Scott, Michael (1789-1835) (DNB00)
SCOTT, MICHAEL (1789–1835), author of ‘Tom Cringle's Log,’ born at Cowlairs on the outskirts of Glasgow 30 Oct. 1789, was fifth and youngest son of Allan Scott, a Glasgow merchant and owner of a small estate at Cowlairs. Scott was educated at the high school, Glasgow, and between 1801 and 1805 attended the university. In 1806 he went to Jamaica to manage some estates, and there he met a Mr. Hamilton, who figures in ‘Tom Cringle's Log’ as Aaron Bang. In 1810 he entered business in Kingstown. This compelled him to travel frequently, both by sea and road, and the experiences of this time form the basis of the ‘Log.’ In 1817 he came to Scotland on a prolonged visit, and in 1818 he married Margaret, daughter of Robert Bogle of Gilmorehill, merchant in Glasgow. He returned to Jamaica immediately afterwards, but left the island finally in 1822 and settled in Glasgow. There he entered business on his own account, and became a partner in his father-in-law's firm, Bogle, Harris, & Co. of Glasgow, and Bogle, Douglas, & Co. of Maracaybo. He was engaged in business until his death in Glasgow, 7 Nov. 1835. He left a large family.
‘Tom Cringle's Log’ appeared in ‘Blackwood's Magazine,’ beginning with the September number of 1829; the final chapters appeared in August 1833. The instalments were intermittent at first, and each had its own title. Blackwood advised that the papers should be connected so as to make a continuous narrative, and in the June issue of 1831 ‘Tom Cringle's Log’ was first used as a title, but then only as the title of a single paper. As the story appeared it received a warm welcome. Coleridge pronounced it to be ‘most excellent,’ but Captain Marryat thought it melodramatic. There is some doubt as to where the chapters were written, and Anthony Trollope in ‘The West Indies and the Spanish Main’ refers to a tradition that the work was written at Raymond Hall, the house which Scott occupied in Jamaica. Probably he there wrote most of the sketches which were worked up into the ‘Log.’ It first appeared in book form at Paris in 1834, when it formed vol. liv. of a ‘Collection of Ancient and Modern English Authors’ in Baudry's ‘European Library.’ Scott so successfully concealed his identity that he was dead before his authorship of ‘Tom Cringle’ was known.
Scott's second story, ‘The Cruise of the Midge,’ also appeared serially in ‘Blackwood's Magazine’ between March 1834 and June 1835. Like ‘Tom Cringle's Log,’ it was first printed anonymously in book form at Paris in 1836. The effect is marred by a laboured jocosity, though the narrative is full of spirit and of observation at first hand. Both works have often been reprinted.
[Allibone's Dict.; ‘Tom Cringle's Log,’ with introduction by Mowbray Morris.]