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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Culture and Life

Don't Lie

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

Don't LieOF all things low and unprincipled – of all things abominable and detestable – of all things despicable and unworthy a place even in this sinful world – of all things deserving utter contempt, even from Beelzebub – lying is the worst. I do not certainly believe that H.S.M. would so disgrace his noted meanness, by running around and lying about people, as some of our spiritually deformed monsters, in the form of human being, and beating the signet of God’s own power and strength, do. Just consider it.

A murderer can be shunned, and receive just retribution. An inebriate and a profane swearer injure no one materially except themselves – they darken no intellect and destroy no soul except their own; and a thief can be believed. It is said a thief is honest; and, in fact, he is, compared with a liar. A thief takes nothing except worldly possessions; but a liar takes a good name, a fair reputation, and an unsullied character, and places instead nothing but a black, a smouldering ruin of character upon the public platform, to be picked to pieces, and viewed, piecemeal, by the criticising eyes of the world, just as it was left by detestably black and lying tongues. The rose and the lily wither at the approach of a liar, and pure, innocent hearts are left bleeding and fluttering upon the public alter of execution, a sacrifice to the black words of a liar. Then don’t lie! Don’t practice the guilty, degrading habit. Don’t go from place to place so slyly, and whisper lying, scandalous reports about neighbours and friends. Take it home to your own bosom, and think how you would like to have others do the same by you; and it that won’t answer, if you are so hardened as not to care whether you lie or are lied about, just look the thing in the face as it ought to be, and resolve in your heart not to be so low and despicable any more.

If you want to sleep sweetly nights, and have pleasant dreams, don’t lie. If you do, their ghosts will rise up before you in your midnight visions, until you see yourself as you really are. If you want to feel free and joyous in the presence of all, don’t lie. If you do, you will tremble to hear a footstep, and drop your eyes it you meet anybody. If you want a conscience that is clear and beautiful, don’t lie. If you do, ‘twill be for ever dinging, stinging, and you can never enjoy God’s beauties, never raise your eyes to His firmament, and behold His clouds, His star-gems, and His holy love. And, multum in parvo*, if you want no dark blots to come back upon your soul – if you would be perfectly happy – if you wish the esteem of your fellow-beings, the smiles of your Redeemer, and the approbation of your God and Creator – don’t lie.

*Latin phrase multum in parvo, means "much in a small space".