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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 Jawful 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: bad 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 nanie 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.
What is to be expected from this paper, whether it will be uniform or various, learned or familiar, serious or gay, political or moral, continued or interrupted, it is hoped that no reader will inquire. That the Idler has some scheme, cannot be doubted ; for to form schemes is the Idler's privilege. But though he has many projects in his head, he is now grown sparing of communication, having observed, that his hearers are apt to remember what he forgots himself, and his tardiness of execution exposes him to the encroachments of those who catch a hint and fall to work ; and that very specious plans, after long contrivance and pompous displays, have subsided in weariness without a trial, and without miscarriage have been blasted by derision.
Something the Idler's character may be supposed to promise. Those that are curious after diminutive bistory, who • watch the revolutions of families, and the rise and fall of characters cither male or female, will hope to be gratified by this paper; for the Idler is always inquisitive, and seldom retentive. He that delights in obolquy and satire, and wishes to see clouds gathering over any reputation that dazzles him with its brightness, will snatch up the Idler's essays with a beating heart. The Idler is naturally censorious ; those who attempt nothing themselves think every thing easily performed, and consider the unsuccessful always as criminal. I think it necessary to give notice that I make no contract,