Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Duty

"Never to tire, never to grow cold; to be patient, sympathetic, tender; to look for the budding flower and the opening heart; to hope always; like God, to love always - this is duty." -

"Consult duty, not events." -

"It is one of the worst of errors to suppose that there is any other path of safety except that of duty." - Arthur Aughey

"There are many seasons in a man’s life - and the more exalted and responsible his position, the more frequently do these seasons recur - when the voice of duty and the dictates of feeling are opposed to each other; and it is only the weak and the wicked who yield that obedience to the selfish impulses of the heart which is due to reason and honor." - Arthur Aughey

"The reward of doing one duty is the power to do another." - Simeon ben Azai, sometimes Ben Azai

"Obedience to duty means resistance to self." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"Life has neither material nor idealistic secrecy or mystery about it. Life is equal to itself only, hence perceiving its meaning is out of the question... The exaggeration of our mental abilities has given rise to what we perceive as “the problem” of discerning life’s purpose... If it is beyond our powers to disembowel love and beauty - we can only ravish them - it means that they are given to us not for cognition but for reflection. Similarly, the freedom of choice granted to man, a freedom denied the rest of the living species, is man’s task, a duty to exercise and fulfill, not merely an opportune option." - Andrei Bitov, fully Andrei Georgiyevich Bitov

"It is our duty to give meaning to the life of future generations by sharing our knowledge and experience; by teaching an appreciation of work well done and a respect for nature, the source of all life; by encouraging the young to venture off the beaten path and avoid complacency by challenging their emotions." - Paul Bocuse

"Not only is there a right to be happy, there is a duty to be happy. So much sadness exists in the world that we are all under obligation to contribute as much joy as lies within our powers." - Abel Bonnard

"The maxim "Think for yourself," is basic; but the further maxim, "Think socially," must be added if philosophy is to do its whole duty." -

"There is only one Duty. It is to realize the divinity within... our most sacred life purpose, the most honored ground of existence, and everything else must be made to subserve it." - Paul Brunton, born Hermann Hirsch, wrote under various pseudonyms including Brunton Paul, Raphael Meriden and Raphael Delmonte

"When it is our duty to do an act of justice it should be done promptly. To delay is injustice." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Duty by habit is to pleasure turned." - Samuel Egerton Brydges

"Life, that ever needs forgiveness, has, for its first duty, to forgive." -

"To enforce one's rights when they are violated is never a legal wrong, and may often be a moral duty." -

"Benevolence is not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. It is a business with men as they are, and with human life as drawn by the rough hand of experience. It is a duty which you must perform at the call of principle; though there be no voice of eloquence to give splendor to your exertions, and no music of poetry to lead your willing footsteps through the bowers of enchantment. It is not the impulse of high and ecstatic emotion. It is an exertion of principle. :You must go to the poor man’s cottage, though no verdure flourish around it, the gentleness of its murmurs. If you look for the romantic simplicity of fiction you will be disappointed; but it is your duty to persevere in spite of every discouragement. Benevolence is not merely a feeling but a principle; not a dream of rapture for the fancy to indulge in, but a business for the hand to execute." - Thomas Chalmers

"Contempt of all outward things that come in competition with duty fulfills the ideal of human greatness. It is sanctioned by conscience, that universal and eternal lawgiver, whose chief principle is, that everything must be yielded up for right." - William Ellery Channing

"I see nothing worth living for but the divine virtue which endures and surrenders all things for truth, duty, and mankind." - William Ellery Channing

"The great duty of God’s children is to love one another. This duty on earth takes the name and form of the law of humanity. We are to recognize all men as brethren, no matter where born, or under what sky, or institution or religion they may live. Every man belongs to the race, and owes a duty to mankind... Men cannot, by combining themselves into narrower or larger societies, sever the sacred, blessed bond which joins them to their kind... The law of humanity must reign; over the assertion of all human rights." - William Ellery Channing

"The sense of duty is the fountain of human rights. In other words, the same inward principle which teaches the former bears witness to the latter Duties and rights must stand and fall together." - William Ellery Channing

