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very naming of them is almost sufficient to turn them into raillery. It is no wonder, therefore, that the science of medals, which is charged with so many unconcerning parts of knowledge, and built on such mean materials, should appear
ridiculous to those that have not taken the pains to examine it.
Eugenius was very attentive to what Philander said on the subject of medals. He was one that endeavoured rather to be agreeable than shining in conversation, for which reason he was more beloved, though not so much admired as Cynthio. I must confess, says he, I find myself very much inclined to speak against a sort of study that I know nothing of. I have, however, one strong prejudice in favour of it, that Philander has thought it worth his while to employ some time upon it. I am glad, then, says Cynthio, that I have thrown him on a science of which I have long wished to hear the usefulness. There, says Philander, you must At present you do not know but it
have its usefulness. But should I endeavour to convince
of it, I might fail in my attempt, and so render my science still more contemptible. On the contrary, says Cynthio, we are already so persuaded of the unprofitableness of your scithat you can but leave us where
you succeed, you increase the number of your party. Well, says Philander, in hopes of making two such considerable proselytes, I am very well content to talk away an evening with you on the subject; but on this condition, that you will communicate your thoughts to me freely when you dissent from me, or have any difficulties that you think me capable of removing. To make use of the liberty you give us, says Eugenius, I must tell you what I believe surprises all beginners as well as myself
. We are apt to think your medal- . lists a little fantastical in the different prices they set upon their coins, without any regard to the ancient value or the metal of which they are composed. A silver medal, for example, shall be more esteemed than a gold one, and a piece of brass than either. To answer you, says Philander, in the language of a medallist, you are not to look upon a cabinet of medals as a treasure of money, but of knowledge; nor must you fanty any charms in gold, but in the figures and
! So persuaded, &c.] Better thus, “we already account your science so unprofitable that
inscriptions that adorn it. The intrinsic value of an old coin does not consist in its metal, but its erudition. It is the device that has raised the species, so that at present an as or an obolus may carry a higher price than a denarius or a drachma; and a piece
that was not worth a penny fifteen hundred years ago, may be now rated at fifty crowns, or perhaps a hundred guineas. I find, says Cynthio, that to have a relish for ancient coins, it is necessary to have a contempt of the modern. But I am afraid
will never be able, with all your medallic eloquence, to persuade Eugenius and myself that it is better to have a pocket full of Othos and Gordians than of Jacobuses or Louis d'ors. This, however, we shall be judges of, when you have let us know the several uses of old coins.
The first and most obvious one, says Philander, is the showing us the faces of all the great persons of antiquity. A cabinet of medals is a collection of pictures in miniature. Juvenal calls them very humorously,
Concisum argentum in titulos, faciesque minutas. Sat. 5. You here see the Alexanders, Cæsars, Pompeys, Trajans, and the whole catalogue of heroes, who have many of them so distinguished themselves from the rest of mankind, that we almost look upon them as another species. It is an agreeable amusement to compare, in our own thoughts, the face of a great man with the character that authors have given us of him, and to try if we can find out in his looks and features either the haughty, cruel, or merciful temper that discovers itself in the history of his actions. We find, too, on medals, the representations of ladies that have given occasion to whole volumes on the account only of a face. We have here the pleasure to examine their looks and dresses ; and to survey at leisure those beauties that have sometimes been the happiness or misery of whole kingdoms: nor do you only meet1 the faces of such as are famous in history, but of several whose names are not to be found anywhere except on medals. Some of the emperors, for example, have had wives, and some of them children, that no authors have mentioned. We are, therefore, obliged to the study of coins for having made new discoveries to the learned, and given them
Meet.] It should be “ meet with," as we have it below—“ met with on no other kind of records.”
information of such persons as are to be met with on no other kind of records. You must give me leave, says Cynthio, to reject this last use of medals. I do not think it worth while to trouble myself with a person's name or face that receives all his reputation from the mint, and would never have been known in the world, had there not been such things as medals. A man's memory finds sufficient employment on such as have really signalized themselves by their great actions, without charging itself with the names of an insignificant people, whose whole history is written on the edges of an old coin.
