—Bank of England, guvnor? Bank of England’ll be closed this time of day.

Jermyn Street, gaslit and foggy on this rainy evening in 1901, pleased Mr. Santayana in its resemblance to a John Atkinson Grimshaw, correct and gratifyingly English, the redbrick church across from his boardinghouse at No. 87 serenely there, like all of St. James’s, on civilization’s firmest rock.

—Nevertheless, the Bank of England.

—Climb in, then, the cabman said. Slipped his keeper, he said to his horse. Threadneedle Street, old girl, and then what? Quadrupedante sonitu they clopped through the rain until, with a knowing sigh, the cabman reined up at the Bank of England. Mr. Santayana, having emerged brolly first, popping it open, paid the driver, tipping him with American generosity.

—I’ll wait, guvnor. You’ll never get in, you know. But a bobby had already come forward, saluting.

—This way, sir.

—I’ll be buggered, the cabman said. The inner court, where light from open doors reflected from puddles, pol…