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Commonwealth (Continued). page 7


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Whilst these confused changes were taking place, eddies in the national affairs, but neither progress nor honour, the parliament having no power to restrain the army, nor the army any one man of a genius capable of controlling the rest, there was at least one commander who was silently and reservedly watching the course of events, resolved to go with the strongest side, if such a side could be found. This was general Monk. He was originally a royalist, and of a strongly royalist family. His elder brother had always been zealously devoted to the king, with the rest of his relations, and it is said that his wife was a most ardent advocate for the king's interest. These circumstances had caused Charles frequently to endeavour to sound him by his emissaries; but though he received them courteously, and listened patiently to their statements, he gave no outward evidence that he was likely to comply with their entreaties. He was a man of a deep and impenetrable secrecy and caution, of few words, and a gloomy, unimpassioned manner. Cromwell, during his life, was quite aware of the overtures and royal promises made to Monk, but could not discover the slightest thing in him to warrant a suspicion of his leaning in the smallest degree that way, and he therefore contented himself with jocularly remarking to him in a postscript in one of his letters, "'Tis said there is a cunning fellow in Scotland, called George Monk, who lies in wait there to serve Charles Stuart; pray use your diligence to take him, and send him up to me."

There was not much likelihood of Monk swerving from the commonwealth while the strong man Cromwell lived, but now, amid such scenes of weakness, he no doubt began to feel that the royal party would have to be recalled. Such a presentiment, however, lay locked deep in his taciturn breast. The officers sent colonel Cobbet to Monk in Scotland, who, however, expressed his firm adherence to the commons, and when he heard of what Lambert and the officers had done, he wrote strong letters to them, complaining of the violence which they had done to the power and authority of parliament. He imprisoned Cobbet, and purging his army of all who were fanatics or inclined to Lambert and his party, he sent them under guard to the borders, and dismissed them into England, under penalty of death if they returned. He immediately placed strong garrisons in the castle of Edinburgh and in the citadel of Leith, and, collecting cavalry, marched to Berwick, where he placed a strong garrison. Letters were written to Lenthall in the name of himself and his officers, assuring the parliamentary party that "he called God to witness that the asserting of the commonwealth was the only interest of his heart." Whilst Haselrig, Lenthall, and the rest were gratified by these protestations, they remarked, however, with wonder, and soon with deep suspicion, that he had cashiered all those officers that they had introduced into his army, and restored those they had expelled. There was no alternative, however, but to act with him and watch him. In the meantime Monk had called a convention of the Scottish estates at Berwick, and informing them that "lie had received a call from heaven and earth to march into England for the better Settling of the government there," he recommended the peace of the kingdom to their care, and obtained from them a grant of sixty thousand pounds, from the arrears of taxes. He then took up his headquarters at Coldstream, and waited the course of events.

The committee of safety, on hearing of the movements of Monk, despatched Lambert with an army of seven thousand men to meet him on his march, and if he could not win him to co-operation with the rest of the army, to resist his advance by force. But having seen Lambert on his way northward, the committee sent directly to Monk a deputation to endeavour to bring him over to their views, by offers of many advantages. Monk received the deputation very | courteously, expressed every desire to unite with the rest of the army, provided there were some ruling power to whom all parties might be subject, and sent three commissioners to treat with the committee of safety on the subject. This greatly encouraged the committee of safety, who thought their sending Lambert against Monk had frightened him, and whilst they prepared to receive Monk's commissioners, they ordered Lambert to hasten on his march.

But affairs nearer home were every day becoming more disheartening. Haselrig and Morley had gone down to Portsmouth, where they were well received by the governor, and were looked up to as representing the authority of parliament, Fleetwood sent down troops to oppose them, but the troops themselves went over to them. This success encouraged the apprentices and other dissatisfied persons in London to rise, and demand the restoration of the parliament; and though colonel Hewson attacked and killed some of them, the spirit and the disturbances only grew the stronger. To finish the matter, admiral Lawson appeared with the fleet in the Thames, and declared for the parliament on the 17th of December, and, as soon as they heard this, Haselrig and Morley marched with their forces to London. At their approach the troops in Westminster revolted from the committee and joined them, declaring they would live and die with the parliament. They received those officers who had lately been dismissed, and all marched into Lincoln's Inn Fields, and so to Chancery Lane, where they halted before Lenthall's house, fired three volleys of musketry, and hailed him not only speaker of the commons, but lord- general of the army. This was on Christmas eve, and Desboroughs regiment, which Lambert had sent back to check these counter-movements, on hearing this news, at St. Albans, also declared for the parliament, and sent the speaker word of the adhesion. During all this reaction, Fleetwood had still sate with the committee of safety, but exhibiting the strangest want of courage and decision. When urged to go and use his influence with the soldiers, to prevent their defection, he fell on his knees and prayed, or declared that it was useless, that "God had spit in his face, and would not hear him."

