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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)]
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(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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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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“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)
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Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 25-May-17
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If a baseball player slides into home plate and, right before the umpire rules if he is safe or out, the player says to the umpire, “Here is $1,000,” what would we call that? We would call that a bribe. If a lawyer was arguing a case before a judge and said, “Your honor before you decide on the guilt or innocence of my client, here is $1,000,” what would we call that? We would call that a bribe. But if an industry lobbyist walks into the office of a key legislator and hands her or him a check for $1,000, we call that a campaign contribution. We should call it a bribe.

Janice Fine (contemp.) American political scientist, academic
Interview with Laura Orlando, “The Clean-Elections Movement,” Dollars and Sense (Jul/Aug 2000)
Added on 4-Mar-16 | Last updated 4-Mar-16
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Open your hands, ye whose hands are full! The world is waiting for you! The whole machinery of the Divine beneficence is clogged by your hard hearts and rigid fingers. Give and spend, and be sure that God will send; for only in giving and spending do you fulfill the object of His sending.

J. G. Holland (1819-1881) American novelist, poet, editor [Josiah Gilbert Holland; pseud. Timothy Titcomb]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
Added on 8-Jan-14 | Last updated 8-Jan-14
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We may also observe that a great many people do many things that seem to be inspired more by a spirit of ostentation than by heart-felt kindness; for such people are not really generous but are rather influenced by a sort of ambition to make a show of being open-handed. Such a pose is nearer akin to hypocrisy than to generosity or moral goodness.

[Videre etiam licet plerosque non tam natura liberales quam quadam gloria ductos, ut benefici videantur, facere multa, quae proficisci ab ostentatione magis quam a voluntate videantur. Talis autem sinulatio vanitati est coniunctior quam aut liberalitati aut honestati.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 14 / sec. 44 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "One may also observe in a great many people, that they take a sort of pride in being counted magnificent, and give very plentifully, not from any generous principle in their natures, but only to appear great in the eye of the world; so that all their bounty is resolved into nothing but mere outside and pretense, and is nearer of kin to vanity and folly, than it is to either liberality or honesty." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "Besides we may observe, that most men, not so much from a liberal disposition, as led by some show of apparent beneficence, do acts of kindness, which seem to flow more from ostentation than from the heart. This conduct is more allied to vanity than to liberality or honour." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "For it is easy to observe, that most of them are not so much by nature generous, as they are misled by a kind of pride to do a great many things in order that they may seem to be generous; which things seem to spring not so much from good will as from ostentation. Now such a simulation is more nearly allied to duplicity than to generosity or virtue." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "We can see, also, that a large number of persons, less from a liberal nature than for the reputation of generosity, do many things that evidently proceed from ostentation rather than from good will." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
Added on 29-May-11 | Last updated 26-Oct-20
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