children and fools tell the truth

Cf. late 14th-cent. Fr. pour savoir vrai de chose toute, yvre, enffant, sot et femme escoute, to know the truth about everything, listen to drunkards, children, idiots, and women; c 1425 in Anglia (1885) VIII. 154 Atte laste treuthe was tryed oute of a childe and dronken man.

1537 in Letters & Papers of Reign of Henry VIII (1929) Addenda I. I. 437 It is ‘an old saying that a child, a fool and a drunken man will ever show..the truth’.

1591 LYLY Endymion IV. ii. Children must not see Endimion, because children and fooles speake true.

1652 J. TATHAM Scots Figgaries III. 23 I am a fool ’tis confest, but children and fooles tell truth sometimes; you know.

1805 SCOTT Letter Jan. (1932) I. 233 It is a proverb, that children and fools talk truth and I am mistaken if even the same valuable quality may not sometimes be extracted out of the tales made to entertain both.

1921 Evening Standard 21 Oct. 9 Solicitor..‘Are you telling the truth in this case?’ Witness.—Only children and fools tell the truth.

1972 ‘D. SHANNON’ Murder with Love ii. All he said was that children and fools speak the truth.

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