The Idler Caught Napping

An Idler, on a hot summer day, took his rest on a seat of pitch. While napping he sunk in and had to be extracted by friends or perish.

Don’t be thoughtless in what you do.


JN Fable 061

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: H. White (1828)

An Idle Fellow chanced on a hot summer’s day to seat himself on the tempting smooth surface of a resting-place that was near at hand, which happened to be a half-barrel of pitch, and finding his seat easy and yielding like a cushion, he gave himself no trouble in thinking of consequences, but soon fell fast asleep, when the pitch, by the natural heat of his body, gently yielded to the pressure, and he presently sunk into it so deep that it flowed around him. When he awoke from his nap, he found himself thus so closely encircled and embraced by the mass of pitch, that he was totally unable to extricate himself, and must have perished, had not his friends helped to dig him out of his imprisonment.


The example this Fable offers is particularly addressed to the young and thoughtless, and seems to be a good representation of the many alluring snares to which such characters are more especially exposed, for as the old Proverb says, “all is not gold that glitters;” and those customs which at first may appear both pleasant and harmless, yet by indolent indulgence being confirmed into habits of excess become vices, get the mastery over us, and turn out at last to be our tyrants and destroyers. J. N.

JN Fable 061a

Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)