Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/141

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
III
121
RUSKIN ON THE DANGER OF UNSELFISHNESS

not correct in his facts. We were talking about happiness, and Kingsley's suffering so much when he came to town. Ruskin said for his part he was never happy except when he was selfish, when he shut himself up, and read only the books he liked, or enjoyed the sunshine and nature. He did not know how it was that, whenever he did what he believed to be right, he suffered for it; that it seemed like his unlucky star. O. said, "Don't talk about stars. What do you mean by it?" R. said, "Well, I will give you a small crumb of an instance. When I was travelling a great many years ago, at a time my father was ill, I met with a picture of Turner's, one of the finest he ever did. I did not quite know the value of it myself; and I knew that it would vex my father if I bought it without his leave; so I wrote back to him. Meanwhile the picture was bought by some one, who utterly destroyed it. Now if I had bought it, it might have made my father lose his appetite for a day, but nothing more. And this is only one small instance. It is always the way when I do right. Miss Edgeworth would have made the picture go to a round of people, converting them to Turner, and come back to me crowned with laurel. I was brought up on Miss Edgeworth's principles; but I have not found them at all true in my case." Mama said there was a truth in them, but that in some respects they were very false; that she believed that every one had to suffer very much in doing right; that she had felt it so particularly about Ruskin himself; that the brave and true things he said were often misunderstood; but that she always felt her heart warm towards him, and she thought to herself,—if only people would receive them as they were meant. "But," she said, "I think you may be very happy that you do