Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

one.

some to have been unable to conduct business, because unwilling to burn his fingers by meddling with it.

Notwithstanding this discouragement, he had prepared his declaration; and it happening to be on a Saturday that this was got ready, he necessarily deferred its publication till Monday. In the interval came an express announcing the defeat of Sir George Booth, which induced the general to suspend his design, till a fitter opportunity arrived for putting it in execution. At the same time, he placed but little reliance upon this and similar plots, well aware how useless new raised men are, when opposed to old and experienced soldiers. A very preserving providence was manifest through the whole affair, which, if God had not prevented it, would have miscarried in many ways, as I could instance in more occasions than

The general was careful to prevent any intimation of his intended co-operation with the undertakers, from reaching the ears of parliament. He burned all the papers relating to it, and inculcated

upon

all concerned the strictest secresy. I have reason to believe, however, that he was betrayed in this business, at the same time that he had secret intelligence of the breach between Hazelrig and Lambert, which was then much the same thing as a difference between the parliament and army. This design of the general's, though it proved abortive, tended to promote the one in which he subsequently engaged, inasmuch as it had led him into a correspondence with his officers, and given him a knowledge of those in whom he might confide.

Some time after this, the general wrote to the speaker, and desired to be released from his command, alleging that he was aged and infirm, and that he desired nothing but to retire to his inheritance, which he had scarcely seen since he was a child. His object in this was either to sound the intentions of parliament, or to ascertain whether they had any knowledge of his designs, or that he was really discontented by reason of their reinoving his best officers, and those in whom he most confided. No entreaties of his friends could prevail upon bim to abandon his purpose of resigning, although they urged the impossibility of his doing any thing to serve the king in a private condition. His ends, however, were wise: this offer tended to remove any jealousy which the parliament-men might have conceived of him, and made them court him to continue in his command.. It was a hazardous experiment, it must be confessed; but God had chosen him for his instrument to accomplish the good work; and, therefore, nothing was able to pluck it out of his hands. The result, which his friends deprecated, was prevented by the speaker, and certain other

members of the house, who agreed that the letter ought to be suppressed, because, if presented to the house, they could not .but take him at his word. This proceeded from the fears they entertained of the English officers, and their desire to shelter themselves under the name of General Monk, whom they blazoned abroad as their supporter, and in whom they hoped to find a counterpoise to the authority of the others. But loyalty was the limit of his services; he was not the tool for their work ; and if he ever seemed to trespass upon that limit, it was like Hushai, trying to get into a station where he might have the best opportunity of serving his king.

The officers of Lambert, after the defeat of Sir George Booth, stimulated by the ambition of their chiefs, who aspired to the same military authority as had not long before given laws to the nation, took upon them, at Derby, on the 11th of September, 1659, to debate the actions of their masters: Their triumph over a few new raised men seems to have inspired them with higher hopes; “but pride goes before destruction, seldom do they miscarry that fear a fall.” They censured the parliament for neglecting the means of making a lasting settlement of the nation, and especially for not prosecuting their own proposals. They drew up a petition containing many instructions to the house, and desiring them to invest Fleetwood and Lambert with ample authority over the army; which was, in other words, requesting parliament to raise an authority for the purpose of putting themselves down, and raising two competitors for the Protectorship. This scheme was too palpable to pass the house. Having got previous notice of the army's intentions, they had before expressed their detestation of these factious counsels, and they now voted it needless, dangerous, and chargeable, to have any more general officers. The army justified itself in a long apology, and in a second representation preferred many more insolent demands. At the same time, the officers endeavoured to strengthen themselves by procuring subscriptions to their representations, and, for that purpose, despatched copies to all the forces in the kingdom. A standing army, like a standing piece of water, will soon grow putrid and corrupt. The present one had become a body with interests distinct from those of the people, and, like Mamelukes, was resolved to govern.

General Monk resolved to have no share in their counsels, though they had attempted to conciliate his good will, by proposing him, in their petition, for general of infantry. He prohibited his officers from subscribing to the petition, and returned for answer, that many of his officers were not satisfied with their proceedings, and that he would not impose upon others that which he would not do himself. He wrote, also, to

the speaker, giving an account of this correspondence, and declaring his resolution not to engage in their violent counsels, but to retain his officers in their obedience to the parliament. This letter did not arrive till after the house had been dispersed by the army; but, as a friend observed to him, his refusal to subscribe would render him an object of jealousy to the officers of the other army; that he had passed the Rubicon, and must now sharpen his sword, and prepare for the English army. To this he answered, that, by the grace of God, he was resolved and ready.

The general's views were greatly promoted by two recent acts of the pretended parliament; one, declaring all levies of money, in whatever way, without the consent of the people first had in parliament, to be high treason; and the other, constituting seven commissioners to command the army, in which number was the general himself. These two acts served as two bandles to take hold of;-by promulgating the one, and discharging the people of all taxes, he acquired popularity; and, by the other, his proceedings appeared to have the sanction of parliamentary authority.

The two acts came down to Scotland by the same post that brought intelligence of the forced dissolution of the house. Upon this, General Monk resolved to stand upon his own legs--to set up for himself-and to be no longer a journeyman to usurpers and traitors, but to serve his old and rightful master.

