Marginal Revolution, always on the lookout for signs of bien jobs in the New Economy, notes that the Swiss town of Solothurn is advertising for a municipal hermit. He will make 1,000 Swiss francs per month to live in the hermitage and dispense advice to wisdom-seekers wondering about the meaning of life.
In Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece Arcadia, set in about 1817, Lady Croom is employing the contractor Noakes to revamp her country estate’s gardens from the old neoclassical style to the new Romantic style, complete with an hermitage *.
LADY CROOM (Pointing through the window): What is that cowshed?
NOAKES: The hermitage, my lady?
LADY CROOM: It is a cowshed.
NOAKES: It is, I assure you, a very habitable cottage, properly founded and drained, two rooms and a closet under a slate roof and a stone chimney –
LADY CROOM: And who is to live in it?
NOAKES: Why, the hermit.
LADY CROOM: Where is he?
LADY CROOM: You surely do not supply an hermitage without a hermit?
NOAKES: Indeed, madam –
LADY CROOM: Come, come, Mr Noakes. If I am promised a fountain I expect it to come with water. What hermits do you have?
NOAKES: I have no hermits, my lady.
LADY CROOM: Not one? I am speechless.
NOAKES: I am sure a hermit can be found. One could advertise.
LADY CROOM: Advertise?
NOAKES: In the newspapers.
LADY CROOM: But surely a hermit who takes a newspaper is not a hermit in whom one can have complete confidence.
* Is the proper usage “a hermitage” or “an hermitage?” I guess I’ll defer to the self-confident Lady Croom.