Burly and big, his books among,
Good Samuel Johnson sat,
With frowning brows and wig askew,
His snuff-strewn waistcoat far from new;
So stern and menacing his air,
That neither Black Sam,
nor the maid
To knock or interrupt him dare;
Yet close beside him, unafraid,
Sat Hodge, the cat.
'This participle,' the Doctor wrote,
'The modern scholar cavils at,
But,' - even as he penned the word,
A soft, protesting note was heard;
The Doctor fumbled with his pen,
The dawning thought took wings and flew,
The sound repeated, come again,
It was a faint, reminding 'Mew!'
From Hodge, the cat...
The Dictionary was laid down,
The Doctor tied his vast cravat,
And down the buzzing street he strode,
Taking an often-trodden road,
And halted at a well-known stall:
'Fishmonger,' spoke the Doctor gruff,
'Give me six oysters, that is all;
Hodge knows when he has had enough,
Hodge is my cat.'
Then home; puss dined and while in sleep
he chased a visionary rat,
His master sat him down again,
Rewrote his page, renibbed his pen;
Each 'i' was dotted, each 't' was crossed,
He labored on for all to read,
Nor deemed that time was waste or lost
Spent in supplying the small need
Of Hodge, the cat.
The dear old Doctor! Fierce of mien,
Untidy, arbitrary, fat,
What gentle thought his name enfold!
So generous of his scanty gold.
So quick to love, so hot to scorn,
Kind to all sufferers under heaven,
A tend'rer despot ne'er was born;
His big heart held a corner, even
For Hodge, the cat.
Sarah Chauncy Woolsey (Susan Coolidge)