If you are only for such persons as have made a noise in the world, says Philander, you have on medals a long list of heathen deities, distinguished
from each other by their proper titles and ornaments. You see the copies of several statues that have had the politest nations of the world fall down before them. You have here, too, several persons of a more thin and shadowy nature, as Hope, Constancy, Fidelity, Abundance, Honour, Virtue, Eternity, Justice, Moderation, Happiness, and in short a whole creation of the like imaginary substances. To these you may add the genius of nations, provinces, cities, highways, and the like allegorical beings. In devices of this nature one sees a pretty poetical invention, and may
often find as much thought on the reverse of a medal as in a canto of Spenser. Not to interrupt you, says Eugenius, I fancy it is this use of medals that has recommended them to several history painters, who, perhaps, without this assistance, would have found it very difficult to have invented such an airy species of beings, when they are obliged to put a moral virtue into colours, or to find out a proper dress for a passion. It is doubtless for this reason, says Philander, that painters have not a little contributed to bring the study of medals in vogue. For not to mention several others, Caraccio is said to have assisted Aretine by designs that he took from the Spintriæ of Tiberius. Raphael had thoroughly studied the figures on old coins. Patin tells us that Le Brun had done the same. And it is well known that Rubens had a noble collection of medals in his own possession. But I must not quit this head before I tell you, that you see on medals not only the names and persons
| To have invented.] He had said before, 6 who would have found”it should, therefore, be "to invent,” for an obvious reason.
? In vogue.] It should be “ into.”
of emperors, kings, consuls, pro-consuls, prætors, and the like characters of importance, but of some of the poets, and of several who had won the prizes at the Olympic games. It was a noble time, says Cynthio, when trips and Cornish hugs could make a man immortal. How many heroes would Moorfields have furnished out in the days of old ? A fellow that can now only win a hat or a belt, had he lived among the Greeks, might have had his face stamped upon their coins. Buti these were the wise ancients, who had more esteem for a Milo than a Homer, and heaped up greater honours on Pindar's jockeys than on the poet himself. But by this time, I suppose, you have drawn up all your medallic people, and, indeed, they make a much more formidable body than I could have imagined. You have shown us all conditions, sexes, and ages, emperors and empresses, men and children, gods and wrestlers. Nay, you have conjured up persons
that exist nowhere else but on old coins, and have made our passions, and virtues, and vices visible. I could never have thought that a cabinet of medals had been so well peopled. But, in the next place, says Philander, as we see on coins the different faces of persons, we see on them, too, their different habits and dresses, according to the mode that prevailed in the several ages when the medals were stamped. This is another use, says Cynthio, that, in my opinion, contributes rather to make a man learned than wise, and is neither capable of pleasing the understanding or imagination. I know there are several supercilious critics, that will treat an author with the greatest contempt imaginable, if he fancies the old Romans wore a girdle, and are amazed at a man's ignorance, who believes the toga had any sleeves to it till the declension of the Roman empire. Now I would fain know the great importance of this kind of learning, and why it should not be as noble a task to write upon a bib and hang
But.] Better" And.” But” begins the next sentence. ? And is neither capable of pleasing the understanding or imagination.] The disjunctive “neithero” as placed before “capable,” leads us to expect that two distinct capacities are going to be specified; whereas we have only one capacity, that of pleasing, here mentioned. Besides, the correlative of “neither” is “nor," and not "or." The whole should be given thus : " and is neither capable of informing the understanding, nor of pleasing the imagination; or else, “and is not capable of pleasing either the understanding or imagination.”
ing sleeves, as on the bulla and prætexta. The reason is, that we are familiar with the names of the one, and meet with the other nowhere but in learned authors. An antiquary will scorn to mention a pinner or night-rail, a petticoat or a manteau; but will talk as gravely as a father of the church on the vitta and peplus, the stola and instita. How would an old Roman laugh, were it possible for him to see the solemn dissertations that have been made on these weighty subjects! To set them in their natural light, let us fancy, if you please, that about a thousand years hence, some profound author shall write a learned treatise on the habits of the present age, distinguished into the following titles and chapters :
Of the old British trowser.
I must confess, says Eugenius, interrupting him, the knowledge of these affairs is in itself very little improving, but as it is impossible without it to understand several parts of your ancient authors, it certainly hath its use. It is pity, indeed, there is not a nearer way of coming at it. I have sometimes fancied it would not be an impertinent design to make a kind of an old Roman wardrobe, where you
shall togas and tunicas, the chlamys and trobea, and in short all the different vests and ornaments that are so often mentioned in the Greek and Roman authors. By this means a man would comprehend better and remember much longer the shape of an ancient garment, than he possibly can from the help of tedious quotations and descriptions. The design, says Philander, might be very useful, but after what models would you work ? Sigonius, for example, will tell you
that the vestis trabeata was of such a particular fashion, Scaliger is for another, and Dacier thinks them both in the wrong: These are, says Cynthio, I suppose, the names of three Roman tailors : for is it possible men of learning can have any disputes of this nature? May not we as well believe that hereafter the whole learned world will be divided upon the make of a modern pair of breeches ? And yet, says Eugenius, the critics have fallen as foul upon each other for matters of