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Tom Cringle's Log   By: (1789-1835)

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Scanned by John Edward Heaton in Guatemala.

Tom Cringle's Log.

Michael Scott (1789 1835).

The Launching of the Log.

Dazzled by the glories of Trafalgar, I, Thomas Cringle, one fine morning in the merry month of May, in the year one thousand eight hundred and so and so, magnanimously determined in my own mind, that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland should no longer languish under the want of a successor to the immortal Nelson, and being then of the great perpendicular altitude of four feet four inches, and of the mature age of thirteen years, I thereupon betook myself to the praiseworthy task of tormenting, to the full extent of my small ability, every man and woman who had the misfortune of being in any way connected with me, until they had agreed to exert all their interest, direct or indirect, and concentrate the same in one focus upon the head and heart of Sir Barnaby Blueblazes, vice admiral of the red squadrons a Lord of the Admiralty, and one of the old plain K.B.'s (for he flourished before the time when a gallant action or two tagged half of the letters of the alphabet to a man's name, like the tail of a paper kite), in order that he might be graciously pleased to have me placed on the quarterdeck of one of his Majesty's ships of war without delay.

The stone I had set thus recklessly a rolling, had not been in motion above a fortnight, when it fell with unanticipated violence, and crushed the heart of my poor mother, while it terribly bruised that of me, Thomas; for as I sat at breakfast with the dear old woman, one fine Sunday morning, admiring my new blue jacket and snow white trowsers, and shining well soaped face, and nicely brushed hair, in the pier glass over the chimney piece, I therein saw the door behind me open, and Nicodemus, the waiting man, enter and deliver a letter to the old lady, with a formidable looking seal.

I perceived that she first ogled the superscription, and then the seal, very ominously, and twice made as if she would have broken the missive open, but her heart seemed as often to fail her. At length she laid it down heaved a long deep sigh took off her spectacles, which appeared dim wiped them, put them on again, and making a sudden effort, tore open the letter, read it hastily over, but not so rapidly as to prevent her hot tears falling with a small tiny tap tap on the crackling paper.

Presently she pinched my arm, pushed the blistered manuscript under my nose, and utterly unable to speak to me, rose, covered her face with her hands, and left the room weeping bitterly. I could hear her praying in a low, solemn, yet sobbing and almost inarticulate voice, as she crossed the passage to her own dressing room. "Even as thou wilt, oh Lord not mine, but thy holy will be done yet, oh! it is a bitter bitter thing for a widowed mother to part with her only boy."

Now came my turn as I read the following epistle three times over, with a most fierce countenance, before thoroughly understanding whether I was dreaming or awake in truth, poor little fellow as I was, I was fairly stunned.

"Admiralty, such a date.

"DEAR MADAM, It gives me very great pleasure to say that your son is appointed to the Breeze frigate, now fitting at Portsmouth for foreign service. Captain Wigemwell is a most excellent officer, and a good man, and the schoolmaster on board is an exceedingly decent person I am informed; so I congratulate you on his good fortune in beginning his career, in which I wish him all success, under such favourable auspices. As the boy is, I presume, all ready, you had better send him down on Thursday next, at latest, as the frigate will go to sea, wind and weather permitting, positively on Sunday morning."

"I remain, my dear Madam,"

"Yours very faithfully,"


However much I had been moved by my mother's grief, my false pride came to my assistance, and my first impulse was to chant a verse of some old tune, in a most doleful manner... Continue reading book >>

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