Some men speak in the most offensive terms of those to whom they owe most.
There are men whom it is safer to affront than to serve, for their dislike leads them to assume the airs of persons who are not indebted to us: although nothing more is expected of them than that they should remember what they owe us, refreshing their memory from time to time, because no one can be grateful who forgets a kindness, and he who remembers it, by so doing proves his gratitude.
We ought neither to receive benefits with a fastidious air, nor yet with a slavish humility: for if a man does not care for a benefit when it is freshly bestowed—a time at which all presents please us most—what will he do when its first charms have gone off?
Others receive with an air of disdain, as much as to say.
“I do not want it; but as you wish it so very much, I will allow you to give it to me.”
Others take benefits languidly, and leave the giver in doubt as to whether they know that they have received them; others barely open their lips in thanks, and would be less offensive if they said nothing.
One ought to proportion one’s thanks to the importance of the benefit received, and to use the phrases, “You have laid more of us than you think under an obligation,” for everyone likes to find his good actions extend further than he expected.
“You do not know what it is that you have done for me; but you ought to know how much more important it is than you imagine.”
It is in itself an expression of gratitude to speak of oneself as overwhelmed by kindness; or “I shall never be able to thank you sufficiently; but, at any rate, I will never cease to express everywhere my inability to thank you.”