Quotations about   guilt

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That which we call sin in others, is experiment for us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Added on 4-Sep-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-18
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By virtue of depression, we recall those misdeeds we buried in the depths of our memory. Depression exhumes our shames.

Emile Cioran (1911-1995) Romanian philosopher and essayist [E.M. Cioran]
Anathemas and Admirations, ch. 11 “That Fatal Perspicacity” (1986) [tr. R. Howard (1991)]
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Added on 2-Aug-17 | Last updated 2-Aug-17
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There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 36, epigraph (1897)
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Added on 3-Jul-17 | Last updated 3-Jul-17
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Guilt hath very quick ears to an accusation.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
Amelia, ch. 11 (1751)
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Added on 8-Jun-17 | Last updated 8-Jun-17
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He who holds the ladder is as guilty as the thief.

Other Authors and Sources
German proverb
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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GLOUCESTER: Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The thief doth fear each bush an officer.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part III, Act 5, sc. 6, l. 11 (1590)
Added on 22-Feb-17 | Last updated 22-Feb-17
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I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go.

gaiman-hell-is-something-you-carry-around-wist_info-quote

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Dec-16 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.

brown-character-no-one-is-looking-wist_info-quote

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
P.S. I Love You (1990)

Brown attributed this to a letter his mother wrote him.
Added on 20-Sep-16 | Last updated 20-Sep-16
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When you have discovered a stain in yourself, you eagerly seek for and gladly find stains in others.

Berthold Auerbach (1812-1882) German author
(Attributed)

Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech (1886).
Added on 9-Aug-16 | Last updated 9-Aug-16
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You couldn’t get hold of the things you’d done and turn them right again. Such a power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to women and men, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
The Stand (1978)
Added on 27-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Jul-16
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Beware, beware! he’ll cheat ‘ithout scruple, who can without fear.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)
Added on 19-Jul-16 | Last updated 19-Jul-16
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He without benefit of scruples
His fun and money soon quadruples.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
In The Selected Verse of Ogden Nash (1945)
Added on 1-Jul-16 | Last updated 1-Jul-16
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There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.

Wilde - luxury in self-reproach - wist_info quote

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
Added on 28-Mar-16 | Last updated 28-Mar-16
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The folly which we might have ourselves committed is the one which we are least ready to pardon in another.

Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest: Thoughts, Part 4, #85 (1886)
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Added on 28-Mar-16 | Last updated 28-Mar-16
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I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, “Faith” (1952)
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Added on 6-Jan-16 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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It’s a police mantra that all members of the public are guilty of something, but some members of the public are more guilty than others.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Broken Homes (2013)

See Orwell.
Added on 6-Jan-16 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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It really hurts me very much to suppose that I have wronged anybody on earth.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Quincy, Illinois (13 Oct 1858)
Added on 4-Jan-16 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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Those whom they have injured they also hate.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Anger [De ira],” 2.33.1 [tr. Basore (1928)]
Added on 29-Dec-15 | Last updated 29-Dec-15
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WILL MUNNY: It’s a helluva thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.

SCHOFIELD KID: Well, I guess they had it coming.

WILL MUNNY: We all have it coming, kid.

David Webb Peoples (b. 1940) American screenwriter
Unforgiven (film) (1992)

Will Munny was played by Clint Eastwood.
Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 14-Dec-15
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A great many people feel “guilty” about things they shouldn’t feel guilty about, in order to shut out feelings of guilt about the things they should feel guilty about.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Column, Chicago Daily News (1971)
Added on 7-Dec-15 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Demian, ch. 6 (1919)
Added on 1-Dec-15 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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Admit thy guilt and and seek forgiveness, for the denial of guilt is two iniquities.

Solomon ibn Gabirol (fl. 11th Century) Andalusian poet and Jewish philosopher [a.k.a. Solomon ben Judah, Avicebron]
Choice of Pearls, 109 [tr. Cohen (1925)]
Added on 30-Nov-15 | Last updated 30-Nov-15
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That hatred springs more from self-contempt than from a legitimate grievance is seen in the intimate connection between hatred and a guilty conscience.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The True Believer, ch. 69 (1951)
Added on 24-Nov-15 | Last updated 24-Nov-15
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HAMLET: Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?

