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usurpavi meis," and so he made up the matter : but he was
a liar still : for let the whole be true, yet he speaks but half,
and by that half deceives. All that he says is a lie, for the
contradictory of it is true; and it is concerning his answer
and the saying that the question is. It is not inquired
whether the man think a lie, but whether he speaks one ; and
not what it is to himself, for no man can lie to himself, but
what this is to him that asks, for to him he lies. And suppose
a man should write a proposition, and think the rest, to make
it true, would not all the world say he wrote a lie? What it
is in writing it is in speaking ; that which he speaks in the
present case is a lie, and for that he is condemned. For if
the words are a lie without a mental reservation, then they
are so with it ; for this does not alter the words, nor the mean-
ing of the words, nor the purpose of him that speaks them.

27. And indeed this whole affair is infinitely unreason-
able ; and the thinking one thing, and speaking it otherwise,
is so far from making it to be true, that therefore it is a lie, be-
cause the words are not according to what is in our mind ; and
it is a perverting the very end and institution of words, and
evacuates the purpose of laws, and the end of oaths, making
them not to be the end of questions, and the benefit of


society, and all human intercourse, and makes that none but
fools can lie, none can lie but they which cannot dissemble,
that is, they which cannot think one thing and speak another,
they which cannot so much as think what is true, or what
words would make it true. Certain it is, the devil need not
ever tell a lie, and yet serve all his ends. And besides all
this, such a person gives the scandal of a lie, and produces
the effect of a lie, and does intend the end of a lie, and it is
the material part of a lie; only, what the man owes to justice
he pays with thinking.

28. But then I consider further, if the words spoken be
of themselves a lie, and therefore he thinks it necessary by a
secret supply of thought to new-mould it into truth ; to
what purpose is that done? that it may be no lie to himself?
or that it may be no lie before him to whom he speaks it ?
As for himself, he is not concerned in it, but only that he
speak truth ; but the other is : and if it be a lie without that
supplement (for therefore he supplies it secretly), then till it
be supplied and made up to him before whom he speaks it, it
is a lie to him to whom it ought to be a truth. If the man be
bound to speak truth to the magistrate, let him do it ; but if
he be not obliged, let him tell a direct lie, for this supple-
ment is but a confessing in conscience that it is a lie ; and
therefore there is no need of such a dissembling artifice ;
there is more ingenuity in saying that they are not tied to tell
truth : but he that tells a lie, and by his mental reserva-
tion says he tells a truth, tells two lies, one practical, and the
other in theory ; one to the magistrate, and the other to

29. I do not say that, in all cases, it is unlawful to use
mental reservations, even in craftiness and escape. (1.) St.
Gregory y hath a case in which he affirms it lawful. " Tyran-
norum versutiam atque saevitiam quandoque esse pia fraude
deludendam, et objicienda eis quse credant, ut nocendi
aditum non inveniant; To prevent and elude the craft and
cruelty of tyrants, they must be sometimes deluded by a
pious cozenage ; and something must be imposed upon their
credulity, that their ways of mischief may be obstructed."
And then he adds, this is to be done so, " Ut caveatur culpa
mendacii; quod tune bene perficitur, cum illud fit quod asse-
s' Lib. vi. in 1 Reg. c. 3.


ritur, sed quod sit sic dicitur, ut celetur; quia ex parte dici-
tur, et ex parte reticetur ; When there is nothing told that is
false, but yet the matter is hid because it is not all spoken."
Indeed this is one kind of innocent doing it ; but this is
lawful to be done without great necessity, even for a proba-
ble reason : it is nothing but a concealing of some part of
the truth, and a discovery of another part, even of so much
as will serve our turn. But,

30. (2.) Restrictions conditional are lawful to be used in
our intercourses : that is, the affirmation or negation, the
threatening or promising of a thing, may be ' cum tacita
conditione, with a condition concealed ;' when that conceal-
ment is not intended for a snare, but it is -AO,T o/xovo/x/av, a
usual dispensation, and is competently presumed, supposed,
or understood. Thus God commanded Jacob to preach
against Nineveh, " Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be de-
stroyed ;" meaning, unless they did repent. Thus we may
say, ' I will to-morrow distribute my alms, and will give you
a part,' meaning, if you will come for it. So for affirmations :
the physician says to his patient, * You are but a dead man ;'
that is, unless some extraordinary blessing happen : ' You are
in danger;' meaning, if you will not use the remedies pre-
scribed. But in all these cases the condition must not be
insolent, undiscerned, contrary to reasonable expectations,
impossible, or next to impossible : for if it be such which
cannot be understood, the reservation is a snare, and the
whole intercourse is a deception and a lie.

