Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/346

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324
CHAP.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

made her own. She would quietly listen to a discussion of some point, and at last say a few weighty words in her calm, impressive, tactful way, which would carry with her the general assent of all, or nearly all, who heard her, and would thus promptly bring the debate to a sound conclusion.

I think it was in the 'eighties that, in a certain London parish, a progressive clergyman and his Church Council rather impulsively took up a housing improvement scheme. Before launching it, they were persuaded by one of their members to ask Miss Hill's advice. I was present at the meeting of the Council which she kindly consented to attend. According to what, I think, was her habit, she sat quite silent for perhaps an hour or more, while various members propounded their ideas and sketched out the scheme. When they had quite finished, she very quietly and gently, but convincingly, said a few words of common sense which showed that the scheme, though admirably intended, was unpractical; and from that moment it ceased to exist. This was an instance of the weight which she carried, by her tact and wisdom and experience, even in a meeting of people who, with one or two exceptions, were, I believe, complete strangers.


Derwent Bank, Boughton, Carlisle,
March 28th, 1875. 

To Mrs. N. Senior.

The boarding-out here is really heart-cheering to see.

What do you think that the Barnetts' great news was? That they had had a legacy, and wanted to spend it in rebuilding their worst court irrespective of