"No more important duty can be urged upon those who are entering the great theater of life than simple loyalty to their best convictions." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"The angels may have wider spheres of action, may have nobler forms of duty; but right with them and with us is one and the same thing." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"There is no mean work save that which is sordidly selfish; there is no irreligious work save that which is morally wrong; while in every sphere of life “the post of honor is the post of duty.”" - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"By discharging our duty thoroughly and well, subordinating personal desires to principle, and personal ambition to an exalted love of country, we will not only receive the endorsement of the people, but, what is far better, we will deserve their endorsement." - Champ Clark, formally James Beauchamp Clark

"With endless patience you shall carry out your duty, and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall lodge in your mind, and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all your deliberations in the Council, in your efforts at lawmaking, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not away the warnings of any others, if they should chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law, which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the earth - the unborn of the future Nation." - Constitution of the Five Nations NULL

"The art of poetry is to touch the passions, and its duty to lead them on the side of virtue." - William Cowper

"When all our hopes are gone 'tis well our hands must still keep toiling on for others' sake. For strength to bear is found in duty alone, and he is blest indeed who learns to make the joy of others cure his own heartache." - M. V. Drake

"How many of us are waiting for the opportunity to do some great thing for the betterment of our community, forgetting that the solution of the problem requires only the active intelligent fulfillment of individual civic duty. The only things which are wrong about our Government are the things which are wrong with you and me. Democracy is never a thing done; it is and always will be a goal to be achieved. It means action, not passive acquiescence in things as they are; it requires alertness to duty, a dynamic faith, a willingness to give for the good of all. It can live only as a result of loyalty and devotion to its principles expressed by daily needs." - Douglas L. Edmonds, fully Douglas Lyman Edmonds

"Deviation from either truth or duty is a downward path, and none can say where the descent will end. "He that despiseth small things shall fall little by little."" - Tyron Edwards

"Duty performed gives clearness and firmness to faith, and faith thus strengthened through duty becomes the more assured and satisfying soul." - Tyron Edwards

"Firmness in adherence to truth and duty is generally most decided when most intelligent and conscientious, and is sometimes mistaken for obstinacy by those who do not comprehend its nature and motive." - Tyron Edwards

"Whatever our place, allotted to us by Providence, that for us is the post of honor and duty. God estimates us not by the position we are in, but by the way in which we fill it." - Tyron Edwards

"By academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true." - Albert Einstein

"Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs." - Albert Einstein

"Little children are still the symbol of the eternal marriage between love and duty." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"The reward of one duty is the power to fulfill another." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"Where there is plenty, charity is a duty, not a courtesy." - Owen Feltham

"When I’m not thank’d at all, I’m thank’d enough, I’ve done my duty, and I’ve done no more." - Henry Fielding

"Reverence the highest, have patience with the lowest. Let this day’s performance of the meanest duty be thy religion. Are the stars too distant, pick up the pebble that lies at thy feet and from it learn the all." -

"Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having." -

"The true source of rights is duty. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek." -

"Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential - generosity, service, self-sacrificed, unselfishness and duty." - Willard Gaylen

"If you are willing to forget that there is an element of duty in love and of love in duty, then it's easy to choose between the two." - Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux

"Justice is the sum of all moral duty." - William Godwin

"Knowledge of our duties is the most essential part of the philosophy of life. If you escape duty you avoid action. The world demands results." -

"How can you come to know yourself? Never by thinking; always by doing. Try to do your duty, and you'll know right away what you amount to. And what is your duty? Whatever the day calls for." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"How shall we learn to know ourselves? By reflection? Never; but only through action. Strive to do thy duty; then shalt thou know what is in thee." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"God’s love is the reason for our creation, a free, gratuitous love, a love without limits... Our duty is to translate this love into acts of solidarity and commitment." - Gustavo Gutiérrez

"The real duty of man is not to extend his power or multiply his wealth beyond his needs, but to enrich and enjoy his imperishable possession: his soul." -

"In the highest selflessness lies the greatest power. Ultimately, neglect of duty is due to selfishness. Because of selfishness we omit the good and commit the bad. Selfishness makes us shrink from the fulfillment of our life-task. The humble person with integrity has no trace of selfishness, his self-sacrifice is not obstructed by egotism. He is always ready to use the last spark of his energy and the last fiber of his being in doing good. He feels he has been granted life only to use his every breath for the energetic fulfillment of the good. His entire sojourn on earth, regardless of the length of its duration, is true living. When he has departed from the world, one may say of him: He was alive." - Samson Raphael Hirsch