Michael Scott's amateur albums of empire



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Michael Scott, (1789-1835), of Glasgow, produced, two books: Tom Cringle's Log, (1833), and The Cruise of the Midge, (1836). Both books were serialized in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine prior to publication in book form. Scott's life in the West Indies, during the latter part of the Napoleonic Wars, and in the immediate post-war years, furnished him with the materials for his writing. Tom Cringle's Log is a picaresque tale, episodic in character, and similar in form to Roderick Random. The narrator is Midshipman, later Lieutenant Tom Cringle. Episodes deal with piracy, the slave trade, smuggling, and scenes of life in Jamaica, Bermuda, Cuba and the Spanish Main. The book was an instant success, and remained popular for a century, going through at least fifty editions, and receiving favorable comment from Lockhart De Quincy, John Wilson, Coleridge and others. The Cruise of the Midge reflects Blackwood's pressure on Scott to produce more abundantly, and to structure his story in the form of a romantic novel of the time. Less spontaneous, and repetitious of elements in Tom Cringle's Log, The Cruise of the Midge is inferior to its predecessor. Scott's strength is in narrative, and descriptive writing. He admired the style of Wilson's Noctes Ambrosianae, and his own work indicates a strong influence from that quarter. [...]