Our Philadelphia/Chapter 4

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CHAPTER IV: AT THE CONVENT

I

AS the theatre, in my memory, still gives the crowning glory to my holiday in Philadelphia, so, in looking back, the brief holiday seems the spectacle, the romance, the supreme moment, of my early years. The scene of my every-day life was that Convent of the Sacred Heart at Torresdale which was the end of the interminable ride in the Third Street horse-car and the shorter ride in the Pennsylvania Railroad train.

The Philadelphian who did not live in the Convent would have seen it the other way round, for the Convent was unlike enough to Philadelphia to suggest the romance of the unusual. Only in one or two respects did it provide me with facts that every proper Philadelphian was brought up to know, and let me say again that because I had to find out the others—the more characteristically Philadelphia facts—for myself, I think they probably made a stronger impression upon me than upon the Philadelphian guiltless of ever straying, or of ever having been allowed to stray, from the approved Philadelphia path.


II

When the Ladies of the Sacred Heart decided to open a Convent in Philadelphia, an uncertain enterprise if it is considered how un-Catholic Philadelphia was, they began in a fairly modest way by taking a large house at Torresdale, with lawns and gardens and woods and a great old-fashioned barn, the country seat of a Philadelphian whose name I have forgotten. It stood to the west of the railroad, at a discreet distance from the little cluster of houses by the riverside that alone meant Torresdale to the Philadelphians who lived in them.

The house, I can now see, was typical as I first knew it, the sort the Philadelphian built for himself in the suburbs at a period too removed from Colonial days for it to have the beauty of detail and historic interest of the Colonial house, and yet near enough to them for dignity of proportion and spaciousness to be desirable, if not essential to a Philadelphian's comfort. A wide, lofty hall ran from the front door to the back, on either side were two large airy rooms with space between for the broad main stairway, a noble structure, and the carefully concealed back stairway—half-way up which in my time was the little infirmary window where, at half past ten every morning, Sister Odille dispensed pills and powders to those in need of them. Along the entire front of the house was a broad porch,—the indispensable Philadelphia piazza—its roof supported by a row of substantial columns over which roses and honeysuckle clambered fragrantly and luxuriantly in the June sunshine. The house was painted a cheerful yellow that went well with the white of the woodwork about the windows and the porch: not a very beautiful type of house, but pleasant, substantial, luxurious, and making as little outward show of its luxury as the plain red brick town house of the wealthy Philadelphian.

How comfortable a type of house it was to live in, I know from experience of another, not a school, within sight, a ten minutes' walk across the fields, and like it in design and arrangement and even colour,—in everything except size,—which my Father took one summer: to me a most memorable summer as it was the first I spent outside the Convent limits from the beginning to the end of the long holiday. The jerry-builder had had no part in putting up the solid, well-constructed walls which stood firm against winter storms and winds, and were no less a protection from the torrid heat of a Philadelphia summer. But fashion can leave architecture no more alone than dress. Already, the newer group of houses down by the Delaware were built of the brown stone which, to my mind, dates the beginning of the Philadelphian's fall from architectural grace, the beginning of his distrust in William Penn's plans for his well-being and of his foolish hankering after the fleshpots of New York.

The Convent, before I came to it, had been a victim to the brown stone fashion. With success, the pleasant old country house had grown too small for the school into which it had been converted, and a southern wing had been added: a long, low building with the Chapel at the far end, all built in brown stone and in a style that passed for Gothic and that a thousand times I could have wished

LOUDOUN, MAIN STREET GERMANTOWN

based upon any other model. For the upper room in the wing, ambitiously christened by somebody Gothic Hall, had a high pointed roof that made it an ice-house in winter and, for our sins, it was used as the Dormitory of the Sacred Heart where I slept. I can recall mornings when the water was frozen in our pitchers while the big stove, in the middle of the high-pitched room, burned red hot as if to mock at us as, with numbed fingers, we struggled to make our beds and wash ourselves and button and hook on our clothes. And the builders had so contrived that summer turned our fine Gothic Dormitory into a fiery furnace. How many June nights, contrary to all the rules, have I hung out of the little, horribly Gothic window at the head of my alcove, gasping in the warm darkness that was so sweet and stifling with the fragrance of the flowers in Madame Huguet's garden just below.

