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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE IDLER.
The whole number of papers of which the conduct should be regulated. The essays in IDLER originally consisted, are contained in this the Rambler might, indeed, almost form a body edition, although not all the productions of Dr. of Ethics. Johnson. The authors of 9, 15, 42, 54, and 98, Dr. Johnson had probably become aware of are unknown. Nos. 33, 93, and 96, are by the objections which had been made to the gravity WHARTON. No. 67 by LANGTON. Nos. 76, 79, and seeming pomp of diction which marked the and 82, by REYNOLDS.
Rambler; and seems to have studied to make Of the Essays written by Dr. Johnson, those the papers which constitute the Idler, to be in contained in the Idler were the most popular. keeping with its title. He lays aside his austeThe Rambler, though unquestionably the basis rity, and assumes a style more easy and less of Dr. Johnson's great fame, did not during the vigorous, losing nothing however of the elegance author's lifetime meet with
the success it deserved. of composition which is to be found in all his Its style was more dignified, and less miscella-productions. Great depth of thought and proneous than the Spectator. The Spectator pleased found research into motives and principles, would and charmed by its variety-it could not fail to do not well become an Idler. He should look upon otherwise ; for the great wits of Queen Anne's men and manners as one desirous of passing reign were its contributors. The Rambler was his life with as little trouble, as would comport more uniform and less amusing, though not less with his general character--which simply is, to instructive-partaking somewhat of that settled know something of the motives and actions by gloom which always seemed to hang over the which society is governed, without too laborious author's mind. That it should be wanting in investigation of the one, or too severe a criticism novelty'is not to be wondered at; for Dr. John- upon the other. We accordingly find that wnile son stood alone in its composition. Yet it must Dr. Johnson still continues his lectures upon be confessed, that in this collection the great human life, he takes hold of the local follies and moral teachings of Dr. Johnson are seldom, if gayeties of his time, seeks to place common occurat all, equalled by any thing in the Spectator.rences in a stronger light, and adverts more freHis observation upon men and things shows an quently to the ordinary topics of the day. He thus acute observance of all that was passing around made the Idler much more popular at the time him. He brought in all things, men and their than the Rambler. He, in fact, may be said to actions, to the test of principle; and made truth have written the Rambler for posterity—the and virtue the great levers by which human | Idler for his own time and himself.
Vacui sub umbra
No. 1.] SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 1758. 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. Those who attempt periodical essays seem to The Idler has no rivals or enemies. The man be often stopped in the beginning by the diffi- of business forgets him; the man of enterprise culty of finding a proper title. Two writers, despises him ; and though such as tread the since the time of the Spectator, have assumed same track of life fall commonly into jealousy his name, without any pretensions to lawful in- and discord, Idlers are always found to assoheritance; an effort was once made to revive ciate in peace; and he who is most famed for the Tatler ; and the strange appellations by doing nothing, is glad to meet another as idle which other papers have been called, show that as himself. the authors were distressed, like the natives of What is to be expected from this paper, America, who come to the Europeans to beg a whether it will be uniform or various, learned
or familiar, serious or gay, political or moral, It will be easily believed of the Idler, that if continued or interrupted, it is hoped that no his title had required any search, he never reader will inquire. That the Idler has some would have found it. Every mode of life has scheme cannot be doubted; for to form schemes its conveniences. The Idler who habituates is the Idler's privilege. But though he has himself to be satisfied with what he can most many projects in his head, he is now grown easily obtain, not only escapes labours which sparing of communication, having observed, are often fruitless, but sometimes succeeds that his hearers are apt to remember what he better than those who despise all that is within forgets himself; that his tardiness of execution their reach, and think every thing more valua-exposes him to the encroachments of those who ble as it is harder to be acquired.
