Quotations about   charity

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Humility makes us charitable toward our neighbor. Nothing will make us so generous and merciful to the faults of others as seeing our own faults.

François Fénelon (1651-1715) French theologian, poet, writer [François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon]
Letter, Undated [tr. Edmonson / Helms]
    (Source)

In Robert J. Edmonson, Hal M. Helms (eds.), The Complete Fénelon, Part 2, ch. 8 (2008). Alternate translations:

Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own.
[Source (1895)]

Humility renders us charitable towards our neighbor; nothing will make us so tender and indulgent to the faults of others as a view of our own.
[tr. Metcalf (1853)]

Added on 20-May-22 | Last updated 20-May-22
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“Faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

There is a deeper meaning in this text than we at first see. Of “these three,” two concern ourselves; the third concerns others. When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must try charity, which is love in action. We must speculate no more on our duty, but simply do it. When we have done it, however blindly, perhaps Heaven will show us the reason why.

Dinah Craik
Dinah Craik (1826-1887) English novelist and poet [b. Dinah Maria Mulock]
Christian’s Mistake, ch. 2 (1865)
    (Source)

A reference to the Bible, 1 Cor. 13:13, the "Three Theological Virtues."
Added on 6-May-22 | Last updated 6-May-22
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You have to be very careful when you give to others that you don’t tell them how great you are rather than how much you value them.

Merle Shain (1935-1989) Canadian journalist and author
When Lovers Are Friends, ch. 9 (1980)
    (Source)
Added on 29-Apr-22 | Last updated 29-Apr-22
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That charity which longs to publish itself ceases to be charity.

Eliza Cook
Eliza Cook (1818-1889) English author and poet
“Diamond Dust,” Eliza Cook’s Journal, # 90 (18 Jan 1851)
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Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven, and hell a fable.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon, Vol. 1, # 160 (1820)
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Added on 22-Apr-22 | Last updated 22-Apr-22
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Indeed, the highest exercise of charity is, charity towards the uncharitable.

Joseph Buckminster
Joseph S. Buckminster (1784-1812) American Unitarian preacher and Bible scholar
Sermon on 2 Peter 1:5-7
    (Source)

Sermon 24 in Sermons by the Late Rev. J. S. Buckminster (1814). Scriptural reference.
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“Some people say we shouldn’t give alms to the poor, Shirley.”

“They are great fools for their pains. For those who are not hungry, it is easy to palaver about the degradation of charity, and so on; but they forget the brevity of life, as well as its bitterness. We have none of us long to live: let us help each other through seasons of want and woe, as well as we can, without heeding in the least the scruples of vain philosophy.”

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Shirley, ch. 14 [Lina and Shirley] (1849)
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Added on 8-Apr-22 | Last updated 8-Apr-22
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We should be sure, when we rebuke a want of charity, to do it with charity.

Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American epigrammatist, writer, publisher
Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, Vol. 1, “Charity” (1862)
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Added on 31-Mar-22 | Last updated 31-Mar-22
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The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature,” Essays, No. 13 (1625)
    (Source)

Often trimmed down to "In charity there is no excess."
Added on 25-Mar-22 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
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While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, critic [Albert Chinualumogu Achebe]
Anthills of the Savannah (1987)
    (Source)
Added on 11-Mar-22 | Last updated 11-Mar-22
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So come, young soldiers, welcome to our house.
My destiny, harrying me with trials hard as yours,
led me as well, at last, to anchor in this land.
Schooled in suffering, now I learn to comfort
those who suffer too.

