Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Truth
 
  There is something very sublime, though very fanciful, in Plato’s description of the Supreme Being: that “truth is his body, and light his shadow.” According to this definition, there is nothing so contradictory to his nature as error and falsehood. The Platonists had so just a notion of the Almighty’s aversion to everything which is false and erroneous, that they looked upon truth as no less necessary than virtue to qualify a human soul for the enjoyment of a separate state.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 507.    
  1
 
  Do not be over-fond of anything, or consider that for your interest, which makes you break your word, quit your modesty, or inclines you to any practice which will not bear the light, or look the world in the face.
Antoninus.    
  2
 
  He that talks deceitfully for truth must hurt it more by his example than he promotes it by his arguments.
Francis Atterbury.    
  3
 
  This same truth is a naked and open daylight, that does not show the masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candle-lights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl that showeth best by day, but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle that showeth best in varied lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt that if there were taken out of men’s minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?
Francis Bacon: Essay I., Of Truth.    
  4
 
  To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil business, it will be acknowledged, even by those who practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honour of man’s nature, and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it: for these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent: which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet.
Francis Bacon: Essay I., Of Truth.    
  5
 
  The enquiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing of it; the knowledge of truth, the preference of it; and the belief of truth, the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature.
Francis Bacon.    
  6
 
  I look upon experimental truths as matters of great concernment to mankind.
Robert Boyle.    
  7
 
  Every man is not a proper champion for truth, nor fit to take up the gauntlet in the cause of verity: many from the ignorance of these maxims, and an inconsiderate zeal for truth, have too rashly charged the troops of error, and remain as trophies unto the enemies of truth. A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender: ’tis therefore far better to enjoy her with peace than to hazard her on a battle: if therefore there rise any doubts in my way, I do forget them, or at least defer them, till my better settled judgment and more manly reason be able to resolve them.
Sir Thomas Browne: Religio Medici, Pt. I., vi.    
  8
 
  There is a most absurd and audacious method of reasoning avowed by some bigots and enthusiasts, and through fear assented to by some wiser and better men; it is this: they argue against a fair discussion of popular prejudices, because, say they, though they would be found without any reasonable support, yet the discovery might be productive of the most dangerous consequences. Absurd and blasphemous notion! as if all happiness was not connected with the practice of virtue, which necessarily depends upon the knowledge of truth; that is, upon the knowledge of those unalterable relations which Providence has ordained that every thing should bear to every other.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  9
 
  Falsehood and delusion are allowed in no case whatever: but, as in the exercise of all the virtues, there is an economy of truth. It is a sort of temperance, by which a man speaks truth with measure, that he may speak it the longer.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  10
 
  It is more honourable to the head, as well as to the heart, to be misled by our eagerness in the pursuit of truth, than to be safe from blundering by the contempt of it.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.    
  11
 
  We must not let go manifest truths because we cannot answer all questions about them.
Jeremy Collier.    
  12
 
  The greatest friend of Truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  13
 
  There are two things cheap and common enough when separated, but as costly in value, as irresistible in power, when combined,—truth and novelty. Their union is like that of steam and of fire, which nothing can overcome. Truth and novelty, when united, must overthrow the whole superincumbent pressure of error and of prejudice, whatever be its weight; and the effects will be proportionate to the resistance. But the moral earthquake, unlike the natural, while it convulses the nations, reforms them too.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon, Preface.    
  14
 
  Let the law which inculcates truth be supposed to be universally violated among every class of rational beings, and instantly all improvement in wisdom and knowledge would cease; nothing could be depended upon as fact but what was obvious to the senses of every individual; social compacts would be dissolved; a mutual repulsion would ensue, and every social affection and enjoyment would be unhinged and destroyed.
Dr. Thomas Dick: Philosophy of Religion, Sect. VI.    
  15
 
 
 
  Truth is the object of our understanding, as good is of the will.
John Dryden.    
  16
 
  Truth, of all things the plainest and sincerest, is forced to gain admittance in disguise and court us in masquerade.
Henry Felton.    
  17
 
  When the majestic form of Truth approaches, it is easier for a disingenuous mind to start aside into a thicket till she is past, and then reappearing say, “It was not Truth,” than to meet her, and bow, and obey.
John Foster: Journal.    
  18
 
  Be always precisely true in whatever thou relatest of thy own knowledge, that thou mayest give an undoubted and settled reputation for veracity.
Thomas Fuller.    
  19
 
  Truths hang together in a chain of mutual dependence; you cannot draw one link without attracting others.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  20
 
  Many conclusions of moral and intellectual truths seem to be congenite with us.
Sir Matthew Hale.    
  21
 
  The Author of nature has wisely annexed a pleasure to the exercise of our active powers, and particularly to the pursuit of truth, which, if it be in some instances less intense, is far more durable, than the gratification of sense, and is in that account incomparably more valuable. Its duration, to say nothing of its other properties, renders it more valuable. It may be repeated without satiety, and pleases afresh on every reflection upon it.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  22
 
  Corrupt as men are, they are yet so much the creatures of reflection, and so strongly addicted to sentiments of right and wrong, that their attachment to a public cause can rarely be secured, or their animosity be kept alive, unless their understandings are engaged by some appearances of truth and rectitude.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  23
 
  By the knowledge of truth, and exercise of virtue, man, amongst the creatures of this world, aspireth to the greatest conformity with God.
Richard Hooker.    
  24
 
  Truth and reason constitute that intellectual gold that defies destruction.
Dr. Samuel Johnson.    
  25
 
  Forgetting that the only eternal part for man to act is man, and that the only immutable greatness is truth.
Alphonse Lamartine: Hist. of the Restor. of Monarchy in France, vol. iii. book 38, xxxviii.    
  26
 
