William Shepherd.

Systematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) online

. (page 31 of 44)
Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 44)
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A long list of books, necessary in the study of history, accom-
panied with judicious observations (3) A sketch of Chro-
nology and of the different modes of reckoning (4) A chro-
nological series of the eclipses mentioned by ancient authors.

Of Coins and Medals. There are few studies of more


importance to tlie study of history, than that of medals. The
sole evidence we can have of the veracity of an historian, de-
pends on such collateral documents as are evident to every bo-
dy, and cannot be falsified. In modern \imes, these are
found in public memoirs, instructions to ambassadors, and
state papers, to which we have already referred in Chap. xvii.
Such kind of memorials, are however, subject to various acci-
dents, and being attached to the countries in which they were
first published, cannot give to the world at large that perfect
and entire satisfaction, which ought to be the result of genuine
history, so that more durable and widely diffused monuments,
are still to be wished for. Such in fact, are coins and me-
dals : they are portable and infallible documents of the truth,
capable of being diffused over all countries in the world, and
of remaining through the latest ages. The materials of both
are similar, and the events they record are single and remark-
able. The small size of a coin does not admit of its being so
circumstantial as a monument, and it is more liable to be lost ;
but on the other hand, it is more capable of being concealed,
and is not exposed to the injuries of the weather; and as
numbers are struck at the same time, they stand a fairer
chance of being seen by posterity. Though we may be more
liable to be imposed upon by pretended antiques, this does not
affect the historian ; for if the new ones be exact copies of an-
cient coins, they corrupt no history, and it cannot be worth a
person's while to coin a piece, whose known existence has not
acquired a considerable degree of reputation.

The original and primary use of coins, is not to be men-
tioned among the direct methods of recording events ; for all
the ^cient coins, which have now obtained the denomination
of medals, were nothing more than the stamped coins of ai;-
cient nations. The monumental use, however, of such portable
pieces of metal, struck by the direction of the state, were so
very obvious, as to lead, at an early period, to the double use of
them. Of the impressions of the Crasi, so called from Croe-
sus, the first prince whose money is mentioned by historians,


we know little"; but the Latins coined their first money with
the head of Saturn on one side, and the figure of a ship on the
other, in memory of his coming to Italy by sea ; and upon
every new and remarkable event, and upon the accession of a
new magistrate in the Roman empire, the dies of their coins
were changed, to take proper notice of that new circumstance.

So great a number of events have been recorded by ancient
medals, and so great has been the attention and care of mo-
derns, in collecting and preserving them, that they now give
great light to history, in confirming such passages, as are true
in old authors, in ascertaining what was before doubtful, and
in recording such as were omitted.

It must be observed, that the Greek coins do not shew the
dates of events, though they illustrate the chronology of the
reigns. This defect is supplied by those of Rome, which
commonly mark the date, giving on the reverse, the represen-
tation of some grand event. Medals therefore may be said
to afiford the most authentic documents of the Roman history,
in particular, that could have been invented by man. The
histories of Nerva and Trajan are much better elucidated by
medals than by authors ; for the history of Suetonius ends
with Domitian, and the " Historiae Augustas Scriptores" be-
gin with the reign of Adrian, so that the reigns of the two
emperors just mentioned, are almost unknown.

The study of medals may therefore be regarded as of the
greatest importance in the study of History. In some instan-
ces, as we have remarked, they furnish the principal pr^of of
hbtoric truth. Their evidence reaches to the most remote
ages, and the most remote countries. It is remarkable, that
history scarcely makes any mention of Balbec, or Palmyra,
>Vhose ruins are so famous, and we have little knowledge of
them, but what is supplied by inscriptions. It is by this
means that M. Vaillant has disentangled a history, that was
lost to the world before his time. In his learned work,
printed at Paris in 1681, he has fixed the dates, and arranged
the order of events in ancient historians, by means of these in*


fallible vouchera. Thus he was enabled to ascertain to a very
great degree of accuracy, the chronology and progress of
events of three of the most important kingdoms in the ancient
world, viz. those of Egypt, Syria, and Parthia. Father
Hardouin, Norris, and Bayer, have pursued the same plan, t
which might be added many others.

