The quote “charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it” is not actually from the novel “Consuelo” by George Sand, as cited in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations book.
Instead it is from the sequel of “Consuelo”, and it is called “The Countess Von Rudolstadt” (translated English version) or “La Comtesse De Rudolstadt” (original French version).
The quote in French is found in Amantine Lucile Aurore
Dupin aka George Sand’s story titled “La Comtesse De
Rudolstadt, Pour Paire A Conseulo” or just “La Comtesse De Rudolstadt“.
La Comtesse De Rudolstadt In La Revue Indépendante
I managed to track down the ORIGINAL SOURCE of this Lucile Aurore Dupin’s story “La Comtesse De Rudolstadt” when it was first published.
“La Comtesse De Rudolstadt” was originally published
serially in the French literary and political periodical called
“La Revue Indépendante” from 1843 to 1844.
The author Armandine Lucile Aurore Dupin, Baroness
Dudevant started publishing this sequel to “Consuelo” as
“La Comtesse De Rudolstadt, Pour Faire Suite A
Consuelo” back in 1843.
The quote is found in the last part “Epilogue” published on
10 Février (10 February) 1844.
The quote in its original French language is:
…l’aumône avilit celui qui la reçoit et endurcit celui qui la fait.
(La Comtesse De Rudoldtadt, Epilogue, Lettre De Philon À Ignace Joseph Marinowicz, La Revue Indépendante, 10 Fevrier 1844 . P. 322) source
This is the quote taken from “La Revue Indépendante” when it was published in February 10, 1844.
Bartlett’s Quoted As Consuelo 1842
It cited as: Consuelo 
(Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations Eighteenth Edition By John Bartlet, Hachette Book Group UK, 2014, P. cxvii) source
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations book cited the source as:
George Sand, Consuelo, La Comtessa de Rudolstadt, 3
vols. (Paris 1959), III, p. 547 and passim.
I think it must have it from the 3-Volume “Consuelo, La
Comtesse de Rudolstadt“, as seen here.
I do not know where did Bartlett’s Familiar Quotation book
got its English translation of this quote, as “Charity
degrades those who receive it and hardens those who
The only source I could find this English translation of this
French quote is in Joseph Amber Barry’s book “Infamous
Woman: The Life of George Sand“.
(Infamous Woman: The Life Of George Sand By Joseph Barry, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1964, Ch. 29, Beyond Sexuality, P. 284) source
(The quote is also found here.)
Charity Degrades Not From Consuelo
Interestingly, none of these four English translations of George Sand’s book “The Countess Von Rudolstadt” has this exact quote, “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it”.
In fact, all of them use the word “alms” instead of “charity“.
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: A Sequel To “Consuelo” By George Sand, Translated From The French By Fayette Robinson, Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers, 1883, A Letter Of Philon To Ignatius Joseph Martinowicz, P. 314) 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 “charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it” is used in the Season One, Episode Two “The Ivory Towel” of 2010 American period crime drama television series “Boardwalk Empire“.
This line is uttered by Margaret Schroeder (played by Kelly
Macdonald) when she returns the money back to Enoch
“Nucky” Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) in his suite.
The money was given to Margaret Schroeder earlier in the
day by Nucky’s brother, Sheriff Eli Thompson (played by
You can see “The Ivory Towel” transcript here.
Charity Degrades Those Who Receive It And Hardens Those Who Dispense It Meaning
What does it mean “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it“?
It means by receiving alms (money or food given to poor
people) from another, it will debase or devalue oneself, and the giver of alms will become less sympathetic.
In other words, being charitable to others can harden your heart (stop having kind or friendly feelings for someone or caring about something).
I know there are many varied views or opinions on this charity quotation.
Alms Giving In The Bible
Throughout the Old Testament of The Bible , almsgiving is understood primarily in the context of justice.
The Hebrew word for alms, ṣedāqâ, means justice or righteousness.
So giving alms to the poor helps reestablish the right order; it produces justice.
Whereas in the New Testament almsgiving is considered as an act of religion springing from love and compassion.
Probably you might like to check out this interesting take on the subject of charity and generosity of society by an Objectivist.
So the quote charity degrades is NOT from “Consuelo” .
As you can see the correct source of this quote originally in French, “l’aumône avilit celui qui la reçoit et endurcit celuiqui la fait” was published in the story titled “La Comtesse De Rudolstadt, Pour Faire Suite A Consuelo” or just “La Comtesse De Rudolstadt” in 1844.
This is a list of works by Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin Baroness Dudevant or better known as George Sand over here.