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pg ivEditor’s Note

Frontispiece of The History of the League (1684)
(Macdonald 132)

Frontispiece of The History of the League (1684)

(Macdonald 132)

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Editor’s Note
MBurghers sculp. Engraved by Michael Burghers, born in Utrecht (?) c. 1640; settled in England, principally at Oxford, after the taking of Utrecht by Louis XIV in 1672; was active in Oxford from 1674, being first assistant then successor to David Loggan (d. 1693) as engraver to Oxford University. Burghers specialized in copper-engraved portraits, of Charles II, James II, and historical figures, in university almanack illustrations, ex-libris, book titles and illustrations, heraldic devices. Burghers also provided engraved frontispieces or illustrations for Plutarchs Lives, The Life of St. Francis Xavier, the second edition of the satires of Juvenal and Persius, and the fourth and fifth parts of Miscellany Poems, all published by Tonson. Burghers was active at least until 1720. The quality of the engraving does not permit positive identification of the figures, apart from the enthroned Charles II. The ecclesiastic in the right foreground is probably Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury; the full face behind him is possibly Monmouth's, and the adjacent profile could be James, Duke of York's. The middleground of ships on the Channel framed by the cliffs of Dover can serve either to recall Charles II's restoration after Continental exile, or, more probably, to point out that the translation has carried across from France to England a pertinent historical lesson. Charles receives his crown from heaven to emphasize that monarchy is from God: the people have no voice in who their ruler should be. The crown is to be passed along a shaft bearing the Latin version of Proverbs, VIII, 15, "by me kings reign," one of the most widely debated texts in seventeenth-century constitutional disputes. The motto in the right foreground adds that God's gift of sovereignty to the king is "to him and to his legitimate successors," alluding to the claim of the illegitimate Monmouth. See Roger L'Estrange, The Lawyer Outlaw'd (1683), p. 9:

I cannot but pity the condition our Lawyers INNOCENT and GENTLE PRINCE [Monmouth] is reduc'd to, by the slie insinuations and bewitching flatteries of this and such other Sycophants of the Faction, who puff'd him up, and possess'd him with such chymerical hopes of a Crown, as made him forget his Obedience to his Princes will, and the positive command of his Natural Father; Natural, I say, because in our Laws the Maxim is, Qui ex damnato coitu nascuntur, inter liberos non computantur, i.e. Bastards are not accounted amongst Sons.

The maxim is in Edward Coke, The First Part of the Institutes, 11th ed. (1719), I, i, 1, p. 3b. Charles certified Monmouth's illegitimacy on 3 March 1679, declaring he had been married to no one but his consort. The Whigs circulated rumors of a Black Box said to contain the articles of marriage between Charles and Lucy Walter/Waters/or Barlow, Monmouth's mother (Luttrell, I, 42); and Luttrell (I, 43) records the publication in April or May 1680 of A Letter to a Person of Honour concerning the Black Box (Somers Tracts, VIII, 187–195), "which endeavours maliciously to prove the said marriage." Charles's published declaration on 8 June 1680 that he had married no one but his consort was answered a few weeks later by another Letter to a Person of Honour, "a most virulent libell on the king … [which] makes him a prince of no reputation" (Luttrell, I, I, 46, 50).
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