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Duty

  • Duty should be a byproduct.

  • ... if you ask me, nobody really likes people who are always doing their duty.

  • When two duties jostle each other, one of 'em isn't a duty.

  • 'Ought'! What an ugly word that is!

  • The worst of doing one's duty was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything else.

  • ... sometimes duties act on the soul like weeds on a flower. They crowd it out.

  • ... I am come amongst you, as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all — to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • speech to the troops at Tilbury (1588), in Frederick Chamberlin, The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth ()
  • ... one only says it is one's duty when one has something disagreeable to do ...

  • Do your duty until it becomes your joy.

  • One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term 'duty.'

  • You look as if you had lived on duty and it hadn't agreed with you.

  • The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former. A right is not effectual by itself, but only in relation to the obligation to which it corresponds ...

  • ... I hate the word 'ought' — it always implies something dull, cold, and commonplace. The 'ought nots' of life are its pleasantest things.

  • We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the other side of rights.

  • Have you ever noticed that when people say it is their duty to tell you a certain thing you may prepare for something disagreeable? Why is it that they never seem to think it a duty to tell you the pleasant things they hear about you?

  • The homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.

  • Oh, Duty is an icy shadow!

  • The path of duty I clearly trace, / I stand with conscience face to face, / And all her pleas allow; / Calling and crying the while for grace, — / 'Some other time, and some other place; / Oh, not to-day; not now!'

    • Alice Cary,
    • "Not Now," The Poetical Works of Alice and Phoebe Cary ()
  • Isn't it refreshing when duty and inclination jump the same way?

  • Duties are what make life most worth the living. Lacking them, you are not necessary to anyone.

  • ... duty, the most indecent of all obsessions, was only another name for love.

  • I slept and dreamed that life was Beauty, — / I woke, and found that life was Duty.

  • Duty is seldom liked either by the doer or the object ... And why should it be? It is not often of advantage to either.

  • There is nothing in the universe that I fear, but that I shall not know all my duty, or fail to do it.

    • Mary Lyon,
    • 1849, in Fidelia Fiske, Mary Lyon: Recollections of a Noble Woman ()
  • Every hour has its immediate duty, its special injunction which dominates all others ...

  • Never, never, never let yourself feel that anybody ought to do anything for you. Once you become a duty you also become a nuisance.