Quotations about   regret

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Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past — the best evidence of regret for them that we can offer, or the world receive.

Tryon Edwards (1809-1894) American theologian, writer, lexicographer
A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908)
    (Source)

Often wrongly quoted, "... best apologies for bad actions in the past."
Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 9-Jun-19
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The essence of good manners consists in making it clear that one has no wish to hurt. When it is clearly necessary to hurt, it must be done in such a way as to make it evident that the necessity is felt to be regrettable.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Good Manners and Hypocrisy,” New York American (14 Dec 1934)
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Added on 3-Jan-19 | Last updated 3-Jan-19
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Virtue extends our days: he lives two lives who relives his past with pleasure.

[Ampliat aetatis spatium sibi vir bonus. Hoc est
Vivere bis vita posse priore frui.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 23

    Alt trans.:
  • "The good man prolongs his life; to be able to enjoy one's past life is to live twice." [Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)]
  • "For he lives twice who can at once employ / The present well, and e'en the past enjoy." [Pope, Imitation of Martial]
  • "A good man lengthens his term of existence; to be able to enjoy our past life is to live twice." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "The good man broadens for himself the span of his years: to be able to enjoy the life you have spent, is to live it twice." [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
  • "A good man widens for himself his age's span; he lives twice who can find delight in life bygone." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 8-Aug-18
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BUNTY: It’s such fun, being reminded of things.
NICKY: And such agony, too.

Noël Coward (1899-1973) English playwright, actor, wit
The Vortex, Act 1 (1924)
Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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To me, bitterness is the under-arm odor of wishful weakness. It is the graceless acknowledgment of defeat.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Dust Tracks on a Road, ch. 16 (1942)
Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubáiyát, 71 [tr. FitzGerald]

A reference to Daniel 5 in the Bible.
Added on 31-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.

bronte-proud-people-sad-sorrows-wist_info-quote

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 7 (1847) [Nelly Dean]
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Added on 8-Dec-16 | Last updated 8-Dec-16
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The man who, in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today may have wished to live had he waited a week.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Philosophical Dictionary, “Cato” (1764)
Added on 12-Sep-16 | Last updated 12-Sep-16
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Don’t commit suicide, because you might change your mind two weeks later.

Art Buchwald (1925-2007) American humorist, columnist
Leaving Home (1995)

A personal mantra Buchwald used to combat his intermittent depression. Possibly borrowed from Voltaire.
Added on 1-Aug-16 | Last updated 12-Sep-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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Most men make use of the first part of their life to render the last part miserable.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
Les Caractères, “De l’Homme” (1688)
Added on 20-Jul-16 | Last updated 20-Jul-16
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Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of each day and hour.

Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) Canadian economist, writer and humorist
(Attributed)
Added on 8-Jun-16 | Last updated 8-Jun-16
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But the greatest gift in the power of loneliness to bestow is the realization that life does not consist either of wallowing in the past or of peering anxiously at the future; and it is appalling to contemplate the great number of often painful steps by which one arrives at a truth so old, so obvious, and so frequently expressed. It is good for one to appreciate that life is now. Whether it offers little or much, life is now — this day — this hour — and is probably the only experience of the kind one is to have.

Charles Macomb Flandrau (1871-1938) American author and essayist
Viva Mexico!, ch. 7 (1908)
Added on 25-May-16 | Last updated 25-May-16
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The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
(Attributed)

In The Teaching of Buddha [The Buddhist Bible] (1934) by the Federation of All Young Buddhist Associations of Japan.
Added on 4-May-16 | Last updated 4-May-16
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If you derive pleasure from the good which you have performed and you grieve for the evil which you have committed, you are a true believer.

Muhammad (570-632) Arabian merchant, prophet, founder of Islam [Mohammed]
The Sayings of Muhammed, #67 [tr. Al-Suhrawardy (1941)]
Added on 1-Mar-16 | Last updated 1-Mar-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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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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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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Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; It is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Strictly Personal (1953)
Added on 22-Jun-15 | Last updated 18-May-16
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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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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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Like the greedy merchants of bazaars, if we get out of life what we ask for, we are unhappy for not having asked for more.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #1195 (1965)
Added on 8-Sep-14 | Last updated 8-Sep-14
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I think I don’t regret a single “excess” of my responsive youth — I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Letter to Hugh Walpole (21 Aug 1913)
Added on 1-Sep-14 | Last updated 1-Sep-14
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SID: It is not what you are; it’s what you don’t become that hurts.

Fannie Hurst (1889-1968) American novelist
Humoresque [film] (1946) [screenplay Clifford Odets, Zachary Gold]

Spoken by Oscar Levant.
Added on 25-Aug-14 | Last updated 25-Aug-14
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I regret nothing, says arrogance; I will regret nothing, says inexperience.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms (1890-1905) [tr. Scrase & MIeder (1994)]
Added on 18-Aug-14 | Last updated 18-Aug-14
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Men repent speaking ten times, for once that they repent keeping silence.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
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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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A word spoken is past recalling.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine [Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina] (1639)
Added on 28-Apr-14 | Last updated 28-Apr-14
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It is a mortifying reflection for any man to consider what he has done with what he might have done.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment

Quoted by Rev. Dr. Maxwell (1770), in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
Added on 31-Dec-13 | Last updated 1-Jan-14
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Anger begins with folly, and ends with repentance.

Pythagoras (c.570 BC - c.495 BC) Greek mathematician and philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 27-Dec-13 | Last updated 27-Dec-13
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Therefore, two bad habits must be forbidden, both the fear of the future and the memory of by-gone trouble; the latter no longer belongs to me, the former, not yet.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], letter 78, sec. 14
Added on 10-Sep-13 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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When I had youth I had no money; now I have the money I have no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no health to enjoy life. I suppose it’s the discipline I need; but it’s rather hard to love the things I do, and see them go by because duty chains me to my galley. If I ever come into port with all sails set, that will be my reward perhaps.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
(Attributed) (1873)

Quoted in M. Saxton, Louisa May, ch. 17 (1977).
Added on 7-Oct-08 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.

I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be — instead of the tawdry, lousy fouled-up mess it is.

I had had one chance — for ten minutes yesterday afternoon. Helen of Troy, whatever your true name may be — And I had known it … and I had let it slip away.

Maybe one chance is all you ever get.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Glory Road, ch. 3 (1963)
Added on 12-Sep-08 | Last updated 26-Feb-18
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What’s the good of being forgiven, if I have to promise not to do it again?

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots #1175
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-May-15
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Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977) American comedian [b. Julius Henry Marx]
(Attributed)

Quoted by Ever Star, "Inside TV," Greensboro Record (3 Nov 1954). Also attributed to Ambrose Bierce, Henry Ward Beecher, and Lawrence J. Peter. More research and discussion here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Mar-15
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If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more.

Jules Renard (1864-1910) French writer
Journal
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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