Tour Locations | Historical Pubs of London: A Tipply Trundle Through Liquid History
Hodge and Dr. Samuel Johnson
As you approach Gough Square head for the wooden benches and look for the small bronze sculpture on the plinth. It's one of London's more idiosyncratic statues to enjoy.
(3 SECS PAUSE)
It's time to say "Hello!" to Hodge the Cat. He’s a very fine cat indeed. It looks like he's been feasting on some juicy oysters, and although they're expensive these days, it was quite the opposite in the 1700's when they were seen as food for the poor. Extracted from the filthy river Thames, the oysters were so contaminated that they were a complimentary bar snack for people to enjoy at their own risk!
Hodge is sitting on a rather large book. Look closely and you'll notice it's a dictionary of the English language. One of the world's first dictionaries in fact, compiled through over 9 years of hard graft by Hodge's owner, the rumbustious and wig-wearing man about town Dr. Samuel Johnson. His mighty tome contains around 45,000 words, predating the Oxford English dictionary by around 150 years and led Johnson to being the second most quoted man in the English language after William Shakespeare himself.
Before we continue why not read the eternally resonant quote on the base of the plinth:
“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”.
As truly poignant and as relevant today as when first uttered over 300 years ago.
Let's crack on across the cobbled courtyard in the direction of Johnson's former house, home and now museum. I'll meet you by the entrance.