Quotations about   retribution

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Never strike a king unless you are sure you shall kill him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Sep. 1843)
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In addition to the noted source, see also here. However, according to the reliable Ralph Keyes, the quotation is spurious. Keyes also suggests an inspiration from the 17th Century English proverb, "Whosoever draws his sword against the prince must throw the scabbard away."

A variant, "When you strike at a king you must kill him," is attributed to Emerson by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in Max Lerner, The Mind and Faith of Justice Holmes (1943).
Added on 31-Jul-18 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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KARMA’S A BITCH. No, let me rephrase that: Karma is your vengeful bunny-boiler ex, lurking in your darkened front hallway wearing an ice-hockey mask and carrying a baseball bat inscribed with BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust; the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should — so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Jane Eyre, ch. 6 [Jane] (1847)
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Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 21-Apr-17
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We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies , bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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Added on 20-Jan-17 | Last updated 20-Jan-17
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Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends — they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 17 [Isabella Linton] (1847)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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I may look calm, but in my head I’ve killed you five times.

Sig Lines
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Added on 24-Oct-16 | Last updated 24-Oct-16
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Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
“The Tower of the Elephant” (1933)
Added on 26-Feb-16 | Last updated 26-Feb-16
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What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washington, DC (10 Nov 1964)
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Added on 4-May-15 | Last updated 4-May-15
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We should be wanting to ourselves, we should be perfidious to posterity, we should be unworthy that free ancestry from which we derive our descent, should we submit with folded arms to military butchery and depredation.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Declaration on Taking Up Arms (1775) [Papers 1:202]
Added on 31-Mar-15 | Last updated 31-Mar-15
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Mistrust all in whom the urge to punish is strong!

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Of the Tarantulas” (1892) [tr. Hollingdale (1961)]
Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American anthropologist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Redbook (Feb 1971)
Added on 18-Sep-14 | Last updated 18-Sep-14
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He who has injured thee was either stronger or weaker than thee. If weaker, spare him; if stronger, spare thyself.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Anger [De ira],” 3
Added on 24-Jan-14 | Last updated 24-Jan-14
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Miss Manners’ meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command, and the tilted nose. Also the ability to dismiss inferior behavior from her mind as coming from inferior people. You will perhaps point out that she will never know the joy of delivering a well-deserved sock in the chops. True — but she will never inspire one either.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
“Miss Manners,” syndicated column (18 May 1980)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Mar-17
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Kindness, nobler ever than revenge.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 4, sc. 3, l. 129 (1599)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-May-16
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Rabbi Jannai said: “It is beyond our power to explain either the prosperity of the wicked or the afflictions of the righteous.”

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
The Mishnah (c. AD 200)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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