[Quare agite, O tectis, iuvenes, succedite nostris.
Me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores
iactatam hac demum voluit consistere terra.
Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 1, l. 627ff (1.627-630) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), l. 748ff]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Enter, my noble guest, and you shall find,
If not a costly welcome, yet a kind:
For I myself, like you, have been distress'd,
Till Heav'n afforded me this place of rest;
Like you, an alien in a land unknown,
I learn to pity woes so like my own.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Then enter, chiefs, these friendly doors;
I too have had my fate, like yours,
Which, many a suffering overpast,
Has willed to fix me here at last.
Myself not ignorant of woe,
Compassion I have learned to show.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Come then, O warriors, enter our abodes!
I also from calamities like yours
Have suffered much, till here I set my feet.
Not ignorant of trouble, I have learned
To succor the distressed
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 817ff]

Come therefore, O men, and enter our house. Me too hath a like fortune driven through many a woe, and willed at last to find my rest in this land. Not ignorant of ill do I learn to succour the afflicted.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

So hasten now to enter in 'neath roofs of me and mine.
Me too a fortune such as yours, me tossed by many a toil,
Hath pleased to give abiding-place at last upon this soil,
Learned in illhaps full wise am I unhappy men to aid.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Welcome, then, heroes! Me hath Fortune willed
Long tost, like you, through sufferings, here to rest
And find at length a refuge. Not unskilled
In woe, I learn to succour the distrest.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 83, l. 739ff]

Therefore, behold, our portals are swung wide
for all your company. I also bore
hard fate like thine. I too was driven of storms
and after long toil was allowed at last
to call this land my home. O, I am wise
in sorrow, and I help all suffering souls!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Come therefore, sirs, and pass within our halls. Me, too, has a like fortune driven through many toils, and willed that at last I should find rest in this land. Not ignorant of ill do I learn to befriend the unhappy.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Enter my house. I, too, am fortune-driven
Through many sufferings; this land at last
Has brought me rest. Not ignorant of evil,
I know one thing, at least, -- to help the wretched.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

So, gentlemen, do not hesitate to come under my roof.
I too have gone through much; like you, have been roughly handled
By fortune; but now at last it has willed me to settle here.
Being acquainted with grief, I am learning to help the unlucky.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Thus, young men, you are welcome to our halls.
My destiny, like yours, has willed that I,
a veteran of hardships, halt at last
in this country. Not ignorant of trials,
I now can learn to help the miserable.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 878ff]

Come, then, soldiers, be our guests. My life
Was one of hardship and forced wandering
Like your own, till in this land at length
Fortune would have me rest. Through pain I've learned
To comfort suffering men.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

This is why I now invite your warriors to come into my house. I, too, have known ill fortune like yours and been tossed from one wretchedness to another until at last I have been allowed to settle in this land. Through my own suffering, I am learning to help those who suffer.
[tr. West (1990)]

And so, young men, come under my roof.
My fortune too has long been adverse
But at last has allowed me to rest in this land.
My own acquaintance with suffering
Has taught me to aid others in need.
[tr. Lombardo (2005), l. 767]

So come, young men, enter my home. Fortune once harassed me with hardship like your own. At last, the fates let me settle in this land. Knowing pain, I can learn to help the pain of others.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 17-Feb-22 | Last updated 17-Feb-22
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My advice is: Do not think about your character. If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) US President (1913-20), educator, political scientist
Speech, YMCA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (24 Oct 1914)
    (Source)
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We’d all like a reputation for generosity, and we’d all like to buy it cheap.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 9 (1963)
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Added on 30-Dec-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
shall yourselves find blessing.

John Mason Neale
John Mason Neale (1818-1866) English cleric, scholar, hymnist
“Good King Wenceslas” (1853)
    (Source)
Added on 24-Dec-21 | Last updated 24-Dec-21
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There iz nothing that a man kan do that should cut him off from pitty, the fakt that he iz human should always entitle him to commiserashun.

