For me John Milton is the finest writer in the English language – Paradise Lost stands out as better than anything else ever written in the language and include Shakespeare.
A few things worth knowing about
He was blind
He invented the word ‘pandemonium’ – literally meaning the place of all demons
He invented the concept of self-esteem
He met Galileo
And he noted
Milton (1608-74) born into the height of the Protestant Reformation in England wrote ‘Chinese drive, with sails and wind, their cany waggons light’ in Paradise Lost (1667) indicating that the West knew of the sail driven wheelbarrows of China that William Alexander was to paint over a century later in the 1790s when he saw them while accompanying Lord McCartney’s Mission to China.
‘City of old or modern fame, the seat
Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls
Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can’
Milton’s ‘canny wagons light’ later appeared in the work (left) of the watercolourist William Alexander (1767-1816) was the McCartney Mission’s resident draughtsman producing thousands of drawings of the scenery and life of China including some excellent studies of Chinese engineering prowess (including the wind powered wheelbarrows that Milton had noted back in the 1660s); several of which later featured in the official published account of the Mission.