All the principal events of the reign of Lewis XIV. have
been recorded in a set of medals, avowedly struck for that pur-
pose. But the inconvenience attending modem medals is,
that not being used as the current coin of any state, and being
made of costly materials, they are confined to the cabinets of a
ew persons.

Besides its service to history, the science of medals is of
considerable use to geography and natural history, to the illus-
tration of ancient writers, to architecture, and to the knowledge
of ancient monuments, busts, statues, ceremonies, &c. in all
which views its utility is well illustrated, by examples in Mr.
Pinkerton's '* Essay on Medals, or Introduction to the Know-
ledge of Ancient and Modern Coins and Medals." This au-
thor has also shewn the connexion of the study of medals with
the fine arts of poetry, painting, sculpture, and architecture.
But these are subjects not connected with this part of our
work. It is sufficient therefore that we recommend the reader,
if he wish to become acquainted with the science of medals ge-
Berally, to study with care, the essay just referred to, in which
he will either find every thing that he can require, or be di-
rected to all the best works on the subject which are extant.
To the mere English student, Clarke's " Connexion of the
Roman, Saxon, and English coins," will be extremely useful.
To which may be added, Snelling's " Views of English Money,"
and Folke's '* Table of English Silver Coins, from the Con-
quest," &c. Ducarel's " Letters on Anglo-Gallic Coins" are
interesting to all who are concerned in the ancient glory of this
country. On the Scottish coins, the only books are those of
Anderson and Suelling, and the Irish are described by Simon,
in his " Historical Essay on Irish Coins," published at Dubliu


# in 1749, to which, in 1767, a supplement was added by another

Antiquities. Tliis term implies all testimonies, or authei^-'
tic accomits, that have come down to us, which illustrate either
the particular or universal history of ancient nations. Accord-

H^ ' ing to Lord Bacon, antiquities may be considered as the
wrecks of history, collected from the various sources to which
we have already referred, and in this view of the subject, the
study of antiquities is not only closely allied to the study of
history, but naturally leads one to ascertain the commencement
and early epochas of all natiuus, whether ancient or modern.
Many writers have thought it sufficient to inquire into, and in-
vestigate the ancient remains of Greece and Rome, but others
have included in this department of science, the antiquities of

* the Jews, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and other

nations, mentioned in ancient histoiy. We shall give an out-
line of the subject, taken chiefly from an article, compiled by
the present writer some years ago, for another work. Tlie
^ most that can be aimed at in this place, is to excite the curio-

sity of young persons, and direct them to objects that may en-
gage their attention, and to authors most likely to furnish in-
formation, under the several heads of inquiry and research.

The history and antiquities of nations and societies, have
been objects of inquiry, as they enable the mind to separate
truth from falsehood, and tradition from evidence, to establish
what had probability for its basis, or to explode what rested
only either in the vanity or prejudices of the inventors and
propagators : of this we have a striking instance in the Chal-
deans, who pretended to astronomical observations of 500,000
years standing. They mention the king who reigned over
them at the time of the deluge, to whom they attribute
several things which we ascribe to Noah ; from whence it is
assumed that the fundamental facts in their history, and in
that of the Jews, are the same.

Moreover, the Chaldaic antiquities of Berosus are lost, ex-
cept the fragments that have been collected by Joseph Sca-



liger, and Fabricius. To supply the chasm, Annius Viterbo, ^

a Dominican monk, towards the close of the fifteenth century,
forged the work of Berosus, which he published at Rome, in
1 498. He was not satisfied with the first forgery, but pro-
duced a supplement to Berosus, supposed to have been writ-
ten by Manetho, containing details of what had happened,
from the time of Egyptus, king of Egypt, to the origin of the
Roman state. The fraud was detected, and the monk dis-
graced. .
I. The first traces of' every history were rude and imperfect,
which renders the office of the antiquarian of the utmost im-
portance to the faithful and diligent historian. The history of
the Old Testament is the most ancient well authenticated col-
I jA^ lection of facts, that has come down to the present times,
' ^^^ These records go beyond the flood, which is a boundary to

the annals of every other nation that lays a just claim to ere- 4fl[L
dit. The Jews, who are closely connected with this part of
history, trace back their ancestry to the common parents of
the human race. The antiquities of this wonderful nation,

