Page images

and his father Alexander, both merchants of note in the City when the lucrative tobacco trade was reaching its greatest height. It is, indeed, more than probable that but for commercial fluctuations arising out of the unnatural warfare carried on by British troops and German mercenaries in America, the future LieutenantGeneral and Governor of Madras might himself have paced along the Tontine pavement as a scarlet-cloaked and periwigged tobacco lord or Virginia Don. The desire of his father and mother was that Thomas, their third son, should be trained for mercantile pursuits; nor did their wish appear likely to be interfered with till the Act of Confiscation, passed by the American Congress in 1776, involved the ruin of his tobacco house, and reduced Alexander Munro to a state of distress which in after life it remained for his sons, Thomas, and an elder brother, John, a writer in Madras, to completely alleviate.

Born in May, 1761, Thomas Munro was at the period of his father's calamities fifteen years of age, and had been fully two years attending Glasgow University. His progress there cannot be set down as very marked. Like Outram, the Lawrences, and other Indian heroes, his boyhood was distinguished less for book learning than as a leader in athletic and other healthy sports, particularly swimming in Jackson's mill-stream, near his father's house, an exercise for which he retained a great partiality in after life. It appeared distressing to the lad that young ideas should be stifled by logic. “A few pages of history (he wrote in after life) give more insight into the human mind, and in a more agreeable manner, than all the metaphysical volumes that ever were published. The men who have made the greatest figure in public life, and have been most celebrated for their knowledge of mankind, probably never consulted any of these sages, from Aristotle downwards.” Munro was now a devourer of books; and at sixteen, being justly told that no English translation can convey an adequate notion of “Don Quixote,” he made himself a sufficient master of Spanish to relish his favourite romance in the original-a trait of zeal and enthusiasm which ought to have been more valuable in the eyes of his parents than a whole hamper of prize books. The first step in the career of Munro was to get himself rated as a midshipman on board the East India Company's ship “Walpole;" but this was, soon after, fortunately commuted for a Madras cadetship, and in the year 1779 he proceeded to the scene of his future useful and distinguished life. Hyder Ali, the most formidable single enemy that ever threatened the Company's possessions, then hung over the Carnatic; and Munro, after passing six months at the Presidency, most part beneath the hospitable roof of David Halliburton, Persian interpreter, was attached, in 1780, as ensign to the 16th Madras Native Infantry, under the immediate orders of the Commander-in-Chief, General Stuart, before referred to. The unfortunate defeat of Colonel Baillie's detachment, on its march to join the main army, is related in a letter from Sir Thomas to his father.

Munro's dauntless bearing all through the Mysore war waged by Lord Cornwallis against Hyder Ali attracted the notice of his superiors, and, after he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, his talents and discretion obtained for him, in August, 1788, the appointment of assistant in the Intelligence Department. In this capacity he served under the orders of Captain Alexander Read, in the occupation of the ceded district of Guntoor, until the breaking out of the war with Tippoo Saib in 1790, when he again took the field with the army, and remained with it till the hollow peace of 1792. On the cession by Tippoo of the Baramahl, he was again employed under Captain Read in the civil administration of that district till 1799. In the ensuing campaign Captain Munro served in the army of Lord Harris as secretary to his friend, then Colonel Read, who com. manded a detached force; and, after the fall of Seringapatam, he was appointed, with Captain, afterwards Sir John, Malcolm, joint-secretary to the Commissioners for the settlement of Mysore. Next he was nominated by Lord Mornington (afterwards Marquis Wellesley), then Governor-General of India, to the charge of the civil administration of Canara, a wild and rugged province on the western or Malabar coast of the peninsula.

Lieutenant Munro wisely described Tippoo as incomparably the most powerful and dangerous enemy of the English at that time, and condemned as preposterous the notion, then prevalent, of attempting to preserve a balance between Powers so unequal as Mysore and its neighbours. “But everything now is done by moderation and conciliation; at this rate, we shall be all Quakers in twenty years more.