31. (3.) If the reservation be not purely mental, but is
understood by accidents and circumstances, it is lawful. The
shepherd of Cremona that was asked concerning the flock
he kept, whether those were his sheep or no, answered con-
fidently that they were ; meaning secretly, not his own pos-
session, but his own charge, and not his neighbour Morone's
flock. He said true, though his thought made up the inte-
grity of his true proposition, because it was not doubted, and
he was not asked concerning the possession, as not being a
likely man to be so wealthy. So the guide whom you ask
upon the road, tells, ' You cannot go out of your way, 'mean-
ing, if you follow your plain directions, and be not wilful,
or careless, or asleep ; and yet he says truth, though he
speaks but half, because he deceives none, and is understood


by all. Thus the prophet Isaiah z said to Hezekiah when he was
sick, " Thou shalt die and not live ;" meaning, that the force
of the disease is such as to be mortal, and so it stands in the
order of nature : and when afterward he brought a more
comfortable message, he was not thought a liar at first, be-
cause they understood his meaning, and the case came to be
altered upon a higher account.

32. (4.) When the things are true in several senses, the
not explicating in what sense I mean the words, is not a
criminal reservation. Thus our blessed Saviour affirmed that
himself did not know the precise day when himself should
come to judge the world; that is, as St. Austin, and gene-
rally the Christian doctors, say, as man he did not know it,
though being God he did know all things. a But, 1. This
liberty is not to be used by inferiors, but by superiors only ;
2. Not by those that are interrogated, but by them which
speak voluntarily : 3. Not by those which speak of duty, but
which speak of grace and kindness : because superiors, and
the voluntary speakers, and they which out of kindness
speak, are tied to no laws in this particular, but the mea-
sures of their own good-will ; and the degrees of their kind-
ness, of their instruction, of their communication, are wholly
arbitrary : but the inferiors, the examined, the speakers out
of duty and obligation, are tied to answer by other measures,
by their exigencies, demands, understandings, and purposes;
and therefore must not do any thing whereby that truth
which they have a right and interest to inquire after, may
be hindered. The conclusion is this, in the words of St.
Gregory; 6 " Sapientia justorum est, nil per ostensionem fin-
gere, sensum verbis aperire ; The wisdom of just men is to
make no pretences for deception, but by words to open the
secret of their heart."

Question III.

33. Whether it be lawful to equivocate, or use words of
doubtful signification, with a purpose to deceive, or knowing
that they will deceive ; and in what cases it is so ?

34. To this I answer as to the former, Where it is lawful
to lie, it is lawful to equivocate, which may be. something

1 Isa. xxxviii. Theopbylact. in xxiv. Matt.

b Moral, lib. x. c. 27.


less than a plain lie : but where it is not permitted to tell a
lie, there the equivocation must be innocent, that is, not de-
ceiving, nor intended that it should. And this is that which
the Hebrews call, ' corde et corde loqui, to speak dis-
sembling,' ' labiis dolosis, with lips of deceit.' For it is
remarkable, that ' corde et corde' signifies ' diligence and sin-
cerity,' when it means ' work or labour ;' but it signifies
* falsehood and craft,' when it means ' speaking :' for nature
hath given us two hands, and but one tongue ; and therefore
a duplicate in labour is a double diligence, but in talking it
is but a double fraud. Tacitus observes of Tiberius, " Verba
ejus obscura, suspensa, perplexa, eluctantia, in speciem com-
posita ; His words were obscure, broken, interrupted, per-
plex, and intricate, striving and forced, and made for show
and pretences." Now if by artifices you deceive him that
trusts you, and whom you ought not to deceive, it is but a
lie dressed in another way, and it is all one : for " nee arti-
ficioso ingenio nee simplici verho oportet decipere quen-
quam, quia quolibet artis modo mentiatur." d So in that so-
lution of this question we are only to consider what equivo-
cal speeches may be used, that is, which of them are no lies ;
for the rest they are lawful or unlawful by the measures of
the first question ; for sometimes equivocation is a lie, and
equally destructive of civil intercourse. " Duplex responsio
habet effect um simplicis silentii." You had as good not speak
at all, as speak equivocally ; for " a double speech is as
insignificant as a single silence."

