The Idler essays are very like the Rambler" essays written in a minor key: Johnson undertook them, characteristically, because he needed the money and because (consciously or otherwise) he wanted to put off working on his edition of Shakespeare. The Idler was published weekly from April 1758 until April 1760. In most of the essays, especially the early on in the series, when he was (to a certain extent at least) attempting to imitate the famous style of Addison and Steele, Johnson demonstrates a lighter touch than he had shown in the Rambler essays: the productions of the Idler are gentler, less overtly didactic, more humorous in tone, more whimsical and more casual, than the earlier essays had been. As it was in the Rambler essays, the name which Johnson has chosen for his narrator is significant.

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000