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An essay by Elbert Hubbard

Giving Something For Nothing

Title:     Giving Something For Nothing
Author: Elbert Hubbard [More Titles by Hubbard]

To give a man something for nothing tends to make the individual dissatisfied with himself.

Your enemies are the ones you have helped.

And when an individual is dissatisfied with himself he is dissatisfied with the whole world--and with you.

A man's quarrel with the world is only a quarrel with himself. But so strong is this inclination to lay blame elsewhere and take credit to ourselves, that when we are unhappy we say it is the fault of this woman or that man. Especially do women attribute their misery to That Man.

And often the trouble is he has given her too much for nothing.

This truth is a reversible, back-action one, well lubricated by use, working both ways--as the case may be.

Nobody but a beggar has really definite ideas concerning his rights. People who give much--who love much--do not haggle.

That form of affection which drives sharp bargains and makes demands, gets a check on the bank in which there is no balance.

There is nothing so costly as something you get for nothing.

My friend Tom Lowry, Magnate in Ordinary, of Minneapolis and the east side of Wall Street, has recently had a little experience that proves my point.

A sturdy beggar-man, a specimen of decayed gentility, once called on Tammas with a hard-luck story and a Family Bible, and asked for a small loan on the Good Book.

To be compelled to soak the Family Bible would surely melt the heart of gneiss!

Tom was melted.

Tom made the loan but refused the collateral, stating he had no use for it.

Which was God's truth for once.

In a few weeks the man came back, and tried to tell Tom his hard-luck story concerning the Cold Ingratitude of a Cruel World.

Tom said, "Spare me the slow music and the recital--I have troubles of my own. I need mirth and good cheer--take this dollar, and peace be with you."

"Peace be multiplied unto thee," said the beggar, and departed. The next month the man returned, and began to tell Tom a tale of Cruelty, Injustice and Ingratitude.

Tom was riled--he had his magnate business to attend to, and he made a remark in italics. The beggar said, "Mr. Lowry, if you had your business a little better systematized, I would not have to trouble you personally--why don't you just speak to your cashier?" And the great man, who once took a party of friends out for a tally-ho ride, and through mental habit collected five cents from each guest, was so pleased at the thought of relief that he pressed the buzzer. The cashier came, and Tom said, "Put this man Grabheimer on your pay-roll, give him two dollars now and the same the first of every month."

Then turning to the beggar-man, Tom said, "Now get out of here--hurry, vamose, hike--and be damned to you!"

"The same to you and many of them," said His Effluvia politely, and withdrew.

All this happened two years ago. The beggar got his money regularly for a year, and then in auditing accounts Tom found the name on the pay-roll, and as Tom could not remember how the name got there, he at first thought the pay-roll was being stuffed. Anyway he ordered the beggar's name stricken off the roster, and the elevator man was instructed to enforce the edict against beggars.

Not being allowed to see his man, the beggar wrote him letters--denunciatory, scandalous, abusive, threatening. Finally the beggar laid the matter before an obese limb o' the Law, Jaggers, of the firm of Jaggers & Jaggers, who took the case on a contingent fee.

The case came to trial, and Jaggers proved his case se offendendo--argal: it was shown by the defendant's books that His Bacteria had been on the pay-roll and his name had been stricken off without suggestion, request, cause, reason or fault of his own.

His Crabship proved the contract, and Tom got it in the mazzard. Judgment for plaintiff, with costs. The beggar got the money and Minneapolis Tom got the experience. Tom said the man would lose the money, but he himself has gotten the part that will be his for ninety-nine years. Surely the spirit of justice does not sleep and there is a beneficent and wise Providence that watches over magnates.

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Elbert Hubbard's essay: Giving Something For Nothing