I had not been long at the Convent before another brown stone wing extended to the north and two stories were added to the main building which, for the sake of harmony, was now painted brown from top to bottom. In a niche on this new facade, a statue of the Sacred Heart was set, and all semblance to the old country house as gone, except for the broad porch without and the well-proportioned rooms within. But these, and later improvements, additions and alterations cannot make me forget the Convent as it was when I first came to it, growing up about the simple, solidly-built, spacious yellow house that was once the Philadelphian's ideal of suburban comfort, and so like the house where I spent my most memorable summer, so like, save for the size and the colour, my Great-Grandfather Ambrose White's old house on the Turnpike at Chestnut Hill, so like innumerable other country houses of the same date where I visited.


III.

The Convent rule and discipline could not alter the changing of the seasons as Philadelphia ordered them. They might appear to us mainly regulated by feasts and fasts—All Saints and All Souls, the milestones on the road to Christmas; Lent and the month of St. Joseph heralding the approach of spring; the month of Mary and the month of the Sacred Heart, Ascension and Corpus-Christi, as ardent and splendid as the spring and summer days they graced. But, all the same, each season came laden with the pleasures held in common by all fortunate Philadelphia children who had the freedom of the country or the countrified suburbs.

The school year began with the fall, when any night might bring the first frost and the first tingle in the air—champagne to quicken the blood in a school girl's veins, and make the sitting still through the long study and class hours a torture. The woods shone with gold; the Virginia creeper flamed on the front porch; sickel pears fell, ripe and luscious, from the tree close to the Chapel where it was against the law to go and pick them up but where no law in the world could have barred the way; chestnuts and hickory nuts and the walnuts that stained my fingers black to open offered a substantial dessert after as substantial a dinner as ever children were served with. But those were the joyful years when hunger never could be satisfied and digestion was equal to any surfeit of raw chestnuts—or raw turnips for that matter, if the season supplied no lighter dainties, or of next to anything that could be picked up and eaten. I know I drew the line only at the huge, white, oversweet mulberries strewing the grass by the swings in Mulberry Lane, that favourite scene of the war to the knife we waged under the name of Old Man and Bands, primitive games not to be outdone by the Tennis and Hockey of the more sophisticated modern school girl.

The minute the Refectory was left for the noonday hour of recreation on a brisk autumn day, there was a wild scamper to the woods where, just beyond the gate that led into them, the hoary old chestnut trees spread their shade and dropped their fruit on either side the hill between the Poisonous Valley, a thrill in its deadly name, and the graveyard, few crosses then in the green enclosure which now, alas! is too well filled. The shadow of death lay so lightly upon us that I recall to-day only the delicious rustle of eager feet through the fallen leaves, and the banging of stone upon stone as hickory nuts cracked between them, I feel only the delicious pricking of the chestnut burrs in the happy, hardened fingers of the school girl. And these, anyway, are memories I share with every Philadelphian who, as a child, wandered in the suburbs or the near country when the woods were gold and scarlet, and the way through them was carpeted with leaves hiding rich stores of nuts for the seeker after treasure.

But no Philadelphia child in the shelter of her own house could know the meaning of the Philadelphia winter as I knew it in the Convent, half frozen in that airy dormitory of the Sacred Heart, shivering in shawl and hood through early Mass in the icy Chapel, still huddled in my shawl at my desk or scurrying as fast as discipline would wink at through the windy passages. The heating arrangements, somehow, never succeeded in coping with the extreme cold of a severe winter in the large rooms and halls of the new wings, and I must confess that we were often most miserably uncomfortable. I cannot but wonder what the pampered school girls of the present generation in the same Convent would say to such discomfort. But it did us no harm. Indeed, though I shiver at the memory, I am sure it did us good. We came out the healthier and hardier for it, much as the Englishman does from his cold house, the coldest in the world. The old conditions of a hardier life, that either killed or cured, did far more to make a vigorous people than all the new-fangled eugenics ever can.

If I had little of the comfort of the Philadelphia child in the Philadelphia house, I shared with him the outdoor pleasures which winter provided by way of compensation—the country white under snow for weeks and weeks, snowballs to be made and snow houses built, sliding to be had on the frozen lake, and coasting down the long hill just beyond the gate into the woods, when there were sleds to coast on. And what excitement in the marvellous snowstorms that have vanished with other marvels of my youth—the storms that put the new blizzard to shame, when the snow drifts were mountains high, and it took all the men on the farm, with Big John at their head, to clear a way through the near paths and roads. I recall one storm in particular when my Father, who had been making his periodical visit to my Sister and myself, left the Convent at six, was snowed up in his train, and never reached the dingy Depot in Frankford until three the next morning, and when for days we got out of the house only for a solemn ten minutes' walk each noon on the wide front porch, where it was a shocking breach of discipline to be seen at all other times except on Thursday and Sunday, the Convent visiting days. Of the inspiriting rigours of a Philadelphia winter I was never in ignorance.

