Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/139

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OCTAVIA AND RUSKIN ON F. D. MAURICE

of his, he found it such hard work. He could not follow him. He seemed like a man who did not see clearly, and was always stretching out, moving on in the right direction, but in a fog.

Ockey said, "No! I don't believe it is so at all. Mr. Maurice quite understands what he means himself; and the difficulty which people find in understanding him, arises partly from his style, and partly that people require to understand his way of putting things." Ruskin said, "I'm very glad to hear you say that you think Mr. Maurice knows what he means himself; but I had always thought that the very greatest men were essentially simple. The only great man I know who is not, Dante, throws out a word or two quite knowing what he means, and says, 'Think out that,' and people do not know which end of the thing they have got, and so quarrel over what he does mean. But when he says anything directly, it is very clear and simple. And so with all really great men."

I said that Mr. Maurice had a wonderful power of understanding his pupils' answers, of finding out what they meant by confused answers, of getting at the truth they wished to bring out, and of putting it so clearly to them. Ruskin replied that that was a very great thing. Ockey said yes it was very beautiful; and that she could not understand how it was he had such a knowledge of human nature, when he had no knowledge of individuals. I said, "Perhaps he has more than you think." Ockey said, "Of course you would solve the matter in that way." Ruskin asked why, and 0. said, "Because Minnie has such an admiration for Mr. Maurice."—Ruskin said, " Well, Minnie, as you admire Mr. Maurice so much, can you explain why it is that he is so pained at being misunderstood?" Ockey answered for me, to