This is a famous phrase said by Polonius in Act-I, Scene-III of William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. Polonius counsels his son Laertes before he embarks on his visit to Paris. He says, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”
Some of these old axioms never seem to lose their substance. In the twenty years we have lived here I have loaned tools, books, ladders, animal traps and assorted other things. In every instance except one the item lent was not returned or the person who borrowed the item was no longer a friend. In that one instance the item loaned was very slow coming back and I ended up going to get it at a neutral location myself. It was so rusted from being outside during that time it was worthless and had to be thrown away. Not once has anyone ever offered to make such a transaction right. I guess they figure if I'm stupid enough to loan the item they if it is destroyed it is my fault and I deserve what I get.
I recently was asked to loan an item to a friend and again was willing but fate or good fortune interceded and someone else loaned the item first. I was greatly relieved as I still had the friend in the end even though I think in this case it would have been perfectly alright. That did get me to thinking of the many times I had loaned items and lost both the item and the friend.
Like most I find it hard to say no and when it has happened so many times over and over that the item is gone forever along with the friendship then I find Shakespeare to be absolutely spot on. Somethings withstand the tests of time if we are willing to pay attention to them. Now I usually just give the item in anticipation of never seeing it again.
I just pulled out a favorite book to re-read again having lost the first two to people I told of the book and who borrowed it and kept it. In hindsight I'm sure when they borrowed it they never intended to return it. I have found that giving things away is better than a loan of them as at least I still have the friendship at the end. 'Neither a borrower nor lender be'.