Item of the Day: William Atwood’s The Superiority and Direct Dominion of the Imperial Crown of England (1704)

Full Title: The Superiority and Direct Dominion of the Imperial Crown of England, over the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland, and the Divine Right of Succession to both Crowns Inseparable from the Civil, Asserted. In Answer to Sir Thomas Craig’s Treatises of Homage and Succession. Occasionally detecting several material Errors, of Sir George Mackenzie, and other eminent Authors. With some account of the Antiquity, Extent, and Constitution of the now English Monarch. Explaining considerable parts of the British, English, and Scotch Histories and Laws. London: Printed for F. Hartley, next Door to the King’s-Head Tavern in Holbourn, 1704.

[The following is excerpted from William Atwood’s Dedication in The Superiority and Direct Dominion of the Imperial Crown of England.]


To the Right Honourable
Charles Lord Mobun

Baron of Oakhampton

This Island, My Lord, which has been distinguished from the whole World, for the holy embracing Christianity, the valour of its People, the felicity of the Soyl, and excellency of its constitutions (unless God’s Providence, and the Guardian Angel, to which he has allotted this Station, perpose,) is too likely to be mingled with the rest of the World, in whose Calamities, which vex the Continent. The Enemies to the publick tranquility, (as too many such there have been within this Island,) have had frequent prospects of Succeeding, even to their own Ruin, in the Desolation of their Country: But, generally, the Almighty has raised up some few Great Men among us, whom he has adapted to the exigencies of the Publick.Several such I have know, that now are Dead, and others yet Alive, whose Memories will be transmitted to Posterity, for their eminent Zeal, Services, and Abilities, in the Cause of their Country.In the first Rank of those Patriots, were the two Charles’s, Earls of Maclesfeld.

How well they judged and acted for the Interest of England, was not more visible in any thing, than in their early and strenuous Endeavours, that the August House of Hanover, might be comprehended within the Settlement of the Crown.

With the same Wisdom, that the first of our Protestant Queens declined naming a Successor; King William of Glorious Memory, chose to strengthen the security of this Kingdom, by causing the House of Hanover to be added to the Support of the British Throne.

Tho’ many shining Qualities, had indear’d the last Charles, Earl of Maclesfeld, to that best Judg of Men; his Lordship’s acquitting himself so perfectly well, upon that Embassy, may be thought to have made our late King, the more sensibly, to express Himself, that by, that Earl’s Death, he lost one of his best Friends.

In which, the loss to the Publick, would have been irreparable, if we could not Justly apply that of the Prince of Poets,
–Uno avulso non deficit alter Aureus–
One Golden Branch being off, another Springs.
Your Lordship, to the satisfaction of all, who Value the Memory of the Earl of Maclesfeld, was made Haeres ex asse, according to the expression in the Civil-Law, in which an Adopted Heir, is as fully and truly Heir, as one Born so.

As W. I. was made Heir to the Confessor, your Lordship was to the Earl of Maclesfeld; whose desire in the Codicil annexed to his Will, that your lordship would take car of the Protestant Religion, and the interest of England, was not from any doubt, but an Expression of well grounded Assurance, and a Testimony that your Lordship’s eminence in the Cause of your Country, (the Love of which, had in him, the Ascendent over every other Passion) was the real inducement, to his so free and noble Gift.

Tho’ ‘tis God’s Pleasure, that some Men, to manifest his Power, and intrinsic value of Truth, and an admirable Constitution of Government, should be carried, as it were a Divine Impulse, still to go on in that Cause, with an obstinacy, not to be cured, by all which the world thinks Calamitous; yet, for encouragement, and examples to them, who thus labour up the Hill, he leads some as it were with a Pillar of fire, and sets them out with all the Advantages, which give reputation to Virtue.

Such Virtue, I mean, as may well be thought above what engrosses the Name of Moral. For that Piety, which engages Men to venture all for their Country, as it comes from God, pursues revealed as well as natural Religion.

Marks of God’s Favour upon this account, are often the more conspicuous, when, by the influence of his Holy Spirit, he has drawn a great Mind, from a vain pursuit after false Pleasures, to the delightful View of a well established Renown, and a foretast of ineffable Glories in a future State.

To recommend such Examples, and make them the more amiable, he adds the Goods of this Life, when they may be trusted, in the Hands of a Steward, who will apply them to those uses, by which they attain the greatest Happiness on this side of Eternity.

This Happiness, Christian Philosophers, and particularly the Learned Bishop Cumberland, prove to consist in doing good to Mankind. Nor did the Heathens want this Notion, when they formed the Maxim, The more common the Good is, ‘tis so much the better.

The Goodness of Great Men, to particular Persons, is limited to narrow Bounds, in comparison with that, which extends to Constitutions of Governments; by which more than can fall within the largest knowledg, and opportunities, receive benefits, the Sense of which, like that of the Sun, and common Air, is lost by the diffusion, and continuance.

Private Persons of lower Stations, may amidst the sharpest Tryals, reap Satisfaction, in the inward Testimony of their Sincerity, and the assurance, that they aim at a general Good. . . .

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Filed under 1700's, Legal, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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