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My man!

By Michael J. Smith on Friday February 5, 2010 11:20 PM

Nothing very political about this post.

I've been reading up on John Milton lately, in aid of a literary project that may or may not bear any fruit. The guy has always been a hero of mine and with every passing year I love him more. He too lived from dark days into hopeful days and back into dark ones, like my generation, but he never lost the faith.

I took my old tired tattered copy of The Student's Milton off the self tonight to look something up. It's a book I bought forty years ago, and it's still in great shape. Appleton-Century put out a sturdy product in those days. The paper isn't brilliant white any more, but it's not all yellow and brittle, either, and the binding is still keeping the pages together. You open it up and it lies flat and nothing cracks.

I opened it up about halfway through -- then the phone rang. I put the book down on the kitchen table. Went and answered the phone, and when I came back the book was lying open to the last chapter of Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, not my favorite of Milton's prose works. But this was the first sentence my eyes lit upon. He's talking about Gratian, the canonist, "the Tubalcain of scholastic sophistry", and his brother-canonist Lombard,

... whose overspreading barbarism hath not only infused their own bastardy upon the fruitfullest part of human learning, not only dissipated and dejected the clear light of nature in us, and of nations, but hath tainted the fountains of divine doctrine, and rendered the pure and solid law of God unbeneficial to us by their calamnious dunceries.
I was having a good time until I got to "calamnious dunceries". At that point I started laughing so hard I was writhing in my chair and tears of mirth blurred my vision. Calamnious dunceries! Doesn't that describe nine-tenths -- or more -- of what we read and hear?

Great man, that Johnnie Milton.

Comments (4)

Al Schumann:

Now there's an enduring, euphonious judgment.

Cognitive Infiltration:

like my generation, but he never lost the faith

You had no faith to lose, and you know it.


You had no faith to lose, and you know it.
I'm kinda baffled by this observation.


Great catch, Michael!

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