Whitelock relates that at this juncture he strongly advised Fleetwood to join him and go away to the king, convinced that Monk was deceiving the parliament, and that the return of Charles was inevitable. He said, therefore, that it was better to get away to him and make terms for themselves and friends whilst the time allowed. Fleetwood was convinced, and ordered Whitelock to prepare for the journey; but Vane, Desborough, and Berry coming in, he quickly altered his mind, and declared that he had pledged his word to Lambert before he marched to do nothing of the kind without his consent. Whitelock repeated that if he did not do it, then all was lost; but Fleetwood, weak but honourable, replied he could not help it; his word was pledged: and in the end he submitted himself to the parliament.

Lenthall, the speaker, at the head of a party of soldiers who made themselves merry on their new lord-general, went into the city, informed the lord mayor and aldermen that the parliament was assembling, and, on his own authority, ordered from the Tower the governor and officers put there by the committee of safety, and placed in command, Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, who had brought in admiral Lawson, assisted by several members of parliament. On the 26th of December the Rump met again in that house from which they had twice been so ignominiously expelled. Their first proceeding was to annul their act against the payment of excise and customs, so that they might not be without money, and their next to dismiss Lambert, Desborough, Berry, and other officers, and to order them to retire further from London; and they ordered Vane, who had adhered to the committee of safety, to confine himself to his house at Raby. Thus they were throwing down with their own hands the very bulwarks which should prevent their falling helplessly into the power of Monk and his army. Still more, they sent an order to Lambert's regiments to quit their commander, and retire to such quarters as they appointed. The soldiers having heard of their comrades in the south having gone over to the parliament, did not hesitate to obey its orders, and Lambert found himself left alone with only about a hundred horse. At Northallerton his officers took their leave of him with tears, and he retired quietly to a house which he had in the country. Thus the expectation of a sharp encounter betwixt Monk and Lambert was at an end, and the road was open to Monk to march to London without opposition.

He had received assurances from lord Fairfax, that within twelve days he would join him or perish in the attempt, and he forthwith called together his friends, and demanded the surrender of York. On the 1st of January the gates of York were thrown open to Fairfax and his followers, and that same day Monk commenced his march southward from Coldstream. Monk remained five days at York in consultation with Fairfax, who did not hesitate to avow his readiness to assist in the restoration of the king. Clarendon tells us that the king had sent Sir Horatio Townsend to Fairfax, expressing confident hopes of Monk, and requesting him to co-operate with him; and the parliament had become so apprehensive of him, that before his arrival at York, they wrote to him, advising him to send back part of his forces to Scotland, as being needless now in England, and might prevent danger in Scotland. Monk paid no attention, and the parliament began to wish him back in Scotland altogether. But it does not appear that Monk in any way committed himself to Fairfax by his words, whatever his conduct might - indicate. On the contrary, at York he caned an officer who charged him with a design of bringing in Charles Stuart. On his quitting York, Fairfax disbanded his forces, and Monk pursued his march in the same mysterious silence. The parliament had appointed a council of state, and framed the oath for its members to embrace a most stringent abjuration of royalty and of the Stuart family. The soldiers sympathising with the parliament, the officers, on reaching Nottingham, proposed signing an engagement to obey the parliament in all things except the bringing in of Charles Stuart. Monk declared this unnecessary, parliament having expressed itself so strongly on that head; and at Leicester he wrote a reply to certain royalist petitioners in Devonshire, stating his confidence that monarchy could not be reintroduced, that the excluded members of 1648 could not be safely reinstated, and that it was their bounden duty to obey and support the present government.