have been treated of by numerous writers. The history of
their origin, ordinances, and vicissitudes previously to the
Christian aera, is to be found in the Old Testament. Their
subsequent riiin and dispersion, are predicted by Christ, in the
New Testament, and treated of at large by Josephus, who
flourished at Rome under Vespasian, Titus, and Doraitian,
and who published his great work on the Jewish Arhquitits,
during the life and reign of the latter. On the same subj-rt,
we have the Thesaurus of Ogolinus, in thirty-four volumes
folio, published between the years 1744 to 1760, containing
all the best works which previously to that time had appeared,
on the manners, laws, rites, and institutions of the Hebrews,
amounting in number to nearly five hundred distinct pieces,
and many of them elaborate treatises. The most curious col-
lection of Hebrew manuscripts in this country, which illustrate
the literary antiquities of the Jews, may be found in the Bod-
leian library at Oxford. Few of them in point of age go


beyond eight hundred years, and of these t'ue most ancient arc
said to have been brought b'- Dr. Pocock from Constanti-
nople. Of the taste and Ic ."^ing oi the Jews, Dr. Lovvth's
Lectures contain the best vie/.

Tlie antiquities of the Jews, are supposei* to ' e much con-
nected with those of Egypt, since Moses, their great lawgiver,
was educated in the schools of Egyptian leanfti'tg, and was
without doubt deeply conversant in all their sciences. If
therefore we <could come to a faithful account of tht antiqui-
ties of Egypt, we might hope to attain a.- illuc'.ation of many
things belonging to the Jewish economy, both civil and sacred,
which are still involved in darkness and mysteryt

Of Egypt, alas ! once renowned for its laiws, the commerce
of her cities, the grandeur of her buildings, and the fertility of
territory, little is left to gratify the laudable curiosity of mo-
dems. Those M'ho have spent much time and labour, in ap-
preciating the worth and merits of the ancients, admit tliat the'
earliest nations of the world were fed with th^ produce of
j^yptian soil, and enriched with the wealth and wisdom ob-
tained in that portion of Africa. Upper Egypt furnished the
materials of marble and porphyry, with which the most stu-
pendous works of art were reared : and to Hermes Trisme-
gi3tus, or as he is sometimes called, Thoih, , -e ascribed
among the Egyptians, the inventions of chief use in human
life, ^rheir priests maintained, that from the hieroglyphic cha-
racters upon the pillars which he erected, and the sacred
books, all the philosophy and learning of the world has been
derived. ^

Egypt seems itself to have been indebted for its original
population to the northern parts of Arabia and Syria, the
Egyptians and Abyssinians having been always wholly distinct
from the native nations of Africa. The Copts, or original in-
habitants, it has been observed by travellers, have no resem-
blance whatever to the negro features or form ; but a strong
likeness may be traced between the make of the visage in the
modern Copts, and that presented in the ancient mummiet),

r-. f'

i>miiliiig;;, ami statues. Their Cv,niplexion, like that of the
Arabs, la -f a dusky brown. It is represented of the same
colour in the paintings which may be seen in the tombs of
Thebes. The -jhit. ntiquities are the pyramids, and the
tombs near Thebes, 4 -eceinth- uisclosed, with many ruins of
tempi , and otuer' >maihs of ancient cities. Dr. W. .te, in
tl; " Eg^ptiaca," a work which contains much valuable infor-
mation on tb^ srbjeci, 3ays, the t > brated column ascribed toj
Ponipey, onip/h iited r space opposite to the temple of Sera-
pis, in which was. a great pub'^c library. Besides thejincient
remains already noticed, we may mention the col'ssal sphynx,
Cleopatra's needle, the marble sarcophagus, reputed to be
Alexander's toi d, and the triple inscription from Kosetta, in
^ the hieroglyphic, the vernar kr Egyptian, and the Greek cha-
racters. The wptf s on Tgyptian antiquities are very nume-
rous. Among the ancients may be ix>ttd Herodotus, Pausa-
nias, Strabo, Diodorus Sictdus, and Plutarch. Herodotus,
Thales, aad Pythagoras, were initiated into all the mysteries^
of the Egyptian priests. The mythology of the countr;^ is
fully explained in Joblonskis " Pantheon Egyptiacum." On
the Egypt of modern times we have the works of Pocock,
Niebuhr, Sonnini, and Dei 'm, wb^ch may be consulted with
Cf^vantage. Greaves and Nordon have written on the pyra-
mids, and the mummies are described by the celebrated

