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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 thould 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 fight, and as he was seldom without Medals in his pocket, he would often shew 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 will know a Zenobia by the sitting of her Diadem, and will distinguish the Faustino's 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
at first fight 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 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 hiftory 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 fuch 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 rust would demolish one of your brazen
edifices as effectually as a Goth or Vandal. You would laugh at me, says Philander, should I make you
learned dissertation on the nature of Rusts : I shall only tell you there are two or three forts of them which are extremely beautiful in the eye of an Antiquary, and preserve a Coin better than the best artificial varnish. As for other kinds, a skilful Medallist knows very well how to deal with them.
He will recover you a Temple or a triumphal Arch out of its rubbish, if I may so call it, and with a few reparations of the graving tool restore it to its first fplendour and magnificence. I have known an Emperor quite hid under a crust of dross, who after two or three days cleanfing has appeared with all his titles about him as fresh and beautiful as at his firft coming out of the Mint. I am sorry, says Eugenius, I did not know this last use of Medals when I was at Rome. It might perhaps have given me a greater taste of its Antiquities, and have fixed in my memory several of the ruins that I have now forgotten. For my part, says Cynthio, I think there are at Rome enow modern works of Architecture to employ any reasonable man, I never could have a taste for old bricks and rubbish, nor would trouble myself about the ruins of Auguftus's Palace fo long as I could see the Vatican, the Borghese, and the Farnese as they now stand; I must own to you at the same time this is talking like an ignorant man.
Were I in other company I would perhaps change my stile, and tell them that I would rather see the fragments of Apollo's temple than St. Peter's. I remember when our Antiquary at Rome had led us a whole
day together from one ruin to another, he at last brought us to the Rotunda : And this, says he, is the most valuable Antiquity in Italy, notwithftanding it is so entire.
The same kind of fancy, says Philander, has formerly gained upon several of your Medallifts, who were for hoarding up such pieces of money only as had been half consumed by time or rust. There were no Coins pleased them more than those which had passed through the hands of an old Roman Clipper. I have read an Author of this taste that compares a ragged Coin to a tattered Colours. But to come again to our Subject. As we find on Medals the plans of several buildings that are now demolithed, we see on them too' the Models of many ancient Statues that are now loft. "There are several Reverses which are owned to be the representations of antique figures, and I question not but there are many others that were formed on the like Models, though at present they lie under no suspicion of it. The Hercules Farnese, the Venus of Medicis, the Apollo in the Belvidera, and the famous Marcus Aurelius on horse-back, which are perhaps the four most beautiful Statues extant, make their appearance all of them on ancient Medals, though the figures that represent them were never thought to be the copies of statues till the ftatues themselves were discovered. There is no question, I think, but the fame reflexion may extend itself to antique Pictures: for I doubt not but in the designs of several Greek Medals in particular, one might often see the hand of an Apelles or Protogenes, were we as well acquainted with their works as we are with Ti. tian's or Vandike’s. I might here make a much VOL. III.
greater show of the Usefulness of Medals, if I would take the Method of others, and prove to you that all arts and sciences receive a confiderable illustration from this study. I must however tell you, that Medals and the Civil Law, as we are assured by those who are well read in both, give a considerable Light to each other, and that several old Coins are like so many maps for explaining of the ancient Geography. But besides the more folid parts of learning, there are several little intimations to be met with on Medals that are very pleasant to such as are converfant in this kind of study. Should I tell you gravely, that without the help of Coins we should never have known which was the first of the Emperors that wore a beard, or rode in stirrups, I might turn my science into ridicule. Yet it is certain there are a thousand little impertinences of this nature that are very gratifying to curiosity, tho' perhaps not very improving to the understanding. To see the dress that such an Empress delighted to be drawn in, the titles that were most agreeable to such an Emperor,
the flatteries that he lay moft open to, the honours that he paid to his children, wives, predecessors, friends or collegues, with the like particularities only to be met with on Medals, are certainly not a little pleasing to that inquifitive temper which is so natural to the mind of man.
I declare to you, says Cynthio, you have astonished me with the several parts of knowledge, that you
have discovered on Medals. I could never fancy before this evening, that a Coin could have
nobler use in it than to pay a reckoning.