idleness is the root of all evil

The idea is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Cf. early 14th-cent. Fr. oiseuseté atrait viches, idleness attracts vices; c 1390 CHAUCER Second Nun’s Prologue 1.1 The ministre and the norice [nurse] unto vices, which that men clepe [call] in Englissh ydlenesse.

1422 J. YONGE in Secreta Secretorum (1898) 158 Idylnysse is the..rote of vicis.

1538 T. BECON Governance of Virtue B8v Idleness..is the well-spring and root of all vice.

1707 G. FARQUHAR Beaux’ Stratagem I. i. Idleness is the Root of all Evil; the World’s wide enough, let ’em bustle.

1850 DICKENS David Copperfield x. ‘The boy will be idle there,’ said Miss Murdstone, looking into a pickle-jar, ‘and idleness is the root of all evil.’

1874 TROLLOPE Phineas Redux II. xxxvi. I much prefer down-right honest figures. Two and two make four; idleness is the root of all evil..and the rest of it.

1966 Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 2 Aug. 22/7 We too can help by our behaviour and our industry and by working harder and spending less time in idleness. There is a well-known adage that idleness is the root of all evil.


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