innumerable crowd of ſpectators, who flock'd thither to hear him from all parts, with a merry oration in the Feſcennine manner, interſpers'd with ſecret hiſtory, raillery, and ſarcaſm, as the occaſions of the times ſupply'd him with matter.
If a venerable Head of a college was caught ſnug a-bed with his neighbour's wife; or ſhaking his elbows on a ſunday morning; or flattering a prime miniſter for a biſhoprick; or coaxing his bed-maker's girl out of her maindenhead; the boary old ſinner might expect to hear of it from our lay-pulpit the next Act. Or if a celebrated toaſt and a young ſtudent were ſeen together at midnight under a ſhady myrtle-tree, billing like two pretty turtle-doves, to him it belong'd, being a poet as well as an orator, to tell the tender ſtory in a melancholy ditty, adapted to paſtoral muſick.
Something like this jovial ſolemnity were the famous Saturnalian feaſts amont the Romans, at which every ſcullion and skipkennel had liberty to tell his maſter his own, as the Britiſh mobility emphatically ſtile it. Who, ſaid one of them, help'd Phillis the chambermaid to make the beds one day, when his lady was a viſiting? Or, whoſe lady kiſs'd Damon the butler behind a hogſhead of Falernian, when her husband was hunting the boar? Or, who loſt five thouſand ſeſterces at play, and mortgaged his eſtate to pay it?—'Twas all water-language at theſe times, and no exceptions were to be taken.
I cannot indeed ſay, that our Oxford act agrees with the old Roman feaſts in every particular; for we do not find upon record one inſtance of any gentleman-lacquey, who was turn'd out of doors upon this account, or met with ſo much as a broken head for his impertinence. An old manuſcript, I confeſs, in the Bodleian library, takes ſome notice of one Cladius Snappius, an old Sabine farmer, who