I was catching up this afternoon on this year’s In Our Time episodes and finally got to the Sir Thomas Browne hour. One of the panelists, after praising Browne’s densely latinate syntax and flow, reads the below excerpt from Hydriotaphia as an illustration:
But the iniquity of oblivion blindely scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founder of the Pyramids? Herostratus lives that burnt the Temple of Diana, he is almost lost that built it; Time hath spared the Epitaph of Adrians horse, confounded that of himself. In vain we compute our felicities by the advantage of our good names, since bad have equall durations; and Thersites is like to live as long as Agamenon, without the favour of the everlasting Register: Who knows whether the best of men be known? or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot, then any that stand remembred in the known account of time? the first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methuselahs long life had been his only Chronicle.
All the panelists can be heard lighting up with praise and Melvyn Bragg’s response is only “And this was received well?”