[There is nothing that a man can do that should cut him off from pity; the fact that he is human should always entitle him to commiseration.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Plum Pits” (1874)
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Added on 14-Dec-21 | Last updated 14-Dec-21
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Unhappiness makes people vulnerable, incessant suffering unjust. Just as in the relations between a creditor and a debtor there is always an element of the disagreeable that can never be overcome, for the very reason that the one is irrevocably committed to the role of giver and the other to that of receiver, so in a sick person a latent feeling of resentment at every obvious sign of consideration is always ready to burst forth.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Beware of Pity (1939)
Added on 23-Sep-21 | Last updated 23-Sep-21
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This man who has fetched up here is some unlucky wanderer; we must now look after him, because all strangers and beggars are under Zeus’ protection, and any gift, though small, is welcome.

[ἀλλ’ ὅδε τις δύστηνος ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ’ ἱκάνει,
τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 206ff (6.206) [Nausicaa] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Verity (2016)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). This is later echoed by Eumæus in Book 14. Alternate translations:

This man, minding nought
But his relief, a poor unhappy wretch,
Wrack’d here, and hath no other land to fetch,
Him now we must provide for. From Jove come
All strangers, and the needy of a home,
Who any gift, though ne’er so small it be,
Esteem as great, and take it gratefully.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

But by evil weather
To come to land this man hath forced been;
Let’s do him good. From Jove come beggars all,
And welcome to them is whate’er they get;
Our givings to him will be very small.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 195ff]

'Tis ours this son of sorrow to relieve,
Cheer the sad heart, nor let affliction grieve.
By Jove the stranger and the poor are sent;
And what to those we give to Jove is lent.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

This man, a miserable wand’rer comes,
Whom we are bound to cherish, for the poor
And stranger are from Jove, and trivial gifts
To such are welcome.
[tr. Cowper (1792)]

Now comes this wanderer -- let us treat him well;
All strangers and all poor by Zeus are sent,
And love can make a little gift excel.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 27]

But, he,
This wand'ring outcast, is before us come
For whom it well beseems us to take thought;
For not without the warrant of great Jove
Appeal the strangers and the abject poor.
However small the boon, 'tis dearly priz'd!
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 315ff]

But this -- some hapless wanderer -- hither comes:
Him it behoves us care for: since from Zeus
Come strangers all, and poor men: and a gift
Small to the giver -- blesses him that takes it.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Nay, but this man is some helpless one come hither in his wanderings, whom now we must kindly entreat, for all strangers and beggars are from Zeus, and a little gift is dear.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But this man, a hapless wanderer, to usward now is sent,
And him is it meet to cherish; since from Zeus come guestfolk all
And suppliants; and full welcome is the gift, albeit but small.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

But this poor man has come here having lost his way, and we should give him aid; for in the charge of Zeus all strangers and beggars stand, and a small gift is welcome.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

This is only some poor man who has lost his way, and we must be kind to him, for strangers and foreigners in distress are under Jove's protection, and will take what they can get and be thankful.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

This is some hapless wanderer that has come hither. Him must we now tend; for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

This man appeals as a luckless wanderer whom we must now kindly entertain. Homeless and broken men are all of them in the sight of Zeus, and it is a good deed to make them some small alms.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

The man you see is an unfortunate wanderer who has strayed here, and now commands our care, since all strangers and beggars come under the protection of Zeus, and the charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

This man is a castaway, poor fellow; we must take care of him. Strangers and beggars come from Zeus: a small gift, then, is friendly.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

But, since this is some poor wanderer who has come to us,
we must now take care of him, since all strangers and wanderers
are sacred in the sight of Zeus, and the gift is a light and a dear one.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

But this man is a luckless fellow, one
who wandered here, and he deserves our care;
the stranger and the beggar -- both are sent
by Zeus, and even small gifts win their thanks.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

But here's an unlucky wanderer strayed our way
and we must tend him well. Every stranger and beggar
comes from Zeus, and whatever scrap we give him
he'll be glad to get.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

This poor man comes here as a wanderer,
And we must take care of him now. All strangers,
All beggars, are under the protection of Zeus,
And even small gifts are welcome.
[tr. Lombardo (2000)]

No, this man is a luckless wanderer who has arrived here; we must now give him succor, for every stranger and beggar has the protection of Zeus, and a gift though little is welcome.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

