Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/168

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148
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

103, Milton Street,

July 24th, 1859.

To Miranda.

I want to ensure giving you some account of a speech of Kingsley's. An Association of ladies has been formed to help sanitary reform ; they have published tracts, etc. Their first public meeting was held on Thursday at Willis's Rooms. Lord Shaftesbury made a speech as chairman, and urged ladies to attend to all the details of the question, as men could not. The legislative and theoretical was to be done only by them ; the minute and much of the practical by ladies. Mr. Kingsley said: "After the excellent résumé of your intentions which we have just heard in your report, there seems nothing left for me to say, except to ask you to consider what will be the result, if you succeed in accomplishing your aims. Now just consider! very great aims, very important aims—very dangerous aims some people would tell you that they are ; nothing less than saving alive of some four out of every five (?) children that die annually. If you believe the teaching of many great political economists, who think that England is in great danger of being over-populated, and who advocate preventive checks on the increase of population, you had better pause and think whether it wouldn't be better on the whole, just to let the children die ; whether we mayn't have difficulty in finding work and food for them. But if you hold, as I confess I do, that a human being is precisely the most precious thing the earth can have ; if you think that the English race is the very noblest race the world contains ; that it has, moreover, a greater power of adapting itself to every kind of climate and mode of life than any other, except