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Going To Philadelphia
by [?]

But perhaps New York exerts its own fascination upon Philadelphians, too. For when we returned we selfishly persuaded a friend of ours to ride with us on the train so that we might imbibe some of his ripe orotund philosophy, which we had long been deprived of. He is a merciless Celt, and all the way over he preached us a cogent sermon on our shortcomings and backslidings. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and it was nice to know that there was still someone who cared enough for us to give us a sound cursing. Between times, while we were catching breath, he expatiated upon the fact that New York is death and damnation to the soul; but when we got to Manhattan Transfer he suddenly abandoned his intended plan of there catching the next train back to the land of Penn. A curious light began to gleam in his mild eyes; he settled his hat firmly upon his head and strode out into the Penn Station. “I think I’ll go out and look round a bit,” he said. We wonder whether he has gone back yet?


The other day we had a chance to go to Philadelphia in the right way–by the Reading, the P. and R., the Peaceful and Rapid. As one of our missions in life is to persuade New York and Philadelphia to love one another, we will tell you about it.

Ah, the jolly old Reading! Take the 10 o’clock ferry from Liberty Street, and as the Plainfield kicks herself away from the slip with a churning of cream and silver, study Manhattan’s profile in the downpour of morning sun. That winged figure on the Tel and Tel Building (the loveliest thing in New York, we insist) is like a huge and queerly erect golden butterfly perched momently in the blue. The 10:12 train from Jersey City we call the Max Beerbohm Special because there are Seven Men in the smoker. No, the Reading is never crowded. (Two more men did get on at Elizabeth.) You can make yourself comfortable, put your coat, hat, and pipecleaners on one seat, your books, papers, and matches on another. Here is the stout conductor whom we used to know so well by sight, with his gold insignia. He has forgotten that we once travelled with him regularly, and very likely he wonders why we beam so cheerfully. We flash down the Bayonne peninsula, with a glimpse of the harbour, Staten Island in the distance, a schooner lying at anchor. Then we cross Newark Bay, pure opaline in a clear, pale blue light. H.G. Dwight is the only other chap who really enjoys Newark Bay the way it deserves to be. He wrote a fine poem about it once.

But we had one great disappointment. For an hour or so we read a rubbishy novel, thinking to ourself that when the Max Beerbohm Express reached that lovely Huntington Valley neighbourhood, we would lay down the book and study the scenery, which we know by heart. When we came to the Neshaminy, that blithe little green river, we were all ready to be thrilled. And then the train swung away to the left along the cut-off to Wayne Junction and we missed our bright Arcadia. We had wanted to see again the little cottage at Meadowbrook (so like the hunting lodge in the forest in “The Prisoner of Zenda”) which a suasive real-estate man once tried to rent to us. (Philadelphia realtors are no less ingenious than the New York species.) We wanted to see again the old barn, rebuilt by an artist, at Bethayres, which he also tried to rent to us. We wanted to see again the queer “desirable residence” (near the gas tanks at Marathon) which he did rent us. But we had to content ourself with the scenery along the cut-off, which is pleasant enough in its way–there is a brown-green brook along a valley where a buggy was crawling down a lane among willow trees in a wealth of sunlight. And the dandelions are all out in those parts. Yes, it was a lovely morning. We found ourself pierced by the kind of mysterious placid melancholy that we only enjoy to the full in a Reading smoker, when, for some unknown reason, hymn tunes come humming into our head and we are alarmed to notice ourself falling in love with humanity as a whole.