Quotations about   giving

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To have and not give is in some cases worse than stealing.

[Haben und nichts geben, ist in manchen Fällen schlechter als stehlen.]

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms [Aphorismen], No. 41 (1880-1893) [tr. Wister (1882)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

To have and not give is in some instances worse than stealing.
[tr. Scrase/Mieder (1994)]
Added on 2-Aug-22 | Last updated 2-Aug-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)
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Added on 29-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-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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Added on 29-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-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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The art of politics is ostentatious giving and surreptitious taking.

No picture available
Roger J. Vaughan (b. 1946) American economist, economic analyst
In Stephen Labaton, “Presidential Candidates Ignore Banking Problem,” New York Times (7 Oct 1992)
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Added on 12-Jun-20 | Last updated 12-Jun-20
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Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

Simone Weil (1909-1943) French philosopher
Letter to Joë Bousquet (13 Apr 1942)

Quoted in Simone Pétrement, Simone Weil: A Life (1976) [tr. Rosenthal].
Added on 7-Apr-20 | Last updated 7-Apr-20
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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 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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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)
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Added on 23-Dec-16 | Last updated 16-Dec-19
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The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

nelson-ultimate-test-of-mans-conscience-wist_info-quote

Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005) American politician and environmentalist
“Ah, Wilderness! Save It,” New York Times (4 Sep 1984)
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Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 2-Nov-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
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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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The very poor can always be depended upon. They never turn away the hungry. Time and again, all over the United States, have I been refused food at the big house on the hill; and always have I received food from the little shack down by the creek or marsh, with its broken windows stuffed with rags and its tired-faced mother broken with labor. Oh! you charity-mongers, go to the poor and learn, for the poor alone are the charitable. They neither give nor withhold from the excess. They have no excess. They give, and they withhold never, from what they need for themselves. 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)
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Republished in The Road, Part 1, ch. 1 (1907). Recalling his days as a hobo in 1892.
Added on 26-Aug-16 | Last updated 10-Jun-22
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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)
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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)
Added on 15-Jul-16 | Last updated 15-Jul-16
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As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.

Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Dec-15 | Last updated 24-Dec-15
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The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.

Charles Dudley Warner (1829–1900) American essayist and novelist
Backlog Studies, Eleventh Study (1872)
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Added on 18-Mar-15 | Last updated 9-Mar-22
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You make a living by what you earn, you make a life by what you give.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Churchill, but not found in any of his writings or records of his spoken words by the Churchill Centre.
Added on 4-Jun-14 | Last updated 4-Jun-14
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What do you think God gave you more wealth than is requisite to satisfy your rational wants for, when you look around and see how many are in absolute need of that which you do not need? Can you not take the hint?

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 15-Jan-14 | Last updated 15-Jan-14
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In fact generally, doing well by others is more characteristic of virtue than being done well by, and doing things positively honourable than forbearing to do things dishonourable.

[τῆς γὰρ ἀρετῆς μᾶλλον τὸ εὖ ποιεῖν ἢ τὸ εὖ πάσχειν, καὶ τὰ καλὰ πράττειν μᾶλλον ἢ τὰ αἰσχρὰ μὴ πράττειν]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 4, ch. 1 (4.1.7) / 1120a.11 (c. 325 BC) [tr. Chase (1847)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

For virtue rather shows itself in treating others as we ought, than in being treated as we ought; and in doing noble acts, rather than in abstaining from disgraceful acts.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

For it is more truly distinctive of virtue to be the author than to be the recipient of benefactions, and to do what is noble than to abstain from doing what is shameful.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

For it is more distinctive of virtue to do good to others than to have good done to you, and to do what is noble than not to do what is base.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

For it is more characteristic of virtue to do good than to have good done to one, and more characteristic to do what is noble than not to do what is base.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

Virtue is displayed in doing good rather than in having good done to one, and in performing noble acts rather than in avoiding base ones.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

The good man thinks it more blessed to give than to receive, and virtue is more clearly shown in the performance of fine actions than in the non-performance of base ones.
[tr. Thomson (1953)]

Virtue consists more in doing good than in receiving it, and more in doing fine actions than in refraining from disgraceful ones.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

For it is more proper to virtue to do good than to receive good, and more proper to do fine actions than not to do shameful ones.
[tr. Irwin (1999)]

For it is more characteristic of virtue to do good than to receive it, and to do noble actions than not to do shameful ones.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

Cf. the Bible, Acts 20:35 [KJV]:

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Added on 13-Aug-10 | Last updated 3-May-22
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You cannot live the perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

John Wooden (1910-2010) American basketball player and coach
They Call Me Coach, ch. 8, epigram (1972)
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Added on 17-Oct-05 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough is love.

Henry Miller (1891-1980) American novelist
Insomnia, or The Devil at Large (1971)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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As it is better to give than to receive, so it is better to share the fruit of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.

[Sicut enim maius est illuminare quam lucere solum, ita maius est contemplata aliis tradere quam solum contemplari.]

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Italian friar, philosopher, theologian
Summa Theologica, 2a-2ae, “Treatise on the States of Life,” Q.188 “Of the Different Kinds of Religious Life” (1265-1274)
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Just as it is better to illuminate than merely to shine, so to pass on what one has contemplated is better than merely to contemplate."
  • "Better to illuminate than merely to shine; to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate."
  • "Better to light up than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate." [Source]
  • "For even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so it is better to give to others the fruits of one's contemplation than merely to contemplate." [Source]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-20
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Give as thou wouldest receive, cheerfully and quickly, without hesitation, or bargaining.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 418 (1725)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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