For the illustraticw of the antiquities of India, the accessible
materials are less numerous. To Sir William Jones we are
much indr')ted for useful and highly valuable information on
this subject. Mr. Halhed, i. 177G, in the code of Gentoo
Laws, gave tho first specimen which appeared of the early
wisdom of the Indians, and their extensive skill in jurispru-
dence. In the year 1785, the attention of the world was
roused by the publication of the Bhagvat Geeta, edited by
Mr Wilkins, which was said to contain all the grand mysteries
of the Hindoo religion, and laid claim to the antiquity of 4000
years. Other works of ' high reputation have succeeded,


.^SO CI1R0N0L0G\.

among which are the " Indian Antiquities" of the Rev. Mr.
IMaurice. From Sir William Jones's papers published in the
" Asiatic Researches," much solid information on the same
subject, may be obtained in a short compass. By that
great man, a society was formed for inquiring into tlxe history,
antiquities, arts, sciences, and literature of Asia ; and having
4|bunded the institution, he gave it celebrity by his own admi-
^^tible discourses^ to which our readers arc referred for much
valuable mformation on every thing curious relating to India
and its iuiiabitants.

The remains of architecture and sculpture seem to prove
au early connexion between India and Africa. Of the ancient
arts and manufactures of this widely extended country, little
is known, excepting the result of the Indian loom and needle.
The Hindoos boasted of three inventions, viz. tlie method of
instruction by *' apologues," " the decimal scale," and the
famous " game of chess ;" and it is thought, that if their nu-
merous works on grammar, rhetoric and music, which are
even now extant, could be explained in-some language gene-
rally known, it would be found that they had still higher preten-
sions to the praise of a fertile and inventive genius.

Of the antiquities of Greece and Rome, much has been
written that merits the attention of the student in literature :
these are subjects, in which every well educated youth becomes
conversant at an early period. They are taught in all our clas-
sical schools, as necessary to the elucidation of those works
that are read in the attainment of the ancient languages.
Potter on the Greek Antiquities, and Kennet and Adams on
those of Rome, are familiar to every ear : in their kind they
are truly respectable, though they may be regarded only as
elementary treatises, calculated rather to excite a taste for the
study, than to satisfy the inquirer in pursuit of knowledge.

The first accounts of Greece, are derived from ages long
before the common use of letters in the country, so that it is
difficult tQ distinguish where fable concludes, and real history
begins. The antiquities of such a country, which became in




after ages so illustrious in the annals of mankind, cannot fail
to liave excited a considerable degree of interest in every age :
they have accordingly been carefully and minutely investigated
by writers, celebrated alike for their erudition and industry.
Of these we can enumerate but a small portion, in comparison
of the many djat have treated on the subject. Bishop Potter,
to whom we have already referred. Bos, and others, have
drawn up systems or abridgments of the whole, or at least
of whatever relates to the religion, the gods, the vows, and the
temples of Greece : on the public weal and magistraqn^ . Sle-
phanus and Van Dale are well worthy of notice : on the laws
and punishments of G reece, we have Meursius and Petit : ou
military concerns, Arrian and iElian are well known : on their
gjninastic art and exercises, Joubert and Faber may be men-
tioned : on the theatres and scenic exhibitions, Scaliger and
the Abbe Barthelemy have written : besides these, we have
many writers on their entertainments, on their marriages, the
education of their children, and their funeral ceremonies*
The best relics which display the former splendour of the
Grecian states, have been preserved by Stuart in his Athens :
in the Ionian Antiquities, and in the Voyage Pittoresque de
la Greece. The finest specimens of its sculpture in this coun-
try, are to be found among the Townley marbles : and of its
coinage, in the cabinet of Dr. Hunter.

