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Benjamin Franklin, in "Poor Richard's Almanac" and it means that you can trust no one but your self with your own secret...so tell nobody

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In volume four of The history of the life and times of Cardinal Wolsey Prime Minister to King Henry VIII by George Cavendish, published by Joseph Grove in 1744, King Henry VIII is quoted as saying essentially the same thing:

"three can keep Counsel if two be away ; and, if I knew my Cap was privy to my Counsel, I would cast it into the Fire, and burn it"

Since Henry predates Franklin by at least a couple hundred years, the attribution to him indicates that the saying was current long before Ben was born. Even the mention of this saying in a book published in 1744 casts doubt on it being original to Franklin.

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โˆ™ 2010-02-20 00:53:20
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Q: Where did the aphorism 'three can keep a secret if two of them are dead' originate?
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If there are three people and two of them are dead then only one person knows the secret. It says that a secret is not safe if more then one person knows about it.


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Benjamin Franklin is known for putting a lot of wise sayings into his "Poor Richard's Almanac." One of these is the saying, " Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead." This means that trusting others with a secret is a bad idea, because nobody can ever really keep it quiet.


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