In the snow drifts and storms of winter Big John and his men were not more helpless than in the floods and slush that began with the first soft breath of the Philadelphia spring. Wearing our big shapeless overshoes, we waded through the puddles and jumped over the streams in the Convent paths and roads as, in town, Philadelphia children, with their "gums" on, jumped over the streams and waded through the puddles in the abominably paved streets. But then hope too began when the first spaces of green were uncovered by the melting snow. The first spring-beauty in the sunny spaces of the woods, the first flowery frost in the orchard, the first blooming of the tulip trees, were among the great events of the year. And what joy now in the new hunt!—what treasure of spring-beauties everywhere in the woods as the sun grew warmer, of shyer, retired hepaticas, of white violets running wild in the swampy fields beyond the lake, of sweet trailing arbutus, of Jacks-in-the-pulpit flourishing best in the damp thickets of the Poisonous Valley into which I never wandered without a tremor not merely because it was a forbidden adventure, but because, though I passed through it unscathed, I had seen so often the horrible and unsightly red rash one whiff from over its bushes and trees could bring out on the faces and hands of my schoolmates with a skin more sensitive than mine. Games lost their charm in the spring sunshine and our one pleasure was in the hunt, no longer for chestnuts and walnuts and hickory nuts, but solely for flowers, bringing back great bunches wilting in our hot little hands, to place before the shrine that aroused the warmest fervours of our devotion or was tended by the nun of our special adoration.

And before we knew it, the spring-beauties and hepaticas and white violets and Jacks-in-the-pulpit disappeared from the woods, and the flowery frost from the orchard, and the great blossoms from the tulip trees, and summer was upon us—blazing summer when we lay perspiring on our little beds up there in Gothic Hall where a few months before we shivered and shook, perspiration streamed from

ENTRANCE TO FAIRMOUNT AND THE WASHINGTON STATUE

our faces on our school books at the study hour, more a burden than ever as we drooped and drowsed in the heat;—blazing summer when the fragrance of the roses hung heavy over Madame Huguet's garden and mingled with the too sweet fragrance of the honeysuckle about the columns of the porch and over every door;—blazing summer when all day long meadows and gardens and lawns swooned under the pitiless sunshine and we, who had braved the winter cold undismayed, never put as much as our noses out of doors until the hour of sunset;—blazing summer when for many years I saw the other girls going home, the gaiety of sea and mountain and change awaiting them, while my Sister and I stayed on, desolate at heart despite the efforts of the nuns to help us forget, feeling forlornly forsaken as we watched the green burnt up into brown and the summer flowers wilt and die, and the drought turn the roads to dust, and all Nature parched as we parched with it. The holiday dragged terribly and, reversing the usual order of things, I counted the days until school would begin again. However, at least I can say that I saw the Philadelphia summer in its full terrors as every Philadelphia child ever born, for whom wealth or chance opens no gate of escape, must see it and did see it of old.

And so for me in the Convent the seasons were the same as for the child in Philadelphia and its suburbs. And I learnt how cold Philadelphia can be, and how hot—if Penn, safe in England, was grateful for the greater nearness of his town to the sun, not a Philadelphian on the spot, sweltering through its midsummer heat, has ever yet shared his gratitude. And I learnt how beautiful Philadelphia is as it grows mild again after winter has done its worst, or as it cools off in the friendlier autumn sun. And not to know these facts is not to know Philadelphia.


