Monk, George, Duke of Albemarle

Monk, George, Duke of Albemarle a noted British general of the days of the Commonwealth, celebrated for the services he rendered, first to the Protectorate and afterwards to the crown, causing the restoration of king Charles, was born in the parish of Merton, Devonshire, December 6, 1608. He devoted himself early to military life, and had acquired some experience in the wars on the Continent when the war broke out (1638) between Charles and the Scotch. Monk enlisted in the English service, and was made lieutenant-colonel. In 1641 he served against the Irish rebels; and in the following year, upon the outbreak of the war between Charles and Parliament, he obtained a full colonelcy. He was very popular with his soldiers, and to the last remained their idol. For a while his loyalty to the king was questioned; but he soon regained the confidence of the throne, and was suffered to take the field. He rapidly acquired reputation as an able officer; but was made prisoner at Nantwich in January, 1644, l y the Roundheads, and confined in the Tower of London more than a year. While himself immured, matters outside turned very much against the king, who was finally taken prisoner, thus terminating the civil war. Efforts were now made by Parliament to secure Monk's services. His known ability and favor with the soldiers made him a desirable acquisition. Clarendon insists upon it that Monk was bought by Parliament (7:382); but there is no proof for such an assertion, though his final acts in the scene of Restoration would point that way. In all probability Monk felt the king's cause lost, and was thus persuaded to serve Parliament. The silence which he ever after preserved would confirm such a belief. This seems reasonable also when it is considered that originally Monk must have been in sympathy with the people's cause, for he was suspected by the Royalists. Most likely, too, Monk was influenced by the condition of affairs. He liked to be with the winning side, and, though he had come to be an admirer of the splendor and attraction of court, he would yet fain resign all these rather than serve the minority. He finally in 1647 consented to take a commission in the Parliamentarian army. He first commanded for his new masters in Ireland, where he distinguished himself greatly. He afterwards acted as lieutenant-general under Cromwell in Scotland, where he aided much in gaining the victory of Dunbar. Cromwell finally left him with 6,000 men to complete the subjugation of Scotland, a work which Monk effectually performed. He was next employed as an admiral of the Commonwealth's fleet, and he shared in the perils and the glories of the desperate struggle with the Dutch navy, which Blake so successfully conducted. After being rewarded with many honors at the hand of Cromwell and the Parliament, Monk was sent back to his command in Scotland, where fresh troubles had broken out. He was at this time in a very embarrassing position, and yet he discharged himself of his task with satisfaction to all. His own soldiers were the most restless and fanatical of the army. Besides, he had to contend with lord Middleton, with whom the Royalists had risen in the Highlands, and the people generally, who were discontented and ready for rebellion. His vigilance, activity, and good sense in this position were remarkable. "The country," writes Guizot, "submitted; the army did not quit it till it had, by means of a certain number of garrisons, secured the payment of taxes, which the Highlanders had hitherto thought they could refuse with impunity; and order was established in those sanctuaries of plunder with such effect that the owner of a strayed horse, it is said, recovered it in the country by means of a crier" (page 80). He was also instrumental in bringing about the union which was established under the Protectorate between England and Scotland; and thus likewise strengthened the Cromwellian efforts. Indeed, it is generally conceded that Monk was always attached to Cromwell from the moment he openly espoused' the popular cause, and was never suspected of disloyalty while the Protector lived. This is manifest also from Monk's prompt action when importuned by Charles for his cause. The king sent Monk a letter expressive of confidence, and, instead of reply, Monk turned the letter over to Cromwell. In 1655 Monk was made one of the commissioners for the government of Scotland, and he largely, if not wholly, controlled the action of the council of state. That in this position also he pleased Cromwell is evident from the way in which he was remembered in the Protector's last hour. Cromwell on his death-bed is said to have recommended him to his son and successor, who as soon as installed likewise received Monk's support. But Richard's failure turned Monk away. Monk soon discovered the weakness of the new ruler, and determined to follow that policy by which he would both connect himself with the strongest party, and also lay that under the greatest possible obligation to him. He temporized for some months; listening to the advances of all sides, and saying little in return. He had, no doubt; made up his mind that the Royalist cause was the strongest, and that Richard was not fitted to give stability to the government; and though when circumstances compelled him to act he declared for the Parliament against the army and decided upon marching to London, there were many, even at the time when he thus declared himself, who altogether discredited his sincerity, and believed him to be at heart a Royalist, seeking to restore the king as soon as it might be done with safety; and there is reason to suppose that he even then was determined to promote the Restoration. We give Mr. Hallam's opinion on this point: "I incline, upon