Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/41

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EARLY WORK IN LONDON

the post of Manager at the Guild. She and Emily went to Weybridge. Miranda and Octavia continued to work for a time; but when it seemed likely that the Guild would fail, Miranda obtained daily teaching and Octavia applied to Ruskin to learn from him if there would be any chance of her supporting herself by painting. He replied most kindly, and asked her to let him have a table-top designed and painted by herself. This design[1] was a spray of bramble leaves in all their brilliant autumn colours, encircling the centre space which formed a background that was dark at one part and gradually grew lighter, and finally changed into soft blue, suggesting storm clouds passing away, and leaving a bright sky. Round the edge, among the leaves, were the words of the Psalm, " He brought them out of darkness and out of the shadow of death, and brake their bonds in sunder."

This led to Ruskin's undertaking to train Octavia and give her work. Soon after this came the final crisis at the Guild; and Octavia obtained the appointment mentioned in the last letter of this chapter.


June 14th, 1852.

To Miranda.

Thank you many many times for your sweet letter. It was such a comfort to me.

I am very well indeed now. I do not know when I have been better, except that I am rather weak. I am at Finchley with Minnie. I long dreadfully to go to town; but I think I can wait patiently till Wednesday.

I have been very unfortunate in being away from the Guild just at this time. Do you know Mr. Walter Cooper has been there? and Mr. Lewis and the trustees (Mr. Furnivall) go there so often; and all the bustle, and trying to feel Christian-like to Mr. and Miss ———. O, would it not have been delightful!

I have Miss Graham's books here; they are so interest-

  1. Mentioned in the letter of February 27th, 1856.