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acquaintance with Dr. JOHNSON commenced soon after the conclusion of the RAMBLER, which Mr. LANGTON, then a youth, had read with so much admiration, that, Mr. BoswELL informs us, he came to London chiefly with a view of endeavouring to be introduced to its author. Nothing is more pleasing than to contemplate the characters of those men, many of them distinguished by rank as well as talents, who were attracted towards JOHNSON by their admiration of a book in which nothing is flattered which men have agreed to flatter, and in which no tenderness is shown to public prejudice or private folly.

Mr. LANGTON died December 18, 1801, and is third of the ESSAYISTS of the Old School, of whom the world has been deprived since the commencement of the present edition.* other two are RICHARD OWEN CAMBRIDGE, Esq. and Mrs. CHAPONE.


When the IDLER was about to be reprinted in two volumes 12mo. the author revised it with great care, and made several alterations, but I know not to what extent, as I have been unable to procure a complete series of the originals. From the few in my possession, however, I am inclined to think, that although he took not less pains than with the RAMBLER, he found less occasion to alter these short and generally light compositions. The first and last papers have some very considerable omissions

* That is, the first Edition of the British Essayists pub lished in 1803.

and additions. No. 22, of the original edition, was wholly omitted; it is not easy to say why. It is reprinted at the close of the present edi tion.



N° 1. SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 1758.

Vacui sub umbra


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 authers 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 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 characteristic of man; and, perhaps, man is the only being that can properly be called idle, that does by others what he might do himself, or sacrifices duty or pleasure to the love of ease.

Scarcely any name can be imagined from which less envy or competition is to be dreaded. The Idler has no rivals or enemies. The man of business forgets him; the man of enterprise despises him; and though such as tread the same track of life fall commonly into jealousy and discord, Idlers are always found to associate in peace; and he who is most famed for doing nothing, is glad to meet another as idle as himself.

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