Passerby often remembered the house. Even on such a good street, where new young trees, carefully wired against dogs, winds and anarchy, are regularly set out to spindle, a house still occupied by a single family is a fireside glory to all. Such houses are against the natural design of cities, and from the time of the Dutch here were unlikely to be poor ones. After the Second World War, even the rich had lost interest in them. But trees were not enough to signal to the cold, pure heavens far above this particular city what was still single and humane down below.
The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they had left by the Tiber. Brought up on the legend of the City to which the world paid tribute, he recognized in the present London much more than in contemporary Rome the real dimensions of such a case. If it was a question of an Imperium, he said to himself, and if one wished, as a Roman, to recover a little the sense of that, the place to do so was on London Bridge, or even, on a fine afternoon in May, at Hyde Park Corner.