Prophetic Words About Lying Politicians From T. De Witt Talmage

Our 21st Century Dysfunctional Politicians Accurately Described

DeWitt TalmageHe described our lying politicians better than anyone today could have. And he did it 140 years ago.

T. De Witt Talmage (1832-1902) was a sanctimonious Brooklyn preacher who attained a huge following in the 19th century as an orator and prolific author. Overflow crowds attended his Sunday sermons at The Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Talamge's Brooklyn Tabernacle courtesy New York Public Library

Brooklyn Tabernacle




While many people were quite enthralled by Talmage, there were just as many critics who called him a “pulpit clown” and a “mountebank.”

As would be expected from any of the crusading Victorian holy rollers, Talmage railed against vice and crime in his writings and firebrand speeches. His verse contains the typical road to ruin warnings that make reading his books unbearable today. However, Talmage did manage to string together some words that still ring true. Especially about lying.

If you didn’t know any better, you would swear that Talmage is describing our modern day politicians. This short passage is from 1872.


Abominations of modern Society Talmage

There are ten thousand ways of telling a lie. A man’s entire life may be a falsehood, while with his lips he may not once directly falsify. There are those who state what is positively untrue, but afterwards say, “may be,” softly. These departures from the truth are called “white lies;” but there is really no such thing as a white lie. The whitest lie that was ever told was as black as perdition. No inventory of public crimes will be sufficient that omits this gigantic abomination. There are men, high in Church and State, actually useful, self-denying, and honest in many things, who, upon certain subjects, and in certain spheres, are not at all to be depended upon for veracity. Indeed, there are multitudes of men who have their notions of truthfulness so thoroughly perverted, that they do not know when they are lying.

With many it is a cultivated sin; with some it seems a natural infirmity. I have known people who seemed to have been born liars. The falsehoods of their lives extended from cradle to grave. Prevarication, misrepresentation, and dishonesty of speech appeared in their first utterances and was as natural to them as any of their infantile diseases, and was a sort of moral croup or spiritual scarlatina. But many have been placed in circumstances where this tendency has day by day, and hour by hour, been called to larger development. They have gone from attainment to attainment, and from class to class, until they have become regularly graduated liars.

The Abominations of Modern Society by T. De Witt Talmage; 1872

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