Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Hodge the cat belonged to Dr Samuel Johnson, the English writer and critic, who is most famous for his "Dictionary of the English Language".

Hodge was so loved by Johnson that he was mentioned in James Boswell's biography on the great writer:
 "I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, 'Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed."
A year or so ago, we visited Dr Johnson's House at 17 Gough Square, London. If you ever get a chance to look round it, do, as it is one of London's historic hidden gems.

Hodge, sitting squarely on a copy of the famous dictionary with his oyster dinner next to him, is immortalised in bronze on a plinth in the centre of the square.

In the house, they sell small resin copies of the bronze Hodge and we came away with one, which now lives in our dining room.

When I first started the Mini House Project, my husband said "You're not going to try and make Hodge are you, he'd be far too small?"

Well, Fimo polymer clay is a wonderful thing, and that is fighting talk.

Sprayed in my favourite pewter spray paint and dabbed with a thin layer of copper acrylic, the Mini Hodge is very small and not quite perfectly formed, but the thought was there, if not the modelling skills.

I hope Dr Johnson would approve.

Mini Hodge is not to 1:12 scale, as if he was I wouldn't have been able to see him, to make him!

From his Dictionary of the English Language:

Cat. n.s. [katz, Teuton. chat, Fr.] A domestick animal that catches mice, commonly reckoned by naturalists the lowest order of the leonine species.

'Twas you incens'd the rabble:
Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth,
As I can of those mysteries, which heav'n
Will not have earth to know. Shakesp. Coriolanus.
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. Shakesp. Macbeth.
cat, as she beholds the light, draws the ball of her eye small and long, being covered over with a green skin, and dilates it at pleasure. Peacham on Drawing.

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