On Benefits Book III, XV

Would that we could indeed persuade men to receive back money which they have lent from those debtors only who are willing to pay!

Would that no agreement ever bound the buyer to the seller, and that their interests were not protected by sealed covenants and agreements, but rather by honour and a sense of justice!

However, men prefer what is needful to what is truly best, and choose rather to force their creditors to keep faith with them than to trust that they will do so.

Witnesses are called on both sides; the one, by calling in brokers, makes several names appear in his accounts as his debtors instead of one; the other is not content with the legal forms of question and answer unless he holds the other party by the hand.

What a shameful admission of the dishonesty and wickedness of mankind! men trust more to our signet-rings than to our intentions.

For what are these respectable men summoned?

For what do they impress their seals?

It is in order that the borrower may not deny that he has received what he has received.

You regard these men, I suppose, as above bribes, as maintainers of the truth: well, these very men will not be entrusted with money except on the same terms.

Would it not, then, be more honourable to be deceived by some than to suspect all men of dishonesty?

To fill up the measure of avarice one thing only is lacking, that we should bestow no benefit without a surety.

To help, to be of service, is the part of a generous and noble mind; he who gives acts like a god, he who demands repayment acts like a moneylender.

Why then, by trying to protect the rights of the former class, should we reduce them to the level of the basest of mankind?