« PreviousContinue »
performed the most creditable services of his life; but, in the trial of Argyle, produced letters of friendship and confidence to take away the life of a nobleman, the zeal and cordiality of whose co-operation with him, proved by such documents, was the chief ground of his execution : thus gratuitously surpassing in infamy those miserable wretches who, to save their own lives, are sometimes persuaded to impeach and swear away the lives of their accomplices.” *
His rewards speedily followed; rewards, as ample as a subject could expect. He was created a Knight of the Garter, sworn a member of the Privy Council, made Master of the Horse, Gentleman of the Bedchamber, First Commissioner of the Treasury, and finally (beside several inferior titles) Duke of Albemarle,† with a grant of 7000l. per ann., and various other pensions. The Lord Lieutenancy of Devonshire and Middlesex, and of the Borough of Southwark, were soon afterward added to his honours. These dignities he wore with discretion; never betraying any symptom of the over-valuation of services, so frequent among those, who have had the rare fortune of laying their Sovereigns under obligation.
In the October following, the Duke was named in the commission for trying the regicides, in the discharge of which he observed, in general, signal moderation. When the disbanding of the army was voted,
* This character appears far more correctly deduced from the events, which Monk influenced, than the more favourable pore trait drawn by the hand of Hume.
+ Upon this occasion, he received a very peculiar acknowledgement of regard, almost the whole body of the Commons attend ing him to the very door of the House of Lords.
he co-operated strenuously with the Lord Chancellor Hyde in favour of the measure; and took great pains, by the changing of officers and other arrangements, to insure it's success.
In January 1661, while the King was attending his mother and sister on their return to France, the Duke was employed in London in quelling an insurrection made by some Fifth Monarchy men, under one Venner a wine-cooper.
This he with difficulty effected, after they had repulsed some detachments of the city-militia and the newly raised horse.
The project however, to which these disturbances gave rise, of keeping up a standing force, was opposed by his Grace, who observed, that his endeavouring to continue any part of the army would be liable to much misrepresentation, and he would therefore by no means
in it.' Upon the breaking out of the first Dutch war in 1664, he was placed at the head of the Admiralty, and undertook likewise the charge of the metropolis during the plague, which about this time made it's appearance. Prince Rupert and himself, also, were appointed Joint Admirals for the ensuing year. To his lot chiefly fell the finishing of the new ships then on the stocks, with the repairing of the old ones, and the victualling and manning of the whole fleet. All this he so effectually accomplished, the seamen offering in crowds for the service, because honest George * (as they commonly called him) they were assured, would see them well fed and justly paid, that on April 23, 1666, the two Admirals were enabled to embark, and after some dreadful engagements, the first of which lasted from the first to the fifth of June, completely defeated the enemy; destroying above twenty of their men of war, and driving the rest into their harbours. In this engagement the Dutch lost four Admirals, and four thousand inferior officers and seamen.
* And yet he appears to have been swayed principally by bribes, without any regard to the interests or engagements of his Sovereign, in his patronage of the claimants of office under the re-instated dynasty. Clarendon indeed informs us, that “ Monk himself, out of a deference to the King, would have admitted
At the latter end of August, the English fleet returned to St. Helen's, and lay there for farther orders.
During that interval, broke out the terrible Fire of London ; which beginning on the second of September, and continuing with unparallelled fury for three days, laid the greatest part of the city in ashes. Upon this unexpected accident, Albemarle was immediately sent for, to assist in quieting the minds of the people; who publicly exclaimed, as he passed through the ruined streets, “ If his Grace had been there, the city would not have been burnt.” The daring enterprise likewise of the Dutch in 1667, in sailing up the Thames and burning the ships at
to subordinate appointments some of those persons, who had actually received the royal promise; but that his wife, who even exceeded him in avarice, would hear of no consideration but money.” This point Monk appears to have yielded to his wife with little reluctance; for the same noble historian assures us, that whatever other arguments might have been used, “profit was always the highest reason with him." Had he bestowed his patronage from more honourable motives, we have reason to suspect his discernment would not have led him to any very proper choice. It was, on one occasion, represented to him that a person, whom he had recommended for a Secretary of State, was not fit for that function : « Not fit!” replied Monk, “why he can speak French, and write short-hand!”
Chatham, called forth afresh his exertions, and exposed him to considerable danger.
The Earl of Southampton dying in the course of the same year, Monk was again placed by his Majesty at the head of the Treasury. This was the last testimony of the royal favour, which he received; for being now in the sixtieth year of his age, the many hardships which he had undergone began to shake his constitution, hitherto remarkably healthy, and he exhibited symptoms of a dropsy. He therefore withdrew from public business, as much as his post and the state of affairs would permit, and retired to his seat at New Hall in the county of Essex ; where he was prevailed upon by the importunity of his friends to try a pill then in vogue, prepared by one Dr. Sermon of Bristol, who had formerly served under him as a common soldier. From this he at first received such relief, that toward the latter end of the year he returned to town: but quickly relapsing, he set about completing the marriage of his only son Christopher* with Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Henry Earl of Ogle; † and having witnessed the performance of the nuptial ceremony December 30, 1669, died four days afterward in his chair with scarcely a groan.
He left behind him a very large property, accumulated by great frugality; and was buried with much funeral pomp in Henry VII.'s Chapel in Westminster Abbey.
“ There are few points,” observes Macdiarmid,
* Born to him from a woman of low extraction, who had lived with him as a mistress some years before their marriage.
+ This nobleman was the only son of Charles, Duke of Newcastle.
“ in the English history, which have been more keenly controverted than the views and character of Monk. The friends of loyalty have been unwilling to allow that the man, who acted so meritorious à part in the restoration of the King, could be stained with any vices.
vices. It is, however, difficult to reconcile his conduct to any rules of morality. The successive transference of his allegiance from the King to Cromwell, from the son of Cromwell to the Rump Parliament, and again from the Rump Parliament to the King, can only be excused by those, who look upon interest as the standard of truth and honour. If, as some allege, he was in his heart always loyal to the King, and but waited an opportunity to serve him with effect; we only free him from the charge of unprincipled versatility, by subjecting him to the imputation of gross hypocrisy. No prospect of private or public good can excuse wilful and deliberate perjury. Clarendon is far from suspecting him of any disguised loyalty, or of acting upon any settled plan; but thinks, that he changed his views accordingly as his interest seemed to be affected by successive occurrences. During his march to London, the Chancellor had great distrust of his intentions; and feared, that the honours and emoluments showered on him by the parliament would 'work very far upon his ambitious and avaricious nature.' Even in his . History of the Rebellion,' after he had more miņutely weighed the transactions of the General, he seems to have entertained similar opinions : that if the parliament had acted with proper discretion toward Monk, they might have found a full condescension from him, at least no opposition to all their other counsels :' and that the disposition, which finally grew in him to