Truthfulness consists in stating a fact as it is. It is a moral virtue which should be very carefully cultivated. There is no religion higher than truth. It is a cardinal virtue, without which other virtues cannot subsist. This habit should be formed early in childhood. A child is by nature truthful, but we teach him to conceal and to pervert truth.
A liar is never believed. He loses the confidence of his friends, and if he is a shopkeeper, he loses his customers. Everyone likes the man on whom he may be able to depend, but we can never depend on a liar. Liars think themselves very clever, when they succeed in deceiving others.
We must always speak the truth, but if a truth is bitter, and may cause unnecessary offence to another, we had better remain silent, unless it be our duty to speak it out. We should, however, on no account speak an untruth merely to please others. Even a harmless lie’ or an innocent untruth is bad. Half truths, in which we do not speak out the whole truth, are worse than falsehood. Undue flattery is also a kind of falsehood which degrades man. Some men tell lies from mere indifference or levity, others from a desire to please others. All these forms are equally had. but the worst is that which we invent or utter for our own benefit to injure others, or to gain an advantage for ourselves.
The habit of lying is very degrading. A liar is not believed even when he speaks the truth. The story of the boy who cried wolf when there was really no wolf at all, and who was not believed when the wolf really did come to devour him, illustrates this.
Truthful men are honored everywhere. If scientists and philosophers, teachers and prophets had not divulged to the world at large the truths they had discovered, the world would not have made any progress at all. Socrates drank the cup of poison rather than retract his teachings. Jesus Christ himself suffered execution for the sake of truth.