To some, poverty is a costume
Is a tendency to being modest about how much money you have just as much a form of lying as pretending you are rich?
Philip G. Hamerton thought so.
Here’s an excerpt by the English writer and artist from his essay called On an Unrecognized Form of Untruth, written in the late 19th Century:
If a man states his income as being larger than it really is, if he adopts a degree of ostentation which (though he may be able to pay for it) conveys the idea of more ample means than he really possesses, and if we find out afterwards what his income actually is, we condemn him as an untruthful person, but lying by diminution with reference to money matters is looked upon simply as modesty.
I remember a most respectable English family who had this modesty in perfection. It was their great pleasure to represent themselves as being much less rich than they really were. Whenever they heard of anybody with moderate or even narrow means they pretended to think that he had quite an ample income… They considered that this was modesty, but was it not just as untruthful as the commoner vice of assuming a style more showy than the means warrant?
In France and Italy the departure from the truth is almost invariably in the direction of over-statement, unless the speaker has some distinct purpose to serve by adopting the opposite method, as when he desires to depreciate the importance of an enemy. In England people habitually under-state, and the remarkable thing is that they believe themselves to be strictly truthful in doing so. The word "lying" is too harsh a term to be applied either to the English or the continental habit in this matter, but it is quite fair to say that both of them miss the truth, one in falling short of it, the other in going beyond it.
– From a collection of essays called Human Intercourse, by Philip Gilbert Hamerton, at Archive.org>>
– Found the hobo pic at A Hobo Wedding>>