This man is an unfortunate wanderer who has strayed here, and we must look after him, since all strangers and beggars come under the protection of Zeus, and to such people a small gift can mean much.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

But this man is lost, poor thing. We must look after him. All foreigners and beggars come from Zeus, and any act of kindness is a blessing.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

No, this is some ill-starred drifter who's ended up here, and we must now take of, since from Zeus are all strangers and beggars: any gift, though small, is welcome.
[tr. Green (2018)]

So this man
is some poor wanderer who’s just come here.
We must look after him, for every stranger,
every beggar, comes from Zeus, and any gift,
even something small, is to be cherished.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 264]

But this man who has wandered here, who is so ill-starred,
It is right to care for him now. For all are from Zeus,
The strangers and the beggars, and our gift is small but dear to them.
[tr. @sentantiq (2020)]

Added on 4-Aug-21 | Last updated 9-Dec-21
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A man on one occasion reproached him for having given a contribution to one who was not a good man (for the story which I have mentioned before is also quoted in this way), and his answer was, “I gave not to the man, but to humanity.”

[πρὸς τὸν αἰτιασάμενον ὡς εἴη μὴ ἀγαθῷ ἔρανον δεδωκώσ–φέρεται γὰρ καὶ οὕτωσ–“οὐ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ,” φησίν, “ἔδωκα, ἀλλὰ τῷ ἀνθρωπίνῳ.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1853)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). The previously mentioned story is here. Alternate translations:

When someone accused him of having given a subscription to a dishonest man -- for the story is also told in this form -- "It was not the man," said he, "that I assisted, but humanity."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 21]

When someone blamed him for giving membership to a base man, he said, “I didn’t give it to a man, but to humanity.”
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

To someone who faulted him for having made a loan to a dishonest man -- for the story is also told in this way -- he said, "It was not the man that I assisted, but mankind."
[tr. Mensch (2018)]

Added on 27-Jul-21 | Last updated 27-Jul-21
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Reproached one day because he gave alms to a good-for-nothing, he said, “It was the man that I pitied, not his conduct.”

[ὀνειδιζόμενός ποτε ὅτι πονηρῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐλεημοσύνην ἔδωκεν, “οὐ τὸν τρόπον,” εἶπεν, “ἀλλὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἠλέησα.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Mensch (2018)]
    (Source)

(Greek Source). Alternate translations:

On one occasion he was blamed for giving alms to a worthless man, and he replied, “I did not pity the man, but his condition.”
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Being once reproached for giving alms to a bad man, he rejoined, "It was the man and not his character that I pitied."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 17]

After he was reproached for giving money to a wretched man, he said, “It wasn’t the character, but the man I pitied.”
[tr. @sentantiq [2016)]

Once, he was reproached because he gave charity to a lowly person, so he said, "I gave charity to a man, not a way of life."
[Source, sec. 17]

Added on 20-Jul-21 | Last updated 20-Jul-21
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More quotes by Aristotle

It’s wrong, my friend, to send any stranger packing —
even one who arrives in worse shape than you.
Every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus
and whatever scrap they get from the likes of us,
they’ll find it welcome.

[Ξεῖν’, οὔ μοι θέμις ἔστ’, οὐδ’ εἰ κακίων σέθεν ἔλθοι,
ξεῖνον ἀτιμῆσαι· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε
γίνεται ἡμετέρη.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 14, l. 56ff (14.56) [Eumæus/Eumaios] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Fagles (1996)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). The language is an echo of Nausicaa in Book 6. Alternate translations:

Guest! If one much worse
Arriv’d here than thyself, it were a curse
To my poor means, to let a stranger taste
Contempt for fit food. Poor men, and unplac’d
In free seats of their own, are all from Jove
Commended to our entertaining love.
But poor is th’ entertainment I can give,
Yet free and loving.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Stranger, then said Eumæus, it was never
My custom any stranger to neglect;
The poor and stranger are in God’s hand ever.
Few are my gifts, and but of small effect.
[tr. Hobbes (1675)]

