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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 a learned dissertation on the nature of rusts. I shall only tell you there are two or three sorts 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 splendor and magnificence. I have known an emperor quite hid under a crust of dross, who, after two or three days cleansing, has appeared with all his titles about him, as fresh and beautiful as at his first 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 Augustus's palace, so 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 style, 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, notwithstanding it is so entire.
The same kind of fancy, says Philander, has formerly gained upon several of your medallists, 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 demolished, we see on them too the models of many ancient statues that are now lost. There are several reverses which are owned to be the representation of antique figures, and I question not but that 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 horseback, 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 statues themselves were discovered. There is no question, I think, but the same reflection 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 Titian's or Vandyke's. I might here make a much greater show of the usefulness of medals, if I would take the methods of others, and prove to you that all arts and sciences receive a considerable 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 the explaining of the ancient geography. But, besides the more solid parts of learning, there are several little intimations to be met with on medals, that are very pleasant to such as are conversant 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 turą my science into ridicule. Yet it is certain there are a thousand little impertinences of this nature that are very gratifying to curiosity, though, 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 most open to, the honours that he paid to his children, wives, predecessors, friends, or colleagues, with the like particularities only to be met with on medals, are certainly not a little pleasing to that inquisitive 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 any nobler use in it than to pay a reckoning.
You have not heard all yet, says Philander, there is still an advantage to be drawn from medals, which, I am sure, will heighten your esteem for them. It is, indeed, a use that nobody hitherto has dwelt upon. If any of the antiquaries have touched upon it, they have immediately quitted it, without considering it in its full latitude, light, and extent. Not to keep you in suspense, I think there is a great affinity between coins and poetry, and that your medalist and critic are much nearer related than the world generally imagines. A reverse often clears up the passage of an old poet, as the poet often serves to unriddle a re
I could be longer on this head, but I fear I have already tired you. Nay, says Eugenius, since you have gone so far with us, we must beg you to finish your lecture, especially since you are on a subject that I dare promise you will be very agreeable to Cynthio, who is so professed an admirer of the ancient poets. I must only warn you, that you do not charge your coins with more uses than they can bear. It is generally the method of such as are in love with any particular science, to discover all others in it. Who VOL. V..
would imagine, for example, that architecture should comprehend the knowledge of history, ethics, music, astronomy, natural philosophy, physic, and the civil law? Yet Vitruvius will give you his reasons, such as they are, why a good architect is master of these several arts and sciences. Sure, says Cynthio, Martial had never read Vitruvius when he threw the crier and the architect into the same class:
Duri si puer irgeni videtur
But to give you an instance out of a very celebrated discourse on poetry, because we are on that subject, of an author's finding out imaginary beauties in his own art*.
“I have observed,' says he, speaking of the natural propension that all men have to numbers and harmony, that my barber has often combed my head in dactyls and spondees, that is with two short strokes and a long one, or with two long ones successively. Nay,' says he, 'I have known him sometimes run even into pyrrichiuses and anapæstuses.' This you will think, perhaps, a very extravagant fancy, but, I must own, I should as soon expect to find the prosodia in a comb, as poetry in a medal. Before I endeavour to convince you of it, says Philander, I must confess to you that this science has its visionaries, as well as all others. There are several, for example, that will find a mystery in every tooth of Neptune's trident, and are amazed at the wisdom of the ancients, that represented a thunder-bolt with three forks, since, they will tell you, nothing could have better explained its triple quality of piercing, burning, and melting. I have seen a long discourse on the figure and nature of horn, to show it was impossible to have found out a fitter emblem for plenty than the cornu
* Vossius de viribus Rythmi.
copia. These are a sort of authors who scorn to take up with appearances, and fancy an interpretation vulgar when it is natural. What could have been more proper to show the beauty and friendship of the three Graces, than to represent them naked, and knit together in a kind of dance? It is thus they always appear in ancient sculpture, whether on medals or in marble, as I doubt not but Horace alludes to designs of this nature, when he describes them after the same manner:
Segnesque nodum solvere Gratiæ.
Conjoin'd by love's eternal band. Several of your medalists will be here again astonished at the wisdom of the ancients, that knew how to couch such excellent precepts of morality under visible objects. The nature of gratitude, they will tell you, is better illustrated by this single device, than by Seneca’s whole book de Beneficiis. The three Graces teach us three things. 1. To remark the doing of a courtesy. 2. The return of it from the receiver. 3. The obligation of the receiver to acknowledge it. The three Graces are always hand in hand, to show us that these three duties should be never separated. They are naked, to admonish us that gratitude should be returned with a free and open heart; and dancing, to show us that no virtue is more active than gratitude. May not we here say with Lucretius?
Quæ bene et eximie quanquam disposta ferantur,
Sunt longè tamen a verâ ratione repulsa. It is an easy thing, says Eugenius, to find out designs that never entered into the thoughts of the sculptor or the coiner. I dare say, the same gentlemen who have fixed this piece of morality on the three naked sisters, dancing hand in hand, would have found out as good a one for them, had there been four of them sitting at a distance