IV

In the Convent regulation of daily life lay the unconquerable difference. Philadelphia has its laws and traditions that guide the Philadelphian through every hour and duty of the day, and the Philadelphian, who from the cradle does not obey these traditions and laws, can never be quite as other Philadelphians. The Sacred Heart is a French order, and the nuns imported their laws and traditions from France, qualified, modified, perhaps, on the way, but still with an unmistakable foreign flavour and tendency that could not pass unquestioned in a town where the first article of faith is that everybody should do precisely what everybody else does. I remember when the Rhodes scholars were first sent from America to Oxford a friend of mine professed serious concern for the future of the University should they introduce buckwheat cakes on Oxford breakfast tables. And, really, he was not as funny as he thought. A man is a good deal what his food makes him. The macaroni-fed Italian is not as the sausage-and-sauerkraut-fed German, nor the Hindu who thrives on rice as the Irishman bred upon potatoes. Never was a town more concerned with the Question of Food than Philadelphia and I now see quite plainly that I, beginning my day at the Convent on coffee and rolls, could not have been as the correct Philadelphia child beginning the day in Philadelphia or the suburbs on scrapple and buckwheat cakes and maple syrup. Thus, the line of separation was drawn while I was still in short skirts with my hair cropped close.

The Convent day continued, as it began, with differences. I sat down at noon to the substantial French breakfast which at the Convent, as a partial concession to American ideals, became dinner. At half past three, like a little French girl, I had my gouter, for which even the French name was retained—how well I remember the big, napkin-lined basket, full of hunks of good gingerbread, or big crackers, or sweet rolls, passed round by Sister Duffy, probably the most generous of all generous Irish-women, who would have slipped an extra piece into every little hand if she could, but who was so shockingly cross-eyed that we got an idea of her as a disagreeable old thing, an ogress, always watching to see if we took more than our appointed share. Quite recently I argued it all out again with the few old Sisters left to greet me on my first and only visit to the Convent during thirty years and, purely for the sake of the sentiment of other days, I refused to believe them when they insisted that Sister Duffy, who now lies at peace in the little graveyard on the hillside in the woods, wasn't cross at all, but as tender as anv Sister who ever waited on hungry little girls! I would have given a great deal could she have come back, cross-eyes and all, with her big basket of gingerbread to make me feel at home again, as I could not in the Visitors' dining-room where my goûter was set out on a neatly spread table, even though on one side of me was "Marie" of Our Convent Days, my friend who had been Prince of Denmark in our Booth-stricken period, and on the other Miss Repplier, the chronicler of our childish adventures. It was the first time we three had sat there together since more years than I am willing to count, and I think we were too conscious that youth now was no longer of the company not to feel the sadness as keenly as the pleasure of the reunion in our old home.

Goûter, with its associations, has sent me wandering far from the daily routine which ended, in the matter of meals, with a supper of meat and potatoes and I hardly know what, at half past six, when little Philadelphia girls were probably just finishing their cambric tea and bread-and-butter, and even the buns from Dexter's when these had been added as a special treat or reward. How could we, upon so much heavier fare, have seen things, how could we have looked upon life, just as those other little girls did?


V

We did not play, any more than we ate, like the child in Philadelphia or its suburbs. One memory of our playtime I have common to all Philadelphia children of my

MAIN STREET, GERMANTOWN

generation: the memory of Signor Blitz, on a more than usually blissful Reverend Mother's Feast, taking rabbits out of our hats and bowls of gold-fish out of his sleeve, and holding a long conversation with the immortal Bobby, the most prodigious puppet that ever conversed with any professional ventriloquist. But this was a rare ecstasy never repeated.

What games the children in Rittenhouse Square and the Lanes of Germantown had, I cannot record, but of one thing I am sure: they did not go to the tune and the words of "Sur le pont d' Avignon," or "Qu' est-ce qui passe ici si tard," or "Il était un avocat." Nor, I fancy, were "Malbrough s'en va-t'en guerre" and "Au clair de la lune, mon ami Pierrot," the songs heard in the Philadelphia nursery. Nor is it likely that "C'est le mois de Marie," which we sang as lustily all through May as the devout in France sing it in every church and every cathedral from one end of their land to the other, was the canticle of pious little Catholic children celebrating the month of Mary at St. Joseph's or St. Patrick's. Nor outside the Convent could the Bishop on his pastoral rounds have been welcomed with the "Vive! Vive! Vive! Monseigneur au Sacré Coeur, Quel Bonheur!" which, the title appropriately changed, was our form of welcome to every distinguished visitor. And, singing these songs and canticles, how could the associations and memories we were laying up for ourselves be the same as those of Philadelphia children whose ears and voices were trained on "Juanita" and "Listen to the Mocking Bird," or, it may be, "Marching through Georgia" and "Way down upon the Swanee River"? These things may make subtle distinctions, but they are distinctions that can never be overcome or outgrown.