35. (1.) It is lawful upon a just cause of great charity
or necessity to use in our answers and intercourses words of
divers signification, though it does deceive him that asks.
Thus Titius, the father of Gains, hid his father in a tub, and
to the cut-throats that inquired for him to bloody purposes,
he answered " Patremin doliolo latere ;" now that did not only
signify a little tub, but a hill near Rome, where the villains
did suspect him to be, and were so diverted. Thus we read
of a Greek, that, in the like case, hid his brother under a
wood-pile ; and to the inquisitors answered ' that he did lie
hid sv rf : jX7>, somewhere ' in the wood.' Now in these cases,
where there is no obligation to tell the truth, any man may

c Annal i. $ 11. Ruperti, p. 44.

d S. Aug. de Conflictu Virt. et Vitiorum.


use the covers of truth ; especially when in this case it is not
a lie : for an equivocation is like a dark lantern ; if I have
just reason to hold the dark side to you, you are to look to
it, not I. If Christian simplicity be not concerned in it, nor
any other grace indirectly, certain it is that truth is not con-
cerned : for, " In ambiguo sermone non utrumque diciinus,
sed duntaxat quod volumus," said Paulus the lawyer. 6 Now
that part of the ambiguity which I intend it in, is true; I
would never else use that way to save my conscience and to
escape a lie ; so that if nothing else be concerned, truth is safe.
But then care must also be taken, that he, who hath right to
be answered, be not defeated without his own fault. For,

36. (2.) If 1 intend to deceive him, it must be such a
person whom I have power to deceive; some one that is a
child, or a madman, or an incompetent person to judge for
his own good, and one that no other way will be brought to
do himself good, one that is willing, or justly so presumed.
For unless I have power or right to deceive him, I must not
intend to deceive him by any act of mine directly.

37. (3.) If it be fit that he be deceived, though I have no
right to do it, let him deceive himself; it must be by his own
act; to which I may indeed minister occasion by any fair
and innocent means. It is fit that he who, by violence and
injury, intends to do mischief to innocent persons, be hin-
dered from it ; and there is much good done if an innocent
be rescued, and no harm done to the tyrant if he be diverted,
and no wrong or injustice if he do deceive himself. Thus if
he runs into error by a just and prudent concealment of some
truth ; if he is apt to mistake my words out of a known and
by me observed weakness ; if his malice is apt to make him
turn all ambiguous words into his own sense that will de-
ceive him ; if I know he will listen to my whispers to another
person, and watch my secret talk to others ; I am not bound
to say what will inform him, but what will become my inter-
course with the other ; in all these and the like cases, if I
use my own liberty, I do no man injury. I am not bound to
speak words of single signification ; if it be sufficient to ex-
press my meaning, if it be in the nature and use of the
words apt to signify my mind, and to speak that which is
true, let him that stands by look to it : I do all that I am

e Lib. iii. ff. do Rebus Dubiis.


obliged to do by the interest of justice and truth. For in
these cases, he that speaks, does but minister occasion to
him that is mistaken ; like him that represents artificial
sights before the eyes, or as the rainbow in the clouds is
occasion of a popular error, that it is full of colours.

38. (4.) But then this must be so used, that the amphi-
bology or equivocation be not insolent and strange, but such
as is usual in forms of witty speech. For then he who uses
them, does no more deceive his hearer, than he that speaks
obscurely or profoundly is the cause of error in the ignorant
people. Thus if Caius promise to pay to Regulus a hundred
Attic drachms, he is tied to do it, if he does owe it, else not :
for if he owes none, he must pay none, and he did not pro-
mise to give him any thing. For if a meaning be clearly
contained in the word spoken, it may be made use of to any
just and reasonable advantage ; especially if that word ought
or was likely to have been understood by the concerned
hearer. But this may not be done in fraud and to the di-
minution of any man's rights. Asper buys corn and linen
of Camillus, who is newly come from Egypt ; they agree to-
gether that Camillus shall receive ten talents ; but that he
shall give him as a free gift half of it back again ; and call
the ten talents the just price, and the telling it a just solu-
tion. If Asper sells his linen by the proportion of the great
price told over, he is a cozener ; and uses the words of
* price,' and ' payment,' and ' gift,' fraudulently : the amphi-
bology might have been used to ends of justice and reason,
but not of knavery and oppression.

