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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 2030
AUTHOR: Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)
QUOTATION: As good play for nothing, you know, as work for nothing.
ATTRIBUTION: SIR WALTER SCOTT, letter to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, December 30, 1808.—John Gibson Lockhart, The Life of Sir Walter Scott, vol. 3, p. 144 (1902, reprinted 1983).

Another use of this proverb was attributed, in an obituary, to Sir Alexander Cockburn, Lord Chief Justice of England. “He subsequently acquired a large practice in London in railway and election cases. Although he did his best for his clients, he was careful that they should do their duty by him, and the story is told that on one occasion, when an election committee met, Mr. Cockburn, the counsel for one of the parties, was absent because his fee had not accompanied the brief and the only message left was that he had gone to the Derby, with the remark that ‘a man might as well play for nothing as work for nothing.’”—Canada Law Journal, January 1, 1881, p. 11.