catch a hint and fall to work; and that very If similitude of manners be a motive to kind- specious plans, after long contrivance and pomness, the Idler may flatter himself with univer- pous displays, have subsided in weariness sal patronage. There is no single character without a trial, and without miscarriage have under which such numbers are comprised. been blasted by derision. Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. *Even Something the Idler's character may
be supthose who seem io differ most from us are hast- posed to promise. Those that are curious after ening to increase our fraternity; as peace is diminutive history, who watch the revolutions the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate of families, and the rise and fall of characters purpose of the busy.
either male or female, will hope to be gratified There is perhaps, no appellation by which a by this paper; for the Idler is always inquisiwriter can better denote his kindred to the hu- tive and seldom retentive. He that delights in man species. It has been found hard to de- obloquy and satire, and wishes to see clouds scribe man by an adequate definition. Some gathering over any reputation that dazzles him philosophers have called him a reasonable ani- with its brightness, will snatch up the Idler's mal; but others have considered reason as a essays with a beating heart. The Idler is na quality of which many creatures partake. He turally censorious; those who attempt nothing has been termed, likewise, a laughing animal; themselves, think every thing easily performbut it is said that some men have never laughed. ed, and consider the unsuccessful always as Perhaps man may be more properly distin- criminal. guished as an idle animal; for there is no man I think it necessary to give notice, that I who is not sometimes idle. It is at least a de- make no contract nor incur any obligation. If finition from which none that shall find it in those who depend on the Idler for intelligence this paper can be excepted; for who can be and entertainment, should suffer the disapmore idle than the reader of the Idler ?
pointment which commonly follows ill-placed That the definition may be complete, idleness expectations, they are to lay the blame only on must be not only the general, but the peculiar themselves. characteristic of man; and, perhaps, man is Yet hope is not wholly to be cast away; the onl. being that can be properly called idle, l 'The Idler, though shigurish, is vet alive and
may sometimes be stimulated to vigour and thrasher vociferates his heroics in the barn; activity. He may descend into profoundness, when our traders deal out knowledge in bulky or tower into sublimity; for the diligence of volumes, and our girls forsake their samplers an Idier is rapid and impetuous, as ponderous to teach kingdoms wisdom, it may seem very bodies forced into velocity move with violence unnecessary to draw any more from their proproportionate to their weight.
per occupations, by affording new opportuniBut these vehement exertions of intellect can- ties of literary fame. not be frequent, and he will therefore gladly I should be, indeed, unwilling to find that, receive help from any correspondent, who shall for the sake of corresponding with the Idler, enable him to please without his own labour. the smith's iron had cooled on the anvil, or the He excludes no style, he prohibits no subject; spinster’s distaff stood unemployed. I solicit only let him that writes to the Idler remember, only the contributions of those who have althat his letters must not be long: no words are ready devoted themselves to literature, or, with. to be squandered in declaration of esteem, or out any determinate intention, wander at large confessions of inability; conscious dullness has through the expanse of life, and wear out the little right to be prolix, and praise is not so day in hearing at one place what they utter at welcome to the Idler as quiet.
Of these the great part are already writers. One has a friend in the country upon whom he
exercises his powers; whose passions he raises No. 2.) SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 1758.
and depresses; whose understanding he pere Toto vix quater anno
plexes with paradoxes, or strengthens by argu
ment; whose admiration he courts, whose Many positions are often on the tongue, and praises he enjoys; and who serves him instead seldom in the mind; there are many truths of a senate or a theatre ; As the young soldiers which every human being acknowledges and in the Roman camp learned the use of their forgets. It is generally known, that he who weapons by fencing against a post in the place expects much will be often disappointed; yet of an enemy. disappointment seldom cures us of expectation, Another has his pockets filled with essays or has any other effect than that of producing and epigrams which he reads from house to a moral sentence, or peevish exclamation. He house, to select parties, and which his ac. that embarks in the voyage of life, will always quaintances are daily entreating him to withwish to advance rather by the impulse of the hold no longer from the impatience of the wind, than the strokes of the oar; and many public. founder in the passage, while they lie waiting If among these any one is persuaded that, for the gale that is to waft them to their wish. by such preludes of composition, he has quali
It will naturally be suspected that the Idler fied himself to appear in the open world, and has lately suffered some disappointment, and is yet afraid of those censures which they who that he does not talk thus gravely for nothing. have already written, and they who cannot No man is required to betray his own secrets. write, are equally ready to fulminate against I will, however, confess, that I have now been public pretenders to fame, he may, by transa writer almost a week, and have not yet heard mitting his performances to the Idler, make a a single word of praise, nor received one hint cheap experiment of his abilities, and enjoy from any correspondent.
