Fielding's Tom Jones





Fielding having finished the manuscript of Tom Jones, and being at the

time hard pressed for money took it to a second-rate publisher, with the

view of selling it for what it would fetch at the moment. He left it

with the trader, and called upon him next day for his decision. The

bookseller hesitated, and requested another day for consideration; and

at parting, Fielding offered him the MS. for 25l.



On his way home, Fielding met Thomson, the poet, whom he told of the

negotiation for the sale of the MS.; when Thomson, knowing the high

merit of the work, conjured him to be off the bargain, and offered to

find a better purchaser.



Next morning, Fielding hastened to his appointment, with as much

apprehension lest the bookseller should stick to his bargain as he

had felt the day before lest he should altogether decline it. To the

author's great joy, the ignorant trafficker in literature declined, and

returned the MS. to Fielding. He next set off, with a light heart, to

his friend Thomson; and the novelist and the poet then went to Andrew

Millar, the great publisher of the day. Millar, as was his practice with

works of light reading, handed the MS. to his wife, who, having read it,

advised him by no means to let it slip through his fingers.



Millar now invited the two friends to meet him at a coffee-house in the

Strand, where, after dinner, the bookseller, with great caution, offered

Fielding 200l. for the MS. The novelist was amazed at the largeness

of the offer. "Then, my good sir," said Fielding, recovering himself

from his unexpected stroke of good fortune, "give me your hand--the book

is yours. And, waiter," continued he, "bring a couple of bottles of your

best port."



Before Millar died, he had cleared eighteen thousand pounds by Tom

Jones, out of which he generously made Fielding various presents, to

the amount of 2000l.; and he closed his life by bequeathing a handsome

legacy to each of Fielding's sons.



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