Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 47

[3] Truth is brighter than light.

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_.

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.

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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And, lastly (I may.
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