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The business of charity

“Now in rendering helpful service to people, we usually consider either their character or their circumstances. And so it is an easy remark, and one commonly made, to say that in investing kindnesses we look not to people’s outward circumstances, but to their character. The phrase is admirable! But who is there, pray, that does not in performing a service set the favour of a rich and influential man above the cause of a poor, though most worthy, person? For, as a rule, our will is more inclined to the one from whom we expect a prompter and speedier return. But we should observe more carefully how the matter really stands: the poor man of whom we spoke cannot return a favour in kind, of course, but if he is a good man he can do it at least in thankfulness of heart.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis (trans. Miller)

Published inCiceroEconomicsThe Ancients

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