the pleasure of success, without the hazard of Whence this negligence proceeds I am not miscarriage. able to discover. Many of my predecessors Many advantages not generally known arise have thought themselves obliged to return their from this method of stealing on the public. acknowledgments in the second paper, for the The standing author of the paper is always the kind reception of the first, and in a short time object of critical malignity. Whatever is mean apologies have become necessary to those inge- will be imputed to him, and whatever is excelnious gentlemen and ladies whose performan- lent be ascribed to his assistants. It does not ces, though in the highest degree elegant and much alter the event, that the author and his learned, have been unavoidably delayed. correspondents are equally unknown ; for the
What then will be thought of me, who hav- author, whoever he be, is an individual, of ing experienced no kindness, have no thanks whom every reader has some fixed idea, and to return ; whom no gentleman or lady has yet whom he is, therefore, unwilling to gratify enabled to give any cause of discontent, and with applause; but the praises given to his who have, therefore, no opportunity of showing correspondents are scattered in the air, none how skilfully I can pacify resentment, extenu- can tell on whom they will light, and therefore ate negligence, or palliate rejection ?
none are unwilling to bestow them. I have long known that splendour of reputa He that is known to contribute to a periodition is not to be counted among the necessaries cal work, needs no other caution than not to tell of life, and therefore shall not much repine what particular pieces are his own; such secreif praise be withheld till it is better deserved. cy is, indeed, very difficult; but if it can be But surely I may be allowed to complain that, maintained, it is scarcely to be imagined at how in a nation of authors, not one has thought me small an expense he may grow considerable. worthy of notice after so fair an invitation. A person of quality, by a single paper, may
At the time when the rage of writing had | engross the honour of a volume. Fame is, in seized the old and the young, when the cook deed, dealt with a hand less and less bounteous warbles her lyrics in the kitchen, and the through the subordinate ranks, till it descends
to the professed author, who will find it very last our time, and we may leave posterity to difficult to get more than he deserves; but shift for themselves. every man who does not want it, or who needs But if the stores of nature are limited, much not value it, may have liberal allowances; and, more narrow bounds must be set to the modes for five letters in the year sent to the Idler, of of life ; and mankind may want a moral or which perhaps only two are printed, will be amusing paper, many years before they shall promoted to the first rank of writers by those be deprived of drink or day-light. This want, who are weary of the present race of wits, and which to the busy and inventive may seeni wish to sink them into obscurity before the lus- easily remediable by some substitute or other, tre of a name not yet known enough to be the whole race of Idlers will feel with all the detested.
sensibility that such torpid animals can suffer.
When I consider the innumerable multitudes that, having no motive of desire, or determina
tion of will, lie freezing in perpetual inactivity, No. 3.) SATURDAY, April 29, 1758.
