Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/580

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CHAPTER XI

LAST YEARS OF LIFE

1902–1912

Successful as was the period of work mentioned in the last chapter, it was soon followed by an event which produced a deep influence on the remaining years of Octavia’s life. Her mother had throughout her life been her most helpful guide and inspirer, and her death at the end of 1902 produced a blank which could not be filled. Yet, in spite of this blow, the last period of Octavia’s life was marked by much vigorous work, as will be seen by the quotations from her “Letters to her Fellow Workers.” The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had steadily increased her sphere of operations, and at the time of her death she and her fellow workers were managing property for the Commissioners in Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster, and Walworth.

But far more trying were the anxieties connected with the latest acquisition of house property in the West-end, since the houses in this district had been used for evil purposes; and others near them were still misused in the same way. This made it doubly difficult to raise the standard of living among the people, and to protect the respectable tenants from annoyance.

Yet even here the vigour and sympathy of her fellow workers gave her much encouragement, especially such utterances as that of the policeman mentioned in the letter dated November 28th, 1911.

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