Hodge the Cat

Hodge the Cat

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Hodge (fl. c.1769) was one of Samuel Johnson’s cats, immortalised in a characteristically whimsical passage in James Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Although there is little known about Hodge, such as his life, his death, or any other information, what is known is Johnson’s fondness for his cat, which separated Johnson from the views held by others of the eighteenth century. Most of the information on Hodge comes from Boswell’s account. It is in this passage that Johnson is claimed to have an affection for animals in general, or at least the ones that he kept: Nor would it be just, under this head, to omit the fondness which he showed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat  Johnson bought oysters for his cat. In modern England, oysters are an expensive food for the well-to-do, but in the 18th century oysters were plentiful around the coasts of England and so cheap that they were a staple food of the poor. Johnson refused to send Francis Barber to buy Hodge’s food, fearing that it would be seen as degrading to his servant, so he would personally buy the food for Hodge

Actor: NICHOLAS PARSONS
Written by: CATHERINE HILLER
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