39. (5.) And this must also be upon just cause. For if
a magistrate sends to inquire for Titius, and the officers ask
' an Titius sit domi? if he be at home?' to him we may not
answer, ' Titius iion est domi, He does not eat at home ;'
meaning the word ' est' in a sense less usual, to deceive him
in the more common who ought not to be deceived at all ;
but to save a man's life from violence and injury it may be
done. This way hath been sometimes used to vile persons.
Thus Cleomenes, having made truce with his enemies for
thirty days, used to plunder his country in the night ; and
Labeo having agreed to give up half his navy to Antiochus,
cut his ships in pieces, and made them good for nothing.
The like stories are told of Alexander, of the Locrians, of


Otho Moguntius. But it was a barbarous thing in Pericles,
who promised safety to the enemy if he would lay aside his
iron, that is, their arms, as all the world understood it, and
as the nature of the thing did signify ; when he had done so,
he fell upon the whole body of them, and cut them in pieces,
shewing, for his excuse, the iron buttons that they had upon
their coats. Such frauds as these are intolerable in their
event, and evil in their cause, and detested by all good and
just men. To this purpose I remember a worthy story told
by John Chokier, of a Spanish governor of a town in Milan,
who kept a noble person prisoner with hard usage, and
when his lady came to petition for his liberty, promised to
deliver her husband to her, if she would let him lie with her.
The poor woman being wearied with this temptation and the
evil usage of her husband, consents and suffers it. When
the governor had obtained his lust, he would also satisfy his
anger too ; and kills her husband, and, to verify his promise,
gives her husband to the lady, but newly murdered. The
lady complains of this, and tells her sad story to Gonzaga,
the Spanish general : he finds it to be truth, and made the
lady this amends. He commands the governor to marry the
lady, that by his estate she might be recompensed for the
dishonour : and then, the same day, causes the governor to
lose his head to pay for his dishonourable falsehood and
bloody lie. It was a justice worthy of a great prince ; and
the reward was justly paid to such a cruel equivocation.
This was " subdolus congressus," a ' crafty treaty,' *' quo nil
turpius," said Antoninus the ernperor, " Nothing is baser and
more dishonourable than it." Thus did Darius to the noble
QEbazus, the father of three brave sons, and Xerxes to Py-
thius, the father of five ; they killed what they promised to
leave with the father, adding to their cruelty the reproach
and scorn of cozenage. A man hath a right to use what
words he will, according to the received use ; but he must not
use them to evil purposes : and a man may go a little from
the more common use to that which is rare, so it be within
the signification of the word, provided there be just cause ;
that which hath good in it to some, and no injury to any.

40. (6.) There is between lying and equivocation this
only difference, that this may upon less necessity and upon
more causes be permitted than lying. For provided that


these measures now described, which are the negative mea-
sures of lying, be observed ; if a man speaks doubtful words
and intends them in a true sense, he may use his liberty :
always provided that he use it with care, and to the reputa-
tion of Christian simplicity. In arts and sciences, in jest
and intercourses of wit, in trial of understandings and mys-
tical teachings, in prudent concealments and arts of secrecy,
equivocal words may be used with more freedom. " Solvite
templum hoc," says Christ, " Dissolve this temple," viz. of
my body, " and I will raise it up in three days." So did that
excellent confessor in Eusebius/ to Firmilianus asking of
what country he was, he answered that Jerusalem was his
country; " seorsim apud animuni suum ita divinitus philoso-
phatus, privately in his mind speaking Divine mysteries,"
says the historian. This was well and innocent, because an
equivocal speech hath a light side as well as a dark ; it is
true as well as false, and therefore it is, in its own nature, in-
nocent ; and is only changed into a fault when it is against
justice and charity, under which simplicity is to be placed.

