One of the best first sentences to an article I’ve read, from a recent London Review of Books:
A friend who teaches in New York told me that the historian Peter Lake told him that J.G.A. Pocock told him that Conrad Russell told him that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in Parliament during the Napoleonic Wars, and that Pitt had this curious way of talking, a particular mannerism that the sixth Duke of Bedford had imitated to Lord John Russell who imitated it to Bertrand Russell who imitated it to Conrad Russell who imitated it to J.G.A. Pocock, who could not imitate it to Peter Lake and so my friend never heard it.
From Adam Smyth’s review of two books about 17th century English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer John Aubrey, although it’s only readable by subscribers and the rest of the article, while perfectly fine, can’t match that beginning.
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