Lars Porsena, or The Future of Swearing was written while Graves was teaching at Cairo University in the 1920s - a period described in the final pages of his autobiography Goodbye To All That.
Thanks to the censorship in place at the time, Lars doesn't actually include any of what we would recognise as swearing, what Graves calls the "dreary repetition of the two sexual mainstays of barrack-room swearing."
There are occasional references to "x***" and "y***", but having spent insufficient time in barrack rooms I'm unable to imagine what they might represent.
The Dabbler's piece points out that the sheer ubiquity of swearing has now rendered it useless as a comedic tool, a state of affairs predicted by Graves while explaining his recourse to the asterisk.
"As soon as there is sufficient weakening of the taboos to permit an accurate and detailed account of swearing obscenity, then, by that very token, swearing and obscenity can have no future worth prophesying about, but only a past more or less conjectural because undocumented."
That bit about swearing's past being "more or less conjectural because undocumented" of course makes a history of swearing rather difficult to write.
We only have a hazy idea of what heavy duty swearing sounded like in, say, the 15th century, because nobody would have dared to write it down.
And those words that did make it to the page were already well on the way to losing their power to shock.
Graves imagines a future historian dissecting the social taboos and "secret language of bawdry" behind a practical joke devised by William Horace de Vere Cole, the Edwardian prankster responsible for the Abyssinian Dreadnought Hoax.
Coles' jape featured around a dinner party he gave in a "cathedral town in the Midlands".
"He spent over a year, and a great deal of money, in scraping acquaintance with every person in the town whose surname contained the syllable 'bottom' - Ramsbottom, Longbottom, Sidebottom ... Bottomwallop, Bottomley and plain Bottom - he insinuated himself into the friendship of every one of those families, but separately, without allowing then to meet in his presence, until finally he was able to invite them all together to a huge dinner party at his hotel. When each name in turn had been announced by a particularly loud-voiced hotel servant, he withdrew, promising to return in a few minutes, and begging them to begin dinner without him. The meal consisted merely of rump steak, and the host was already in a railway train, riding swiftly towards London, and leaving no address."The point being, the future historian concludes, "that apparently 'bottom' was the common equivalent, in the secret language which I postulate, of the word 'buttocks'."
Graves says swearing acts as a "potent agent for change in language", causing "many words [to] become obsolete and new ones [to] spring up" because:
"The secret language ... was so rich in its vocabulary, and drew so copiously on the legitimate language for secret obscene usages of common words ... that so common a word as 'bottom', meaning a base, a fundament, a cause, owing to its use in smut as an equivalent for "buttocks", could never be used in the legitimate language in any context where a double entendre might be understood."
Which may well be true, but it will be observed that the future historian killed the gag about three pages ago.