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Thomson and Quin

Anecdotes Home






Thomson the poet, when he first came to London, was in
very narrow circumstances, and was many times put to shifts even for a
dinner. Upon the publication of his Seasons one of his creditors arrested
him, thinking that a proper opportunity to get his money. The report of
this misfortune reached the ears of Quin, who had read the Seasons, but
never seen their author; and he was told that Thompson was in a
spunging-house in Holborn. Thither Quin went, and being admitted into his
chamber, "Sir," said he, "you don't know me, but my name is Quin." Thomson
said, "That, though he could not boast of the honour of a personal
acquaintance, he was no stranger either to his name or his merit;" and
invited him to sit down. Quin then told him he was come to sup with him,
and that he had already ordered the cook to provide supper, which he hoped
he would excuse. When supper was over, and the glass had gone briskly
about, Mr. Quin told him, "It was now time to enter upon business." Thomson
declared he was ready to serve him as far as his capacity would reach, in
anything he should command, (thinking he was come about some affair
relating to the drama). "Sir," says Quin, "you mistake me. I am in your
debt. I owe you a hundred pounds, and I am come to pay you." Thomson, with
a disconsolate air, replied, that, as he was a gentleman whom he had never
offended, he wondered he should seek an opportunity to jest with his
misfortunes. "No," said Quin, raising his voice, "I say I owe you a hundred
pounds, and there it is," (laying a bank note of that value before him).
Thomson, astonished, begged he would explain himself. "Why," says Quin,
"I'll tell you; soon after I had read your Seasons, I took it into my head,
that as I had something to leave behind me when I died, I would make my
will; and among the rest of my legatees I set down the author of the
Seasons for a hundred pounds; and, this day hearing that you were in this
house, I thought I might as well have the pleasure of paying the money
myself, as order my executors to pay it, when, perhaps, you might have less
need of it; and this, Mr. Thomson, is my business." Of course Thomson left
the house in company with his benefactor.





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