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Quotations about Idleness



It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. ~Jerome K. Jerome, "On Being Idle," The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: A Book for an Idle Holiday, 1890


One of the commonest characteristics of the successful man is his idleness, his immense capacity for wasting time. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)


The hour of idleness is the hour of temptation. ~Proverb


A steady and agreeable occupation is one of the most potent adjuncts and favorers of health and long life. The idler, without object, without definite direction, is very apt to brood himself into some moral or physical fever — and one is about as bad as the other. ~Mose Velsor (Walt Whitman), "Manly Health and Training," New York Atlas, 1858 October 10th  [Thanks, Zachary Turpin! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


An idler is a watch that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as when it stands...
~William Cowper (1731–1800), "Retirement"


Lastly, work secures the rich reward of rest, we must rest to be able to work well, and work to be able to enjoy rest... The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest, for he has not earned it. Hard work... tends not only to give us rest for the body, but, what is even more important, peace to the mind. If we have done our best to do, and to be, we can rest in peace. ~John Lubbock


Few women and fewer men have enough character to be idle. ~E. V. Lucas, Mr. Ingleside, "Chapter XII, In Which We Visit the High-Priestess of a Temple of Antiquity," 1910


The men who toil with might and main, who plow the glebe and reap the grain, receive my earnest, ardent praise, and I embalm them in my lays; but I am happy in the shade, with my tall jug of lemonade. ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Looking On"


The hardest work is to go idle. ~Yiddish proverb


Idleness is the mother of vice. ~Spanish proverb


So runs the genealogy of many another sin:  idleness is usually the grandfather of the crime, whatever the father might be. ~C.H. Spurgeon


Idleness is the beginning of all vices. ~German proverb


Idleness is the beginning of all psychology. What? Could it be that psychology is — a vice? ~Friedrich Nietzsche


We all think idleness be a very pleasant thing when we're obliged to work, but when we are idle, then we feel that a little work be just as agreeable — that's human natur. ~Frederick Marryat, Jacob Faithful, 1831


"In the afternoon they came unto a land in which it seemed always afternoon." I want to come to such a land. I want to be a lotus-eater.... I feel like that toad who, after being embedded in rock for thousands of years, on being rudely ejected, simply sat down on its haunches and blinked. I want to sit down on my haunches and blink in a sunny spot under a sunny wall. I might muster up sufficient energy to fold my hands on my lap as looking more elegant, but afterwards I should want to sit absolutely still and just let the sunshine filter through my tired being. ~Mabel Barnes-Grundy, The Vacillations of Hazel, "Chapter XIX: I Desire to be a Lotus-Eater, and Sammy Brings Me Rudely to Earth," 1905


An Idler's Chance in Life is like a Peach—
Too Green, or Over-Ripe, or Out of Reach.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Idlers," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924


Idleness is certainly the Cause, and Busyness the never-failing Cure of Melancholy. ~Author unknown, circa mid-1700s, possibly Charles Palmer


A good way to idleize a boy is to idolize him. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor


For indeed the fact is, that there are idle poor and idle rich; and there are busy poor and busy rich.... in a large view, the distinction between workers and idlers, as between knaves and honest men, runs through the very heart and innermost economies of men of all ranks and in all positions. There is a working class — strong and happy — among both rich and poor; there is an idle class — weak, wicked, and miserable — among both rich and poor. ~John Ruskin


The only thing wrong with doing nothing is that you never know when you're finished. ~Author unknown


To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavours, with his utmost care, to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself. ~Samuel Johnson, 1758


Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent... ~Samuel Johnson


One is not idle because one is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor. ~Victor Hugo, translated by J. Carroll Beckwith, 1893





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