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that is, from his own possessions, not because he thinks it is a noble thing to do, but because it is a necessary condition of having the means to give. He will not be careless of his property, inasmuch as he wishes to employ it for the assistance of others. He will not give indiscriminately, in order that he may be able to give to the right persons and at the right time, and where it is noble to do so. 1. [18] But the liberal man is certainly prone to go to excess in giving, so as to leave himself the smaller share; for it is a mark of a liberal nature to be regardless of self.1. [19]

In crediting people with Liberality their resources must be taken into account; for the liberality of a gift does not depend on its amount, but on the disposition of the giver, and a liberal disposition gives according to its substance.1 It is therefore possible that the smaller giver may be the more liberal, if he give from smaller means. 1. [20] Men who have inherited a fortune are reputed to be more liberal than those who have made one, since they have never known what it is to want; moreover everybody is specially fond of a thing that is his own creation: parents and poets show this. But it is not easy for a liberal man to be rich, since he is not good either at getting money or at keeping it, while he is profuse in spending it and values wealth not for its own sake but as a means of giving. 1. [21] Hence people blame fortune because the most deserving men are the least wealthy. But this is really perfectly natural: you cannot have money, any more than anything else, without taking pains to have it. 1. [22]

On the other hand, the liberal man will not give to the wrong people, nor at the wrong time, and so forth, for this would not be an act of Liberality at all; and if he spent his money on the wrong objects he would not have any to spend on the right ones. 1. [23] In fact, as was said before, the liberal man is one who spends in proportion to his means as well as on the right objects; while he that exceeds his means is prodigal. This is why we do not call the lavishness of princes Prodigality; because we feel that however much they spend and give away they can hardly exceed the limit of their resources.1. [24]

Liberality then being the observance of the mean in the giving and getting of wealth, the liberal man will not only give and spend the right amounts on the right objects alike in small matters and in great, and feel pleasure in so doing, but will also take the right amounts, and from the right sources. For as this virtue is a mean both in giving and in getting, he will do both in the right way. Right getting goes with right giving, wrong getting is opposed to right giving; the two concordant practices therefore may be found in the same person, but the two opposite ones clearly cannot be.

1 Or (accepting Bywater's emendation) ‘and this is relative to his substance.’

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