Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/243

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DR. MONRO, PRIMUS.


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Lis hold on the patronage of the latter especially, seems to have been singularly strong, as Sir Robert almost entirely supported him during his after life. The zeal and gratitude of Mitchell, in return for this benevolence, and which took the shape of literary effusion, sometimes in behalf of, and sometimes compli- mentary to his patron, became so marked, as to procure for him the title of Sir Robert Walpole's poet. The reckless and extravagant habits of Mitchell, how- ever, kept him constantly in a state of great pecuniary distress, notwithstanding the liberal patronage of Walpole ; and so inveterate were these habits, that a legacy of several thousand pounds, which was left him by an uncle of his wife, scarcely afforded him even a temporary relief.

Although Mitchell's abilities were of but a very moderate order, he yet ranked amongst his friends many of the most eminent men of his times, particularly Mr Aaron Hill. To this gentleman he on one occasion communicated his dis- tressed condition, and sought assistance from him. Mr Hill was unable to af- ford him any pecuniary relief, but he generously presented him with both the profits and reputation of a little dramatic piece, entitled Fatal Extrava- gance ; a piece which he seems ingeniously to have adapted at once to relieve and reprove the object of his benevolence. This play was acted and printed in Mr Mitchell's name, and the profits accruing from it were considerable ; but though he accepted the latter, he was candid enough to disclaim the merit of being its author, and took every opportunity of undeceiving the world on this point, and of acknowledging his obligations to Mr Hill.

Of Mitchell, there is little more known. His talents were not of a suf- ficiently high order to attract much notice while he lived, or to prompt any inquiry after his death. He died on the 6th July, 1738. The following dra- matic productions appear under his name, but the last only is really his, and it is not without considerable merit : Fatal Extravagance, a tragedy, 8vo, 1720 ; Fatal Extravagance, a tragedy, enlarged, 12mo, 1726 ; and The Highland Fair, an opera, 8vo, 1731. In 1729, he published, besides, two octavo volumes of miscellaneous poetry.

MONRO, ALEXANDER, M. D., usually called Secundus, to distinguish him from his father, an eminent medical writer and teacher. Before entering upon the memoirs of this individual, it is necessary to give some account of his father, Dr Monro, "Primus, the founder of the medical school of Edinburgh, who, hav- ing been born in London, is not precisely entitled to appear in this work under a separate head.

Dr Monro, Primus, was born in London, September 19, 1697. He was the son of Mr John Monro, a surgeon in the army of king William, descended from the family of Monro of Milton, in the north of Scotland. His mother was of the family of Forbes of Culloden. Having retired from the army, Mr Monro settled in Edinburgh about the beginning of the eighteenth century, and enter- ing the college of surgeons, soon acquired considerable practice. His favourite employment, however, was to superintend the education of his son, whose talents he perceived at an early period. Though medical and anatomical chairs at that time existed in the university of Edinburgh, they were quite inefficient, and hence it was found necessary to send young Monro elsewhere for the completion of his education. He went successively to London, Paris, and Leyden, and be- came the attentive pupil of the great men who then taught at those universities, among whom were Cheselden, Hawksby, Chowel, Bouquet, Thibaut, and Boer- haave. Not content with listening to the instructions of these teachers, he studied assiduously by himself, especially in the department of anatomy. While attending Cheselden in London, he made numerous anatomical preparations, which he sent home ; and, while here, even laid the foundation of his important