anxious about the sameness of our cities; the streets numbered one way, the avenues the other.
‘Can the young heart,’ they ask, ‘attach definite associations or tender emotions with an Arabic figure?
Is there romance in numeration?’
Probably they carry the criticism too far. As Nature, according to Emerson
, loves the number five, so does the well-bred New Yorker.
Surely ‘Fifth Avenue’ has as definite and distinctive a meaning for him as if there were no other number in the universe; and I am sure that in every city there is some youth who cannot look up at the street-sign denoting some Twenty-third Street or Thirty-fifth Street without a slight spasm of the heart.
Such associations last a great while, even if the street be disagreeable; the philosopher Descartes
was enamored in his youth with a young lady who squinted a little, and it is said that he never through life could behold without the tenderest emotion a woman having a cast in her eye. If Descartes
was permanently sentimental about orbs that were crooked, cannot others be so about streets that are straight?
Still, in the long run, monotony is not satisfying;