Quotations about   libel

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If a man has reported to you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make any defense to what has been told you: but reply, The man did not know the rest of my faults, for he would not have mentioned these only.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
Enchiridion, 33 (c. AD 135) [tr. Long (1888)]
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Alt. trans.: "If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer, 'He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would have not mentioned these alone.'" [tr. Higginson (1948)]
Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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Even doubtful Accusations leave a Stain behind them.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #1395 (1732)
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Added on 6-Jun-17 | Last updated 6-Jun-17
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A soft Tongue may strike hard.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1744)
Added on 18-Jan-17 | Last updated 18-Jan-17
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When we speak evil of others, we generally condemn ourselves.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], #1058 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 31-May-16 | Last updated 31-May-16
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The men who convey, and those who listen to calumnies, should, if I could have my way, all hang, the tale-bearers by their tongues, the listeners by their ears.

Plautus (b. c. 254 BC) Roman playright [Titus Macchius Plautus]
Pseudolus, 1.5
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
An Apology for Smectymnuus (1642)
Added on 16-May-16 | Last updated 16-May-16
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Every life is its own excuse for being, and to deny or refute the untrue things that are said of you is an error in judgment. All wrong recoils upon the doer, and the man who makes wrong statements about others is himself to be pitied, not the man he vilifies. It is better to be lied about than to lie. At the last no one can harm us but ourselves.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary and Book of Epigrams (1923)
Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 25-Apr-16
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Were there no hearers, there would be no backbiters.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Outlandish Proverbs, # 69 (1640)
Added on 13-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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Commonly they whose tongue is their weapon, use their feet for defense.

Philip Sidney (1554-1586) English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier
(Attributed)
Added on 6-Nov-15 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
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The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth.
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Anthony Kennedy (b. 1936) US Supreme Court Justice
United States v. Alvarez, 567 U. S. ____, *16 (2012) [Plurality]
Added on 23-Apr-15 | Last updated 23-Apr-15
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No man ought to be hindered saying or writing what he pleases on the conduct of those who undertake the management of national affairs, in which all are concerned, and therefore have the right to inquire, and to publish their suspicions concerning them. For if you punish the slanderer, you deter the fair inquirer.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
Political Disquisitions, Book 1 “Of Government, briefly” (1774)
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Added on 11-Dec-14 | Last updated 11-Dec-14
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I complained before a learned man that someone had accused me of corruption. He said, “Put him to shame by your good conduct.”

Sa'adi (1184-1283/1291?) Persian poet [a.k.a. Sa'di, Moslih Eddin Sa'adi, Mushrif-ud-Din Abdullah, Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif ibn Abdullah, Mosleh al-Din Saadi Shirazi, Shaikh Mosslehedin Saadi Shirazi]
The Maxims of Sa’di, 7 [tr. Nakosteen (1977)]
Added on 24-Sep-14 | Last updated 24-Sep-14
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Just deeds are the best answer to injurious words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Observations upon the Articles of Peace with the Irish Rebels (1649)
Added on 17-Sep-14 | Last updated 17-Sep-14
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Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Edwin M. Stanton (14 Jul 1864)
Added on 10-Sep-14 | Last updated 10-Sep-14
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He that flings Dirt at another dirtieth himself most.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2107 (1732)
Added on 26-Aug-14 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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Any man who attains a high place among you, from the President downwards, may date his downfall from that moment; for any printed lie that any notorious villain pens, although it militate directly against the character and conduct of a life, appeals at once to your distrust, and is believed. You will strain at a gnat in the way of trustfulness and confidence, however fairly won and well deserved; but you will swallow a whole caravan of camels, if they be laden with unworthy doubts and mean suspicions. Is this well, think you, or likely to elevate the character of the governors or the governed among you?

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
American Notes, ch. 18 (1842)
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Added on 19-Mar-14 | Last updated 19-Mar-14
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Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Othello, Act 3, sc. 3, l. 155-161 [Iago] (1604)
Added on 31-Jul-13 | Last updated 19-Jul-15
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Hurl your calumnies boldly; something is sure to stick.

[Audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret.]

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
De Augmentis Scientiarum [Advancement of Learning] (1605)
Added on 21-May-10 | Last updated 16-May-16
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