Quotations about   rectitude

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“There’s a right thing to do,” Holden said.

“You don’t have a right thing

, friend,” Miller said. “You’ve got a whole plateful of maybe a little less wrong.”

Daniel Abraham
Daniel Abraham (b. 1969) American writer [pseud. James S. A. Corey (with Ty Franck), M. L. N. Hanover]
Leviathan Wakes, ch. 36 (2011) [with Ty Franck]
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Added on 12-May-22 | Last updated 12-May-22
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What a scanty following has rectitude! Many praise it indeed, but — for others. Others follow it till danger threatens; then the false deny it, the politic conceal it.

[Que tiene pocos finos la entereza. Celébranla muchos, mas no por su casa; síguenla otros hasta el peligro; en él los falsos la niegan, los políticos la dissimulan.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 29 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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Alternate translation: "Few are devoted to righteousness. Many celebrate her, but few visit her. Some follow her until things get dangerous. In danger, the false disown her and politicians cunningly disguise her." [tr. Maurer (1992)]
Added on 13-Dec-21 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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What have I always believed? That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Small Gods (1992)
Added on 26-Jan-21 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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‘Tis a hard task not to surrender morality for riches.

[Ardua res haec est opibus non tradere mores.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 5 (11.5) [tr. in Harbottle (1897)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • It is an arduous task to preserve morality from the corruption of riches. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • 'Tis rare, when riches cannot taint the mind. [tr. Anon. (1695)]
  • 'Tis a hard task this, not to sacrifice manners to wealth. [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • It is a hard business, not to compromise morals for riches. [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Blessed is he who has never been tempted; for he knows not the frailty of his rectitude.

Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American journalist, novelist, essayist, poet
Inward Ho!, ch. 1 (1923)
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Added on 12-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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You judge a war according to who is in the right as long as you have no interest in the outcome; if you’re one of the participants, or if the result is going to have a major effect on you, then you have to create the moral principles that put you in the right — that’s nothing new, everyone knows it.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Dragon (1998)
Added on 5-Aug-16 | Last updated 5-Aug-16
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Too rigid scruples are concealed pride.

[Zu strenge Ford’rung ist verborgner Stolz.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Iphigenia auf Tauris, Act 4, sc. 4, l. 120 (1787)
Added on 6-Jul-04 | Last updated 21-May-14
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I am here to represent humanity: it is by no means necessary that I should live, but it is by all means necessary that I should act rightly.

Incorporated into “Essential Principles of Religion,” Lecture, Congregational Society, Boston (16 Mar 1862).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (May 1854)
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Added on 26-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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What is called a great minister is one who serves his prince according to what is right; and when he finds he cannot do so, retires.

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 11.23 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Legge (1861)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Men I call statesmen are those who will serve their master according to their sense of duty; who, however, when they find they cannot do that, consistently, with their sense of duty, will resign." [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]
  • "Those whom we call 'great ministers' are such as serve their prince conscientiously, and who, when they cannot do so, retire." [tr. Wilson (1900)]
  • "He who may be called a great minister is one who serves his Prince according to the right, and when that cannot be, resigns." [tr. Soothill (1910)]
  • "A great minister is a minister who serves his lord by following the Way, and who resigns as soon as the two are no longer reconcilable." [tr. Leys (1997)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Dec-20
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