1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Fielding

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:674.



1746. HENRY FIELDING produced his inimitable novel of Tom Jones. Whether we consider the fruitfulness of its invention, the admirable delineation and variety of its characters, the conduct of the story, or the winding up of the whole, it will probably ever continue to be one of the most popular novels ever written. It is said, that Fielding being much distressed, sold the copy to a bookseller for 25, on condition of being paid by a certain day. In the meantime, he showed the manuscript to Thomson, author of the Seasons, who was immediately struck with its merit, and advised Fielding by all means to get free from the bargain, which he did without much difficulty. Thomson recommended the work to Andrew Millar, the noted bookseller, and the parties met at a tavern over a beef-steak and a bottle. Mr. Millar began with saying, "Mr. Fielding, I always determine on affairs of this sort at once, and never change my offer, I will not give one farthing more than 200." "200!" cried Fielding. "Yes," said Millar, "and not one farthing more." Fielding, whose surprise arose from joy, and not disappointment, shook him by the hand, sealed the bargain, and ordered in two bottles of wine. Mr. Millar got a very large sum by the sale of the work. He, at different times during his life, assisted Fielding to the amount of 2,500, which debt he cancelled in his will.