It's the winter barrenness that compels me to visit royal gardens. Not for me, the vibrant greens or multi-coloured tulips. Stone, moss, barnacles of time, bramble, and gravel scraped fresh on icy mornings—these scratch the itch of nosing my way into a history long gone (and decidedly for good, this American democrat decries). I call fill these stage sets scraped clean of human breath with the paintings, literature, and gossip mongering that filled every copse with intrigue and pleasure before the ancien régime went toppling over. It is art, always, that allows the conjuring of human follies and dramas, the basest and the sublime, with grandeur free from vanity. Such is the continued lesson of Oedipus, the Sphinx, every myth, and the philosopher rows.