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the memory of great actions. They knew very well that silver and gold might fall into the hands of the covetous or ignorant, who would not respect them for the Device they bore, but for the Metal they were made of. Nor were their apprehensions ill-founded ; for it is not easily imagined how many
of these noble monuments of history have perished in the goldsmiths hands, before they came to be collected together by the learned men of these two or three last Centuries. Inscriptions, Victories, Buildings, and a thousand other pieces of antiquity were melted down in those barbarous Ages, that thought figures and letters only served to spoil the gold that was charged with them. Your Medallists look on this destruction of Coins, as on the burning of the Alexandrian Library, and would be content to compound for them, with almost the loss of a Vatican. To prevent this in fcme meafure, the ancients placed the greatest variety of their devices on their brass and copper Coins, which are in no fear of falling into the clippers hands, nor in any danger of melting till the general confiagration. On the contrary, our modern Medals are most in silver and gold, and often in a very small number of each.
I have seen a golden one at Vienna, of Philip the second, that weighed two and twenty pounds, which is probably singular in its kind, and will not be able to keep itself long out of the furnace when it leaves the Emperor's Treasury. I remember another in the King of Prufra's collection, that has in it three pounds weight of gold. The Princes that struck these Medals, says Eugenius, seem to have defigned them rather as an ostentation of their Wealth, than of their Virtues. They fancied,
probably, it was a greater honour to appear in gold than in copper, and that a Medal receives all its value from the rarity of the metal. I think the next subject you proposed to speak of, were the different Occasions that have given birth to ancient and modern Medals.
Before we enter on this particular, says Philander, I must tell you, by way of preliminary, that formerly there was no difference between Money and Medals. An old Roman had his purse full of the same pieces that we now preserve in Cabinets. As soon as an Emperor had done any thing remarkable, it was immediately stamped on a Coin, and became current through his whole Dominions. It was a pretty contrivance, says Cynthio, to spread abroad the virtues of an Emperor, and make his actions circulate. A fresh Coin was a kind of a Gazette, that published the latest news of the Empire. I should fancy your Roman Bankers were very good Hiftorians. It is certain, says Eugenius, they might find their profit and instruction mixed together. I have often wondered that no nation among the moderns has imitated the ancient Romans in this particular. I know no other way of securing these kinds of monuments, and making them numerous enough to be handed down to future ages. But where Statesmen are ruled by a spirit of faction and interest, they can have no pasfion for the glory of their country, nor any con-cern for the figure it will make among posterity. A man that talks of his nation's honour a thoúsand years hence, is in very great danger of being lauged at. We thall think, says Cynthio, you have a mind to fall out with the Government, because it does not encourage Medals. But
ancient Coins that are now in Cabinets once current money? It is the most probable opinion, says Philander, that they were all of them such, excepting those we call Medallions. These in respect to 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 tỏ stamp the subject of their Medallions on their ordinary Coins that were the running cash of the nation. As if in England we thould see on our hálf-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 remember in any old Coin to have seen the taking of a town mentioned : as indeed there were few conquerors could fignalize 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 fieges and plans of fortified towns, that thow themselves in all
their parts to a great advantage on the riverse 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 Cannons. 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 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 occafion to celebrate 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 fo far, that we see Nero's fidling, and Commodus's skill in fencing, on several of their Medals. At present, you never meet with the King 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