Smollett's History Of England

This man of genius among trading authors, before he began his History

of England, wrote to the Earl of Shelburne, then in the Whig

Administration, offering, if the Earl would procure for his work the

patronage of the Government, he would accommodate his politics to the

Ministry; but if not, that he had high promises of support from the

other party. Lord Shelburne, of course, treated the proffered support of

a writer of such accommodating principles with contempt; and the work of

Smollett, accordingly, became distinguished for its high Toryism. The

history was published in sixpenny weekly numbers, of which 20,000 copies

were sold immediately. This extraordinary popularity was created by the

artifice of the publisher. He is stated to have addressed a packet of

the specimens of the publication to every parish-clerk in England,

carriage-free, with half-a-crown enclosed as a compliment, to have them

distributed through the pews of the church: this being generally done,

many people read the specimens instead of listening to the sermon, and

the result was an universal demand for the work.

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