The character of a Master of Arts at a university.
WILLIAMS, though much ashamed and out of countenance, was yet in his heart very glad to be relieved from the apprehensions of maintaining a bastard, which he imagined would add no great lustre to his reputation as fellow of a college. When therefore Pompey escaped out of his wicker prison, he was in reality pleased with the discovery, which put an end to his fears, and feigning himself diverted with the thing, took the little adventurerg home to his own chambers.
If we were in a hurry to describe him, it might be done effectually in two or three words, by calling him a most egregious trifler; but as we have leisure to be a little more circumstantial, the reader shall be troubled with a day's journal of his actions.
He was in the first place, a man of the most exact and punctilious neatness; his shoes were always blacked in the nicest manner, his wigs were powdered with the most finical delicacy, and he would scold his laundress for a whole morning together, if he discovered a wry plait in the sleeve of his shirt, or the least speck of dirt on any part of his linen. He rose constantly to chapel, and proceeded afterwards with great importance to breakfast, which, moderately speaking, took up two hours of his morning; for when he had done sipping his tea, he used to wash up the cups with the most orderly exactness, and replace them with the utmost regularity in the corner-cupboard. After this he drew on his boots, ordered his horse, and rode out for the air, having been told that a sedentary life is destructive of the constitution, and that too much study impairs the health. At his return he had barely time to wash his hands, clean his teeth, and put on a fresh-powdered wig, before the college-bell summoned him to dinner in the public hall. When this great affair was ended, he spent an hour with the rest of the fellow in the common-room to digest his meal, and then went to the coffee-house to read the newspapers; where he loitered away that heavy interval which passed between dinner and afternoon tea: but as soon as the clock struck three, he tucked up his gown, and flew with all imaginable haste to some of the young ladies above-mentioned, who all esteemed him a prodigious genius, and were ready to laugh at his wit, before he opened his mouth. In these agreeable visits he remained till the time of evening chapel; and when this was over, supper succeeded to find him fresh employment; from whence he repaired to the coffee-house, and then to some engagement he had made at a friend's room, for the remaining part of the evening. By this account of his day's transactions, the reader will see how very impossible it was for him to find leisure for study, in the midst of so many important avocations; yet he made a shift sometimes to play half a tune on the German flute in a morning, and once in a quarter of a year, took the pains to transcribe a sermon out of various authors.
Another part of his character was a great affectation of politeness, which is more pretended to in universities, where less of it is practised, than in any other part of the kingdom. Thus Williams was always talking of genteel life, to which end he was plentifully provided with stories by a female cousin, who kept a milliner's shop in London, and never failed to let him know by letters, what passed among the Great; though she frequently mistook the names of people, and attributed scandal to one lord, which was the property of another. Her cousin however did not find out the mistakes, but retailed her blunders about the colleges with great confidence and security.
But nothing in the world pleased him more than shewing the university to strangers, and especially to ladies, which he thought gave him an air of acquaintance with the genteel world; and on such occasions he would affect to make expensive entertainments, which neither his private fortune, or the income of his fellowship could afford.