S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Though the world be histrionical, and most men live ironically, yet be thou what thou singly art, and personate only thyself. Swim smoothly in the stream of thy nature, and live but one man. To single hearts doubling is discruciating: such tempers must sweat to dissemble, and prove but hypocritical hypocrites. Simulation must be short; men do not easily continue a counterfeiting life, or dissemble unto death . And therefore, since sincerity is thy temper, let veracity be thy virtue, in words, manners, and actions.
The resentment produced by sincerity, whatever be its immediate cause, is so certain, and generally so keen, that very few have magnanimity sufficient for the practice of a duty which, above most others, exposes its votaries to hardships and persecutions; yet friendship without it is of very little value, since the great use of so close an intimacy is, that our virtues may be guarded and encouraged, and our vices repressed in their first appearance by timely detection and salutary remonstrances.
Let his conscience and vertue be eminent by manifest in his speaking, and have only reason for their guide. Make him understand that to acknowledge the errour he shall discover in his own argument, though only found out by himself, is an effect of judgment and sincerity, which are the principal things he is to seek after. That obstinacy and contention are common qualities, most appearing in, and best becoming, a mean and illiterate soul. That to recollect and to correct himself, and to foresee an unjust argument in the height and heat of dispute, are great and philosophical qualities.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxv.
The happy talent of pleasing either those above you or below you, seems to be wholly owing to the opinion they have of your sincerity. This quality is to attend the agreeable man in all the actions of his life; and I think there need no more be said in honour of it than that it is what forces the approbation of your opponents.
True wisdom and greatness of mind raise a man above the need of using little tricks and devices. Sincerity and honesty carries one through many difficulties which all the arts he can invent would never help him through. For nothing doth a man more real mischief in the world than to be suspected of too much craft; because every one stands upon his guard against him, and suspects plots and designs where there are none intended: insomuch that though he speaks with all the sincerity that is possible, yet nothing he saith can be believed.
If the show of anything be good for anything, I am sure sincerity is better: for why doth 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 real excellency. Now, the best way in the world to seem to be anything, 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, are lost.
John Tillotson: Sermon on Sincerity, July 29, 1694.
Sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speedy dispatch of business; it creates confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in few words. It is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journeys end than by-ways, in which men often lose themselves. In a word, whatsoever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man has once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, he is set fast; and nothing then will serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.
Sincerity and sincere have a twofold meaning of great moral importance. Sincerity is often used to denote mere reality of conviction, that a man believes what he professes to believe. Sometimes, again, it is used to denote unbiassed conviction, or, at least, an earnest endeavour to shake off all prejudices, and all undue influence of wishes and passions on the judgment, and to decide impartially.