Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Credulity,” Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, vol. 4, no. 19, May 6, 1840, page 2, col. 2


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[page 2, column 2:]

Credulity.

“It is well known,” says a clever contemporary, by way of commencing an article on the subject of credulity, “that men are deceived with a facility proportioned to their own inability or indisposition to deceive others.” This remark must surely be taken cum grano salis. Men, entirely unable to deceive others; at all events, men perfectly indisposed to deceive others are not unfrequently found to have the sharpest eyes in the case of attempted imposition upon themselves. We have known numerous instances of a pure integrity and utter single-mindedness combined with the most wonderful acumen in regard to the motives which actuate the worldly. Simplicity is not always stupidity — and as a pendant to this proposition we may observe that, had we ourselves occasion to deceive your man of finesse, we should feel more certain of accomplishing our object by a course of undisguised frankness and truth, than by the most elaborate processes of cunning. To act honorably with a scoundrel is so completely to mystify him as to paralyze his utmost exertions. In other stages of existence we may be endowed with a sixth sense, yet of its nature we cannot, with the five now possessed, establish in our minds even the shadow of a conception. Truth is the sixth sense to the man of wiles. He feels that there may be such a thing, but he is bewildered in his endeavors to comprehend its use, and succumbs at once to him who robes himself in a garb so mysterious yet so august.

 


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Notes:

This item was first attributed to Poe by Clarence S. Brigham in Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, 1943, p. 81.

Originals of this issue may be found in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society and the Koester Collection of the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. The present text has been verified against copies from both of these institutions. The opening double-quotation mark at the beginning of the second quotation in the first sentence, beginning “that men are deceived” shows some wearing at the left-most portion of the mark in the copy at the HRCL, and has entirely vanished in the copy at the Am. Antiquarian Society, making it appear that it is a single quotation mark.

 

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[S:1 - AWM, 1840] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc. - Credulity