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This Colloquy sets forth the Disposition and Nature of a Liar, who seems to be born to lie for crafty Gain. A Liar is a Thief. Gain got by Lying, is baser than that which is got by a Tax upon Urine. An egregious Method of deceiving is laid open. Cheating Tradesmen live better than honest ones.


Phil. From what Fountain does this Flood of Lies flow?

Pseud. From whence do Spiders Webs proceed?

Phil. Then it is not the Product of Art, but of Nature.

Pseud. The Seeds indeed proceed from Nature; but Art and Use have enlarg'd the Faculty.

Phil. Why, are you not asham'd of it?

Pseud. No more than a Cuckow is of her Singing.

Phil. But you can alter your Note upon every Occasion. The Tongue of Man was given him to speak the Truth.

Pseud. Ay, to speak those Things that tend to his Profit: The Truth is not to be spoken at all Times.

Phil. It is sometimes for a Man's Advantage to have pilfering Hands; and the old Proverb is a Witness, that that is a Vice that is Cousin-German to yours of Lying.

Pseud. Both these Vices are supported by good Authorities: One has Ulysses, so much commended by Homer, and the other has Mercury, that was a God, for its Example, if we believe the Poets.

Phil. Why then do People in common curse Liars, and hang Thieves?

Pseud. Not because they lie or steal, but because they do it bunglingly or unnaturally, not rightly understanding the Art.

Phil. Is there any Author that teaches the Art of Lying?

Pseud. Your Rhetoricians have instructed in the best Part of the Art.

Phil. These indeed present us with the Art of well speaking.

Pseud. True: and the good Part of speaking well, is to lie cleverly.

Phil. What is clever Lying?

Pseud. Would you have me define it?

Phil. I would have you do it.

Pseud. It is to lie so, that you may get Profit by it, and not be caught in a Lie.

Phil. But a great many are caught in lying every Day.

Pseud. That's because they are not perfect Masters of the Art.

Phil. Are you a perfect Master in it?

Pseud. In a Manner.

Phil. See, if you can tell me a Lie, so as to deceive me.

Pseud. Yes, best of Men, I can deceive you yourself, if I have a Mind to it.

Phil. Well, tell me some Lie or other then.

Pseud. Why, I have told one already, and did you not catch me in it?

Phil. No.

Pseud. Come on, listen attentively; now I'll begin to lie then.

Phil. I do listen attentively; tell one.

Pseud. Why, I have told another Lie, and you have not caught me.

Phil. In Truth, I hear no Lie yet.

Pseud. You would have heard some, if you understood the Art.

Phil. Do you shew it me then.

Pseud. First of all, I call'd you the best of Men, is not that a swinging Lie, when you are not so much as good? And if you were good, you could not be said to be the best, there are a thousand others better than you.

Phil. Here, indeed, you have deceiv'd me.

Pseud. Well, now try if you can catch me again in another Lie.

Phil. I cannot.

Pseud. I want to have you shew that Sharpness of Wit, that you do in other Things.

Phil. I confess, I am deficient. Shew me.

Pseud. When I said, now I will begin to lie, did I not tell you a swinging Lie then, when I had been accustomed to lie for so many Years, and I had also told a Lie, just the Moment before.

Phil. An admirable Piece of Witchcraft.

Pseud. Well, but now you have been forewarn'd, prick up your Ears, listen attentively, and see if you can catch me in a Lie.

Phil. I do prick them up; say on.

Pseud. I have said already, and you have imitated me in lying.

Phil. Why, you'll persuade me I have neither Ears nor Eyes by and by.

Pseud. When Mens Ears are immoveable, and can neither be prick'd up nor let down, I told a Lie in bidding you prick up your Ears.

Phil. The whole Life of Man is full of such Lies.

Pseud. Not only such as these, O good Man, for these are but Jokes: But there are those that bring Profit.

Phil. The Gain that is got by Lying, is more sordid, than that which is got by laying a Tax on Urine.

Pseud. That is true, I own; but then 'tis to those that han't the Art of lying.

Phil. What Art is this that you understand?

Pseud. It is not fit I should teach you for nothing; pay me, and you shall hear it.

Phil. I will not pay for bad Arts.

Pseud. Then will you give away your Estate?

Phil. I am not so mad neither.

