Careful Words

duty (n.)

duty (adj.)

I do perceive here a divided duty.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Othello. Act i. Sc. 3.

  England expects every man to do his duty.

Horatio Nelson (1758-1805): Life of Nelson (Southey). Vol. ii. p. 131.

His form was of the manliest beauty,

His heart was kind and soft;

Faithful below he did his duty,

But now he's gone aloft.

Charles Dibdin (1745-1814): Tom Bowling.

I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty;

I woke, and found that life was Duty.

Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?

Toil on, poor heart, unceasingly;

And thou shalt find thy dream to be

A truth and noonday light to thee.

Ellen Sturgis Hooper (1816-1841): Life a Duty.

  To do my duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call me.

Book Of Common Prayer: Catechism.

When I'm not thank'd at all, I'm thank'd enough;

I 've done my duty, and I 've done no more.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754): Tom Thumb the Great. Act i. Sc. 3.

  Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us dare to do our duty as we understand it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): Address, New York City, Feb. 21, 1859.

  Certainly this is a duty, not a sin. "Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness."

John Wesley (1703-1791): Sermon xciii. On Dress.

  There is, nevertheless, a certain respect and a general duty of humanity that ties us, not only to beasts that have life and sense, but even to trees and plants.

Michael De Montaigne (1533-1592): Book ii. Chap. xi. Of Cruelty.

  If this bill [for the admission of Orleans Territory as a State] passes, it is my deliberate opinion that it is virtually a dissolution of the Union; that it will free the States from their moral obligation; and, as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, definitely to prepare for a separation,—amicably if they can, violently if they must.

Josiah Quincy (1772-1864): Abridged Cong. Debates, Jan. 14, 1811. Vol. iv. p. 327.

  A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed or duty violated is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us.

Daniel Webster (1782-1852): Argument on the Murder of Captain White. Vol. vi. p. 105.

O, good old man, how well in thee appears

The constant service of the antique world,

When service sweat for duty, not for meed!

Thou art not for the fashion of these times,

Where none will sweat but for promotion.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): As You Like It. Act ii. Sc. 3.

For never anything can be amiss,

When simpleness and duty tender it.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act v. Sc. 1.

  Every subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's soul is his own.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): King Henry V. Act iv. Sc. 1.

Such duty as the subject owes the prince,

Even such a woman oweth to her husband.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): The Taming of the Shrew. Act v. Sc. 2.

Not once or twice in our rough-island story

The path of duty was the way to glory.

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892): Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. Stanza 8.

  To do my duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call me.

Book Of Common Prayer: Catechism.

So nigh is grandeur to our dust,

So near is God to man,

When Duty whispers low, Thou must,

The youth replies, I can!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Voluntaries.

  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

Old Testament: Ecclesiastes xii. 13.