Sunday, November 3, 2013

Death of Hugh Monro 1793

Engraving from Third Chapter of Accidents and Remarkable Events c.1807

This account first appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine in July 1793 and was repeated in the The Terrific Register in 1825: 

To describe the awful, horrid, and lamentable accident I have been an eyewitness of, is impossible. Yesterday morning Mr Downey, of the Company’s troops, Lieut Pyefinch, poor Mr Munro (son of Sir Hector) and myself, went on shore on Saugur island to shoot deer. We saw innumerable tracks of tigers and deer but still we were induced to pursue our sport, and did the whole day.About half past three we sat down on the edge of the jungle, to eat some cold meat sent to us from the ship and had just commenced our meal, when Mr Pyefinch and a black servant told us there was a fine deer within six yards of us. Mr Downey and myself immediately jumped up to take our guns; mine was the nearest, and I had just laid hold of it, when I heard a roar like thunder, and saw an immense royal tyger spring on the unfortunate Munro, who was sitting down; in a moment his head was in the beast’s mouth, and he rushed into the jungle with him with as much ease as I could lift a kitten, tearing him through the thickest bushes and trees — every thing yielding to his monstrous strength. The agonies of horror, regret, and I must say fear, (for there were two tygers, a male and female), rushed on me at once; the only effort I could make was to fire at him, though the poor youth was still in his mouth. I relied partly on Providence, partly on my own aim, and fired a musket. I saw the tyger stagger and agitated, and I cried out so immediately; Mr. Downey then fired two shots, and I one more. We retired from the jungle, and a few minutes after, Mr. Munro came up to us, all over blood, and fell; we took him on our backs to the boat, and got every medical assistance for him from the Valentine Indiaman, which lay at anchor near the island, but in vain. He lived twenty-four hours in the extreme of torture: his head and scull were all torn and broken to pieces, and he was wounded by the beast’s claws all over his neck and shoulders: but it was better to take him away, though irrecoverable, than leave him to be devoured limb by limb. We have just read the funeral service over his body, and committed it to the deep. He was an amiable and promising youth.
The beast was about four feet and a half high, and nine long. His head appeared as large as an ox’s, his eyes darting fire, and his roar, when he first seized his prey, will never be out of my recollection. We had scarcely pushed our boat from that cursed shore, when the tygress made her appearance, raging mad almost, and remained on the sand as long as the distance would allow me to see her.

'Reading the British account's in the thread below, it seems they were quite miffed and aghast at Sultan Tipu having the "Tipu Tiger" built.  The stiff upper British lip's of the time sure seem to have curled at the barbarism of a people's that they had attempted to conquer, educate and teach how to be society gentlemen.  In this account from Wikipedia:'
" Tipu grew up with violently anti-British feelings.  The tiger formed part of a specific group of large caricature images commissioned by Tipu showing European, often specifically British, figures being attacked by tigers or elephants, or being executed, tortured and humiliated and attacked in other ways."

'And this from Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley:'
"This piece of mechanism represents a royal Tyger in the act of devouring a prostrate European. There are some barrels in imitation of an Organ, within the body of the Tyger. The sounds produced by the Organ are intended to resemble the cries of a person in distress intermixed with the roar of a Tyger. The machinery is so contrived that while the Organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up, to express his helpless and deplorable condition. The whole of this design was executed by Order of Tippoo Sultaun. It is imagined that this memorial of the arrogance and barbarous cruelty of Tippoo Sultan may be thought deserving of a place in the Tower of London."

'And this from James Salmond:'
"The machinery is so contrived, that while the organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up to express his helpless and deplorable condition.  It is imagined that this characteristic emblem of the ferocious animosity of Tippoo Sultaun against the British Nation may not be thought undeserving of a place in the Tower of London."

'But not so miffed and shocked, that famed English pottery/porcelain  company Staffordshire produced, as far as I can learn 3 figurines commemorating the event, including the last one pictured in which Hugh Monro has a bloody stump, obviously removed by the tiger.  I guess a Sultan having something for his pleasure, is worse then having something to sell for a profit.  The figurines were produced in the 1830's so there is the possibility that 30 some years removed some of England's shock at the heathen Sultan Tipu having the shameful "Tipu Tiger" built.   Fabulous history, none the less, and a heck of a way for Hugh Monro to be remembered and commemorated.  :)'

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