“Behind the most ancient part of Holborn, London, where certain gabled houses some centuries of age still stand looking on the public way, as if disconsolately looking for the Old Bourne that has long run dry, is a little nook composed of two irregular quadrangles, called Staple Inn. It is one of those nooks, the turning into which out of the clashing street, imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton in his ears, and velvet soles on his boots. It is one of those nooks where a few smoky sparrows twitter in smoky trees, as though they called to one another, “Let us play at country,” and where a few feet of garden-mould and a few yards of gravel enable them to do that refreshing violence to their tiny understandings.”
Charles Dickens: Edwin Drood (1870)
“I scarcely remember counting upon happiness – I look not for it if it be not in the present hour – nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.”
John Keats: letter to Benjamin Bailey, 22nd November, 1817.