In study hours, as in playtime and at meals, we were seldom long out of this French atmosphere. French class was only shorter than English. If we were permitted to talk at breakfast, it was not at all that we might amuse ourselves, but that we might practise our French which did not amuse us in the least. Many of the nuns were French, often, it is true, French from Louisiana or Canada, but their English was not one bit more fluent on that account. Altogether, there was less of Philadelphia than of France in the discipline, the devotions, and the relaxations of the Convent.


VI

But, of all the differences, the most fundamental, I think, came from the fact that the Convent was a Convent and taught us to accept the conventual, the monastic interpretation of life. We were there in, not only a French, but a cloistered atmosphere—the atmosphere that Philadelphia least of all towns could understand. The Friends had attained to peace and unworldliness by staying in their own homes and fulfilling their duty as fathers and mothers of families, as men and women of business. But the nuns saw no way to achieve this end except by shutting themselves out of the world and avoiding its temptations. The Ladies of the Sacred Heart are cloistered. They leave the Convent grounds only to journey from one of their houses to another, for care is taken that they do not, by staying over long in one school, form too strong an attachment to place or person. Where would be the use of being a nun if you were not made to understand the value of sacrifice? Their pupils are, for the time, as strictly cloistered. Not for us were the walks abroad by which most girls at boarding school keep up with the times—or get ahead of them. We were as closely confined to the Convent grounds as the nuns, except during the holidays or when a friend or relation begged for us a special outing. It was not a confinement depending on high stone walls and big gates with clanging iron chains and bars. But the wood fences running with the board walk above the railroad and about the woods and the fields and the gardens made us no less prisoners—willing and happy prisoners as we might be, and were. This gave us, or gave me at any rate, a curious idea of the Convent as a place entirely apart, a place that had nothing to do with the near town or the suburb in which it stood—a blessed oasis in the sad wilderness of the world.

There is no question that, as a result, I felt myself in anticipation a stranger in the wilderness into which I knew I must one day go from the oasis, and in which I used to imagine I should be as much of an exile as the Children of Israel in the desert. Of course I was not quite that when the time came, but that for an interval I was convinced I must be explains how unlike in atmosphere the Convent was to Eleventh and Spruce.

In all sorts of little ways I was confirmed in this belief by life and its duties at the Convent. For all that concerned me nearly, for all that was essential to existence here below, Philadelphia seemed to me as remote as Timbuctoo. I got insensibly to think of myself first not as a Philadelphian, not as an American, but as a "Child of the Sacred Heart,"—the first question under all circumstances was what I should do, not as a Philadelphian, but as a Child of the Sacred Heart.

I cannot say how much the mere name of the thing represented—the honour and the privilege—and there was not a girl who had been for any time a pupil who did not prize it as I did. And we were not given the chance to forget or belittle it. We were impressed with the importance of showing our appreciation of the distinction Providence had reserved for us—of showing it not merely by our increased faith and devotion, but by our bearing and conduct. We might be slack about our lessons. That was all right at a period when slackness prevailed in girls' schools and it was unfeminine, if not unladylike, to be too learned. But we were not let off from the diligent cultivation of our manners. Our faith and devotion were attended to in a daily half hour of religious instruction.

ARCH STREET MEETING

But Sunday was not too holy a day for the Politeness Class that was held every week as surely as Sunday came round, in which we were taught all the mysteries of a Deportment that might have given tips to the great Turveydrop himself,—how to sit, how to walk, how to carry ourselves under all circumstances, how to pick up a handkerchief a passer-by might drop—an unspeakable martyrdom of a class when each unfortunate student, in turn, went through her paces with the eyes of all the school upon her and to the sound of the stifled giggles of the boldest. We never met one of our mistresses in the corridors that we did not drop a laboured curtsey—a shy, deplorably awkward curtsey when I met the Reverend Mother, Mother Boudreau, a large, portly, dignified nun from Louisiana and a model of deportment, who inspired me with a respectful fear I never have had for any other mortal. We could not answer a plain "Yes" or "No" to our mistresses, but the "Madam" must always politely follow. "Remember" was a frequent warning, "remember that wherever, or with whom, you may be, to behave like children of the Sacred Heart!" A Child of the Sacred Heart, we were often told, should be known by her manners. And so impressed were we with this precept that I remember a half-witted, but harmless, elderly woman whom the nuns, in their goodness, had kept on as a "parlour boarder" after her school days were over, telling us solemnly that when she was in New York and went out shopping with her sister, the young men behind the counter at Stewart's would all look at her with admiring eyes and whisper to each other, "Is it not easy to see that Miss C. is a Child of the Sacred Heart?"

