Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Saintly Cruelty.

A man holding a newly born child in his hands came to a saint.  "What should I do with this child," he asked, "it is wretched, deformed, and has not even enough of life to die" "Kill it," cried the saint with a dreadful voice "kill it, and then hold it in thy arms for three days and three nights to brand it on thy memory thus wilt you never again beget a child when it is not the time for thee to beget."  When the man had heard this he went away disappointed ; and many found fault with the saint because he had advised cruelty ; for he had advised to kill the child.  "But is it not more cruel to let it live?  Asked the saint.  
 

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