Brief Lives is a book of anecdotes written by a dedicated gossip.
It has nothing to recommend it except its humour, liveliness and the gloriously varied view it gives us of people in high life.
Unfortunately John Aubrey was writing in the 1600s, so any celebrity value the book had has largely disappeared. But the book still abounds with excellent stories.
This Earl of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to travel, seven years. On his return the Queen welcomed him home, and said, My Lord, I had forgot the Fart.'
Ah well. The poor Earl's mishap seems to have given the queen a lot of joy, anyway.
And, thanks to John Aubrey, it's wafted delightfully down the centuries all the way to us, too.
Word Probably Not To Use Today: fart. This word may no longer be suitable for use in polite society, but it has been around for a long time. It comes from the Middle English farten and has very ancient roots going right back to the Sanskrit pardatē, which means he who breaks wind.