The Story of a Lie
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Mr. Naseby, becoming engrossed in securing the election of a sound party candidate to Parliament, wrote a flaming letter to the papers. The letter had about it every demerit of party letters in general: it was expressed with the energy of a believer; it was personal; it was a little more than half unfair, and about a quarter untrue. The old man did not mean to say what was untrue, you may be sure; but he had rashly picked up gossip, as his prejudice suggested, and now rashly launched it on the public with the sanction of his name.
“The Liberal candidate,” he concluded, “is thus a public turncoat. Is that the sort of man we want? He has been given the lie, and has swallowed the insult. Is that the sort of man we want? I answer, No! with all the force of my conviction, I answer No!”
He found is father’s manifesto in one column; and in another a leading article. “No one, that we are aware of,” ran the article, “had consulted Mr. Naseby on the subject, but if he had been appealed to by the whole body of electors, his letter would be none the less ungenerous and unjust to Mr. Dalton. We do not choose to give the lie to Mr. Naseby, for we are all too well of the consequences, but we shall venture instead to print the facts of both cases referred to by this red-hot partisan in another portion of our issue. Mr. Naseby is of course a large proprietor in our neighbourhood: but fidelity to facts, decent feeling, and English grammar are all of them qualities more important than the possession of land. Mr. N— is doubtless a great man; in his large gardens and that half-mile of greenhouses, where he has probably ripened his intellect and temper, he may say what he will to his hired vassals, but (as the Scots say) --
He maunna think to domineer.
Liberalism,” continued the anonymous journalist “is of too free and sound a growth,” etc.
from “The Story of a Lie,” by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1879.
Need we say more? —Submitted by Margaret Freeman
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