Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/68

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48
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

us, now that we have at last broken thro' the wall of ice that has surrounded these children's hearts, threatening to shape them into machines, not to educate them as human beings, having individuality, powers of perception and reflection; tho', thank God! it never could have achieved its work entirely because they would always have had power of loving, however blunted it might have been. … I do not think the influence that the rich and poor might have upon one another has been at all understood by either. I think we have all taken it too much for granted—a great deal more than we should have done that the giving is all on one side, the receiving on the other. … I have had a great success to-day, in destroying, I trust for ever, a six years' quarrel between two of the children. But a long work lies before us; and to-day's victory is but a small emblem of what must be. There must be many a cloud, and many a storm, and many an earthquake; and yet we must rise victorious, to lead these children to love truth, to realize it as more eternal, more real than any material substances; to teach them that in the principle of a sacrifice lies all strength; to open their hearts and eyes to all beauty; to bring out the principle of obedience and sacrifice, as opposed to selfishness and lawlessness. This is not a small work, and they must learn to do that which lies before them, to look upon the fulfilment of the duties which God has given them, in whatever position they may be, as that which will open to them the Kingdom of Heaven. This is a work which we must ask to be able to undertake in all humility, all energy, all earnestness, all faith; feeling that our only strength, our sufficient strength is that God is working with us.

I do not know whether I ought to apologise for writing