Holloway Road, London, N7. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
Saunterings in and About London – Max Schlesinger, 1853:
The windows of almost all the club-houses in Pall Mall have the most charming views on St. James’s Park. It is the smallest of all the parks; but it is a perfect jewel amidst the splendid buildings which surround it on all sides. On its glassy lake fine shrubs, and beeches, and ash-trees on the banks throw their trembling shadows; tame water-fowl of every description swim on it or waddle on the green sward near, and eat the crumbs which the children have brought for them. The paths are skirted with flower-beds, with luxurious grass-plots behind them; and on sunny days these grass-plots are crowded with happy children, who prefer this park to all others, for the water-birds are such grateful guests, and look so amiable and stupid, and are so fond of biscuits, and never bite any one. And the sheep, too, are altogether different from all other sheep in the world; they are so tame and fat, and never think of running away when a good child pats their backs, and gives them some bread to eat. And there are green boats, and for one penny they take you over to the other side; and the water, too, is green, much greener than the boat; and there is no danger of horses and carriages, and children may run and jump about without let or hindrance, and there are such numbers of children too. In short, there is no saying how much pleasure the London children take in St. James’s Park.
On the Continent, too, there are parks; they are larger, and are taken more care of, and by far more ornamental than the London parks. But all strangers who come to London must find that their imperial and royal palace gardens at home, with all their waterworks, and Chinese pagodas, Greek temples, and artificial romanticisms, do not make anything like that cheerful, refreshing, tranquillising, and yet exciting impression which the parks of England produce. It is certainly not the climate which works this miracle, nor is it a peculiarity of the soil, for fine meadow-land there is in plenty on the banks of the Rhine and the Danube. The English alone know how to handle Nature, so that it remains nature [...].