  Shuffling may serve for a time, but truth will most certainly carry it at the long run.
Roger L’Estrange.    
  27
 
  The works of nature, and the words of revelation, display truth to mankind in characters so visible that those who are not quite blind may read.
John Locke.    
  28
 
  Of lovers of truth for truth’s sake, there is this one unerring mark: the not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant.
John Locke.    
  29
 
  All the light truth has, or can have, is from the clearness and validity of those proofs upon which it is received: to talk of any other light in the understanding is to put ourselves in the dark, or in the power of the prince of darkness.
John Locke.    
  30
 
  The very essence of truth is plainness and brightness; the darkness and crookedness is our own. The wisdom of God created understanding, fit and proportionable to truth, the object and end of it, as the eye to the thing visible. If our understanding have a film of ignorance over it, or be blear with gazing on other false glisterings, what is that to truth?
John Milton: Of Reformation in England.    
  31
 
  Truth indeed came into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he ascended, and his Apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do till her Master’s second coming: he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.
John Milton: Areopagitica, 1644.    
  32
 
  But God himself is truth; in propagating which, as men display a greater integrity and zeal they approach nearer to the similitude of God, and possess a greater portion of his love.
John Milton: Second Defence of the People of England.    
  33
 
  Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength.
John Milton.    
  34
 
  Truth, in some age or other, will find her witness, and shall be justified at last by her own children.
John Milton.    
  35
 
  Let him be taught to be curious in the election and choice of his reasons, to abominate impertinence, and consequently to affect brevity; but above all, let him be lesson’d to acquiesce and submit to truth so soon as ever he shall discover it, whether in his opponent’s argument, or upon better consideration of his own; for he shall never be preferr’d to the chair for a mere clatter of words and syllogisms, and is no further engag’d to any argument whatever than as he shall in his own judgment approve it: nor yet is arguing a trade, where the liberty of recantation, and getting off upon better thoughts, are to be sold for ready money. “Neque ut omnia, quæ præscripta et imperata sint, defendat, necessitate ulla cogitur.” Cic. Acad. i. 4. “Neither is there any necessity or obligation upon him at all, that he should defend all things that are recommended to and enjoyn’d him.”
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cotton’s 3d ed., ch. xxv.    
  36
 
  Aristotle reputes it the office of magnanimity, openly and professedly to love and hate, to judge and speak with all freedom; and not to value the approbation or dislike of others in comparison of truth: Apollonius said, “it was for slaves to lye, and for free-men to speak truth.” ’Tis the chief and fundamental part of vertue, we must love it for it self. He that speaks truth because he is oblig’d so to do, and because he serves, and that is not afraid to lye when it signifies nothing to any body, is not sufficiently true. My soul naturally abominates lying, and hates the thought of it. I have an inward bashfulness, and a sharp remorse, if sometimes a lye escape me, as sometimes it does, being surpriz’d by occasions that allow me no premeditation. A man must not always tell all, for that were folly: but what a man says should be what he thinks, otherwise ’tis knavery. I do not know what advantage men pretend to by eternally conterfeiting and dissembling, if not, never to be believ’d when they speak the truth.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cotton’s 3d ed., ch. lxiii.    
  37
 
  Truth is a stronghold, fortified by God and nature, and diligence is properly the understanding’s laying siege to it; so that it must be perpetually observing all the avenues and passes to it, and accordingly making its approaches.
Robert South.    
  38
 
  The law of Christianity is eminently and transcendently called the word of truth.
Robert South.    
  39
 
  While it is so difficult to learn the springs and motives of some facts, it is no wonder they should be so grossly misrepresented to the public by curious inquisitive heads.
Jonathan Swift.    
  40
 
  Men are apt to prefer a prosperous error before an afflicted truth.
Jeremy Taylor.    
  41
 
  Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware; whereas a lie is troublesome, and sets a man’s invention upon the rack, and one trick needs a great many more to make it good. It is like building upon a false foundation, which constantly stands in need of props to shore it up, and proves at last more chargeable than to have raised a substantial building at first upon a true and solid foundation; for sincerity is firm and substantial, and there is nothing hollow and unsound in it, and, because it is plain and open, fears no discovery; of which the crafty man is always in danger; and when he thinks he walks in the dark, all his pretences are so transparent, that he that runs may read them; he is the last man that finds himself to be found out; and whilst he takes it for granted that he makes fools of others, he renders himself ridiculous.
John Tillotson: Sermons.    
  42
 
  Whosoever is afraid of submitting any question, civil or religious, to the test of free discussion, is more in love with his own opinion than with truth.
Bishop Richard Watson.    
  43
 
  Not only the investigation of truth, but the communication of it also, is often practised in such a method as neither agrees precisely to synthetic or analytic.
Dr. Isaac Watts.    
  44
 
  It will be found that all frauds, like the “wall daubed with untempered mortar,” with which men think to buttress up an edifice, tend to the decay of that which they are devised to support. This truth, however, will never be steadily acted on by those who have no moral detestation of falsehood. It is not given to those who do not prize straightforwardness for its own sake to perceive that it is the wisest course. The maxim that “honesty is the best policy” is one which, perhaps, no one is ever habitually guided by in practice. An honest man is always before it, and a knave is generally behind it. He does not find out, till too late,—
        “What a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive.”
  45
  No one, in fact, is capable of fully appreciating the ultimate expediency of a devoted adherence to Truth, save the divine Being, who is “the Truth;” because he alone comprehends the whole of the vast and imperfectly-revealed scheme of Providence, and alone can see the inmost recesses of the human heart, and alone can foresee and judge of the remotest consequences of human actions.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Simulation and Dissimulation.    
  46
 
  It is in the determination to obey the truth, and to follow wherever she may lead, that the genuine love of truth consists.
Richard Whately.    
  47
 
 
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