Quotations about:
    debt


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A tinker’s debt is always paid:
Once for any simple trade.
Twice for freely given aid.
Thrice for any insult made.

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973) American author
The Name of the Wind, ch. 1 (2007)
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Added on 10-Nov-22 | Last updated 10-Nov-22
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That I nor gold nor silver to you send,
I this forbear, for your sake, learned friend.
Who gives great gifts, expects great gifts again;
My cheap ones to return will cause no pain.

[Quod non argentum, quod non tibi mittimus aurum,
Hoc facimus causa, Stella diserte, tua.
Quisquis magna dedit, voluit sibi magna remitti;
Fictilibus nostris exoneratus eris.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 59 (5.59) [tr. Anon. (1695)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That of silver or gold we afford no oblation,
'Tis for they sake, sweet Stella, th' economy's such.
Ample off'rings expect ample remuneration;
A plain service of earth will not gravitate much.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 2, ep. 11]

In forbearing to send you either silver or gold, eloquent Stella, I have acted for your interest. Whoever makes great presents, wishes great presents to be made in return. By my present of earthenware vases you will be released from such an obligation.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

In sending you no silver plate, no gold plate, I act in your interest, eloquent Stella. He who has given great presents has desired great presents in return: your burden will be lightened by my earthenware.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Dear poet friend, desirous to befriend you
It is not gold or silver that I send you,
For costly gifts demand a costly guerdon;
My pretty gift shall free you from a burden.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Thank me you get no wealthy gifts from me.
It keeps you of reciprocation free.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

 
Added on 8-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Little friends may prove great friends.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
Fables [Aesopica], “The Lion and the Mouse” (6th C BC) [tr. Jacobs (1894)]
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Alternate translations:

  • "There is no creature so much below another but that he may have it in his power to return a good office." [tr. James (1848)]
  • "It is possible for even a Mouse to confer benefits on a Lion" [tr. Townsend (1887)]
 
Added on 23-Sep-21 | Last updated 23-Sep-21
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No man knows his true character until he has run out of gas, purchased something on the installment plan, and raised an adolescent.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1955)
 
Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-22
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Debt is the sort of Bedfellow who is forever pulling all the Covers his way.

No picture available
Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Don’ts for Bachelors and Old Maids (1908)
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Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 17-Sep-21
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When asked what ages quickly, he replied, “Gratitude.”

[ἐρωτηθεὶς τί γηράσκει ταχύ, “χάρις,” ἔφη.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 18 [tr. Mensch (2018)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Once he was asked what grew old most speedily, and he replied, “Gratitude.”
[tr. Yonge (1853), sec. 11]

Being asked, "What is it that soon grows old?" he answered, "Gratitude."
[tr. Hicks (1925)]

When he was asked what grows old quickly, he said "thanks."
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

 
Added on 3-Aug-21 | Last updated 3-Aug-21
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Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He fails to make his place good in the world, unless he not only pays his debt, but also adds something to the common wealth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Wealth,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 3 (1860)
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Added on 7-Apr-20 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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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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You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

William J. H. Boetcker (1873-1962) German-American religious leader, author, public speaker [William John Henry Boetcker]
“The Industrial Decalogue” (1916)

Often referred to as "The Ten Cannots," and also often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.
 
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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Experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay scot and lot as they go along, and that a man often pays dear for a small frugality.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Added on 9-Jan-17 | Last updated 9-Jan-17
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The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III” (15 May 1945)

Unpublished memo distributed to the British Cabinet. Variant: "If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has."
 
Added on 20-Dec-16 | Last updated 20-Dec-16
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Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 1, sc. 4, l. 122ff [Fool] (1606)
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Added on 26-Mar-15 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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One can pay back a loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Malayan proverb
 
Added on 25-Nov-14 | Last updated 25-Nov-14
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A small loan makes a debtor; a great one, an enemy.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 12 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
 
Added on 17-Jul-09 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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Life is a business that does not cover the costs.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
The World as Will and Idea [Welt als Wille und Vorstellung], vol. II “On the Vanity and Suffering of Life” (1819)
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Added on 18-Jul-08 | Last updated 4-Apr-14
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The holy passion of friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring in nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 8, epigraph (1894)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1 “Life” (1912)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Spurious)
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One of several related paraphrases of this "quote" from Taylor Caldwell's novel about Cicero, A Pillar of Iron, ch. 51 (1965):

Antonius heartily agreed with him [sc. Cicero] that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that public debt should be reduced, that the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible.


See here and here for more discussion.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Aug-20
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Debt is the slavery of the free.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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