General Monk and His Wife
FROM the same MS. collection of Sir Thomas Browne, I shall rescue another anecdote, which has a tendency to show that it is not advisable to permit ladies to remain at home, when political plots are to be secretly discussed. And while it displays the treachery of Monk’s wife, it will also appear that, like other great revolutionists, it was ambition that first induced him to become the reformer he pretended to be.
“Monk gave fair promises to the Rump, but last agreed with the French ambassador to take the government on himself; by whom he had a promise from Mazarin of assistance from France. This bargain was struck late at night; but not so secretly but that Monk’s wife, who had posted herself conveniently behind the hangings, finding what was resolved upon, sent her brother Charles away immediately with notice of it to Sir A. A. She had promised to watch her husband, and inform Sir A. how matters went. Sir A. caused the Council of State, whereof he was a member, to be summoned, and charged Monk that he was playing false. The general insisted that he was true to his principles, and firm to what he had promised, and that he was ready to give them all satisfaction. Sir A. told him if he were sincere he might remove all scruples, and should instantly take away their commissions from such and such men in his army, and appoint others, and that before he left the room. Monk consented; a great part of the commissions of his officers were changed, and Sir Edward Harley, a member of the council, and then present, was made governor of Dunkirk, in the room of Sir William Lockhart; the army ceased to be at Monk’s devotion; the ambassador was recalled, and broke his heart.”
Such were the effects of the infidelity of the wife of General Monk!
The wikipedia article on George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle (1608-70), doesn’t mention this incident. The Duchess of Albemarle’s name was Ann, née Clarges, a woman of ‘low extraction,’ reckoned by Samuel Pepys to be ‘ever a plain homely dowdy.’
¶ This article is repeated almost verbatim from its original in early (1790s) editions of the Curiosities.