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Lazy Lawrence

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This imaginary personage is a symbol of laziness in various proverbial sayings. He is also the hero of a humorous chapbook entitled The History of Lawrence Lazy, possibly first printed in 1670. He has a magic ring which can send everyone around him to sleep; this enables him to play various tricks on people, for which he is eventually put on trial. He is acquitted, after earnest pleading from apprentices, who say that if it were not for him they would be worked to death. The story was very popular in the 18th century, and related colloquial sayings (‘to have a touch of the Lawrence’, ‘ as Lazy as Lawrence’, ‘as lazy as Lawrence's dog’, ‘Lazy Lawrence, let me go’, etc.) were still in use in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

J. B. Smith, Folklore 107 (1996), 101–5.

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