[This is the 17th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]
Heart: In short, my friend [my Head, my intellect], as far as my recollection serves me, I do not know that I ever did a good thing on your suggestion, or a dirty one without it … I shall never envy nor controul your sublime delights. But leave me to decide when & where friendships are to be contracted. You say I contract them at random … Wealth, title, office, are no recommendations to my friendship. On the contrary great good qualities are requisite to make amends for their having wealth, title, & office.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Calculating leaders calculate their friendships, too.
As Jefferson neared the end of this internal dialogue between his Head & Heart, he made a stark assessment about relying on his strictly rational mind: I never “did a good thing at your suggestion, or a dirty one without it.”
Head might choose friendships based on “wealth, title, office.” Heart would not. In fact, those characteristics alone were repulsive to Heart. It required “great good qualities” in those who possessed worldly status, just to compensate (“make amends”) for that status.