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Monday, September 6, 2010

Samuel Johnson's cat




I was recently in London and had the great pleasure of visiting the house, not far from St. Paul's Cathedral, where Samuel Johnson's mighty dictionary was compiled. As you enter the quiet square, you are greeted by this lovely statue of Samuel Johnson's cat, Hodge. Johnson spoiled his cat, going out to buy him fresh oysters rather than asking his servants to do it lest they come to the resent the cat for having to run errands for him! You can see the oysters on the book -- the Dictionary, naturally -- which serves as the base of the statue. I have to wonder whether Hodge disturbed the lexicographer and his amanuenses by jumping up and stretching out on the tables piled with books in the garret where the dictionary was researched. What self-respecting cat would miss that opportunity?

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.