till some external impulse puts them in motion; who awake in the morning vacant of thought, with minds gaping for the intellectual food,
which some kind essayist has been accustomed It has long been the complaint of those who to supply, I am moved by the commiseration frequent the theatre, that all the dramatic art with which all human beings ought to behold has been long exhausted, and that the vicissi- the distresses of each other, to try some expe tudes of fortune, and accidents of life, have dients for their relief, and to inquire by what been shown in every possible combination, till methods the listless may be actuated, and the the first scene informs us of the last, and the empty be replenished. play no sooner opens, than every auditor knows There are said to be pleasures in madness how it will conclude. When a conspiracy is known only to madmen. There are certainly formed in a tragedy, we guess by whom it will miseries in idleness which the Idler only can be detected; when a letter is dropt in a come- conceive. These miseries I have often felt dy, we can tell by whom it will be found. and often bewailed. I know by experience how Nothing is now left for the poet but character welcome is every avocation that summons the and sentiment, which are to make their way thoughts to a new image; and how much lanas they can without the soft anxiety of sus- guor and lassitude are relieved by that officiouspense, or the enlivening agitation of surprise. ness which offers a momentary amusement to
A new paper lies under the same disadvan- him who is unable to find it for himself. tages as a new play. There is danger lest it It is naturally indifferent to this race of men be new without novelty.
what entertainment they receive, so they are My earlier predecessors had their choice of but entertained. They catch with equal eagervices and follies, and selected such as were ness, at a moral lecture, or the memoirs of a most likely to raise meriment or attract atten- robber; a prediction of the appearance of a tion ; they had the whole field of life before comet, or the calculation of the chances of a them, untrodden and unsurveyed ; characters lottery. of every kind shot up in their way, and those They might therefore easily be pleaced if of the most luxuriant growth, or most conspi- they consulted only their own minds; but those cuous colours, were naturally cropt by the who will not take the trouble to think for first sickle. They that follow are forced to themselves, have always somebody that thinks peep into neglected corners, to note the ca- for them; and the difficulty of writing is to siial varieties of the same species, and to re- please those from whom others learn to be commend themselves by minute industry, and pleased. distinctions too subtle for common eyes.
Much mischief is done in the world with very Sometimes it may happen that the haste or little interest or design. He that assumes the negligence of the first inquirers has left enough character of a critic, and justifies his claim by behind to reward another search; sometimes perpetual censure, and imagines that he is hurtnew objects start up under the eye, and he ing none but the author, and him he considers as that is looking for one kind of matter is amply a pestilent animal, whom every other being has gratified by the discovery of another. But still a right to persecute; little does he think how it must be allowed that as more is taken less many harmless men he involves in his own can remain; and every truth brought newly to guilt
, by teaching them to be noxious without light impoverishes the mine from which suc- malignity, and to repeat objections which they ceeding intellects are to dig their treasures. do not understand ; or how many honest minds
Many philosophers imagine that the ele- he debars from pleasure, by exciting an artificiai ments themselves may be in time exhausted; fastidiousness, and making them too wise to that the sun, by shining long, will effuse all concur with their own sensations. He who is its light; and that by the continual waste of taught by a critic to dislike that which pleased aqueous particles, the whole earth will at last him in his natural state, has the same reason become a sandy desert.
to complain of his instructor, as the madman I would not advise my readers to disturb to rail at his doctor, who when he thought himthemselves by contriving how they shall live self master of Peru, physicked him to poverty. without light and water. For the days of uni If men will struggle against their own adversal thirst and perpetual darkness are at a vantage they are not to expect that the Idler great dista 1ca, The ocean and the sun will I will take much pains upon them; he has him
self to please as well as them, and has long I like fortified cities, to appropriate manors to relearned, or endeavoured to learn, not to make ligious uses, or deal out such large and lasting the pleasure of others too necessary to his own. beneficence as was scattered over the land in
ancient times, by those who possessed counties or provinces. But no sooner is a new species
of misery brought to view, and a design of reNo. 4.) SATURDAY, May 6, 1758.
lieving it professed, than every hand is open Πάντας γαρ φιλέεσκε. .
