About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Friday, May 29, 2009

oysters for the cat

Yes, delicious oysters. Back when Samuel Johnson's cat Hodge was alive, oysters were so plentiful that poor folks ate them regularly; think of that. And in an age where cats were fair game for any mean sport, Johnson loved his cat so much that he himself went to buy Hodge's oysters, saying his servant Francis might feel humiliated by the task. Though Johnson had other cats, Hodge was the one closest to his heart.

In 1778, Johnson's friend Percival Stockdale wrote An Elegy on the Death of Dr Johnson's Favourite Cat, which manages to be heartfelt and tongue in cheek at the same time, and is also the only clue we ever got as to Hodge's color - he was black. Here's a snippet:

And shall not Hodge's memory claim
Of innocence the candid fame;
Shall not his worth a poem fill,
Who never thought, nor uttered ill;
Who by his manner when caressed
Warmly his gratitude expressed;
And never failed his thanks to purr
Whene'er he stroaked his sable furr?

(See poem as a whole in this very cool blog post.)

In 1997 Hodge got his own statue in front of the house he and Johnson had shared. Copyright forbids me to paste it here, but I'll send you to this great photo. And moggies.co.uk has a fine page on Hodge.


Mrs Woffington said...

Thank you so much for the kind comments about my blog! I just love that picture of the black and white cat on the left, it reminds me of mine, Boris, who is sleeping stretched out on the sofa at the moment...

curator said...

You are most welcome, and you deserve it for your hard work and sheer wit!

Everycat said...

It is wonderful that Hodge is now a statue (and a very good one too). To my mind, all cats should have oyster procuring servants to hand.

Whicky Wuudler