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Tom Hill








A few days before the close of 1840, London lost one of its choicest
spirits, and humanity one of her kindest-hearted sons, in the death of
Thomas Hill, Esq.--"Tom Hill," as he was called by all who loved and
knew him. His life exemplified one venerable proverb, and disproved
another; he was born in May, 1760, and was, consequently, in his 81st
year, and "as old as the hills;" having led a long life and a merry one.
He was originally a drysalter; but about the year 1810, having sustained
a severe loss by a speculation in indigo, he retired upon the remains of
his property to chambers in the Adelphi, where he died; his physician
remarking to him, "I can do no more for you--I have done all I can. I
cannot cure age."

Hill, when in business at the unlettered Queenhithe, found leisure
to accumulate a fine collection of books, chiefly old poetry, which
afterwards, when misfortune overtook him, was valued at 6000l. Hill
was likewise a Maecenas: he patronized two friendless poets, Bloomfield
and Kirke White. The Farmer's Boy of the former was read and admired
by him in manuscript, and was recommended to a publisher. Hill also
established The Monthly Mirror, to which Kirke White was a contributor.
Hill was the Hull of Hook's Gilbert Gurney. He happened to know
everything that was going on in all circles; and was at all "private
views" of exhibitions. So especially was he favoured, that a wag recorded,
when asked whether he had seen the new comet, he replied--"Pooh! pooh! I
was present at the private view."

Hill left behind him an assemblage of literary rarities, which it
occupied a clear week to sell by auction. Among them was Garrick's cup,
formed from the mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare in his garden at
New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon; this produced forty guineas. A small
vase and pedestal, carved from the same mulberry-tree, and presented to
Garrick, was sold with a coloured drawing of it, for ten guineas. And a
block of wood, cut from the celebrated willow planted by Pope, at his
villa at Twickenham, brought one guinea.

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