Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/198

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176
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

Solomon's wisdom. Oh that sky palpitating with colour, changing on every thousandth inch !

Kuskin asked me if I'd been reading anything lately ; and we talked about Tennyson. I said he was so very sad. He said, "You see far more to make you sad than I do ; but I don't think Tennyson a bit too sad. I haven't found that he sees far enough." "He knows, however," Ruskin said, "how far he does see, and that is more than other people do." I told him how years ago Tennyson's words had distressed me, because I believed that good was then and always, and that we it is who mar it all ; I forgot that what had distressed me most of all was Tennyson's apparent uncertainty about the fact at all. "So runs my dream," etc.

Ruskin said, "Do you think that good is coming now to bad people?" "Yes," I replied, "and that their greatest sin is in refusing it." "But how much more that is than most people see," he went on. "Oh, yes, I see that now," I agreed, smiling ; "I am amused now that I did not know that then."

We spoke about the wickedness of rich and poor people. Ruskin spoke of the little children like angels he saw running about the dirty streets, and thought how they were to be made wicked. I spoke about the frightful want of feeling in all classes ; but added that I thought rich people were now waking up to a sense of their duties. "Yes," he said, "I'm glad that you and I have probably a good deal of life still to come. I think we may live to see some great changes in society." "I hope at least," I said, "to see some great changes in individuals before I die." "Oh, no," he said, " that's quite hopeless ; people are always the same. You can't alter natures."

We talked a good deal about it ; but not quite