Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/271

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MAJOR-GENERAL SIR THOMAS MUNRO, BART, K.C.B. 65

which it was intended to typify, and produced the first volume, under the title already quoted, in 1680. His death, however, prevented its completion, and 4 left him time to finish nine only of the fifteen classes of his own system.

MUNRO, (MAJOR-GSNERAL, SIR) THOMAS, Bart, and K. C. B., a celebrated civil and military officer in the service of the East India Company, was the son of Mr Alexander Munro, an eminent merchant in Glasgow, where the subject of this memoir was born on the 27th May, 1761. His mother, whose name was Stark, was descended of the Starks of Killermont, and was sister to Dr William Stark, the distinguished anatomist. After going through the usual routine of juvenile education, including the established term of attendance at the grammar school, young Munro was entered a student in the university of his native city, in the thirteenth year of his age. Here he studied" mathematics under professor Williamson, and chemistry with the celebrated Dr Irvine ; and in both sciences made a progress which excited the admiration of his teachers.

While at school, he was distinguished for a singular openness of temper, a mild and generous disposition, with great personal courage and presence of mind. Being naturally of a robust frame of body, he excelled all his school- fellows in athletic exercises, and was particularly eminent as a boxer ; but, with all that nobleness of nature which was peculiar to him, and which so much dis- tinguished him in after-life, he never made an improper or unfair use of his superior dexterity in the pugilistic art. He studiously avoided quarrels, and never struck a blow, except under circumstances of great provocation. Neither did he ever presume so far on the formidable talent which he possessed, as to conduct himself with the slightest degree of insolence towards his companions, although none of them could stand an instant before him in single combat. These qualities secured him at once the respect and esteem of his youthful contemporaries, and on all expeditions and occasions of warfare, procured him the honour of being their leader and military adviser.

Having remained three years at college, he was, at the expiry of that period, placed by his father in the counting-house of Messrs Somerville and Gordon, being designed for the mercantile profession. He was about this time also of- fered a lieutenancy in a military corps, then raising by the city of Glasgow for the public service ; but, though himself strongly disposed to accept this offer, his father objected to it, and, in compliance with the wish of his parent, he de- clined it. Soon after this, his father's affairs became embarrassed, when, finding it impossible to establish his son in business as he had originally proposed, he began to think of putting him in a way of pushing his fortune in India ; and with this view, procured him the appointment of midshipman on board the East India Company's ship, Walpole, captain Abercrombie. With this vessel, young Munro sailed from London on the 20th February, 1779. Previously to sailing, his father, who happened to be accidentally in London at the time, procured him a cadetship, through the influence of Mr Laurence Sullivan, one of the directors of the Company.

Mr Munro arrived at Madras, the place of his destination, on the 15th Janu- ary, 1780. Here he was kindly received by the numerous persons to whom he brought letters of introduction ; but kindness of manner, and the hospitality of the table, seem to have been the extent of their patronage. He was left to push his own way, and this, on his first landing, with but very indifferent pros- pects for the future, and but little present encouragement. Nor were these dis- heartening circumstances at all ameliorated by the reception he met with from his namesake, Sir Hector Munro, the commander-in-chief. That high func- tionary told him, " that he would be happy to serve him, but was sorry it was not in his power to do any thing for him."