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ON TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD. '
Veritas luce clarior.*
A FRIEND of mine was the other day cheapening some trifles at a shopkeeper's, and after a few words they agreed on a price. At the tying up of the parcels he had purchased, the mistress of the shop told him that people were growing very hard, for she actually lost by everything she sold. How, then, is it possible, said my friend, that you can keep on your business? Indeed, sir, answered she, I must of necessity shut my doors, had I not a very great trade. The reason, said my friend (with a sneer), is admirable.
There are a great many retailers who falsely imagine that being historical (the modern phrase for lying) is much for their advantage; and some of them have a saying, that it is a pity lying is a sin, it is so useful in trade; though if they would examine into the reason why a number of shopkeepers raise considerable estates, while others who have set out with better fortunes have become bankrupts, they would find that the former made up with truth, diligence, and probity, what they were deficient of in stock; while the latter have been found guilty of imposing on such customers as they found had no skill in the quality of their goods.
The former character raises a credit which supplies the want of fortune, and their fair dealing brings them customers; whereas none will return to buy of him by whom he has been once imposed upon. If people in trade would judge rightly, we might buy blindfolded, and they would save, both to themselves and customers, the unpleasantness of haggling.
* Truth is brighter than light.
Though there are numbers of shopkeepers who scorn the mean vice of lying, and whose word may very safely be relied on, yet there are too many who will endeavour, and backing their falsities with asseverations, pawn their salvation to raise their prices.
As example works more than precept, and my sole view being the good and interest of my countrymen, whom I could wish to see without any vice or folly, I shall offer an example of the veneration bestowed on truth and abhorrence of falsehood among the ancients.
Augustus, triumphing over. Mark Antony and Cleopatra, among other captives who accompanied them, brought to Rome a priest of about sixty years old; the senate being informed that this man had never been detected in a falsehood, and was believed never to have told a lie, not only restored him to liberty, but made him a high priest, and caused a statue to be erected to his honour. The priest thus honoured was an Egyptian, and an enemy to Rome, but his virtue removed all obstacles.
Pamphilius was a Roman citizen, whose body upon his death was forbidden sepulture, his estate was confiscated, his house razed, and his wife and children banished the Roman territories, wholly for his having been a notorious and inveterate liar.
Could there be greater demonstrations of respect for truth than these of the Romans, who elevated an enemy to the greatest honours, and exposed the family of a citizen to the greatest contumely?
There can be no excuse for lying, neither is there anything equally despicable and dangerous as a liar, no man being safe who associates with him; for he who will lie will swear to it, says the proverb; and such a one may endanger my life, turn my family out of doors, and ruin my reputation, whenever he shall find it his interest; and if a man will lie and swear to it in his shop to obtain a trifle, why should
we doubt his doing so when he may hope to make a fortune by his perjury? The crime is in itself so mean, that to call a man a liar is esteemed everywhere an affront not to be forgiven.
If any have lenity enough to allow the dealers an excuse for this bad practice, I believe they will allow none for the gentleman who is addicted to this vice; and must look upon him with contempt. That the world does so, is visible by the derision with which his name is treated whenever it is mentioned.
The philosopher Epimenides gave the Rhodians this description of Truth. She is the companion of the gods, the joy of heaven, the light of the earth, the pedestal of justice, and the basis of good policy.
Eschines told the same people, that truth was a virtue without which force was enfeebled, justice corrupted; humility became dissimulation, patience intolerable, chastity a dissembler, liberty lost, and pity superfluous.
Pharmanes the philosopher told the Romans that truth was the centre on which all things rested: a chart to sail by, a remedy for all evils, and a light to the whole world.
Anaxarchus, speaking of truth, said it was health incapable of sickness, life not subject to death, an elixir that healeth all, a sun not to be obscured, a moon without eclipse, an herb which never withereth, a gate that is never closed, and a path which never fatigues the traveller.
But if we are blind to the beauties of truth, it is astonishing that we should not open our eyes to the inconvenience of falsity. A man given to romance must be always on his guard, for fear of contradicting and exposing himself to derision; for the most historical would avoid the odious character, though it is impossible, with the utmost circumspection, to travel long on this route without detection, and shame and confusion follow. Whereas he who is
a votary of truth never hesitates for an answer, has never to rack his invention to make the sequel quadrate with the beginning of his story, nor obliged to burden his memory with minute circumstances, since truth speaks easily what it recollects, and repeats openly and frequently without varying facts, which liars cannot always do, even though gifted with a good memory.
NECESSARY HINTS TO THOSE THAT WOULD BE RICH.
Written Anno 1736.
THE use of money is all the advantage there is in having money.
For six pounds a year you may have the use of one hundred pounds, provided you are a man of known prudence and honesty.
He that spends a groat a day idly, spends idly above six pounds a year, which is the price for the use of one hundred pounds.
He that wastes idly a groat's worth of his time per day, one day with another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day..
He that idly loses five shillings' worth of time, loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea.
He that loses five shillings, not only loses that sum, but all the advantage that might be made by turning it in dealing, which, by the time that a young man becomes old, will amount to a considerable sum of money.
Again: he that sells upon credit, asks a price for what he sells equivalent to the principal and inter
est of his money for the time he is to be kept out of it; therefore, he that buys upon credit pays interest for what he buys, and he that pays ready money might let that money out to use: so that he that possesses anything he bought, pays interest for the use of it.
Yet, in buying goods, it is best to pay ready money, because he that sells upon credit expects to lose five per cent. by bad debts; therefore he charges, on all he sells upon credit, an advance that shall make up that deficiency.
Those who pay for what they buy upon credit, pay their share of this advance.
He that pays ready money escapes, or may escape, that charge.
A penny saved is twopence clear,
A pin a day's a groat a year.
THE WAY TO MAKE MONEY PLENTY IN EVERY MAN'S POCKET.
At this time, when the general complaint is that 66 money is scarce," it will be an act of kindness to inform the moneyless how they may re-enforce their pockets. I will acquaint them with the true secret of money-catching, the certain way to fill empty purses, and how to keep them always full. Two simple rules, well observed, will do the business.
First, let honesty and industry be thy constant companions; and,
Secondly, spend one penny less than thy clear gains.
Then shall thy hidebound pocket soon begin to thrive, and will never again cry with the empty