Neither a borrower nor a lender be

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is truly and excellent precept, full of great practical wisdom which warns us against the habit of borrowing or lending money. It is a piece of worldly wisdom which old Polonius in Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ gives to his son Lacerates who is about to leave for Paris.

The significance of this advice is that in money matters we must always be very cautious. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into the evil habit of borrowing money from others. The habit of borrowing prevents us from being industrious and thrifty. We must manage our financial affairs in such a way that we may never have to borrow money from our friends or relations. Instead we must work hard. We must earn money enough for our wants and save for a rainy day. We must live within our means and at all costs resist the temptation of being extravagant. We must cut our coat according to our cloth and avoid being dependent on others. By our regular savings we must provide for all the foreseen expenses and unforeseen contingencies. A borrower always bears the burden of obligation and feels shy and inferior in the company of the lender. He cannot but fell in at ease until he has fully repaid the loan.

If borrowing is bad, lending is worse. We must not confuse money lending with generosity. Even if we are fortunate enough to possess surplus wealth, we should take care not to lend it out indiscriminately. A habitual borrower is seldom in a position to return the loans taken by him. if we lend money to such a person, we are sure to lose the loan. That creates a lot of bitterness at both ends and we lose the friendship too. Thus, a lender loses both his money and his friend. Therefore, if one wants to b happy and comfortable, one must be neither a borrower nor a lender.

But like all other precepts, this precept is also a half-truth. Though it is generally true for personal borrowings, it is intended only for general guidance. We should not follow it blindly. Otherwise no one would help the needy or even his friend. All charity will cease. Again the precept does not apply to business. Businessmen have to borrow money for business and sell goods on credit. If they follow this precept, they will not be able to run their business. Lastly, the precept and lending.

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