C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Debt is the worst poverty.

M. G. Lichtwer.

He that dies pays all debts.


A church debt is the devil’s salary.


Who goes a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing.


A small debt makes a debtor; a heavy one makes an enemy.

Publius Syrus.

If I owe Smith ten dollars, and God forgives me, that doesn’t pay Smith.

R. G. Ingersoll.

Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.

Benjamin Franklin.

Many delight more in giving of presents than in paying their debts.

Sir P. Sidney.

Debt is like any other trap, easy enough to get into, but hard enough to get out of.

H. W. Shaw.

I hold every man a debtor to his profession.


  • Wilt them seal up the avenues of ill?
  • Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill!
  • Emerson.

    Lose not thy own for want of asking for it; it will get thee no thanks.


    Debt is the secret foe of thrift, as vice and idleness are its open enemies.


  • The ghost of many a veteran bill
  • Shall hover around his slumbers.
  • Holmes.

    Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them.

    Benjamin Franklin.

    A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.

    Alex. Hamilton.

    The man who never has money enough to pay his debts has too much of something else.

    J. L. Basford.

    Creditors have better memories than debtors; and creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.


    Debt is the fatal disease of republics, the first thing and the mightiest to undermine government and corrupt the people.

    Wendell Phillips.

    Paying of debts is, next to the grace of God, the best means in the world to deliver you from a thousand temptations to sin and vanity.


    Run not into debt, either for wares sold or money borrowed; be content to want things that are not of absolute necessity, rather than to run up the score.

    Sir M. Hale.

    Man hazards the condition and loses the virtues of freeman, in proportion as he accustoms his thoughts to view without anguish or shame his lapse into the bondage of debtor.


    Debt is to man what the serpent is to the bird; its eye fascinates, its breath poisons, its coil crushes sinew and bone, its jaw is the pitiless grave.


    Small debts are like small shot,—they are rattling on every side, and can scarcely be escaped without a wound; great debts are like cannon, of loud noise but little danger.


    A public debt is a kind of anchor in the storm; but if the anchor be too heavy for the vessel, she will be sunk by that very weight which was intended for her preservation.


    Never be argued out of your soul, never be argued out of your honor, and never be argued into believing that soul and honor do not run a terrible risk if you limp into life with the load of a debt on your shoulders.


    To one that is not callous, a state of debt and embarrassment is a state of positive misery; the sufferer is as one haunted by an evil spirit, and his heart can know neither rest nor peace till it is cast out.


    At the time we were funding our national debt, we heard much about “a public debt being a public blessing,” that the stock representing it was a creation of active capital for the ailment of commerce, manufactures and agriculture.

    Thomas Jefferson.

    Debt, grinding debt, whose iron face the widow, the orphan, and the sons of genius fear and hate; debt, which consumes so much time, which so cripples and disheartens a great spirit with cares that seem so base, is a preceptor whose lessons cannot be foregone, and is needed most by those who suffer from it most.


    Debt haunts the mind; a conversation about justice troubles it; the sight of a creditor fills it with confusion; even the sanctuary is not a place of refuge. The borrower is servant to the lender. Independence, so essential to the virtues and pleasures of a man, can only be maintained by setting bounds to our desires, and owing no man anything. A habit of boundless expense undermines and destroys the virtues even in the mind where they seem to dwell. It becomes difficult and at last impossible to pay punctually. When a man of sensibility thinks of the low rate at which his word must henceforth pass, he is little in his own eyes; but difficulties prompt him to study deceiving as an art, and at last he lies to his creditors without a blush. How desolate and how woeful does his mind appear, now that the fence of truth is broken down! Friendship is next dissolved. He felt it once; he now insinuates himself by means of professions and sentiments which were once sincere. He seizes the moment of unsuspecting affection to ensnare the friends of his youth, borrowing money which he never will pay, and binding them for debts which they must hereafter answer. At this rate he sells the virtuous pleasures of loving and being beloved. He swallows up the provisions of aged parents, and the portion of sisters and brethren. The loss of truth is followed by the loss of humanity. His calls are still importunate. He proceeds to fraud and walks on precipices. Ingenuity, which in a better cause might have illustrated his name, is exerted to evade the law, to deceive the world, to cover poverty with the appearance of wealth, to sow unobserved the seeds of fraud.


    A man who owes a little can clear it off in a very little time, and, if be is a prudent man, will; whereas a man, who by long negligence, owes a great deal, despairs of ever being able to pay, and therefore never looks into his accounts at all.