Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/70

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50
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

believe that I ought to be the agent in awakening it. It is a very wonderful work in which we are engaged. It is a very awful work, when you feel how easily you can reach their hearts, how hard it is to reach their consciences; they will do anything for you, they will do hardly anything because it is right. And tho' this is dangerous, because so false a ground to stand upon, yet this inclination testifies of a precious truth. It might teach us, if we would only learn, how much all human beings must crave for personality; how cold, how dead, how distant are all abstractions. A soul diffused thro' nature, an ideal, an essence, a principle, may seem to satisfy a comfortably situated philosopher. It is sufficient to dream and speculate about; it is not enough to live upon. Even in his most easy moments, there will be strange questionings in him as to what connection this God of his bears to life; and there will come a time when the ground beneath him shall be shaken; when he shall ask what he is standing upon; when evil shall rise before him as something very real, very near; then he will have to ask whether there is nothing nearer, nothing more real; yes! in his old creeds (if they deserve the name) there is an essence pervading all things. An essence, when this is a real battle, when evil is gathered up in some person, is felt to be most terribly personal. If evil is all vague, all mysterious, and yet most real, is there no Person stronger than it, mysterious through His divinity? Yes! then all history, all life will testify there is such a one. Man has been trying to bow down even to himself; he has longed to worship, but it must be something definite, something eternal; such a one has been shown. Every man is to act as if it were so. You are all to speak to those around you, as if they had that