Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/169

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149
KINGSLEY ON SANITARY REFORM

the old Roman, ever had ; that, besides all this, it is, on the whole, a young race, showing no signs of decay ; you will see that it is worth while for political economists to look on the map, and see that at least four-fifths of the world is uninhabited, and not cultivated even in the most ordinary way."

I ought to tell you that, before this he had shown us how he expected women principally to be of use, by saying that he looked upon this Association most thankfully because, for reasons which he wasn't going to explain here, he looked upon the legislative part of sanitary reform with something more like despair than ever. They were not reasons connected with this Government, or with any possible Government, but resulted from his consideration of the character of the individuals, into whose possession small houses were passing more and more. He was not going into the question here ; it would have to be attended to, but it seemed a great way off. Therefore he hoped women would go, not only to the occupiers, but to the possessors of the house, and influence people of "our own class." And it's so easy," he said ; "there isn't a woman in this room who couldn't save the lives of four or five children within the next six months ; and this, without giving up me of your daily duties, one of your pleasures, one even of your frivolities, if you choose.

"You ask me what is more terrible than a field of battle, and I tell you outraged nature. Nature issues no protocols, nor warning notes to bid you be on your guard. Silently, and without stepping out of her way, by the same laws by which she makes the grass grow, she will kill and kill and kill and kill. And more than this, we have our courtesies of war and our chivalries of war ; a soldier will not kill an unarmed man, a woman