Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/57

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INFLUENCE OF RUSKIN

immense cedar of Lebanon, on the other a bank covered with golden celandines in full flower, and shaded by immense elms. Ascending a flight of steps leading to a glass door, we looked into a handsome hall; a footman came and showed us upstairs; we entered Mr. Ruskin's study, and he was there. He received us very warmly, asked us about our journey there, and about the weather, which I then for the first time perceived. The room was lofty, the furniture dark, the table covered with papers, the walls rich with pictures, a cabinet full of shells, with a dead fern or two; and looking out of the window over a garden (I never looked at it) on to a field which sloped very gently, more like a bit of park, large trees on it, with their shadows strongly marked by the bright sun, and very still; beyond, slopes of meadow and woodland, over which the shadows of large white clouds kept passing. Mr. Ruskin was very kind, and showed us numbers of manuscripts, which I admired more than I had any idea of, and sketches. He evidently thought my design well done, admired the fir and bramble, blamed my not knowing exactly what colours I should put everywhere, and illustrated these things—that in a fine design each thing is of importance, that the effect of the whole would be spoilt by the alteration of any part; that simplicity of form is needful to show colour; that no colour is precious till it is gradated; that grass is more yellow than we think; that holly is not green (made only with blue and yellow) (sic) but with crimson and white in it; that it is impossible to have colour on paper so light and so living as in nature; that, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, work becomes coarser, more floral, less grotesque than in the thirteenth. We had a delightful conversation about one thing. I