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says Philander, that they were all of them such, excepting those we call medalions. These, in respect of the other coins, were the same as modern medals, in respect of modern money. They were exempted from all commerce, and had no other value but what was set upon them by the fancy of the owner. They are supposed to have been struck by emperors for presents to their friends, foreign princes, or ambassadors. However, that the smallness of their number might not endanger the loss of the devices they bore, the Romans took care generally to stamp the subject of their medalions on their ordinary coins that were the running cash of the nation. As if in England we should see, on our half-penny and farthing pieces, the several designs that show themselves in their perfection on our medals.
If we now consider, continued Philander, the different occasions or subjects of ancient and modern medals, we shall find they both agree in recording the great actions and successes in war, allowing still for the different ways of making it, and the circumstances that attended it in past ages, and in the present. I shall instance one. I do not reniember in any old coin to have seen the taking of a town mentioned : as indeed there were few conquerors could signalize themselves that way before the invention of powder and fortifications, a single battle often deciding the fate of whole kingdoms. Our modern medals give us several sieges and plans of fortified towns, that show themselves in all their parts to a great advantage on the reverse of a coin. It is indeed a kind of justice, says Eugenius, that a prince' owes 'to posterity, after he has ruined or defaced a strong place, to deliver down to them a model of it as it stood whole and entire. The coin repairs in 'some measure the mischiefs of his bombs and canons. In the next place, says Philander, we see both on the ancient and modern medals the several noble pieces of architecture that were finished at the time when the medals were
stamped. I must observe, however, to the honour of the latter, that they have represented their buildings according to the rules of perspective. This I remember to have seen but in a very few of the plans on ancient coins, which makes them appear much less beautiful than the modern, especially to a mathematical eye. Thus far our two sets of medals agree as to their subject. But old coins go farther in their compliments to their emperor, as they take occasion to célebrate his distinguishing virtues; 'not as they showed themselves in any particular action, but as they shone out in the general view of his character. This humour went so far, that we see Nero's fiddling, and Commodus's skill in fencing, on several of their medals. At present, you never meet with the king of of France's generosity, nor the emperor's devotion recorded after this manner. Again, the Romans used to register the great actions of peace that turned to the good of the people, as well as those of war. The remission of a debt, the taking off a duty, the giving up a tax, the mending a port, or the making a highway, were not looked upon as improper subjects for a coin. They were glad of any opportunity to encourage their emperors in the humour of doing good, and knew very well, that many of these acts of beneficence had a wider and more lasting influence on the happiness and welfare of a people, than the gaining a victory, or the conquest' of a nation. In England perhaps it would have looked a little odd, to have stamped a medal on the abolishing of chimney-money in the last reign, or on the giving a hundred thousand pounds a year towards the carrying on a war, in this. I find, said Eugenius, had we struck in with the practice of the ancient Romans, we should have had medals on the fitting up of our several docks, on the making of our rivers navigable, on the building our men of war, and the like subjects, that have certainly very well deserved them. The reason why it has been neglected, says Philander, may possibly be this. Our princes have
the coining of their own medals, and perhaps may think it would look like vanity to erect so many trophies and monuments of praise to their own merit; Whereas, among the ancient Romans, the senate had still a watchful eye on their emperor, and if they found any thing in his life and actions that might furnish out:a, médal, they did not fail of making him so acceptable an offering. It is true, their flatteries betray often such a baseness of spirit; as one would little expect to find among such an order of men. And ". here, by the way, . we may observe, that you never find any thing like satíre or raillery on old coins.:
Whatever victories were got on foreign enemies, or the several pretenders to the empire obtained over one another, they are recorded on coins without the least bitterness or reflection. The emperors often jested on their rivals or predecessors, but their mints still maintained their gravity. They might publish invectives against one another in their discourses or writings, but never on their coins. Had we no other histories of the Roman emperors, but those we find on their money, we should take them for the most virtuous race of princes that mankind were ever blessed with: . whereas, if we look into their lives, they appear many of them such monsters of lust and cruelty, as are almost a reproach to human nature. Medals are therefore so many compliments to an emperor, that ascribe to him all the virtues and victories he himself pretended to. Were you to take from hence all your informations, you would fancy Claudius as great a conqueror as Julius Cæsar, and Domitian a wiser prince' than his brother Titus. Tiberius on his coins is all mercy and moderation, Caligula and Nero are fathers of their country, Galba the patron of public liberty, and Vitellius the restorer of the city of Rome. In short, if you have a mind to see the religious Com. modus, the pious Caracalla, and the devout Helioga. balus, you may find them either in the inscription : or device of their medals. On the contrary, those of 's a modern make are often charged with irony and sau tire. Our kings no sooner fall out, but their mints make war upon one another, and their inalice appears on their medals. One meets sometimes with very nice touches of raillery, but as we have no instance of it among the ancient coins, I shall leave you to determine, whether or no it ought to find a place there. I must confess, says Cynthio, I believe we are generally in the wrong, when we deviate from the ancients, because their practice is for the most part grounded upon reason. But if our forefathers have thought fit to be grave and serious, I hope their posterity may laugh without offence. For my part, I can'not but look on this kind of raillery as a refinement on medals: and do not see why there may not be some for diversion, at the same time that there are others of a more solemn and majestic nature, as a victory may be celebrated in an epigram as well as in á heroic poem. Had the ancients given place to raillery on any of their coins, I question not but they would have been the most valued parts of a collection. Be. sides the entertainment we should have found in them, they would have shown us the different state of wit, as it fourished or decayed in the several ages of the Roman empire. There is no doubt, says Philander, but our forefathers, if they had pleased, could have been as witty as their posterity. But I am of opinion, they industriously avoided it on their coins, that they might not give us occasion to suspect their sincerity. Had they run into mirth or satire, we should not have thought they had designed so much to instruct as to divert us. I have heard, says Eugenius, that the Romans stamped several coins on the same occasion. If we follow their example, there will be no danger of deceiving posterity; since the more serious sort of • medals may serve as comments on those of a lighter
character. However it is, the raillery of the moderns cannot be worse than the flattery of the ancients. But hitherto you have only mentioned such coins as were
made on the emperor, I have seen several of our own time that have been made as a compliment to private persons. There are pieces of money, says Philander, that, during the time of the Roman emperors, were coined in honour of the senate, army, or people. I do not remember to have seen in the upper empire the face of any private person that was not some way related to the imperial family. Sejanus has, indeed, his conşulship mentioned on a coin of Tiberius, as he has the honour to give a name to the year in which our Saviour was crucified. We are now come to the legend or inscription of our medals, which, as it is one of the more essential parts of them, it may deserve to be examined more at length. You have chosen a very short text to enlarge upon, says Cynthio: I should as soon expect to see a critic on the posy of a ring, as on the inscription of a medal.
I have seen several modern coins, says Philander, that have had part of the legend running round the edges, like the decus et tutamen in our milled money; so that a few years will probably wear out the action that the coin was designed to perpetuate. The ancients were too wise to register their exploits on so nice a surface. I should fancy, says Eugenius, the moderns may have chosen this part of the medal for the inscription, that the figures on each side might appear to a greater advantage. I have observed in several old coins a kind of confusion between the legend and the device. The figures and letters were so mingled together, that one would think the coiner was hard put to it on what part of the money to bestow the several words of his inscription. You have found out something like an excuse, says Philander, for your milled medals, if they carried the whole legend on their edges. But, at the same time that they are lettered on the edges, they have other inscriptions on the face and the reverse. Your modern designers cannot contract the occasion of the medal into an inscription that is proper to the volume they write upon:
the inschgreatenind of coures any think