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The Idler having omitted to distinguish the Essays of his Correspondents by any particular signature, thinks it necessary to inform his Readers, that from the ninth, the fifteenth, thirty-third, fortysecond, fifty-fourth, sixty-seventh, seventy-sixth, seventy-ninth, eighty-second, ninety-third, ninetysixth, and ninety-eighth Papers, he claims no other praise than that of having given them to the Publick.*
* The names of the authors of these Papers, as far as known, will be given in the course of the present edition.
I D L E R.
Numb. 1. SaturDAY, April 15, 1758.
THOSE who attempt periodical essays seem to be often stopped in the beginning, by the difficulty of finding a proper title. Two writers, since the time of the Spectator, have assumed his name, without any pretensions to lawful inheritance; an effort was once made to revive the Tatler ; and the strange appellations, by which other papers have been called, show that the authors were distressed, like the natives of America, who come to the Europeans to beg a name.
It will be easily believed of the Idler, that if his title had required any search, he never would have found it. Every mode of life has its conveniences. The Idler, who habituates himself to be satisfied with what he can most easily obtain, not only escapes
Originally published in “The Universal Chronicle, or Weekly Gazette," a newspaper projected by Mr. John Newbery. C.
labours which are often fruitless, but sometimes succeeds better than those who despise all that is within their reach, and think every thing more valuable as it is harder to be acquired.
If similitude of manners be a motive to kindness, the Idler may flatter himself with universal patronage.
There is no single character under which such numbers are comprised. Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. Even those who seem to differ most from us are hastening to increase our fraternity; as peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.
There is perhaps no appellation by which a writer can better denote his kindred to the human species. It has been found hard to describe man by an adequate definition.
Some philosophers have called him a reasonable animal; but others have considered reason as a quality of which many creatures partake. He has been termed likewise a laughing animal; but it is said that some men have never laughed. Perhaps man may be more properly distinguished as an idle animal; for there is no man who is not sometimes idle. It is at least a definition from which none that shall find it in this paper can be excepted; for who can be more idle than the reader of the Idler ?
That the definition may be complete, idleness must be not only the general, but the peculiar characteristick of man ; and perhaps man is the only being that can properly be called idle, that does by others what he might do himsclf, or sacrifices duty or pleasure to the love of ease.