A very fine cat indeed

‘There is in London all that life can afford.’ – Samuel Johnson

The alleys and lanes snaking north from Fleet Street are full of interest, and are an easy detour for a quick fix of London history. Their car-free atmosphere offers a taste of how London once was, with city workers hurrying here and there. If you follow your nose you might end up at Gough Square, home to Samuel Johnson’s House and what, as far as I know, is the only statue in London devoted to a domestic cat.

Dr Johnson hiding round the back of St Clement Danes on the Strand

Dr Johnson hiding round the back of St Clement Danes on the Strand

Hodge, the immortalised moggy in question, lived with Johnson in the house on Gough Square for many years. So devoted was Johnson to him that he’d go out to personally buy him oysters, then so plentiful as to be staple grub for London’s poor.

Hodge - note the oyster shell

Hodge - note the oyster shell

Dr Johnson, who was prone to black moods, seems to be have been most upset by Hodge’s demise. One of his inner circle, Percival Stockdale, eulogised Hodge in an apparent bid to cheer the Doctor up.

Here’s an excerpt:

The general conduct if we trace
Of our articulating race,
Hodge’s, example we shall find
A keen reproof of human kind.

And Stockdale concludes:

Then in thy life exert the man,
With moral deed adorn the span;
Let virtue in they bosom lodge;
Or wish thou hadst been born a Hodge.

Not lucky enough to have been born a Hodge, it was a black cab back to the office for me.

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