It never was our guise
To slight the poor, or aught humane despise:
For Jove unfold our hospitable door,
'Tis Jove that sends the stranger and the poor.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

My guest! I should offend, treating with scorn
The stranger, though a poorer should arrive
Than ev’n thyself; for all the poor that are,
And all the strangers are the care of Jove.
Little, and with good will, is all that lies
Within my scope.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 68ff]

O friend, I dare not, though a worse man sought
These doors, a stranger use discourteously.
All strangers and all poor by Zeus are brought;
Sweet is our gift, yet small.
[tr. Worsley (1862), st. 7]

O stranger! 'Twere a wrongful act of mine,
Ev'n should a wretch more hapless than thyself
Before me come, on such a stranger's claim
To cast contempt: for ev'ry one Unknown
And ev'ry Mendicant from Jove Himself
His claim prefers. But, small, indeed, though kind
Are our donations all.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 90ff]

Sir guest, 'tis not my wont, not e'en should come
A worser man than thou, to slight a guest.
From Zeus are strangers all, and begger-men:
My gift is small, tho' proof of kindliness.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Guest of mine, it were an impious thing for me to slight a stranger, even if there came a meaner man than thou; for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars; and a little gift from such as we, is dear.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

O guest, it were not rightful, though e'en worser than thou he were sped,
To put shame upon a stranger; since guest and bedesman all,
From Zeus they are; and our giving, although it be but small,
Is dear.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Stranger, it is not right for me to slight a stranger, not even one in poorer plight than you; for in the charge of Zeus all strangers and beggars stand, and our small gift is welcome.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Stranger, though a still poorer man should come here, it would not be right for me to insult him, for all strangers and beggars are from Jove. You must take what you can get and be thankful.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Nay, stranger, it were not right for me, even though one meaner than thou were to come, to slight a stranger: for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome from such as we.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

My guest, I should sin if I failed in attention to any stranger, even one poorer than yourself. The needy and the strangers are all from Zeus; and with the likes of us a quite slender gift can convey goodwill.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

"Sir," said the swineherd Eumaeus, "my conscience would not let me turn away a stranger in a worse state even than yourself, for strangers and beggars all come in Zeus’ name, and a gift from folk like us is none the less welcome for being small."
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Tush, friend,
rudeness to a stranger is not decency,
poor though he may be, poorer than you.
All wanderers
and beggars come from Zeus. What we can give
is slight but well-meant.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

Stranger, I have no right to deny the stranger, not
even if one came to me who was meaner than you. All vagabonds
and strangers are under Zeus, and the gift is a light and a dear one
that comes from us.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Dear guest. I'd never slight the least of strangers. Not even one more wretched than you are; for it is Zeus who sends to us all beggars and strangers; and a gift, however small, means much when given by a man like me.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

Stranger, for me it would not be right to dishonor a stranger, though one baser than you came, for every stranger and beggar has the protection of Zeus; and a gift, though little, but welcome, lies in our power to give.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

Stranger, it is not right for me to turn away any stranger, even one in a worse state than you are, for strangers and beggars all come in Zeus' name, and a gift from folk like us is none the less welcome for being small.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

Stranger, it is not right for me to treat a guest dishonorably, not even one in a worse state than you; all strangers and beggars are under the protection of Zeus. What I can offer is small, but you are welcome to it.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

One must honor guests and foreigners and strangers, even those much poorer than oneself. Zeus watches over beggars and guests and strangers. What I have to give is small, but I will give it gladly.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Stranger, were one even meaner than you than you to come here, I'd still have no right to reject him, for all strangers and beggars are from Zeus, and a gift, however small, is friendly from folk such as us.
[tr. Green (2018)]

It would be wrong,
stranger, for me to disrespect a guest,
even if one worse off than you arrived,
for every guest and beggar comes from Zeus,
and any gift from people like ourselves,
though small, is welcome.
[tr. Johnston (2019)]

Added on 7-Jul-21 | Last updated 25-Dec-21
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The selfish man believes that by closing his heart against his fellows, and centering in self every thought and feeling, he escapes much suffering. But his egotistical calculations are invariably defeated; for his contracted sympathies being all directed to one focus, he so aggravates the ills he endures, that he expends on self along more painful pity than the most enthusiastic philanthropist devotes to mankind.

Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington (1789-1849) Irish novelist [Lady Blessington, b. Margaret Power]
Desultory Thoughts and Reflections (1839)
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Errors and mistakes, however gross, in matters of opinion, if they are sincere, are to be pitied, but not punished nor laughed at. The blindness of the understanding is as much to be pitied as the blindness of the eye, and there is neither jest nor guilt in a man’s losing his way in either case. Charity bids us set him right if we can, by arguments and persuasions; but charity, at the same time, forbids, either to punish or ridicule his misfortune.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (21 Sep 1747)
    (Source)

On religious tolerance.
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Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows; who shares his joys with those who are sad; whose hand is never closed against the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid the week; whose sympathy is quick and genuine in time of trouble; who recognizes a comrade and brother in every man he meets upon life’s common road; who lives his life throughout the entire year in the Christmas spirit.

Edwin Osgood Grover (1870-1965) American publisher and educator
(Attributed (1912))
    (Source)
Added on 24-Dec-20 | Last updated 24-Dec-20
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The Faith you mention has doubtless its use in the World. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavour to lessen it in any Man. But I wish it were more productive of good Works, than I have generally seen it: I mean real good Works, Works of Kindness, Charity, Mercy, and Publick Spirit; not Holiday-keeping, Sermon-Reading or Hearing; performing Church Ceremonies, or making long Prayers, filled with Flatteries and Compliments, despis’d even by wise Men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Joseph Huey (6 Jun 1753)
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The worst days of darkness through which I have ever passed have been greatly alleviated by throwing myself with all my energy into some work relating to others.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Letter to B. A. Hinsdale (30 Apr 1874)
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But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
1 John 3:17-18 [KJV]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • [NRSV] "How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."
  • [NIV] "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
  • [GNT] "If we are rich and see others in need, yet close our hearts against them, how can we claim that we love God? My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action."
  • [TJB] "If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods saw that one of his brothers was in need, but closed his heart to him, how could the love of God be living in him? My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active."
Added on 24-Feb-20 | Last updated 24-Feb-20
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Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Psalm 82:3 [KJV]
    (Source)

  • [GNT] "Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless."
  • [NRSV] "Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute."
Added on 10-Feb-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-20
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Who kindly sets a wand’rer on his way
Does e’en as if he lit another’s lamp by his:
No less shines his, when he his friend’s hath lit.

[Homó, qui erranti cómiter monstrát viam,
Quasi lúmen de suo lúmine accendát, facit.
Nihiló minus ipsi lúcet, cum illi accénderit.]

Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) Roman poet, writer
Telephus, frag 412-414 [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

The fragment comes to us from Cicero, De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 16 / sec. 51 (44 BC). Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

He that directs the wandering traveller,
Doth, as it were, light another's torch by his own;
Which gives him ne'er the less of light, for that
It gave another.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

The man who kindly points out the way to the wandering traveller, gives light to the lamp of another, without diminishing by the communication the light of his own.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

He who kindly shows the bewildered traveller the right road, does as it were light his lamp by his own; which affords none the less light to himself after it has lighted the other.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Who kindly shows a wanderer his way,
Lights, as it were, a torch from his own torch, --
In kindling others' light, no less he shines.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