Hitherto, the general has appeared in the light of a great captain, whose exploits poets might sing, and posterity will be apt to call romance. He is now to show himself as wise as he was valiant-a statesman, whose prudent counsels, wary reserve, and politic addresses, ripened and matured a design, which none but himself could have carried into effect. It would almost make one despise the pedantry of books and the discipline of schools, to see a gentleman, bred amidst the noise of drums and trumpets, outwitting politicians, nursed from their infancy in the arts and habits of a civil life. The general's temper was well adapted to the business he had to conduct. He was of a disposition silent and reserved-one, that thought much, but said little, unless to those he knew and trusted. He had no spirit of contradiction, but would listen with patience and observation to all discourses, without making any cross replies; insomuch that he usually caused people to go away with a persuasion that they had obtained his assent to their proposals. Upon the whole, God did peculiarly fit him for the work he had to perform.

It may be right, in this place, to wipe away one or two aspersions, which some, that envy his glory, have cast upon his

memory.

These

persons are either such as could do the king no other service than drink healths and pour out oaths; or those that enjoy, it may be, great places and favours, without the qualification of merit, and who would, therefore, reduce all to the same level with themselves. These persons, then, confidently affirm, that he did not intend to bring the king back, but that the restoration was fortuitous, and the work of chance. In answer to this, I would adduce the testimony of the Right Reverend Father in God, Matthew, late Lord Bishop of Ely, who was his fellow-prisoner in the town, and to whom, upon taking his leave, and asking his episcopal benediction, he said, that he was now going against those bloody rebels in Ireland, but hoped he should one day do his majesty service against the rebels here. This the reverend prelate hath often testified with great joy and content, in the presence of many right honourable and right reverend lords of this land.

It would, I confess, make a man marvel, whence his great confidence could proceed. Being, at that time, but a puny colonel, and serving in a remote station, how could be expect to master the three kingdoms, and perform his promise? I must here crave leave to inform you, that one Dr. Laybourne, a Romish priest, came often to the tower to see the general, when the latter was prisoner there; and being asked by one of his friends, why he was at the trouble of visiting this Monk so often, replied, that, within a few years, this Monk would be the greatest man in the three nations. By what means Laybourne pretended to this foreknowledge, I cannot divine. I do not remember that he ever cast his nativity. Some are of opinion, he gathered it from the secret lines and marks of his face, which, though the general, doubtless, had a soldier-like and majestic countenance, is a circumstance which would render the story very incredible. To me, it is very doubtful, whether this vain prediction had any influence upon the general's conduct. I know, he never listened to these prognostics. He told me the story himself in Scotland,

But to leave this idle digression, and pursue the answer to the objection. They say, he did not intend the king's resto ration, because he did not publicly declare his intention. These be wise statists, and fit to govern kingdoms. Is a man bound to publish what he intends to do? This is tavern-reasoning. Had the general acted upon it, and declared for the king in Scotland, whoever else might have restored his majesty, he would never have been able to effect it. Such a declaration would have associated against him all the recent purchasers of estates, all the innovators in religion, and all who had any cause to fear his majesty's return. It would have dissipated his own forces and strength, and those of England and Ireland. He

was pressed to do it, by many loyal persons; but he was aware that

many, who were loyal, were not men with whom to embark his life and fortunes. Others also, who were suborned by the fanatics to sound him, assailed him on this head ; and, in particular, pretended to advocate with him the cause of the secluded members. But it was all artifice. He carefully abstained from making any declaration in favour of the latter, well knowing that the other party looked upon the re-admission of these members as leading, of necessity, to the restoration of the king. He would not, therefore, declare himself, till he was in a situation to accomplish what he declared.

If it should be asked, why he did not sooner make his addresses to the king, I reply, he was too wise to trust his life and fortunes to the keeping of indigent courtiers. He knew too well how many there were-secret pensioners of the usurping powers,—who dipped their hand in the dish, with the king, and kissed him, with a Hail, master ; yet betrayed bim. Addresses from him to his majesty, promising his services to bring about the restitution of his majesty's rights, would not long have been confined to the cabinet, but, by means of little spies and intelligencers, would soon have flown abroad over England, and brought his own ruin along with it.

If any sober man require any further answer, his intention may be demonstrated, not only by the fact, that he did it as soon as he could, but also, that when he did it, he could have hindered it. Nay, he was importuned by all Oliver's men, as well as the commonwealth party, in general, to accept the government, under what name, and with what power he pleased. Among them were some of the most violent opposers of Oliver's government, who, then, pretended to see that there was no other basis on which to form a settlement, than the authority of a single person. Will it be said, that he did not intend to restore the king, because he did not declare for him, when he was a prisoner in the Tower? Why, truly, he was nothing but a prisoner, till he arrived in London, and had separated the forces that were quartered there, whose numbers were far greater than those of his own marching army. Those, who know the difficulty of dividing and separating those old confederated regiments, that had fought so long and so successfully together, will not be disposed to insist much upon this objection. Indeed, he had certainly miscarried, if he had not wrapped himself up in impenetrable secresy, and avoided, with the utmost jealousy, giving any cause for suspicion. It was on this ground alone, that his enemies could give him annoyance; and their only desire was, that he would adopt the very policy which these objectors would have recommended. For any dissatisfaction to the king's government and cause,

« EdellinenJatka »