Thursday, January 14, 2016

On Borrowing


"A lady does not borrow of anyone without the extremest need..."
Katherine Eleanor Conway, A Lady and Her Letters, 1905

Ordinarily, a lady is predisposed against borrowing.  She does not take possession of another's belongings lightly, and understands that a seemingly small request may for unexpected reasons cause inconvenience to the lender.  She also considers that an item may have come to its owner at some sacrifice or may have the sentimental attachment of being a gift from someone dear, and for this reason is reluctant to risk accident to it.  Therefore, as a general rule,  a lady obtains her own or does without.


"Who goeth a borrowing goeth a sorrowing."
Thomas Tusser, "June's Abstract"

Principle:  A lady does not readily borrow of others.

Photo: found on Pinterest

10 comments:

  1. hmmm....not sure I agree with this one. I think there are principles to follow when borrowing something - like returning the item in a timely manner and not keeping it any longer than necessary, but I don't see any problem with borrowing something.

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    1. Dear Jill, I'm happy you spoke up because I expect many will agree with you! Of course, nothing is wrong per se with borrowing when it's done in the way you say. My quest, however, is to uncover the old-school ways that used to set apart the breed of gentlewomen that is becoming so rare today ... to find out the code by which they lived and to understand the thinking behind it. I'm discovering that it isn't always a question of whether there is anything wrong in doing something, but rather whether there is anything admirable in it. And for the reasons offered above, I'm inclined to agree with Emily Post when she said "borrowing is not an admirable practice." ("Borrow with Care", The Milwaukee Journal, Jan. 6, 1946.)

      I always appreciate hearing from you!

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    2. I think the key word I missed in the principle was "readily". Whenever I find myself in need of something I don't have, I think long and hard about how I might obtain it. Usually I default to doing without, but sometimes I can't. If I can think of a proper way to borrow it, I will...otherwise I'll buy it. Recently my daughter needed white clothing for and angel costume. It's pretty hard to find white in winter - especially for a young girl. Thankfully I was able to borrow it from someone I knew who had an abundance of costumes.

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  2. Interesting post, thank you. I am glad to read of this concept of borrowing as not necessarily wrong, but less than admirable. I never gave it much thought, but I have very seldom in my life really borrowed anything, other than maybe a pencil from the classmate sitting next to me, before a test. I was always uncomfortable with the idea of borrowing something significant, even a book, as I'm prone to forgetfulness and do lose my own things more often than I'd care to admit. The things I have borrowed have been items that the lenders have unexpectedly suggested I "borrow," and only after they insist. For now, the only things I think we should seriously borrow are library books!

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    1. Dear Antheia, thank you for your thoughtful remarks. Few of us get through life without borrowing something, but you've caught the spirit of a lady's code when you say you've always been uncomfortable with borrowing something significant. Library books, excepted, of course! :-)

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  3. Thank you Dear Nancy for this post. I believe my parents (and my husband's) have always set a fine example for us in this area and possibly for this reason we have 'subconsciously' followed their lead. To have it actually written down -in black and white- makes it so clear.:) I really love your work. Thank you.

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    1. You're most welcome, Linda. Like you, I believe that I "caught" so much more from my parents' example than I was "taught". Example is a wonderful teacher!

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  4. I think also the borrowing problem is that you put someone on the spot. If you really don't want to lend something to someone, how do you say "no" politely?
    Years ago, in my first semester of college, a girl - that I really did not know well (and never did get to know well) asked to borrow a frilly blouse. She washed and dried it, returning it to me small enough for a 4 year old to wear. As a teacher, I NEVER promote the idea of sharing belongings with others. When a student complains that someone won't share their new crayons, I remind them, no one NEEDS to share something they own. They may if they want to, but it is not your right to use what belongs to someone else, and it isn't polite to ask.

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    1. Beautifully put, Donna. We can and often do put people in a very awkward spot when we ask to borrow. And I believe your response to your students is extremely wise! Thanks very much for sharing your insight here.

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