Page:Our Philadelphia (Pennell, 1914).djvu/139

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119
TRANSITIONAL

to the North and the South by a single line of the old rhyming list of the streets: "Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce and Pine." I have not the antiquarian knowledge to say who drew that rigid line, or when what had been all right for Washington and Provosts of the University and no end of distinguished people became all wrong for ordinary mortals—I have heard the line ridiculed, but never explained. No geographical boundary has been, or could be, more arbitrary, but there it was, there it is, and the Philadelphian who crosses it risks his good name. Nor can the stranger, though unwarned, disregard it with impunity. I remember when I met Mrs. Alexander Gilchrist, the first friend I made in London, and she told me the number of the house away out North Twenty-second Street where she lived for two years in Philadelphia, I had a moment of Philadelphia uncertainty as to whether her literary distinction could outbalance her social indiscretion. Philadelphia never had a doubt, but was serenely unconscious of her presence during her two years there. And yet she had then edited and published, with the help of the Rossettis, her husband's Life of Blake which had brought her fame in England, and her up-town house must have been one of the most interesting to visit. Walt Whitman was a daily guest and few American men of letters passed through Philadelphia without finding their way to it. Philadelphia, however, would scruple going to Heaven were Heaven north of Market Street.

It is an absurd prejudice, but I am not sure if I have