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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On Love of Truth
By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781)
 
From ‘Eine Duplik’

I KNOW not whether it be a duty to offer up fortune and life to the truth: certainly the courage and resolution necessary to such a sacrifice are not gifts which we can bestow upon ourselves. But I know it is a duty, if one undertake to teach the truth, to teach the whole of it or none at all, to teach it clearly and roundly, without enigmas or reserves, and with perfect confidence in its efficacy and utility; and the gifts required for such a decision are in our power. Whoever will not acquire these, or when acquired will not use them, shows that he has a very poor opinion of the human intellect; and he deserves to lose the confidence of his hearers, who, while he frees them from some gross errors, yet withholds the entire truth, and thinks to satisfy them by a compromise with falsehood. For the greater the error, the shorter and straighter the way to the truth. On the other hand, subtle error can prevent our recognition of its nature, and forever blind us to the truth.  1
 
  The man who is faithless to Truth in threatening dangers, may yet love her much; and Truth forgives him his infidelity for the sake of his love. But whosoever thinks of prostituting Truth under all sorts of masks and rouge, may indeed be her pimp, but he has never been her lover.  2
 
  Not the truth of which any one is, or supposes himself to be, possessed, but the upright endeavor he has made to arrive at truth, makes the worth of the man. For not by the possession but by the pursuit of truth are his powers expanded, wherein alone his ever-growing perfection consists. Possession makes us easy, indolent, proud.  3
 
  If God held all truth shut in his right hand, and in his left nothing but the ever-restless search after truth, although with the condition of for ever and ever erring, and should say to me, “Choose!” I should bow humbly to his left hand and say, “Father, give! pure truth is for Thee alone!”  4
 
 
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