Pseud. But my Gain by this Art is more certain than yours from your Estate.

Phil. Well, keep your Art to yourself, only give me a Specimen that I may understand that what you say is not all Pretence.

Pseud. Here's a Specimen for you: I concern myself in all Manner of Business, I buy, I sell, I receive, I borrow, I take Pawns.

Phil. Well, what then?

Pseud. And in these Affairs I entrap those by whom I cannot easily be caught.

Phil. Who are those?

Pseud. The soft-headed, the forgetful, the unthinking, those that live a great Way off, and those that are dead.

Phil. The Dead, to be sure, tell no Tales.

Pseud. If I sell any Thing upon Credit, I set it down carefully in my Book of Accounts.

Phil. And what then?

Pseud. When the Money is to be paid, I charge the Buyer with more than he had. If he is unthinking or forgetful, my Gain is certain.

Phil. But what if he catches you?

Pseud. I produce my Book of Accounts.

Phil. What if he informs you, and proves to your Face he has not had the Goods you charge him with?

Pseud. I stand to it stiffly; for Bashfulness is altogether an unprofitable Qualification in this Art. My last Shift is, I frame some Excuse or other.

Phil. But when you are caught openly?

Pseud. Nothing's more easy, I pretend my Servant has made a Mistake, or I myself have a treacherous Memory: It is a very pretty Way to jumble the Accounts together, and this is an easy Way to impose on a Person: As for Example, some are cross'd out, the Money being paid, and others have not been paid; these I mingle one with another at the latter End of the Book, nothing being cross'd out. When the Sum is cast up, we contend about it, and I for the most Part get the better, tho' it be by forswearing myself. Then besides, I have this Trick, I make up my Account with a Person when he is just going a Journey, and not prepared for the Settling it. For as for me, I am always ready. If any Thing be left with me, I conceal it, and restore it not again. It is a long Time before he can come to the Knowledge of it, to whom it is sent; and, after all, if I can't deny the receiving of a Thing, I say it is lost, or else affirm I have sent that which I have not sent, and charge it upon the Carrier. And lastly, if I can no Way avoid restoring it, I restore but Part of it.

Phil. A very fine Art.

Pseud. Sometimes I receive Money twice over, if I can: First at Home, afterwards there where I have gone, and I am every where. Sometimes Length of Time puts Things out of Remembrance: The Accounts are perplexed, one dies, or goes a long Journey: And if nothing else will hit, in the mean Time I make Use of other People's Money. I bring some over to my Interest, by a Shew of Generosity, that they may help me out in lying; but it is always at other People's Cost; of my own, I would not give my own Mother a Doit. And tho' the Gain in each Particular may be but small; but being many put together, makes a good round Sum; for as I said, I concern myself in a great many Affairs; and besides all, that I may not be catch'd, as there are many Tricks, this is one of the chief. I intercept all the Letters I can, open them, and read them. If any Thing in them makes against me, I destroy them, or keep them a long Time before I deliver them: And besides all this, I sow Discord between those that live at a great Distance one from another.

Phil. What do you get by that?

Pseud. There is a double Advantage in it. First of all, if that is not performed that I have promised in another Person's Name, or in whose Name I have received any Present, I lay it to this or that Man's Door, that it was not performed, and so these Forgeries I make turn to a considerable Account.

Phil. But what if he denies it?

Pseud. He's a great Way off, as suppose at Basil; and I promise to give it in England. And so it is brought about, that both being incensed, neither will believe the one the other, if I accuse them of any Thing. Now you have a Specimen of my Art.

Phil. But this Art is what we Dullards call Theft; who call a Fig a Fig, and a Spade a Spade.

Pseud. O Ignoramus in the Law! Can you bring an Action of Theft for Trover or Conversion, or for one that having borrow'd a Thing forswears it, that puts a Trick upon one, by some such Artifice?

Phil. He ought to be sued for Theft.

Pseud. Do but then see the Prudence of Artists. From these Methods there is more Gain, or at least as much, and less Danger.

Phil. A Mischief take you, with your cheating Tricks and Lies, for I han't a Mind to learn 'em. Good by to ye.

Pseud. You may go on, and be plagu'd with your ragged Truth. In the mean Time, I'll live merrily upon my thieving, lying Tricks, with Slight of Hand.

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