41. Under these measures are to be reduced those little
equivocations which are used sometimes in craft, but most
commonly in wit ; such as are to answer by anagrams, so as
to tell a true name but disguised by transposition of letters
and syllables, or to give the signification of a name in other
words. Thus if a man whose name is Dorotheus, call him-
self Theodorus, for Nicolaus, Laonicus, for Demonicus,
Nicodemus; it is an equivocation or an art ^of deception, but
such as may be legitimated by the cause : but if the inquiry
be in a serious matter, the answer must be serious and mate-
rial, true and significative to the purposes of law, and jus-
tice, and society. And therefore if Nicodemus had been in-,
terrogated by Pilate in a serious cause, he might not have
said his name was Demonicus ; and the reason is, because
he might not have concealed it. But when it is lawful to
conceal it if we can, this is a just way of doing it; for it is
no lie in itself, and can be made to do or to minister to that
good which is intended. Thus in the book of Tobit we find
that the angel Raphael called himself Azarias, the son of Ana-
nias, which indeed is the name of his office, or the rebus,
the meaning of his present employment, that is, ' auxilium

f 8. lib. Hist. c. 22.


Domini,' ' filius nubis Domini,' ' the aid of the Lord,' ' son
of the Lord's cloud;' meaning, that he was sent from the
Lord in a cloud or disguise to be an aid and a blessing to
that religious family. And he that called Arsinoe "HPJ 'Jov,
' Juno's violet,' kept all the letters of the name right, and
complimented the lady ingeniously. But these are better
effects of wit than ministries of justice ; and therefore are
not to be used but upon great reasons, and by the former
measures when the matter is of concernment.

Question IV.

42. Whether it be lawful by false signs, by actions and
pretences of actions, to deceive others for any good end ;
and in what cases it is so ?

43. To this question I answer in the words of Aquinas, 8
because they are reasonable arid pious : " Ad virtutem verita-
tis pertinet, ut quis talem se exhibeat exterius per signa ex-
teriora quails est; ea autem non solum sunt verba, sed etiam
facta:" and a little after; " Non refert autem utrum aliquis
mentiatur verbo, vel quocunque alio facto, It is all one if
a man lies, whether it be by word or by deed." A man may
look a lie, and nod a lie, and smile a lie.

44. But in this there is some variety : for, 1. All dissem-
bling from an evil principle and to evil purposes is criminal.
For thus Tertullian h declaims bitterly against those ladies
" who (says he), being taught by the apostate angels," " ocu-
los circumducto nigrore fucare, et genas mendacio ruboris
inficere, et mutare adulterinis coloribus crinem, et expugnare
omnem oris et capitis veritatem, besmear their eyebrows
with a black semicircle, and stain their cheeks with a lying
red, and change the colour of their hair into an adulterous
pretence, and drive away all the ingenuity and truth of their
faces." And Clemens Alexandrinus is as severe against old
men, that, with black-lead combs, put a lie upon their heads;
and so disgrace their old age, which ought to be relied upon,
believed, and reverenced for truth. And it was well said of
Archidamus to a man of Chios who did stain his white hairs
with black and the imagery of youth, " the man was hardly
to be believed, when he had a lie in his heart, and bore a lie
upon his head." These things proceeding from pride and

g 2. 2ae. q. 3. art. 1. b Lib. de Discip. et Habitu Virg.


vanity, and ministering to lust, or carried on with scandal,
are not only against humility, and sobriety, and chastity, and
charity, but against truth too ; because they are done with a
purpose to deceive, and by deceit to serve those evil ends.
To the same purpose was the fact of them, of whom Dio
Chrysostom speaks,' who knowing that men were in love
with old manuscripts, would put new ones into heaps of corn
and make them look like old : such also are they who, in
Holland, lately would exactly counterfeit old medals, to get
a treble price beyond the value of the metal and the imagery.
These things and all of the like nature are certainly unlawful,
because they are against justice and charity.

45. (2.) But there are other kinds of counterfeits, such
as are gildings of wood and brass, false stones, counterfeit
diamonds, glass depicted like emeralds and rubies, a crust
of marble drawn over a building of coarse stone ; k these are
only for beauty and ornament, and of themselves minister to
no evil, but are pleasant and useful: now though to sell these
images of beauty for real be a great cheat ; yet to expose
them to be seen as such, and every man be left to his liberty
of thinking as he please, and being pleased as he can, is very

46. (3.) There is a third sort of lying or deceiving by
signs not vocal : that is, the dissembling of a passion, such
as that of which Seneca 1 complains in the matter of grief,
which is the simplest of all passions ; but pretended by some
without truth to purposes not good. " Quotusquisque sibi
tristis est? clarius, curn audiuntur, gemunt : et taciti quieti-

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