance logic and emotion. Part 4
Jefferson and Cosway spent much time together during her brief stay in France. They toured landmarks and beautiful places within reach of Paris. He made excuses (lies, Head called them) to put off official responsibilities as Ambassador to spend more time with her.

Head cited a perfectly logical reason to see the new grain market. Perhaps the market to be built in Virginia could be similar. Could the same design that suspended a domed roof without rafters be used for a bridge at Philadelphia? What a benefit to the poor! But while Head was thinking of helping others, Heart was thinking only of itself.

Heart didn’t respond to the rebuke but thanked his “dear friend” for bringing all those pleasant memories back to mind. Heart saw only through the rose-colored glasses of infatuation. He asked Head to remind him again of all their travels.

Just a hint of logic sneaked into Heart, asking if the weather at St. Germains was too warm. Jefferson loved hot weather. It must have been very warm! Perhaps Maria was perspiring …

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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 2

[This is the 2nd interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, in his anguish over Maria Cosway’s departure. He reported the entire dialog to her in this letter.]

Head. These are the eternal consequences of your warmth & precipitation. This is one of the scrapes into which you are ever leading us. You confess your follies indeed; but still you hug & cherish them …

Heart. Oh, my friend! This is no moment to upbraid my foibles. I am rent into fragments by the force of my grief! If you have any balm, pour it into my wounds; if none, do not harrow them by new torments …
Thomas Jefferson to Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders use the right mix of logic and emotion. Part 2
Jefferson’s logical Head up upbraids his emotional Heart: You are only reaping what you have sown. You do it time and again. You know it’s foolish, but you continue to do it. His Head goes on to say that unless he repents, there can be no escape.

His broken Heart begs for mercy: I am in misery. If you can help me, please do! If not, don’t blame me and make me feel worse than I already do.

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