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A day without honesty is like a day without sunshine.


Honesty maketh rich, but she works slowly.


The plain truth is that honesty is critical to the moral fiber of every individual. Experts agree that people who are honest feel better about themselves. They are able to enjoy stronger friendships, are more successful in school and in other pursuits and, in the long run, have deeper, happier marriages. It is from honesty that so many other desirable traits spring forth.

BETSY BROWN BRAUN, You're Not the Boss of Me

Honesty is the rarest wealth anyone can possess, and yet all the honesty in the world ain't lawful tender for a loaf of bread.

JOSH BILLINGS, attributed, The Modern Handbook of Humor

Honesty is like an icicle--if once it melts that is the end of it.


An honest man's word is as good as the king's.


Sneakiness and underhanded dealing are doubtless to be reckoned among the arts of self-advancement. Honesty is, in many cases, unquestionably the very worst policy. But though honesty be so, honesty is the right thing after all. But honest men sometimes think to possess together two inconsistent things. They think to possess the high sense of scrupulous integrity, and at the same time the favour, patronage, and profit which can be had only by parting with that.

ANDREW KENNEDY HUTCHISON BOYD, The Commonplace Philosopher in Town and Country

Honesty is the poor man's pork and the rich man's pudding.


A nod of an honest man is enough.


The line of honesty is so differently drawn by different persons, that one would be led to think that there was an honesty in the abstract. Practical honesty, however, in the strictest sense, will always be the object of him who wishes to settle a just account with himself.

WILLIAM DALBY, attributed, A Homiletic and Illustrative Treasury of Religious Thought

A clean mouth and an honest hand
Will take a man through any land.


Make yourself an honest man, and you can be sure there is one less rascal in the world.

THOMAS CARLYLE, attributed, Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting of Progressive Friends, 1887

Some people are honest in the strict sense of the word; but they habitually push bargains so hard that their honesty is suspected. They tread so near the line dividing integrity from fraud, that the public entertain grave doubts respecting the legitimacy of their dealings. But it is a duty imperative on every man to avoid the perilous extreme bordering on theft, and to appear honest as well as be honest. Aim at living not only above dishonesty, but above suspicion, as well. "Provide things honest." Is that all? No; "provide things honest in the sight of all men." Not only be upright, but convince others of your uprightness. Let your life be honourable, entirely exempt from meanness and trickery.

JOHN CYNDDYLAN JONES, Studies in the Acts of the Apostles

Honest men fear neither the light nor the dark.


The elegance of honesty needs no adornment.

MERRY BROWNE, attributed, The Book of Positive Quotations

Let me tell you a secret, which ought not to be a secret, seeing it is written in the Scriptures--be honest and your whole body will be full of light; and this of every kind; you will actually see further and see clearer than shrewd and cunning men, and you will be less liable to be duped than they, provided that your honesty be combined with a determination to protect honesty, and to discountenance every kind of brand.

EDWARD IRVING, Sermons, Lectures and Occasional Discourses: vol. 2

Successful people have cultivated the habit of never denying to themselves their true feelings and attitudes. They have no need for pretenses.


Persons lightly dipped, not grain'd in generous honesty are but pale in goodness and faint-hued in integrity. But be thou what thou virtuously art, and let not the ocean wash away thy tincture. Stand magnetically upon that axis, when prudent simplicity hath fixed there; and let no attraction invert the poles of thy honesty.

THOMAS BROWNE, Christian Morals

No such thing as a man willing to be honest--that would be like a blind man willing to see.


There is an honesty which is but decided selfishness in disguise. The man who will not refrain from expressing his sentiments and manifesting his feelings, however unfit the time, however inappropriate the place, however painful this expression may be, lays claim, forsooth, to our approbation as an honest man, and sneers at those of finer sensibilities as hypocrites.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

Where is the man who has the strength to be true, and to show himself as he is?

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, Conversations of Goethe

Just be honest with yourself. That opens the door.

VERNON HOWARD, attributed, Webster's Quotations

People may or may not say what they mean ... but they always say something designed to get what they want.

DAVID MAMET, attributed, David Mamet: A Research and Production Sourcebook

He who says there is no such thing as an honest man, is himself a knave.

GEORGE BERKELEY, attributed, A Dictionary of Thoughts

An honest man is all of a piece the whole contexture of his life.

DANIEL DEFOE, "On Relative Honesty"

An honest man lives not to the world, but to himself.

WELLINS CALCOTT, Thoughts Moral and Divine

An honest man is still an unmov'd rock,
Wash'd whiter, but not shaken with the shock:
Whose heart conceives no sinister device;
Fearless he plays with flames, and treads on ice.


There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats;
For I am arm'd so strong in honesty,
That they pass by me as the idle wind,
Which I respect not.


In common life we see two principles at work. Honesty is open-faced, plain-mannered, simple-hearted, pure-souled. Policy is curtain-faced, courtier-mannered, and serpent-hearted. Honesty is sound to the core; Policy is hollow or rotten to the rind. Honesty speaks right out; Policy hesitates, considers, makes polite round-about speeches, and expresses an equivocal indefiniteness. Honesty is as good at home as abroad; Policy is most interesting among strangers. With Honesty, familiarity creates respect; with Policy, it breeds contempt. In the market-place, Policy puts the fairest fruit on the top of the measure; Honesty makes it all alike. Policy conceals the blemishes of the animal or articles to be sold; Honesty presents the plain truth, the article as it is, the good and bad alike exposed. Honesty shows goods as they are; Policy as they should be. Honesty sells for an equivalent; Policy for what it can get. Honesty believes in quick sales and fair profits; Policy in the sales and profits it can get. The word of Honesty is its bond; the word of Policy is what happens to be for its best. Honesty has one price for all its customers; Policy a price for each customer. Honesty is satisfied with a living profit; Policy, like the grave, cries forever for more.


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