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One painful duty fulfilled makes the next plainer and easier.

HELEN KELLER, The Story of My Life

Even the wild beasts have a duty to perform, for duty is the handmaiden of life. All things that have life have a duty, for life itself is duty. When a man has no obligations, he is dead.


Oh! Duty is an icy shadow. It will freeze you. It cannot fill the heart's sanctuary.


The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country, than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.

ANDREW JACKSON, speech to troops, Jan. 8, 1815

Not once or twice in our fair island-story,
The path of duty was the way to glory.

ALFRED LORD TENNYSON, "Ode on the Death of Wellington"

Pure duty is the essential moment of relating itself, qua universality, to others.

GEORG W. F. HEGEL, The Phenomenology of Spirit

If we wish to be happy, monsieur, we must never comprehend duty; for, as soon as we comprehend it, it is implacable. One would say that it punishes you for comprehending it; but no, it rewards you for it; for it puts you into a hell where you feel God at your side.

VICTOR HUGO, Les Miserables

Duty is the goddess of manhood and she demands no mean sacrifice.


It is easier to do one's duty to others than to one's self. If you do your duty to others, you are considered reliable. If you do your duty to yourself, you are considered selfish.

THOMAS SZASZ, The Second Sin

From the point of view of the individual, duty is the surrender of one's thought and mind to the fixed ideas of culture, society, and the state.

JOHN F. WELSH, Max Stirner's Dialectical Egoism

The reward of one duty is the power to fulfil another.

GEORGE ELIOT, Daniel Deronda

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world ... we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time beyond space and time, which whether we like it or not, spells duty.

WINSTON CHURCHILL, speech in Rochester, New York, 1941

Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never do less.

ROBERT E. LEE, Memoirs of Robert E. Lee

An enlightened man had but one duty - to seek the way to himself, to reach inner certainty, to grope his way forward, no matter where it led.


What chastity is to woman, duty is to man, the willingly assumed burden of their kind.


Duty doesn't need to call; it only needs to whisper. And if you heed the call, no matter what happens, you have no need for regret.

DEAN KOONTZ, Odd Apocalypse

Oh, duty is what one expects from others, it is not what one does oneself.

OSCAR WILDE, A Woman of No Importance

Until our duty becomes to us common as breathing, we are poor creatures.

GEORGE MACDONALD, The Wise Woman and Other Stories

Duty largely consists of pretending that the trivial is critical.


We never fail when we
try to do our duty--
We always fail when we
neglect to do it.

LORD BADEN-POWELL, Rovering to Success

Death is lighter than a feather, but Duty is heavier than a mountain.

ROBERT JORDAN, To the Blight

There are not good things enough in life to indemnify us for the neglect of a single duty.

MADAME SWETCHINE, "Airelles," The Writings of Madame Swetchine

Duties are not performed for duty's sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty--the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.

MARK TWAIN, "What Is Man?"

The want of reward is no warrant for us to dispense with our duty.


Honor is no phantom. Duty doesn't melt away, no matter how much we might wish it to.

CLAUDIA J. EDWARDS, Taming the Forest King

Besides the five senses, there is a sixth sense, of equal importance--the sense of duty.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

When the destinies of the world are at stake, there comes a point at which private esteem and admiration must give way to the sense of public duty.

WILLIAM ARCHER, Shirking the Issue: A Letter to Dr. George Brandes

To shun one's cross is to make it heavier.


If there is to be no satisfaction in pleasure, none in wisdom, none in ambition, none in the golden mean, what then? Ah, where then? In duty. In doing right because it is right.

LYMAN ABBOTT, Problems of Life: Selections from the Writings of Rev. Lyman Abbott

Duty is the grandest of ideas, because it implies the idea of God, of the soul, of liberty, of responsibility, of immortality.

HENRI-DOMINIQUE LACORDAIRE, attributed, A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern

The brave man wants no charms to encourage him to his duty, and the good man scorns all warnings that would deter him from fulfilling it.

EDWARD BULWER-LYTTON, Harold, the Last of the Saxon Kings

My own inclinations must not be followed--to duty I sacrifice them.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, April 19, 1764

All domestic pleasures and enjoyments are absorbed in the great and important duty you owe your country.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, May 7, 1776

The daily life is so wearisome; yet duty lies that way.

C. W. LEADBEATER, The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals

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