SMOLLETT, Tobias (1721-1771), Author. Autograph letter signed ("T.S. Smollett") to an unidentified correspondent ("Dear Sir"), Chelsea, 6 January 1758. 1 page, 4to, neatly tipped at left-hand edge to a larger sheet, slight soiling, otherwise fine.
SMOLLETT AND HIS CREDITORS: "I AM TO EXPECT NO FURTHER FORBEARANCE"
An alarmed Smollett, finding himself in financial straits worthy of one of the characters in his picaresque novels, asks that the recipient intercede for him with a creditor, "Mr. Palmer of Ironmonger's Hall," explaining that his delay in payment is due to an illness ("a violent Cold which had like to have fallen upon my Lungs, & has confined me since Monday last.") He relates that he had told Palmer "that he should certainly hear from me this week" regarding a settlement, "persuaded that I should have been able to transact that affair with Mr. M___," with whom he has an appointment. But now, Smollett's concern is mounting, since "I have received two different messages from him [Palmer], & one from Mr. McLean importing, that I am to expect no further Forbearance." He asks his correspondent to go to Palmer and "tell him the Cause of my Delay." Closing he begs pardon "for giving you this Trouble," and in a postscript adds that he may have "a negotiation on foot for borrowing a Sum of money, in conjunction with another Gentleman," but he doubts that it will succeed. He forewarns his correspondent in the event "any person comes to enquire my character of you, you will not be surprised." Smollett, who had given up medicine to live by the pen some seven years before, was at this date engaged in the writing of his Complete History of England, said to have affected his health.
Smollett's letters, of which about 100 survive, are very rare. Only a single example has appeared at auction since at least 1975. Published in The Letters of Tobias Smollett, ed. Knapp (1970), no.49.