The quote “charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it” is NOT from the novel “Consuelo” by George Sand.
It is actually from the sequel of “Consuelo”, by the name of “The Countess Von Rudolstadt” (translated English version) or “La Comtesse De Rudolstadt” (original French version).
It was written by the female French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, using a male pen name George Sand.
The original quote in French is found in Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin aka George Sand’s book titled “La Comtesse de Rudolstadt” Volume 2.
“…l’aumône avilit celui qui la reçoit et endurcit celui qui la fait.” (French)
(La Comtesse De Rudolstadt Par George Sand, Tome Deuxiéme, Nouvelle Édition, Paris: Charpentier, Libraire-Éditeur, 1845, Lettre De Philon À Ignace Joseph Marinowicz, P. 376) source
(The quote in French is also found here.)
Bartlett’s Quoted Wrong Source
For me, it is not a surprise to see the famous Bartlett’s quotations book stated the wrong source.
In fact, two of its collections have this blunder:
It is only in Joseph Amber Barry’s book “Infamous Woman: The Life of George Sand“, there is this particular English translated line: “charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it“.
Charity Degrades Not From Consuelo
Interestingly, none of the four translated versions of George sand’s book “The Countess Von Rudolstadt” has this quote.
None of them use the word “charity” at all.
Let’s check them out:
Gretchen Jane Van Slyke Translation:
“…alms demean the receiver and harden the giver.” – George Sand
(The Countess von Rudolstadt By George Sand, Translated By Gretchen Van Slyke, Philadelphia: University Of Pennsylvania Press, 2010, Letter From Philon To Ignatius Joseph Martinowicz, P. 403) source
Francis George Shaw Translation:
“…alms debase him who receives and harden him who gives.” – George Sand
(The Countess Von Rudolstadt [Sequel To “Consuelo”] By George Sand, In Two Volumes, Vol. I, Translated By Francis G. Shaw, Boston: William D Ticknor And Company, 1847, A Letter From Philon To Ignatius Joseph Martinowicz, P. 270) source
Frank H. Potter Translation:
“…alms degrade those who receive them and harden those who give them.” – George Sand
(The Countess Von Rudolstadt [Sequel To “Consuelo”] By George Sand, In Two Volumes, Vol. II, Translated From The French By Frank H. Potter, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1891, A Letter Of Philon To Ignatius Joseph Martinowicz, P. 366) source
Fayette Robinson Translation:
As for the English translation by Fayette Robinson, it only says:
“We have no need of alms: we do not beg, for in so doing we would degrade ourselves.” – George Sand
(The Countess Von Rudolstadt [Sequel To “Consuelo”] By George Sand, Three Volumes In One, Translated From The French By Fayette Robinson, New York: Stringer & Townsend, 1851, A Letter Of Philon To Ignatius Joseph Martinowicz, P. 175) source
As I do not know the French language, I tried using the Google Translate, and it translated into English as:
“… alms demeans the one who receives it and hardens the one who gives it.”
Boardwalk Empire Charity Quote
This quotation is uttered by Margaret Schroeder (played by Kelly Macdonald) when she returns the money back to Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) in 2010 American period crime drama television series “Boardwalk Empire“.
What does it mean “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it“?
It means by receiving alms from another will debase oneself, and the giver of alms will become less sympathetic.
In other words, being charitable to others can harden your heart.
I know there are many varied views or opinions on this charity quotation.
To me, the topic of charity or being generous is very subjective.
Personally, I only have this to say: To each its own.
Probably you might like to check out this interesting take on the subject of charity and generosity of society by an Objectivist.
Remember, the quote charity degrades is not from “Consuelo”, but from “The Countess Von Rudolstadt”.