The man who kindly points the way top a wanderer, does as though he kindles a light from the light that is his; it shines none the less for himself when he has kindled it for his fellow.
["trib Teleph. R suae lumine accendit facis Hartman, Mnemoe., XXI, 382 fortass recte"]
Added on 16-Jan-20 | Last updated 4-Jan-21
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For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (NIV)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • KJV: "For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."
  • GNT: "The Lord your God is supreme over all gods and over all powers. He is great and mighty, and he is to be obeyed. He does not show partiality, and he does not accept bribes. He makes sure that orphans and widows are treated fairly; he loves the foreigners who live with our people, and gives them food and clothes. So then, show love for those foreigners, because you were once foreigners in Egypt."
Added on 18-Sep-19 | Last updated 18-Sep-19
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Come heed me, my brothers, come heed, one and all
Don’t brag about standing or you’ll surely fall
You’re shining your light and shine it you should
But you’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good

If you’re holding heaven, then spread it around
There’s hungry hands reaching up here from the ground
Move over and share the high ground where you stood
So heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good

John R. "Johnny" Cash (1932-2003) American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, author
“So Heavenly Minded, You’re No Earthly Good”
    (Source)
Added on 5-Sep-19 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life, and it is therefore essential that they should not let one down. They often do. The moral of which is that I must, myself, be as reliable as possible, and this I try to be. But reliability is not a matter of contract — that is the main difference between the world of personal relationships and the world of business relationships. It is a matter for the heart, which signs no documents. In other words, reliability is impossible unless there is a natural warmth. Most men possess this warmth, though they often have bad luck and get chilled. Most of them, even when they are politicians, want to keep faith. And one can, at all events, show one’s own little light here, one’s own poor little trembling flame, with the knowledge that it is not the only light that is shining in the darkness, and not the only one which the darkness does not comprehend.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good.

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) Italian scholar and poet [a.k.a. Petrarch]
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in In Henry T. Tuckerman, "Petrarch," The American Whig Review (May 1845). The first word is sometimes quoted as "charity".
Added on 5-Sep-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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He who gives only what he would as readily throw away gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Notes from Life, “Of Money: Giving and Taking” (1853)
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Added on 5-Sep-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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God is pleased with no music from below so much as in the thanksgiving songs of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing, and comforted, and thankful persons.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) English cleric and author
Sermon 25, “The Duties of the Tongue,” Part 4 [Eph. 4:29]
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Added on 5-Jul-17 | Last updated 5-Jul-17
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Loving-kindness is greater than laws; and the charities of life are more than all ceremonies.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Unreferenced)
Added on 1-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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“I hope that you did not give him anything, Mr Sanderson!”

“Of course I did, ma’am.”

“But he would only spend it on drink! You know what the working classes are!”

“Indeed, ma’am, and why should he not spend it on drink? Would you deprive the poor, whose lives are bad and miserable and comfortless enough, of the solace of a little relief from grinding poverty? A sordid, sodden relief perhaps, but would you be so heartless as to deny the poor even that pleasure in which all of us indulge at your generous expense?”

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Cocaine Blues (1989)
    (Source)
Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 25-May-17
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He that gives should never remember. He that receives should never forget.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Unreferenced)
Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Mishnah, Zeraim, Pe’ah 4:19
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Added on 30-Mar-17 | Last updated 30-Mar-17
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If a civil word or two will render a man happy, he must be a wretch indeed who will not give them to him.

Louis XIV (1638-1715) French monarch (1643-1715) [Louis the Great, the Sun King)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in William Seward, Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons, Vol 4, 5th ed. (1804).
Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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In Christmas feasting pray take care;
Let not your table be a Snare;
But with the Poor God’s Bounty share.

franklin-christmas-feasting-wist_info-quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack, December (1748)
    (Source)
Added on 23-Dec-16 | Last updated 16-Dec-19
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Christmas Day is a day of joy and charity. May God make you very rich in both.

