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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 signalised 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 genies 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 me dals not only the names and persons of emperors, kings, consuls, proconsuls, 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. But these were the wise ancients, who had more esteem for a Milo than a Homer, and heaped up greater honours on Pindar's jockies, 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 no where 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 ca
pable of pleasing the understanding nor 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 hanging-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 no where but in learned authors. An antiquary will scorn to mention a pinner or a 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.
Of the ruff and collar-band.
The opinion of several learned men concerning the use of the shoulder-knot.
Such-a-one mistaken in his account of the surtout, &c.
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 un derstand 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 see togas and tunicas, the chlamys and trabea, 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 taylors: 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 the same moment. But as to this point, where the make of the garment is controverted, let them, if they can find cloth enough, work after all the most probable fashions. To enlarge the design, I would have another room for the old Roman instruments of war, where you might see the pilum and the shield, the eagles, ensigns, helmets, battering rams, and trophies, in a word, all the ancient military furniture in the same manner as it might have been in an arsenal of old Rome. A third apartment should be a kind of sacristy for altars, idols, sacrificing instruments, and other religious utensils. Not to be tedious, one might make a magazine for all sorts of
antiquities, that would show a man in an afternoon more than he could learn out of books in a twelve-month. This would cut short the whole study of antiquities, and perhaps be much more useful to universities than those collections of whalebone and crocodile-skins in which they commonly abound. You will find it very difficult, says Cynthio, to persuade those societies of learned men to fall in with your project. They will tell you that things of this importance must not be taken on trust; you ought to learn them among the classic authors and at the fountain head. Pray, consider what figure a man would make in the republic of letters, should he appeal to your university wardrobe, when they expect a sentence out of the Re Vestiaria? or how do you think a man, that has read Vegetius, will relish your Roman arsenal? In the mean time, says Philander, you find on medals every thing that you could meet with in your magazine of antiquities, and when you have built your arsenals, wardrobes, and sacristies, it is from medals that you must fetch their furniture. It is here too that you see the fi gures of several instruments of music, mathematics, and mechanics. One might make an entire galley out of the plans that are to be met with on the reverses of several old coins. Nor are they only charged with things, but with many ancient customs, as sacrifices, triumphs, congiaries, allocutions, decursions, lectisterniums, and a thousand other antiquated names and ceremonies that we should not have had so just a notion of, were they not still preserved on coins. I might add, under this head of antiquities, that we find on medals the manner of spelling in the old Roman inscriptions. That is, says Cynthio, we find that Felix is never written with an e