Page:Our Philadelphia (Pennell, 1914).djvu/138

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118
OUR PHILADELPHIA

past. Moreover, I had to contend against what the Philadelphians love to call the Philadelphia inertia, while all the time they talk about it they keep giving substantial proofs of how little reason there is for the talk. The Philadelphia inertia only means that it is not good form in Philadelphia to betray emotion on any occasion or under any circumstance. The coolness, or indifference, of Philadelphians at moments and crises of great passion and excitement has always astonished the outsider. If you do not understand the Philadelphia way, as I did not then, you take the Philadelphian's talk literally and believe the beautiful Philadelphia calm to be more than surface deep, as I did who had not the sense as yet to see that, even if this inertia was real, it was my business to get the better of it and to develop for myself the energy I imagined my town and its people to be without. I have often thought that the Philadelphia calm is a little like the London climate that either conquers you or leaves you the stronger for having conquered it.


IV

If one of Philadelphia's unwritten laws closed my eyes to what was most worth looking at when I took my walks abroad, another, no less stringent, limited those walks to a small section of the town. On the map Philadelphia might stretch over a vast area with the possibility of spreading indefinitely, but for social purposes it was shut in to the East and the West by the Delaware and the Schuylkill,