I am still of the old doctrine, that the best method of making all princes keep the peace, not excepting even Tippoo, is to make it dangerous for them to disturb your quiet.” During all this dangerous and harassing period, the young officer's letters home continued to be of the most minute, playful, and affectionate character. His sister had advised him to get married, but he judged on the whole that such a step would add but little to his happiness. “Would it not be a very comfortable matter, about the end of the century, to read in the 'Glasgow Courier''Yesterday was married Lieutenant Munro, the eldest subaltern in the East India Company's service, to Miss—, one of the eldest maiden ladies of this place. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Mr-, in the Ramshorn,

and immediately after the happy couple,' &c. I have no relish, I suspect, for what is called domestic felicity. I could not endure to go about gossiping, and paying formal visits with my wife, and then coming home and consulting about a change in our furniture, or physicking some of the squalling children that Providence might bless us with. You will say— You will be a more respectable character at home, settled with your family, than wandering about India like a vagabond.' But I cannot perceive that the one situation is more creditable than the other. In a place like Glasgow I should be tired in all companies with disputes about the petty politics of the town, of which I know nothing; and anecdotes of families, in whose concerns I am in no way interested. Among the merchants I should be entertained with debates on sugar and tobacco, except when some one touched upon cotton, which would give me an opportunity of opening my mouth, and letting the company know that I had been in India, and seen one species growing on bushes, and another on trees taller than any that adorn the Green. After thus expending all my knowledge, I should not again venture to interrupt the conversation.” After the fall of Seringapatam and the final overthrow of Tippoo's power (1799), Captain Munro was raised to the rank of Major and made Governor, as mentioned above, of

the disturbed district of Canara, ceded by the Nizam in commutation of subsidy. He was in frequent communication with Colonel Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington), who forwarded to Munro a long account of one of his earliest successes in India—the defeat and death of the daring usurper known as Dhoondee, “King of the Two Worlds," near Yepulpurry, in the Kistra country. . In 1808, after an absence of 28 years, Major Munro obtained leave of absence on a visit to his native country, and renewed acquaintance with his early haunts at and around North Woodside. A notice of his reference to them in a letter to his sister has already been given. He was at this time also examined by a Commitee of the House of Commons regarding a renewal of the Company's Charter, and the judicial as well as the commercial features of recent Indian legislation. After a sojourn here of about six years, Munro, then enjoying the full rank of Colonel, re-embarked for India, having shortly before, in oblivion of his early diatribes against matrimony, been united to Jane, daughter of Richard Campbell of Craigie, Ayrshire, a lady whose society fornied the comfort and delight of his after life. Colonel Munro distinguished himself in the Pindaree and Maharatta wars (1817-19), and led Mr. Manning to express in the House of Commons his warm appreciation of the plans carried out by him for the subjugation of these troublesome neighbours Europe, it was said, never had produced a more accomplished statesman, nor India, so fertile in heroes, a more skilful soldier--words, Munro wrote in a private letter, making it “worth while to be a Governor to be spoken of in such a manner by such a man.” At the conclusion of the Maharatta War, Colonel Munro resigned his military command, and, accompanied by his family, again visited England, where he arrived in 1819. In November of that year he was invested with the insignia as a Knight Companion of the Bath. In 1820, with the rank of Major-General, he returned to Madras as Governor of that Presidency in succession to the Hon. Hugh Elliot; and, as a farther reward for his distinguished services, he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom, June 30, 1825. The Burmese war prevented him from retiring from India so carly as he wished ; and, sacrificing his personal wishes and convenience to the public service, he retained office till its conclusion. At length, in 1827, Sir Thomas made every arrangement for returning to enjoy well-earned honours in his native land, but before his departure proceeded to pay a farewell visit to the people of the ceded districts, for whom he had continued to feel a strong interest, but was attacked with cholera on 5th July, then prevalent in the country, and expired next day at Putteecondah, near Gooty, where he lies buried. Sir Thomas was then in his sixty-sixth year. He left a family of two sons—(1) Thomas of Lindertis, Forfar county, second and present Baronet, some time a Captain in the roth Hussars, born 1819; and (2) Campbell Munro of Fairfield, Lyme Regis, late a Captain of the Grenadier Guards, married, with issue sons and daughters. Lady Thomas Munro survived her illustrious husband twenty-three years, dying in September, 1850. Concerning the property of North Woodside, so intimately, and—as has been shown-so affectionately, associated with the memory of Sir Thomas Munro, a few sentences will be given in another chapter.



CONNECTED, it is thought not very remotely, with the Renfrewshire Knoxes of Ranfurly and Craigends, it is only in a secondary degree the aim of this paper to give local significance to that remarkable passage in the life of the Reformer generally described as the “Crossraguel Disputation"—the only debate of the kind known to have taken place in Scotland during the great strife between the Churches. The aim of the writer is twofold, and on the whole wider in purpose than anything merely local. He desires, in the first place, to show how such a discussion became possible through the condition of the Church in Scotland

« PreviousContinue »