Shakespeare - whipping - wist_info

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 2, sc. 2, l. 554 (1600)
Added on 23-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Jun-16
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BRUTUS: The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Julius Caesar, Act 2, Sc. 1, l. 18 (1599)
Added on 18-Nov-15 | Last updated 18-Nov-15
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My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.

Anna Sewell (1820-1878) English novelist
Black Beauty, 3.38 (1877)
Added on 16-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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The guilty think all talk is of themselves.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) English poet, philosopher, astronomer, diplomat
The Canterbury Tales, “The Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue” (1390?) [tr. Coghill (1951)]
Added on 9-Nov-15 | Last updated 9-Nov-15
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When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

Other Authors and Sources
Anonymous
Added on 29-Oct-15 | Last updated 29-Oct-15
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If you ask any police officer what the worst part of the job is, they will always say breaking bad news to relatives, but this is not the truth. The worst part is staying in the room after you’ve broken the news, so that you’re forced to be there when someone’s life disintegrates around them. Some people say it doesn’t bother them — such people are not to be trusted.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Rivers of London [Midnight Riot] (2011)
Added on 14-Oct-15 | Last updated 14-Oct-15
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Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“Vacillation,” The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)
Added on 28-Sep-15 | Last updated 28-Sep-15
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Every time I’ve done something that doesn’t feel right, it’s ended up not being right.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
(Attributed)
Added on 8-Jun-15 | Last updated 8-Jun-15
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You always said people don’t do what they believe in,
they just do what’s most convenient, then they repent.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
“Brownsville Girl,” Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
Added on 11-May-15 | Last updated 11-May-15
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The secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are conscious, are often more difficult to bear than those which have been publicly censured in us, and thus in some degree atoned for.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 30 (1849)
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Added on 14-Apr-15 | Last updated 14-Apr-15
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To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul.

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) Norwegian poet and playwright
Letter to Ludwig Passarge (16 Jun 1890)

Discussing Peter Gynt, which Passarge was translating. Often paraphrased "To live is to war against the trolls."
Added on 17-Oct-14 | Last updated 17-Oct-14
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That what cannot be repaired is not to be regretted.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 4 (1759)
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Added on 13-Oct-14 | Last updated 13-Oct-14
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It is almost impossible to remain silent in the face of tyranny without, by this very act of silence, becoming an agent of that tyranny.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (b. 1941) American author
Against Therapy, Conclusion (1988)
Added on 7-Aug-14 | Last updated 8-Aug-14
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There are things you can’t walk away from. Not if you want to live with yourself afterward.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Death Masks (2003)
Added on 5-Aug-14 | Last updated 5-Aug-14
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It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Attributed)

Cited in some cases as the closing argument while defending the British Soldiers accused of killing 5 colonists in the "Boston Massacre" (usually given as "Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials" (Dec 1770)), but I did not find it in accounts of that defense.
Added on 7-Jul-11 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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In my heart there may be doubt that I deserve the Nobel award over other men of letters whom I hold in respect and reverence — but there is no question of my pleasure and pride in having it for myself.

Steinbeck - Nobel prize - wist_info

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962)
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Added on 3-Dec-09 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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CONSCIENCE: The inner voice which warns us someone may be looking.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“This and That,” A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
Added on 19-May-09 | Last updated 2-May-16
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Ben, the ethics of sex is a thorny problem. Each of us is forced to grope for a solution he can live with — in the face of a preposterous, unworkable, and evil code of so-called ‘morals.’ Most of us know the code is wrong; almost everybody breaks it. But we pay Danegeld by feeling guilty and giving lip service. Willy-nilly, the code rides us, dead and stinking, an albatross around the neck.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land [Jubal] (1961)
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In the 1960 "uncut" edition, the passage reads as: "Ben, the ethics of sex is a thorny problem because each of us has to find a solution pragmatically compatible with a preposterous, utterly unworkable, and evil public code of so-called "morals." Most of us know, or suspect, that the public code is wrong, and we break it. Nevertheless we pay Danegeld by giving it lip service in public and feeling guilty about breaking it in private. Willy-nilly, that code rides us, dead and stinking, an albatross around the neck."
Added on 24-Mar-09 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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He who helps the guilty, shares the crime.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 139
Added on 28-Oct-08 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
More Unkempt Thoughts (1968)

Variant: "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jan-17
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