Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/115

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III
95
ABSENCE OF ART IN SCOTLAND

ful things in them. He had expected, too, that there would have been many competitors, and there were only two. He felt sorry for the failure; but not so sorry as he would have been, had he not noticed that things which begin too swimmingly do not always succeed so well as those which fail at first. The workmen would not be altogether pleased that instead of a prize, he gave them a lecture. "Last year," he said, "while travelling in the North of Scotland I was very painfully impressed by the absence of any art—amongst grand natural scenery; the inhabitants seem to be utterly without any art-expression of their perception of it; no buildings rise, no pictures are painted; truly the huts of grey stone are roofed with the peat, set picturesquely in oblique lines, which seem to have been marked by the stroke of some gigantic claymore. The only evidence of any power of design among them is the arrangement of the lines of colour in the tartan. And in Inverness, a city built on the shore of the most beautiful estuary in the world, at the foot of the Grampians, set as it were like a jewel to clasp the folds of the mountains to the blue zone of the sea the only building which has evidence of any recognition of art is the modern decorated prison."


4, Russell Place, 
March 19th, 1857.

To Mary Harris.

Some time ago Miss Sterling had a very long conversation with me on the way I am ruining my health, but especially about Sunday work; and I told her just what I have felt about it—that to leave off working was a privilege, to continue a duty—that I dared not claim any time as my own; that I had sometimes felt