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) American clergyman, hymnist
Sermons, “Christmas Day” (1910)
    (Source)

Full quote: "It is a day of joy and charity. May God make you very rich in both by giving you abundantly the glory of the Incarnation, the peace of Christ's kingship, and the grace of Christ's salvation."
Added on 23-Dec-16 | Last updated 23-Dec-16
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Convinced that character is all and circumstances nothing, [the Puritan] sees in the poverty of those who fall by the way, not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4 (1926)
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GERVAIS: Whenever I do a thing about animals, there’s always someone that goes, “What about children dying in Syria?” Yeah, that’s bad, too — can’t we care about both? Sometimes I go, “You carry on all your good work for the fucking children in Syria, and I’ll do this.” I love the fact that there’s a hierarchy of things that you’ve got to care about. I tweeted “I love humans — they’re just not my favorite animal.” That was to annoy people.

GQ: True, though?

GERVAIS: No, I’m not a maniac. Of course humans are my favorite animal. [pauses] But I’ve never met an animal who was a cunt.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Interview with Chris Heath, GQ (15 May 2013)
    (Source)
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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He who withholds but a pennyworth of worldly goods from his neighbor, knowing him to be in need of it, is a robber in the sight of God.

Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?) German Dominican mystic, theologian [a.k.a. Eckehart von Hochheim]
Meister Eckhart, Tractate 6, “Sister Katrei” [ed. Pfeiffer (1857), tr. Evans]
    (Source)
Added on 30-Sep-16 | Last updated 30-Sep-16
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Great minds, like heaven, are pleased in doing good,
Though the ungrateful subjects of their favors
Are barren in return.

Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718) English poet and dramatist
Tamerlane, Act 2, sc. 2 (1701)
Added on 16-Sep-16 | Last updated 16-Sep-16
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In giving of thy alms, inquire not so much into the person, as his necessity. God looks not so much upon the merits of him that requires, as into the manner of him that relieves; if the man deserve not, thou hast given it to humanity.

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Enchyridion, Cent. 3, cap. 38
    (Source)
Added on 9-Sep-16 | Last updated 9-Sep-16
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I will enjoy the pleasure of what I give by giving it alive, and seeing another enjoy it. When I die, I should be ashamed to leave enough to build me a monument if there were a wanting friend above ground.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
Letter to Jonathan Swift (9 Oct 1729)
Added on 2-Sep-16 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.

London - bone shared with the dog - wist_info quote

Jack London (1876-1916) American novelist
“My Life in the Underworld,” Cosmopolitan Magazine (May 1907)
Added on 26-Aug-16 | Last updated 26-Aug-16
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Be charitable and indulgent to every one but yourself.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1884 ed.).
Added on 19-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Aug-16
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We do not quite forgive a giver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Gifts,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
Added on 12-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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The man who has received a benefit ought always to remember it, but he who has granted it ought to forget the fact at once.

Demosthenes (384-322 BC) Greek orator and statesman
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Attributed in Hugh Percy Jones, A New Dictionary of Foreign Phrases and Classical Quotations (1900).
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For a man to love again where he is loved, it is the charity of publicans contracted by mutual profit and good offices; but to love a man’s enemies is one of the cunningest points of the law of Christ, and an imitation of the divine nature.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Sacred Meditations [Meditationes Sacræ], “Of the Exaltation of Charity” (1597)
Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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Posthumous charities are the very essence of selfishness, when bequeathed by those who, when alive, would part with nothing.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, #341 (1820)
    (Source)
Added on 30-Jul-16 | Last updated 29-Apr-22
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Do not give, as many rich men do, like a hen that lays her egg and then cackles.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
“Plymouth Pulpit” (26 Jun 1869)
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A man should fear when he enjoys only what good he does publicly. Is it not the publicity, rather than the charity, that he loves?

Beecher - what good he does publicly - wist_info quote

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
In Henry Ward Beecher and Edna Dean Proctor, Life Thoughts: Gathered From the Extemporaneous Discourses of Henry Ward Beecher (1858)

See Matthew.
Added on 8-Jul-16 | Last updated 8-Jul-16
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