Good Tom Truth

A cautionary tale, by St. Thomas More:

If we, because we know our cause so good, bear ourselves thereupon so bold that we make light and slight of our adversaries—it may happen to fare between the Catholics and heretics at length as it fareth sometimes in a suit at the law by some good man against whom a subtle, wily shrew beginneth a false action, and asketh from him all the land he hath.

This good man sometimes, that knoweth his matter so true, persuadeth to himself that it were not possible for him to lose it by the law. And when his counsel talketh with him, and asketh him how he can prove this point or that for himself, answereth again, “Fear ye not for that, sir, I warrant you—all the whole county knoweth it—the matter is so true, and my part so plain, that I care not what judges, what arbiters, what twelve men go thereon. I will challenge no man, for any labor that mine adversary can make therein.”

And with such good hope, the good man goeth him home, and there sitteth still and putteth no doubt in the matter.

But in the meanwhile his adversary (which for lack of truth of his cause, must needs put all his trust in craft) goeth about his matter busily, and by all the false means he may, maketh him friends, some with good fellowship, some with rewards, findeth a fellow to forge him false evidence, maketh means to the sheriff, getteth a partial panel, laboreth the jury, and when they come to the bar, he hath all his trinkets ready.

Whereas good Tom Truth cometh forth upon the other side, and because he thinks all the world knoweth how true his matter is, bringeth never a witness with him, and all his evidence unsorted.

And one knew I once, that brought unto the bar (when the jury was sworn) and openly delivered his counsel his tinder box, with his flint and his matches, instead of his box of evidence; for that had he left at home.

So negligent are good folk sometimes, when the known truth of their matter maketh them over-bold.

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