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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 twelvemonth. This would cut short the whole study of antiquities, and perhaps be much more useful to univer
sities 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 figures of several instruments of music, mathematics, and mechanics. One might make an entire galley out of the plans that are to be inet 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 æ diphthong, and that, in Augustus's days, civis stood for cives, with other secrets in orthography of the same importance.
To come then to a more weighty use, says Philander, it is certain that medals give a very great light to history, in confirming such passages as are true in old authors, in settling such as are told after different manners, and in recording such as have been omitted. In this case a cabinet of medals is a body of history. It was indeed the best way in the world to perpetuate
the memory of great actions, thus to coin out the life of an emperor, and to put every great exploit into the mint. It was a kind of printing, before the art was invented. It is by this means that Monsieur Vaillant has disembroiled a history that was lost to the world before his time, and out of a short collection of medals has given us a chronicle of the kings of Syria. For this too is an advantage medals have over books, that they tell their story much quicker, and sum up a whole volume in twenty or thirty reverses. They are indeed the best epitomes in the world, and let you see with one cast of an eye the substance of above a hundred pages. Another use of medals is, that they not only show you the actions of an emperor, but at the same time mark out the year in which they were performed. Every exploit has its date set to it. A series of an emperor's coins is his life digested into annals. Historians seldom break their relation with a mixture of chronology, nor distribute the particulars of an emperor's story into the several years of his reign : or, when they do it, they often differ in their several periods. Here, therefore, it is much safer to quote a medal than an author, for in this case you do not appeal to a Suetonius or a Lampridius, but to the emperor himself, or to the whole body of a Roman senate. Besides that a coin is in no danger of having its characters altered by copiers and transcribers. This I must confess, says Cynthio, may in some cases be of great moment, but, considering the subjects on which your chronologers are generally employed, I see but little use that rises from it. For example, what signifies it to the world whether such an elephant appeared in the amphitheatre in the second or the third year of Domitian? Or what am I the wiser for knowing that Trajan was in the fifth year of his tribuneship when he entertained the people with such a horse-race or bullbaiting? Yet it is the fixing of these great periods that gives a man the first rank in the republic of letters, and recommends him to the world for a person of various reading and profound erudition.
You must always give your men of great reading leave to show their talents on the meanest subjects, says Eugenius; it is a kind of shooting at rovers: where a man lets fly his arrow without taking any aim, to show his strength. But there is one advantage, says he, turning to Philander, that seems to me very considerable, although you medallists seldom throw it into the account, which is the great help to memory one finds in medals: for my own part, I am very much embarrassed in the names and ranks of the several Roman emperors, and find it difficult to recollect upon occasion the different parts of their history: but your medallists, upon the first naming of an emperor, will immediately tell you his age, family, and life. To remember where he enters in the succession, they only consider in what part of the cabinet he lies; and by running over in their thoughts such a particular drawer, will give you an account of all the remarkable parts of his reign.
I thank you, says Philander, for helping me to an use that, perhaps I should not have thought on. But there is another of which I am sure you could not but be sensible when you were at Rome. I must own to you it surprised me to see my Ciceroni so well acquainted with the busts and statues of all the great people of antiquity. There was not an emperor or empress but he knew by sight, and, as he was seldom without medals in his pocket, he would often show us the same face on an old coin that we saw in the statue. He would discover a Commodus through the disguise of the club and lion's skin, and find out such a one to be Livia that was dressed up like a Ceres. Let a bust be never so disfigured, they have a thousand marks by which to decipher it. They well know a Zenobia by the sitting of her diadem, and will distinguish the Faustinas by their different way of tying up their hair, Oh! Sir, says Cynthio, they will go a great deal farther, they will give you the name and titles of a statue that has lost his nose and ears; or, if there is but half a beard remaining, will tell you, at first sight, who was the owner of it. Now I must confess to you, I used to fancy they imposed upon me an emperor or empress at pleasure, rather than appear ignorant.
All this, however, is easily learnt from medals, says Philander, where you may see likewise the plans of many of the most considerable buildings of old Rome. There is an ingenious gentleman of our own nation extremely well versed in this study, who has a design of publishing the whole history of architecture, with its several improvements and decays, as it is to be met with on ancient coins. He has assured me that he has observed all the nicety of proportion in the figures of the different orders that compose the buildings on the best preserved medals. You here see the copies of such ports and triumphal arches as there are not the least traces of in the places where they once stood. You have here the models of several ancient temples, though the temples themselves, and the gods that were worshipped in them, are perished many hundred years ago. Or if there are still any foundations or ruins of former edifices, you may learn from coins what was their architecture, when they stood whole and entire. These are buildings which the Goths and Vandals could not demolish, that are infinitely more durable than stone or marble, and will, perhaps, last as long as the earth itself. They are, in short, so many real monuments of brass :
Quod non imber edax non aquilo impotens
Mr. CREECH. This is a noble panegyric on an old copper coin, says Cynthio. But I am afraid a little malicious rusti