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No. 103 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

And in truth it is hard to say, whether it should more provoke our Contempt or our Pity, to hear what solemn Expressions of Respect and Kindness will pass between Men, almost upon no Occasion; how great Honour and Esteem they will declare for one whom perhaps they never saw before, and how entirely they are all on the sudden devoted to his Service and Interest, for no Reason; how infinitely and eternally obliged to him, for no Benefit; and how extreamly they will be concerned for him, yea and afflicted too, for no Cause. I know it is said, in Justification of this hollow kind of Conversation, that there is no Harm, no real Deceit in Compliment, but the Matter is well enough, so long as we understand one another; et Verba valent ut Nummi: Words are like Money; and when the current Value of them is generally understood, no Man is cheated by them. This is something, if such Words were any thing; but being brought into the Account, they are meer Cyphers. However, it is still a just Matter of Complaint, that Sincerity and Plainness are out of Fashion, and that our Language is running into a Lie; that Men have almost quite perverted the use of Speech, and made Words to signifie nothing, that the greatest part of the Conversation of Mankind is little else but driving a Trade of Dissimulation; insomuch that it would make a Man heartily sick and weary of the World, to see the little Sincerity that is in Use and Practice among Men.

When the Vice is placed in this contemptible Light, he argues unanswerably against it, in Words and Thoughts so natural, that any Man who reads them would imagine he himself could have been the Author of them.

If the Show of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure Sincerity is better: for why does any Man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is not, but because he thinks it good to have such a Quality as he pretends to? For to counterfeit and dissemble, is to put on the Appearance of some real Excellency. Now the best way in the World to seem to be any thing, is really to be what he would seem to be. Besides, that it is many times as troublesome to make good the Pretence of a good Quality, as to have it; and if a Man have it not, it is ten to one but he is discovered to want it; and then all his Pains and Labour to seem to have it, is lost.

In another Part of the same Discourse he goes on to shew, that all Artifice must naturally tend to the Disappointment of him that practises it.

‘Whatsoever Convenience may be thought to be in Falshood and Dissimulation, it is soon over; but the Inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a Man under an everlasting Jealousie and Suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks Truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a Man hath once forfeited the Reputation of his Integrity, he is set fast, and nothing will then serve his Turn, neither Truth nor Falshood.’


[Footnote 1: This sermon ‘on Sincerity,’ from John i. 47, is the last Tillotson preached. He preached it in 1694, on the 29th of July, and died, in that year, on the 24th of November, at the age of 64. John Tillotson was the son of a Yorkshire clothier, and was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1691, on the deprivation of William Sancroft for his refusal to take the oaths to William and Mary.]