The exiled courtier creeps into the crowd,
An age has passed since last he ventured here;
‘So long my lord?’ his monarch hails aloud,
‘We had forgot the fart this many a year!’
An oft repeated if apocryphal story... Having committed an unpardonable breach of etiquette in the royal personage’s presence, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, exiled himself for seven years from the court of Queen Elizabeth — only to face this greeting on his return. I am indebted to Lord Litchfield for this amusing anecdote from Aubrey’s Brief Lives.
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