Here I stand in this buildingOf 1816,Of before the World Wars. The infant age of steam.If these walls could tell usOf times before these,Would the humbling talesBring us to our knees?They don't speak, Although they whisper, it seems, They have something to say.They groan at the beams.If these walls could talk, Would they laugh, would they scream?Would they say we are mad?Would we know what they mean?
The yard was a little centre of regeneration. Here, with keen edges and smooth curves, were forms in the exact likeness of those he had seen abraded and time-eaten on the walls. These were the ideas in modern prose which the lichened colleges presented in old poetry. Even some of those antiques might have been called prose when they were new. They had done nothing but wait, and had become poetical. How easy to the smallest building; how impossible to most men.
Howard was almost as fond of this hall as he was of his own shop. The Brownies used it on Tuesdays, and the Women's Institute on Wednesdays. It had hosted jumble sales and Jubilee celebrations, wedding receptions and wakes, and it smelled of all of these things: of stale clothes and coffee urns, and the ghosts of home-baked cakes and meat salads; of dust and human bodies; but primarily of aged wood and stone.
Admirable, however, as the Paris of the present day appears to you, build up and put together again in imagination the Paris of the fifteenth century; look at the light through that surprising host of steeples, towers, and belfries; pour forth amid the immense city, break against the points of its islands, compress within the arches of the bridges, the current of the Seine, with its large patches of green and yellow, more changeable than a serpent's skin; define clearly the Gothic profile of this old Paris upon an horizon of azure, make its contour float in a wintry fog which clings to its innumerable chimneys; drown it in deep night, and observe the extraordinary play of darkness and light in this sombre labyrinth of buildings; throw into it a ray of moonlight, which shall show its faint outline and cause the huge heads of the towers to stand forth from amid the mist; or revert to that dark picture, touch up with shade the thousand acute angles of the spires and gables, and make them stand out, more jagged than a shark's jaw, upon the copper-coloured sky of evening. Now compare the two.