the whole, to believe that Monk, not accustomed to respect the Rump Parliament, and incapable, both by his temperament and by the course of his life, of any enthusiasm for the name of liberty, had satisfied himself as to the expediency of the king's restoration from the time that the Cromwells had sunk below his power to assist them; though his projects were still subservient to his own security, which he was resolved not to forfeit by any premature declaration or unsuccessful enterprise" (Const. Hist. 2:384). When Monk arrived in London he was lodged in the apartments of the prince of Wales. He addressed the Parliament, was invited to occupy his place there, was made a member of the council of state, and charged with the executive power. With his usual address, he continued to use the power of his army as a means of awing Parliament, and the assertion of duty owed to the Parliament as a means of controlling his army. At length in 1660 the "Rump" became so unpopular, and the cries for a free Parliament so loud, that the city of London refused the payment of taxes. Monk obeyed an order from the Parliament to march into the city and subdue it; but his subservience to them did not last long. He sent them a harsh letter, ordering them immediately to fill up the vacant seats, fixing a time for their dissolution, and the 6th of May for the election of a new and free Parliament. The restored members appointed him general of the forces of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and the Republicans, as a last resource, listened to his continued protestations against the king, the House of Lords, and the bishops, and allied themselves to him. Every day his personal power increased; he was. offered the Protectorate, which he declined; continuing the line of conduct he had always followed — "that is to say, steadfast in varying his language according to the individual — he gave no handle to any definite opinions with respect to himself." The expectation of the Restoration daily increased, and some indications in the conduct of Monk, who was gradually dismissing persons and removing objects that might prove obnoxious to the king, showed plainly that the event was not far distant. Moreover, the Presbyterians were in constant communication with Monk, and this of itself speaks volumes. They were in favor of Charles's restoration, and in Monk they found a ready helper. He was warmly attached to them, and thus may have been easily persuaded to throw his influence in favor of the exiled king. That he preferred Presbyterianism to the Episcopal Church he had not feared to declare in one of his speeches in Parliament, when, after repeated declarations in favor of a republic, he yet dared to speak for Presbyterianism. Said he, "As to a government in the Church, moderate, not rigid, Presbyterianism appears at present to be the most indifferent and acceptable way to the Church's settlement" (Parl. Hist. 3:1580). At length the farce was brought to a close, and Monk openly declared for the king. It was on the 19th of March when the royal requests for his assistance came, and to royal promises of high reward he yielded, agreed to the king's return, and directed the manner in which he wished it to be brought about. The king, by Monk's advice, went from Brussels to Breda, and on the 1st of May sent letters to the new Parliament drawn up as, Monk desired, and the king was immediately acknowledged and proclaimed. On the 23d of May, Monk received him on the beach at Dover, was embraced by him, and addressed with great affection. Monk obtained many offices and titles, of which the principal was the duke of Albemarle. As such he changed again to be an Episcopalian, after he had in turn worshipped as Independent and Presbyterian, and by this change forever set at rest all hopes for the disestablishment of the Episcopal Church. The failure of the Independent and Presbyterian cause may thus be truly laid to Monk, and he therefore figures in no inconsiderable way in the ecclesiastical as well as political history of England, and even of Great Britain. From this time forth but little influence remained to him except as he wielded it through the king. He went to sea again in 1666, against his old enemies the Dutch, and maintained his reputation for courage and conduct. He died in 1670. "Monk," says one of his biographers, "had strong nerves, strong common- sense, cold heart, an accommodating conscience, a careful tongue, an unchanging countenance, and an imperturbable temper. He showed considerable skill in civil government as well as in military affairs. He had shrewdness enough to see what was best for the nation's interest; and, if it also promoted his own, he had ability and vigor enough to bring it to pass. He was never unsettled by enthusiasm in determining his ends, and he was never checked by principle in choosing his means." M. Guizot would hardly concede all this. He acknowledges that Monk " was a man capable of great things," but confesses that "he had no greatness of soul." It certainly was not to England's interest to restore Charles, but he only brought him back because he was disappointed in Richard Cromwell, and dared not himself assume the reins of the government. See Clarendon, Hist. Rebellion and Civil Wars of England, 7:373 sq.; Skinner, Life of Monk; Guizot, Memoirs of Monk, ably edited by the late lord Wharncliffe; Maseres's Tracts; Pepys and Evelyn, Memoirs; Stoughton, Eccles. Hist. Church of England (Restoration), 1:44 sq.; Hallam, Const. Hist. pages 393-406; Macaulay, Hist. of England, 1:143-146, 296; Stephen, Hist. of the Church of Scotland, 2:350, 370, 376, 380; State Papers of Charles II (Lond. 1866); Retrospective Review, volumr 13 (1826). (J.H.W.)

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