Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/486

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456
CHAP.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

way of life. They like the freedom and the change of hiring. Even young married people, who, as a class, settle in with most sense of attachment to place and things, expect to move to another neighbourhood if work changes, or to a larger house if it prospers. Perhaps it is partly the great cost of living, and the fact that rent has to be paid. But one rarely sees in English towns a house lived in by a family for generations, the large families filling from cellar to attic, and the small ones using the best rooms mainly. One fancies a small family should like a small house. Whereas clearly houses in the country in old times must have been handed down to very various occupants. Some little sense of individuality would be quickly stamped, even on London houses, if they were owned by occupiers. But the attachment to things seems giving place to a desire for their perfection, and we seem inclined rather to hire furniture or appliances for special occasions than to accept, even our houses, as in any way permanent. If they don't suit us. for the moment, we change them. Well there is a noble independence of things as well as a noble attachment to them ; and “ the old order changeth, giving place to new, And God fulfils Himself in many ways.” There will have to come back, how- ever, in one form or another, that element of rest in which alone certain human virtues can live ; but it may come in ways we do not know.

Deptford,

September, 1885 ?

To Mrs. Edmund Maurice.

All is very bright and well with us here, except

poor Queen Street, which is a constant anxiety. My