At Leicester arrived two of the most democratic members of parliament, Scott and Robinson, to watch his proceedings, but ostensibly to do him honour. He received them with all respect, and such was his apparent devotion to parliament, that they were thoroughly satisfied and highly delighted. At every place he was met by addresses from towns and counties, praying him to restore the excluded members, and procure a full and free parliament. He replied on all occasions that he was but the servant of parliament in a military capacity, and referred the applicants to the two deputies for their answers. These gentlemen, who were vehemently opposed to any such restoration of the excluded members, gave very free denials, with which Monk did not in any way interfere.

This conduct, we are assured by Clarendon, extremely confounded Charles and his partisans, who had calculated greatly on Monk's secret inclinations, but the dispersion of Lambert's forces, the retirement of Fairfax, and the vigorous adherence of Monk to the parliament, puzzled and depressed them. It might have been supposed that though Monk had so impenetrably concealed his designs from the adherents of the commonwealth, that he had a secret understanding with the king. Clarendon, who was fully in the king's confidence, and his great adviser, solemnly assures us that there was nothing of the kind; that all attempts to arrive at his purpose had been unavailing. By the consent of Charles, Monk's brother, a clergyman in Devonshire, had been induced by Sir Hugh Pollard and Sir John Grenville, the king's agents, to visit the general in the north, and endeavour to persuade him to declare for the king. But Monk took him up very shortly, and advised him to go home and come no more to him with such propositions. To the last moment this secret and solemn man kept the same immovable, impenetrable course. There is little doubt but that he felt, from the miserable weakness and disunion of both the officers and the parliamentary leaders, the great all-controlling mind being gone, that the king must come again, and that he was ready to do the work at the safe moment. But that till he was positively certain the way was clear of every obstacle, no power on earth should move him. It is probable that he was indifferent to the fact whether the king or the parliament ruled, but that he would decide for the strongest when it was unmistakably the strongest, and not till then.

To prevent alarm to the parliament, he brought only five thousand troops with him from York, being much fewer than those which were quartered in London and Westminster; but from St. Alban's on the 28th of January h(j wrote to the speaker, requesting that five of the regiments there might be removed to other quarters before his arrival, lest there should arise strife betwixt his soldiers and those so lately engaged in rebellion against the parliament. This startled the parliament, and dull must those members have been who did not perceive that they committed a series of gross blunders in destroying the greater part of the army, and disbanding their best officers, to clear the stage for a new master. But there was nothing for it but complying. They ordered the regiments to remove, but they refused. Why, they asked, were they to quit their quarters to make room for strangers? Was it expected that they should march away with several weeks' pay in arrear? But their officers, who should have supported them, were dismissed or under restraint, and by coaxing and the distribution of some money, they were induced to go. The greatest difficulty was found with a regiment which occupied Somerset House, and declared they would hold it as a garrison and defend it. But at length they, too, were persuaded to retire, and thenext day, the 3rd of February, Monk marched through the city into the Strand and Westminster, where his soldiers were quartered, and himself conducted to Whitehall.

Soon after his arrival Monk was conducted to parliament, where a chair was placed for him within the bar, and Lenthall made him an address, applauding his wisdom and services to the commonwealth, declaring his dispersion of their enemies as a glorious mercy, and returning him thanks. Monk replied, observing that there were numerous demands for a full and free parliament, but that while it was as well not to impose too many oaths, care must be taken to keep out both the cavaliers and the fanatic party. Of course, the section of the fanatic party already in the house, with Scott and Haselrig at their head, heard this with resentment; and Monk's sincerity was immediately put to the test by the oath of abjuration of the Stuarts, as a member of the council of state, being put to him. He parried this, by observing that seven of the councillors already sitting had not taken the oath, and that as for himself, he had given sufficient proofs of his devotion to parliament. This extended the suspicions against him, and a more explicit proof of his sincerity was put upon him. The common council of London had refused to raise money in the city except at the order of a full and free parliament. The house, therefore, commanded Monk to march into the city to seize ten of the leading opponents in the council, and to break down the gates and portcullises of the city.

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Pictures for Commonwealth (Continued). page 7

Malaga
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Cromwell refusing to accept the crown
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Richard Cromwell
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Death of Cromwell
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Richard Cromwell signing his Abdication
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General Monk
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Landing of Charles II
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