Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/140

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120
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

my relief and said, "Oh, you refer to the Preface of the 'Doctrine of Sacrifice.' I think it is because he longs so much for Union." Ruskin said that was a very good answer. He repeated again that he was glad we thought Mr. Maurice knew what he meant. O. said, "O yes, and I would engage to make anyone who took the trouble to read a small piece of his writing carefully, master the style and understand him, in three-quarters of an hour." Ruskin said he would take her at her word; for he wished to understand Mr. Maurice, and that he would make out clearly, as his tutor used to say, what he did and what he did not understand, and ask her about any difficulty he had. So O. said, would he read the sermon on Mr. Mansfield's death? And he said he did not want to read anything about death; it made him so very sad. O. said she did not think it would make him sad to read what Mr. Maurice said about death, and explained who Mr. Mansfield was. When Ruskin remembered, he was interested, and took the sermon. They were talking about the want of music in Mr. Maurice's writings; and O. asked Ruskin what he thought of Kingsley's poems. Ruskin had not read them; but he did not like hexameters, he could not read them, even for the sake of a fine thought; for perhaps the thought would make him remember the hexameter, which would be too great a punishment. O. said she thought the ballads very beautiful,—R. said he only knew the poems in "Alton Locke," and he liked those very much. Mama asked if he knew the "Three Fishers," and asked us to sing it, which we did, without the music of course. Ruskin was pleased both with words and music. But he said that in general he thought Kingsley too sad, and that he injured the purpose for which he wrote by being exaggerated and