Monday, December 26, 2011

Belated Cat-Mass

Near the Samuel Johnson museum/ house, there is a statue of a very fine cat indeed: 

To the left you can even see Hodge's eaten oyster.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Got milk?

Ah, Christmas. For the Scrooges among us, it is a time of annoyance and awful credit card bills. The leading lights of the Enlightenment were not immune to the horrors of an unpaid bill.

Though Dr. Samuel Johnson, writer of the first really complete English dictionary, fed his famous cat Hodge oysters every morning, it appears the good doctor had some trouble keeping Hodge in milk. Dr. Johnson owed his milkman so much that said milkman tried to have Dr. Johnson arrested and hauled off to Debtor's prison. In reponse, Dr. Johnson put a chain across his door and then dragged his bed down the stairs to use as a barricade, all the while shouting that he would defend his citadel to the last.

The Amateur Historian would not advise adopting this method when Visa, MasterCard, request that you pay for all your Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Poor Elizabeth....

And to continue on, W.H. Auden on Robert Browning:

“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

Monday, December 5, 2011


In the spirit of the Christmas Season, or lack thereof, have Oscar Wilde's opinion on Alexander Pope:

“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Call Ralph Lauren-- we have a new spring color!

John Keats is well known for saying that beauty is truth and truth beauty, but he also had some interesting ideas of color, according to this letter to his  fiancée, Fanny Brawne:

I have been writing with a vile old pen the whole week, which is excessively ungallant.  The fault is in the Quill: I have mended it and still it is very much inclin'd to make blind es.  However these last lines are in a much better style of penmanship thof [for though] a little disfigured by the smear of black currant jelly; which has made a little mark on one of the Pages of Brown's Ben Jonson, the very best book he has.  I have lick'd it but it remains very purplue [for purple].  I did not know whether to say purple or blue, so in the mixture of the thought wrote purplue which may be an excellent name for a colourmade up of those two, and would suit well to start next spring. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanks for the advice Talleyrand

Talleyrand, also known as the political chameleon of the 19th century, started his career as a priest. Since he was born into the nobility with a club foot, the army and navy were out as professions.

However, the laws of celibacy of the Catholic Church did not suit Talleyrand in the slightest. He was defrocked after being un-frocked with an equally undressed lover. Later on, Talleyrand explained his popularity with the ladies as such:

"For a woman, to have an abbé had a double advantage. The first was to be sure that your secret would be safe; the second was to be sure of receiving absolution."

The Hotness of King George

Apparently the Amateur Historian is not the only William Pitt the Younger fan out there.