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The Gentleman Cadet His Career and Adventures at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich   By:

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The Gentleman Cadet His Career and Adventures at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich By Lt. Col. A.W. Drayson Illustrations by C.J. Staniland Published by Griffith and Farran, London.

The Gentleman Cadet, by Lt. Col. A.W. Drayson.



The following pages contain a history of the life of a Woolwich Cadet as it was about thirty years ago. The hero of the tale is taken through the then usual routine of a cram school at Woolwich, and from thence passed into the Royal Military Academy. The reformation that has taken place both in the preparatory schools and also at the Academy may be judged of by those who read this book and are acquainted with existing conditions. The habits and life of a Cadet of the present day are well known, but the singular laws and regulations written and unwritten in former times may not be so generally understood; and, as memory of the past fades away, the following pages have been penned, to give a history of the singular life and manners of the old Cadet. The work has no other pretensions than to give this history, and to afford amusement to the young aspirant for military glory.

Southsea, September , 1874.



On the borders of the New Forest, in Hampshire, stands an old fashioned thatch roofed family house, surrounded by cedars and firs, with a clean shaved, prim looking lawn opposite the drawing room windows, from which a magnificent view was visible of the forest itself and the Southampton waters beyond. In that house I was born; and there I passed the first fourteen years of my existence in a manner that must be briefly recorded, in order to make the reader acquainted with my state of education previous to a somewhat eventful career in a more busy scene.

My father had been intended for the Church, but having at Cambridge taken a dislike to holy orders, and finding himself left, by the death of my grandfather, sole possessor of a sum of about thirty thousand pounds invested in Consols, he decided to live an easy life, and enjoy himself, instead of taking up any profession an error that caused him to be what may be called "a mistake" all his life, and which was the cause of much suffering to me.

Having devoted some eight or ten years to travelling and seeing the world, my father married, and selected for his wife the youngest of seven daughters of a very worthy but very poor clergyman in Wiltshire, who bore him two daughters and myself; after which she sickened and died at the early age of twenty six.

In order to have some one to whom he could entrust the care of his three children, my father took into his house his eldest sister, who was some fifteen years his senior, and to whom was given the sole charge of myself and my two sisters. Aunt Emma, as we used to term her, was my abhorrence; she had a singular facility of making herself disagreeable, especially with us young people. That she used to teach us our letters and our reading and writing was certainly kind on her part at least, so she assured me but she had a way of teaching that was not one at all suitable to gaining the esteem or affection of a child. Her principal object in teaching seemed to be to impress on us children that we were the most stupid, dull, and lazy children in the world, whom it was little short of martyrdom to try to teach; whilst we were informed that she, as a child and as a schoolgirl, had always been famous for quickness in learning, attention to her studies, and love to her schoolmistress.

We were also being daily impressed with the idea that we were awfully wicked and selfish, and quite unworthy of any kindness from her or our father, whilst we were also accused of having a bad motive for everything we did.

Aunt Emma was a great expert in slapping. Often have I lain in bed and cried for hours at the remembrance of the unmerited and severe slaps that my poor little delicate sister had received during the day from Aunt Emma... Continue reading book >>

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