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Accursed Vice

From the French Enlightenment essayist, Michel de Montaigne, based on a proverb traced to the fourth century church father Jerome: Lying is indeed an accursed vice. We are men, and we have relations with one anther only by speech. If we recognized the horror and gravity of an untruth, we should more justifiably punish it with fire than any other crime. I commonly find people taking the most ill-advised pains to correct their children for their harmless faults, and worrying them about heedless acts which leave no trace and have no consequences. Lying—and in a lesser degree obstinacy—are, in my opinion, the only faults whose birth and progress we should consistently oppose. They grow with a child’s growth, and once the tongue has got the knack of lying, it is difficult to imagine how impossible it is to correct it.

On the Father Front, Winter, 1992-93, p. 4