Day 165: His milkshake brought all the amanuenses to the yard

La Bonavita is reading Paradise Lost for the first time. I am enjoying my role as in-house Miltonian.


Scene: driving along Sunset, La Bonavita at the wheel, me in the passenger seat.

La B: What was that thing that Milton said?

D-R: (repeats slowly) “That thing that Milton said.”

La B: You know, that thing.

D-R. (repeats again, with sarcasm) “That thing that Milton said. You know. that thing.” (flustered) How am I supposed to know “that thing”?

(desperately trying to dredge up some Miltonic pearl from mind in order to prevent mantle of Miltonic authority from slipping away)

Yeah. I don’t know.

(a few minutes pass in silence)

D-R (triumphantly) “Milk me”!

La B: What?

D-R. “Milk me!” was a thing he said! [1]

La B: …..???

D-R. So was that it?

La B: Er, no, that wasn’t it.

(a few more minutes pass.)

La B: I remembered what it was! “Reason is but choosing.” [2]

D-R. Oh. Yeah. (Scowling). That’s also a thing he said.



[1] “He rendered his studies and various works more easy and pleasant by alloting [sic] them their several portions of the day. Of these the time friendly to the Muses fell to his poetry; and he waking early (as is the use of temperate men) had commonly a good stock of verses ready against his amanuensis came. Which if it happened to be later than ordinary, he would complain, saying he wanted to be milked.” Anon., The Life of Mr John Milton, c. 1686. Cited in The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes, ed. John Gross, p.16.

[2] “When God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions.” From Areopagitica, 1644.



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