24 APRIL 1915, Page 40


Mae. PRIINELL draws a sharp line of demarcation between those Americans whom she calls " old-fashioned," "Americans by birth with many generations of American forefathers, who are rapidly becoming rare creatures," and "the hordes of new- fashioned Americans who were anything and everything else no longer than a year or a week or an hour ago." It is these people, "horn," as she says, "in the Ghetto, in Syria, or some other remote part of the earth, whose recollections are prized." However that may be in America, we can assure Mrs. Pennell that her charming, leisurely descriptions of her native town and of some of its citizens will afford pleasure to her English readers. The early autobiographical passages in particular form an interesting record of a period that has now passed away. She tells us of her childhood, spent chiefly in a convent school near Philadelphia, and of occasional visits to the house of her grandparents in "Eleventh and Spruce," where she was brought into touch with life as it was lived by the old generation of Friends. But it was the convent that she looked upon as home, and when she left it for her father's house she found life comparatively empty until she began her career as a successful writer under the wing of her uncle, Charles Godfrey Leland. She then met Mr. Pennell and came into contact with other interesting people, whom she brings vividly before us in these pages. Mrs. Pennell apparently sets great store by "ancestors," and she seems glad that in Walt Whitman's sitting-room at Camden (a suburb of Philadelphia) was to be seen the portrait of "an ancestor," and she wondered whether this possession, "so ancient as to grow dark and dingy in a frame, did not make it easier to play the democrat and call every man comrade—or Camarado I should say, as Walt

• Our Philadelphia. Desnibed t7 Elialbetis Robin. Pennell. Ilinstrated . with 105 Lithographs by Joseph Tonnes. London J. B. Lippincott Co. (50s.tleta •

Whitman said, with his curious fondness for foreign words and sounds." All Mrs. Pennell's reminiscences are set in an ample background, either of the city itself, its fine architecture, and the movement of its streets, or else amongst the woods and rivers of the surrounding country. If her descriptions sometimes appear "long drawn out," it is perhaps because of the physical weight of this volume, which, if the author's style were less agreeable and the illustrations lees engaging, would deter any reader who was not a worthy descendant of "Strongi'th'arm" from attempting to wage an unequal struggle with this mighty book. But the more one looks at Mr. Pennell's lithographs, even in these trying circumstances, the more attractive do they become. For if at first sight the delicate touches with which he builds them up may seem to tend towards a monotony of light and elegant workmanship, closer attention reveals a subtle variety which is infinitely charming. He knows the spell which can reveal to us the " ancient peace" of old Philadelphia brooding over such places as the "Arch Street. Meeting House" or "Down Pine Street," or in "Delaney Place" where we can by the magic of his art enjoy a moment's respite from the anxious preoccupations of to-day. In other pictures he puts the bustle of a city street before our eyes, and with well-balanced effects of light and shade infuses life into a crowd and movement into a tramcar. He makes good use of interesting perspectives in the long vistas of broad and narrow streets, as in the frontispiece and "The Cherry Street Stairs near the River," and in many other plates. Some parts of Philadelphia are built in the classical style, and Mr. Pennell gives us some charming examples of colonnades and pediments. The artist is not content with showing us only the outside of his city, but admits us to many delightful interiors. We would specially mention " Wyck, the Doorway from Within," where tlei black- and-white medium is made to glow, so skilful is the artist's arrangement of sunshine and shadow.