We are here presented with a motley assemblage of Graduates and Under-graduates, profoundly attending to a Philosophical Lecture, the subject of which is a Vacuum (or space unoccupied by another). Dulness and stupidity seem to characterize the drowsy Audience.
It is extremely probable that, when the Artist engraved this Print, he had only a general reference to an University Lecture. The words datur vacuum were afterwards inserted. Many of the Prints are without the inscription, and in some of the early impressions it is written with a pen.
The person reading is well known to be the Rev. Henry Fisher, M.A., of Jesus College, Oxford, and Registrar of that University. He has the profile of penetration, a projecting forehead, a Roman nose, thin lips, and a long pointed chin. His eye is directed to Vacancy, and leveled at the round-faced Idiot which crowns the pyramid, at whose globular head, contrasted with a cornered cap, he finds it difficult to suppress a laugh. The portrait was taken with the free consent of Mr. Fisher; but that he should wish to have such a face transmitted to posterity in such company is very extraordinary; for all the band, except one man, have been steeped in the stream of stupidity.
Three Fellows on the right hand of the round-headed booby exhibit most degrading characters, and seem better calculated for the Stable than the College. The two square-capped Students a little beneath them, one of whom appears to be conversing with an adjoining profile, and the other staring with all his might, seem to require a more capacious mouth, to afford room for larger tongues than Nature usually bestows; a predicament in which our first James's lot is said to have fallen.
A figure in the left hand corner has shut his eyes, to sleep, or perhaps to think.