Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
The act of wilfully representing a thing otherwise than it is. "This, " as an elegant writer observes, "is one of the greatest mischiefs of conversation. Self-love is continually at work to give to all we say a bias in our own favour. How often in society, otherwise respectable, are we pained with narrations in which prejudice warps, and self-love blinds!
How often do we see that withholding part of a truth answers the worst ends of a falsehood! How often regret the unfair turn given to a cause, by placing a sentiment in one point of view, which the speaker had used in another! the letter of truth preserved, where its spirit is violated! a superstitious exactness scrupulously maintained in the under parts of a detail, in order to impress such an idea of integrity as shall gain credit for the misrepresenter, while he is designedly mistaking the leading principle! How may we observe a new character given to a fact by a different look, tone, or emphasis, which alters it as much as words could have done! the false impression of a sermon conveyed, when we do not like the preacher, or when through him we wish to make religion itself ridiculous! the care to avoid literal untruths, while the mischief is better effected by the unfair quotation of a passage divested of its context! the bringing together detached portions of a subject, and making those parts ludicrous, when connected, which were serious in their distinct position! the insidious use made of a sentiment by representing it as the opinion of him who had only brought it forward in order to expose it! the relating opinions which had merely been put hypothetically, as if they were the avowed principles of him we would discredit! that subtle falsehood which is so made to incorporate with a certain quantity of truth, that the most skilful moral chemist cannot analyze or separate them! for a good misrepresenter knows that a successful lie must have a certain infusion of truth, or it will not go down. And this amalgamation is the test of his skill; as too much truth would defeat the end of his mischief, and too little would destroy the belief of the hearer. All that indefinable ambiguity and equivocation; all that prudent deceit, which is rather implied than expressed; those more delicate artifices of the school of Loyala and of Chesterfield, which allow us, when we dare not deny a truth, yet so to disguise and discolour it, that the truth we relate shall not resemble the truth we heard; these, and all the thousand shades of simulation and disimulation, will be carefully guarded against in the conversation of vigilant Christians."
Miss H. More on Educ. vol. 2: p. 91.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Misrepresentation'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/m/misrepresentation.html. 1802.