to contribute something, every tongue is busi
ed in solicitation, and every art of pleasure Charity, or tenderness for the poor, which is is employed for a time in the interest of virtue. now justly considered, by a great part of man The most apparent and pressing miseries inkind, as inseparable from piety, and in which cident to man, have now their peculiar houses almost all the goodness of the present age of reception and relief ; and there are few aconsists, is, I think, known only to those who mong us, raised however little above the danenjoy, either immediately or by transmission ger of poverty, who may not justly claim, what the light of revelation.
is implored by the Mahometans in their most Those ancient nations who have given us the ardent benedictions, the prayers of the poor. wisest models of government and the brightest Among those actions which the mind can examples of patriotism, whose institutions have most securely review with unabated pleasure is been transcribed by all succeeding legislatures, that of having contributed to an hospital for and whose history is studied by every candi- the sick. Of some kinds of charity the consedate for political or military reputation, have quences are dubious; some evils which benefileft behind them no mention of alms-houses, or cence has been busy to remedy, are not certainhospitals, of places where age might repose, ly known to be very grievous to the sufferer or or sickness be relieved.
detrimental to the community; but no man can The Roman emperors, indeed, gave large question whether wounds and sickness are not donations to the citizens and soldiers, but these really painful; whether it be not worthy of a distributions were always reckoned rather good man's care to restore those to ease and popular than virtuous; nothing more was in- usefulnesss, from whose labour infants and wo tended than an ostentation of liberality, nor men expect their bread, and who, by a casual was any recompense expected, but suffrages hurt, or lingering disease, lie pining in want and acclamations.
and anguish, burthensome to others, and weary Their beneficence was merely occasional ; of themselves. he that ceased to need the favour of the people, Yet, as the hospitals of the present time subceased likewise to court it; and therefore, no sist only by gifts bestowed at pleasure, without man thought it either necessary or wise to any solid fund of support, there is danger lest make any standing provision for the needy, to the blaze of charity which now burns with so look forwards to the wants of posterity, or to much heat and splendour, should die away for secure successions of charity, for successions wanting of lasting fuel ; lest fashion should of distress.
suddenly withdraw her smile, and inconstancy Compassion is, by some reasoners, on whom transfer the public attention to something which the name of philosophers has been too easily may appear more eligible, because it will be conferred, resolved into an affection merely new. selfish and involuntary perception of pain at Whatever is left in the hands of chance must the involuntary sight of a being. like ourselves be subject to vicissitude; and when any establanguishing in misery. But this sensation, if lishment is found to be useful, it ought to be ever it be felt at all from the brute instinct of the next care to make it permanent. uninstructed nature, will only produce effects But man is a transitory being, and his dedesultory and transient; it will never settle signs must partake of the imperfections of their into a principle of action or extend relief to author. To confer duration is not always in calamities unseen, in generations not yet in our power. We must snatch the present mobeing.
ment, and employ it well, without too much The devotion of life or fortune to the succour solicitude for the future, and content ourselves of the poor, is a height of virtue to which
hu- with reflecting that our part is performed. He manity has never risen by its own power. The that waits for an opportunity to do much at charity of the Mahometans is a precept which once, may breathe out his life in idle wishes, their teacher evidently transplanted from the and regret, in the last hour, his useless intendoctrines of Christianity; and the care with tions, and barren zeal. which some of the Oriental sects attend, as it The most active promoters of the present is said, to the necessities of the diseased and schemes of charity, cannot be cleared from some indigent, may be added to the other arguments instances of misconduct, which may awaken which prove Zoroaster to have borrowed his contempt or censure, and hasten that neglect institutions from the law of Moses.
which is likely to come too soon of itself. The The present age, though not likely to shine open competitions between different hospitals, hereafter among the most splendid periods of and the animosity with which their patrons history, has yet given examples of charity, oppose one another, may prejudice weak minds which may be very properly recommended to against them all. For it will not be easily imitation. The equal distribution of wealth, believed, that any man can, for good reasons which long commerce has produced, does not wish to exclude another from doing good. The enable any single hand to raise edifices of• piety' spirit of charity can only be continued by a re