Travels in Philadelphia
with drawings by
What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again? What could be better than to have all the fun of discovering South Africa without the disgusting necessity of landing there? What could be more glorious than to brace one's self up to discover New South Wales and then realize, with a gush of happy tears, that it was really Old South Wales. . . . How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? How can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town and the comfort and honour of being our own town?
G. K. CHESTERTON
DAVID McKAY COMPANY, Publishers
604-608 South Washington Square
Copyright, 1920, by
David McKay Company
Published May, 1920
Reprinted March, 1921
WM. F. FELL CO. PRINTERS
Affectionately Dedicated To
my genial tutors in the delicate art
of living in philadelphia
These sketches were all written for the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, which has kindly given permission for their reissue. They were put down under necessary conditions of haste, and I fear that scrupulous and better informed lovers of the city may find much to censure. But they were not intended as a formal portrait, merely as snapshots of vivacious phases of the life of today. Philadelphia, most livable and lovable of large cities, makes a unique appeal to the meditative stroller.
I am very grateful indeed to Mr. Frank H. Taylor for letting me include some of his delightful drawings, which preserve the outlines and graces of so many Philadelphia scenes.
December 29, 1919
The publishers of these "Travels" have asked me to write an introduction to this little volume: it needs no introduction, but I gladly comply, for I am happy to link my name with that of the author.
Occasionally, on red letter days, for two years past these papers have been appearing in the Evening Ledger, and many of us have turned to the editorial page on which they were printed to quiet our nerves preparatory to a glance at the stock market column to discover what has happened to our investments. And reassured on this point, it may be, or discouraged, we have turned back to re-read slowly these little essays which, with a humor all their own and a strong local flavor, have a quality which we supposed had disappeared with the essayists who were writing in London, just a century ago. Finally, the "Travels" became so popular that I have seen men carefully cut them out with their penknives and place them in their wallets to pass on to some appreciative friend later, with the remark, "Have you seen that last thing of Morley's? I cut it out for you."
And so it is that these seeming ephemera have been thought worthy of being collected in a volume, and rightly too, for they have a charm which we shall seek for in vain elsewhere. Which we shall seek for in vain in Philadelphia, perhaps I should have written, for with the publication of these papers, Christopher Morley, the well-beloved "Kit" of his many friends, shakes the dust of Philadelphia from his ample feet and betakes himself to "fresh woods and pastures new," or to drop the elegance of Milton, he goes to New York, there to create in the columns of the Evening Post that atmosphere of amiability which we have come to regard as inseparable from him.
Of course, some of us will resolve to submit to the inconvenience of awaiting at Broad Street Station the arrival of the four o'clock train from New York which usually brings to us the afternoon edition of the Evening Post, but I fear that after a time our resolution will go the way of good resolutions generally, and that we will force ourselves to be content with second best. For after Morley, whatever comes will be second best. Where else shall we find simplicity, the gayety, the kindly humor, and the charm of this gentle essayist? Who, other than Morley, could make a walk out Market street of interest and a source of fun? His little skit in the manner of Karl Baedeker is inimitable. Who, but he, would think of calling Ridge Avenue, that diagonal that passes over the shoulder of Philadelphia, "the Sam Brown belt"? Who, but he, could find in the commonplace, sordid, and depressing streets of our city, subjects for a sheaf of dainty little essays, as delightful as they are unique? For say what you will, to most of us the streets of Philadelphia are dirty and depressing. But Morley sees everything not red—but rosy—which is a very different matter.
It is a thousand pities that Morley agreed to go to New York just at the arrival of our new Mayor, who has promised that our streets shall be swept and garnished,—and I, for one, believe that he will keep his word,—but perhaps he is leaving Philadelphia on this very account, for I remember that neatness never had any charm for him. Have we not, all of us, read of the condition of his roll-top desk?
Be this as it may. We are to lose him, and I, for one, am desolate. Students and men of the world we have, but of "saunterers," in these days of big business, of "snappers-up of unconsidered trifles," we have too few. We have all kinds of cusses but Autolycusses. We can ill spare Morley to New York. But wherever he goes, our good wishes go with him, and he may yet, when he has had his fling in the "metrolopus," as Francis Wilson used to call the great city, rid himself of his motley and, assuming a collegiate gown, return to his Alma Mater, Haverford, there to carry on the splendid tradition of his and my old friend Gummere; for beneath his assumption of the vagabond, Morley has the learning as well as the tastes and traditions of the scholar, as will be evident to the reader of these pages.
A. Edward Newton
January 20, 1920
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