" Nothing", says Dr. Adams, in the preface to his Roman
Antiquities, " has more engaged the attention of literary men,
than to trace from ancient monuments the institutions and
laws, the religion, the manners and customs of the Romans,
under the general name of Roman Antiquities. Scarcely on
any subject have more books been written, and many of them
by persons of distinguished abilities," We may, as a guii^e to
the student, enumerate the writers from whom Dr. Adams
chiefly compiled his own work, as these will be the best au-
thorities for those persons who would enter deeply into the
study. To Manutius, Brissonius, and Middleton, he was in-
elebted for his facts relating to the business of the senate : to


Pignorius, on slaves: to Lidonius, and Grucchius, Manutiuj,
Huber, Gravina, Merula, Heineccius, for what relates to the
assemblies of the people, the rights of citizens, the laws and
judicial proceedings : with respect to the duties and privileges
of magistrates, the art of war, the shows of the circus, and the
feats of gladiators, he had recourse to Lipsius : to Sheflfer he
applied for information on naval affairs and carriages : to
Kermannus, on funerals: to Arbuthnot, on coins: to Donalus,
on the city : to Turnebus, Salniasius, Grasvius, Gronovius,
Mont&ucon, Gesner, and others, upon different subjects scat-
tered through his work. To these may be added one of the
oldest authors on the subject, viz. Dionysius Halicarnassus,
who traced the origin of the Romans with great fidelity, back
to die remotest ages. His accounts are generally preferred to
those of Livy, because they are more ample, and his facts are
described with more particulars ; and on the ceremonies, wor-
ship, sacrifices, manners, customs, discipline, policy, courts,
laws, &c. he is perhaps the most authentic writer.

A correct view of the antiquities of Britain, from the earli-
est period to the end of Henry VIII th's reign, may perhaps
be collected from Dr. Henry's History, and the writers which
he refers to, will present the reader with the most authentic
sources of inquiry. In connexion with the early history of the
Britons, we must not forget the Druids, who have deservedly
attracted much curiosity, and whose customs have excited great
research, but it would be erroneous to impute to them the
whole of our earliest remains. Juhus Caesar took considerable
pains to learn every particular relating to the Druids, and he
states it as his opinion, that their religion and customs origin-
ated in Britain. In justification of this opinion it has been
urgid, that there is not a single authority for the existence of
Druidism any where but in Celtic Gaul^and part of England.
Ih one place, however, the historian and warrior speaks of it
as a recent institution, which circumstance has led some au-
thors to suppose 4t might have come to our ancestors from
Phcenicia ; but for this there is little foundation. It does nut


appear that Caesar was himself a witness to the rites of the
Druids in Britain, and Tacitus is the first author who notices
them, for the Romans did not meet with any till they had ad-
vanced far into Wales.

Of the structures erected by the Britons, Abury and Stone-
henge may be deemed the principal. Relics of a smaller
kind are continually discovered a few feet beneath the surface
of the earth. On these, Stukely and Rowland are the best
authorities : the former has written a volume on Abury, a
temple of the Druids, in which is a particular account of the
first and patriarchal religion, and of the peopling of the British
islands : besides his larger work, intitled " Itinerarium Curio-
sum," being an account of the antiquities, 8cc. observed in
travels through Great Britain, published in 1724. For the
history of the Britons under the Roman Government, Hors-
ley's Britannia Romana is a work that may be depended upon.'
With respect to the antiquities of the Saxons, the illuminated
manuscripts are the best records of their manners in the diffe-
rent centuries, and the most interesting information respecting
them, has been collected by Turner and Strutt. The best
collection of Saxon coins is in the British Museum, and of
.manuscripts in the same place, and in the Bodleian Library.
Mr. King has treated of their military antiquities in his His-
tory of Castles ; and independently of our works on topogra-
phy, which are numerous, and many of them of the first res-
pectability, and which throw considerable light on the antiqui-
ties of the country, we may refer to the works of Camden, '
Strutt, and Gough, to which may be added the whole series
of the Gentleman's Magazine, and Pinkerton's Geography.

As the antiquities of the United Kingdom are in some respects
connected with those of the Danes, and other northern nations,
we may suggest to the reader what are the principal remains of
those people, as a clue to his future inquiries.

The ancient monuments of Denmark and Norway are
chiefly Runic, though it is far from certain at what period the
nse of Runic characters extended so far north. Circles of up-


right stones are common in all the Danish dominions, the
islands, Norway and Iceland, in which latter country their ori-
gin is perfectly ascertained, as some were erected even in re-
cent times of the Icelandic republic, being called domh-ring,
or circles of judgment.

Of Sweden the ancient monuments consist chiefly of judi-
cial circles, and other erections of unhewn stone, together with

Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 44)