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Literature and Ideas

retribution

n.

The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce

A rain of fire-and-brimstone that falls alike upon the just and such of the unjust as have not procured shelter by evicting them.

In the lines following, addressed to an Emperor in exile by Father Gassalasca Jape, the reverend poet appears to hint his sense of the imprudence of turning about to face Retribution when it is taking exercise:

What, what! Dom Pedro, you desire to go
    Back to Brazil to end your days in quiet?
Why, what assurance have you 'twould be so?
    'Tis not so long since you were in a riot,
    And your dear subjects showed a will to fly at
Your throat and shake you like a rat.  You know
That empires are ungrateful; are you certain
Republics are less handy to get hurt in?