Seriously, the training did give something that nothing else could, and an admirable training it was for which girls to-day might exchange more than one brain-bewildering course at College and be none the worse for it. In my own case, I admit, I should not mind having had more of the other training, as it has turned out that my work in life is of the sort where a quick intelligence counts for more than an elegant deportment. But I can find no fault with the Convent for neglect. Girls then were not educated to work. If you had asked any girl anywhere what was woman's mission, she would have answered promptly—had she been truthful—"to find a husband as soon as possible;" if she were a Convent girl,—a Child of the Sacred Heart—she would have added, "or else to become a nun." Her own struggles to fit herself for any other career the inconsiderate Fates might drive her into, so far from doing her any harm, were the healthiest and most bracing of tonics. Granted an average mind, she could teach herself through necessity just the important things school could not teach her through a routine she didn't see the use of. She emerged from the ordeal not only heroically but successfully, which was more to the point. A young graduate from Bryn Mawr said to me some few days ago that when she looked at her mother and the women

THE TRAIN SHED, BROAD STREET STATION

of her mother's generation and realized all they had accomplished without what is now called education, she wondered whether the girls of her generation, who had the benefit of all the excess of education going, would or could accomplish more, or as much. To tell the truth, I wonder myself. But then it may be said that I, belonging to that older generation, am naturally prejudiced.


VII

There are moments when, reflecting on all I lost as a Philadelphian, I am half tempted to regret my long years of seclusion, busy about my soul and my manners, at the Convent. A year or so would not have much mattered one way or the other. I led, however, no other life save the Convent life until I was seventeen. I knew no other standpoint save the Convent standpoint.

But the temptation to regret flies as quickly as it comes. I loved the life too well at the time, I love it too well in the retrospect, to have wanted then, or to want now, to do without it. It was a happy life to live, though I would not have been a school girl had I not, with the school girl's joy in the morbid, liked nothing better than to pose as the unhappiest of mortals—to be a school girl was to be misunderstood I would have vowed, had I, in my safe oasis, ever heard the expression or had the knowledge to guess at its meaning. I loved every stone in the house, brown and ugly as every stone might be, I loved every tree in the woods whether or no it dropped pleasant things to devour, I loved every hour of the day whatever might be its task. I had a quick memory, study was no great trouble to me, and I enjoyed every class and recitation. I enjoyed getting into mischief—I wore once only the Ribbon for Good Conduct—and I enjoyed being punished for it. In a word, I got a good deal out of my life, if it was not exactly what a girl was sent to school to get. And it is as happy a life to remember, with many picturesque graces and absurdities, joys and sorrows, that an uninterrupted existence at Eleventh and Spruce could not have given.

I have no desire to talk sentimental nonsense about my school days having been my happiest. That sort of talk is usually twaddle. It was not as school that I loved the Convent, though as school it had its unrivalled attractions; it was as home. When the time came to go from it I suffered that sharp pang felt by most girls on leaving home for school. I remember how I, who affected a sublime scorn for the cry-baby, blubbered like one myself when I was faced with the immediate prospect of life in Philadelphia. How well I recall my despair—how vividly I see the foolish scene I made in the empty Refectory, shadowy in the dusk of the June evening, where I was rehearsing the valedictory of the Graduating Class which I had been chosen to recite, and where, after the first few lines I broke down to my shame, and sniffled and gurgled and sobbed in the lap of the beloved mistress who was doing her best to comfort me, and also to keep me from disgracing her, as I should have done by any such scene on the great day itself.

If the Convent stands for so much in my memory, it would be ungrateful to regret the years I spent in it. The sole reason would be my loss, not as a student, but as a Philadelphian, for this loss was the price I paid. But the older I grow, the better I realize that to the loss I owe an immeasurable gain. For as a child I never got so accustomed to Philadelphia as not to see it at all. The thing we know too well is often the thing we see least clearly, or we should not need the philosopher to remind us that that is best which nearest lieth. All through my childhood and early youth I saw Philadelphia chiefly from the outside, and so saw it with more awe and wonder and lasting delight than those Philadelphians who, in childhood and early youth, saw it only from the inside,—too near for it to come together into the picture that tells.