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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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300          Truth and Convenience

only a good, sound, truthful person who can lie to any good
purpose ; if a man is not habitually truthful his very lies will
be false to him and betray him. The converse also is true ; if
a man is not a good, sound, honest, capable liar there is no
truth in him.


Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some
sense to know how to lie well.



[ do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.

A friend who cannot at a pinch remember a thing or two
that never happened is as bad as one who does not know how
to forget.


Cursed is he that does not know when to shut his mind.
An open mind is all very well in its way, but it ought not to
be so open that there is no keeping anything in or out of it.
It should be capable of shutting its doors sometimes, or it may
be found a little draughty.


He who knows not how to wink knows not how to see ; and
he who knows not how to lie knows not how to speak the
truth. So he who cannot suppress his opinions cannot express


There can no more be a true statement without falsehood
distributed through it, than a note on a well-tuned piano that
is not intentionally and deliberately put out of tune to some
extent in order to have the piano in the most perfect possible
tune. Any perfection of tune as regards one key can only be
got at the expense of all the rest.


Lying has a kind of respect and reverence with it. We pay
a person the compliment of acknowledging his superiority
whenever we lie to him.