He next makes a few observations about idleness. Idleness is traditionally consider a grave danger, it is when one is open for morally bad conduct. Thus, in Proverbs 7, the young man who passes aimlessly through the streets finds himself with the temptress. Thomas Brooks writes:
It was the speech of Mr Greenham, sometimes a famous and painful [very careful, painstaking, not inflicting pain] preacher of this nation, that when the devil tempted a poor soul, she came to him for advice how she might resist the temptation, and he gave her this answer: ‘Never be idle, but be always well employed, for in my own experience I have found it. When the devil came to tempt me, I told him that I was not at leisure to hearken to his temptations, and by this means I resisted all his assaults.’ Idleness is the hour of temptation, and an idle person is the devil’s tennis-ball, tossed by him at his pleasure
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 2 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 278.
But such advice runs on the measure of what is morally good or religiously required. Recall that the aesthete in this essay cares nothing for good or bad — except in terms of entertainment or boredom. Thus, he writes
Idleness is by no means as such a root of evil; on the contrary, it is a truly divine life, provided is not himself bored.
Why do some believe otherwise? “But since some people believe that the end and aim of life is work, the disjunction idleness-work, is quite correct. I assume that it is the end of every man to enjoy himself, and hence my disjunction is no less correct.”
This observation is interesting, because the aesthete judges the other decision making along his own rule: If someone thinks work is good, it must be because such a person is avoiding boredom by means of work — even if it is justified along some other ground.
He then goes to observe that such an argument demonstrates a sort of defect in those making it. Work is not the opposite of boredom — and boredom is truly the only real enemy — therefore, such people have something wrong with them, “if they do not bore themselves, it is because they have no true conception of what boredom is; but then it can scarcely be said the they have overcome boredom.”
Now there is some truth in the importance of boredom as something to avoid. We give enormous rewards to those who relieve us of boredom (athletes, entertainers), and such diverters are often treated (and often consider themselves) to be especially valuable as human beings. In point of fact, their value chiefly lies in escaping boredom (again, this is a generalization; there is a difference between art and diversion, but that is for another time).
Interestingly, those who are most apt at diverting others by pretending are often the most boring of people in themselves.
Our essayist has another division of people even though “All men are bores.”
It may be just as well indicate a man who bores others as one who bores himself. Those who bore others are the mob, the crowd, the infinite multitude of men in general. Those who bore themselves are the elect, the aristocracy; and it is a curious fact that those who do not bore themselves usually bore others, while those who bore themselves entertain others.