Washington Square

Once in Washington Square I did my best not to be hypnotized by two famous inscriptions that are set up so high in that leafy enclosure, the one where Washington allows "The Event" to be in the hands of God; and the other where the University makes so much of the "usefulness" - utilitas, utilitatis - of education. Dodging both usefulness and the event, I would gaze with a curious fascination at a certain cock and sphinx which adorned the door-steps of one of those big red houses on the north side of the square, objects towards which Henry James himself must often have turned his ruminative head, pondering on the tragic ambiguity that underlies such patient inanimates. (Autobiography)