A seventeenth-century amateur antiquary who made interesting, quirky, and irregular notes on the lives of hundreds of people of his own and the previous century: now known as the Brief Lives. He would have been an utterly compulsive Everything2 noder.

Of Francis Bacon he said, "He had a delicate, lively hazel Eie: Dr Harvey tolde me it was like the Eie of a viper"; and "None of his servants durst appeare before him without Spanish leather bootes; for he would smell the neates leather, which offended him."

Of Milton he says he pronounced the letter R "very hard" (a sign of a satirical wit, says Dryden); and "He had a delicate tuneable Voice, and had good skill. His father instructed him. He had an Organ in his howse; he played on that most. Of a very cheerfull humour. He would be chearfull even in his Gowte-fitts, and sing."

Of Descartes: "for his Ruler, he used a sheet of paper folded double."

Of William Penn: "He was mighty lively but with Innocence, and extremely tender under rebuke; and very early delighted in retirement; much given to reading and meditating of the Scriptures, and at 14 had marked over the Bible. Oftentimes at 13 or 14 in his meditations ravisht with joy, and dissolved into teares."

Of Edward de Vere, who some loonies claim wrote Shakespeare, he says he made a fart before Queen Elizabeth and was so abashed he went overseas for seven years. On his return, being again welcomed by the Queen, she said "My Lord, I had forgott the Fart".

These go on and on through hundreds of brief lives, few of them running to more than a page or two. He spent his life making notes. He never had the application to turn them into a finished book. He also studied the monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury.

He was born in 1625 and lived till 1697... or as he characteristically puts it, "(longaevous, healthy kindred) at Easton Pierse, a Hamlet in the Parish of Kington Saint Michael, in the Hundred of Malmesbury in the Countie of Wilts, his mother's (daughter and heir of Mr Isaac Lyte) inheritance, March the 12 (St Gregorie's day) A.D. 1625, about Sun-riseing, being very weake and like to dye that he was Christned before morning prayer."

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