Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters/Chapter 4
MILTON STREET, DORSET SQUARE
DECEMBER, 1858—APRIL, 1861.
When Miranda went to Italy, in 1858, Octavia suggested to her grandfather that it would be more economical, as well as more comfortable, if she and her mother and Emily could move into unfurnished rooms. Octavia said that, if he would lend the money for furniture, she would be able to repay him out of what would be saved on rent. He kindly undertook to lend the required amount; and, after the rooms had been secured, Octavia made out a list of necessary furniture, with approximate prices. Then after her day’s work, she visited various shops, and with Gertrude’s and Emily’s help chose what was required. If she spent more on one thing, she took the amount off something else; and she determined that she would keep to the fixed sum. This was achieved. Then she planned and cut the carpet, and each evening she and Emily sat on the floor sewing it. One night they worked till 12 o’clock. All this time Octavia was going each morning to Dulwich, where she stood drawing for about four hours, then she went to Great Ormond Street to the Women’s Classes, and walked from there to Milton Street, Dorset Square. Yet she was as merry as possible, and sang and repeated poetry while she and Emily were at work. And in due time she repaid the money that she had borrowed.
103, Milton St., Dorset Sq.,
January 4th, 1859.
Mrs. Hill to her daughter Miranda.
I only came to this house to-day. It is so very pretty; you and Florence would be enchanted with it. Dear Ockey and Minnie must have worked so hard; they would not let me have any trouble, but arranged it all, and beautiful indeed it looks: the crimson table cover and chair cover and green carpet and white muslin curtains and white walls with roses, make such a lovely combination, and I enjoy the nice square high rooms. Miss Sterling, who called yesterday, exclaimed, "What a dainty room you have." It certainly does give one a most pleasant sense of simplicity, cleanliness, and beautiful colour.
January 25th, 1859.
Octavia to Miranda.
… I think you will like our dear new home; the prettiness of it is a continual delight to me, and I am most thankful for its order and cleanliness. … I am so fond of it. … I was amazed to find how much you had all thought of Ruskin's statement about my accuracy. Of course I was disappointed, because I thought the battle was won; but you see it referred to pencil and colour sketches, in which I had not tried mainly for accuracy, believing that I need not try, that the amount of measurement I gave it secured it; and I had other things to aim at. It was not colour or pencil sketches that he ever praised for accuracy. (Oh yes, the first coloured one; but then it had so little colour). I never thought for a moment my eye was accurate about anything, unless it were matching colours. I only thought that, by some miracle, the things I had done were as accurate as human work need be; and that all would continue so, if I worked in the same way. Now that I know where I am, I don't doubt I can win the battle in time by steady work; and I have not been the least cast down about it, since the first hour I knew it. I am very impatient to get home and see how Minnie is. I didn't like leaving the darling all alone.
To her Sisters.
… Don't let anyone frighten you about my health; I think they none of them are frightened now; but, whether or no, I am resolved to take the most immense care; for I think it probable this will be required for a little time, and that it is very important that I should preserve both health and strength. … I enjoy Dulwich extremely; you know it is so nice to see a little country. I only go three days in the week now, because of fatigue and expense. … I have such lovely walks home past trees with rooks' nests, you remember them. Our home is in such exquisite order; for dear M. has the housekeeping and everything is as orderly and noiseless and comfortable as can be. I hope she won't find it too much for her... the rooms are very pretty and comfortable. For my part I greatly fear I'm growing idle, I never seem hard worked now, and I never seem to do needlework or anything. I take it however very quietly, and don't mean to exert myself just now unless I need. … Ruskin was so kind when he heard I had been ill. He wrote to tell me to write and let him know whether I ought not to stop working for some time....
February 7th.—We went to a Pre-Raph. Exhib., and saw the loveliest wood in Spring, full of harebells, a thorn tree casting a shadow over some of the flowers.
February 27th, 1859.
Emily to her sister Miranda..
… Ockey has just received another Veronese to copy for her work at home. She has begun doing it so beautifully. She is distressed at only working three hours on Dulwich days; so she has begun working in her spare time at the College, and by that she will manage six hours every day. …
We are very regular with our reading three evenings a week from nine to ten. Mama reads and Ockey and I work. … I think Ockey is becoming converted to Shakespeare. Dear Mama reads it so beautifully.
My dear Mr. Ruskin,
I thank you for your letter. "What has been the matter?" you ask. Physically, only this, I have severe pains in walking distances that I used to manage easily. But you would quite laugh if you saw me, to hear me speak of want of strength.
But the truth is that, if enough is as good as a feast, too little must be as bad as a famine; and I feared that I had just too little for my work. But everyone agrees that it isn't fatigue that has made me ill, but responsibility and worry and want of change. It's my own fault. I ought to take things more quietly and not think that so very much depends on my deciding wisely, and not nearly break my heart if things go wrong for a time.
I think you're mistaken about the teaching, which is hopeful and refreshing. As to sentiment there are few people who have not stronger feelings than I have. I assure you, I am considered the person in the family, who is without imagination, poetry, feeling, affection. Good only to do a sum, carry a weight, go a long walk in the rain, or decide any difficult question about tangible things. You happen to know the other side of me. All that's kept in, that I may do my work; and you don't know what a life of calculation and routine and steadiness mine is. I'm told that the best developed organ that I have is that of caution.
However, thank you, I hope I haven't "come to a smash." I'm gloriously well to-day, and I've done my full work; perhaps I may manage five days at Dulwich after all. I think I wrote too seriously, and I beg your pardon. You can imagine the horror of being ill, to a person whose whole heart is in what they do, and who has never been obliged to calculate strength, but only time.
Never mind, I'm in glorious spirits now. The Salvator is going on well. I'm not the least afraid of anything. I will conscientiously take care of my health; and, if I lose it then, I can't help it. I should like to leave them all comfortable, and learn to love them, and to live to do some drawing worth doing and to see the Alps; and then I'd leave the world in God's hands who made it. In the meantime I'll order the dinners, and try to be quiet and sensible, if you will go on having patience with me. You'll see me rational and quiet some day. You mustn't expect a great deal of wisdom, in spite of my having begun with hard experiences so young. You know I'm only a little more than twenty; and it takes a long time and a great deal to teach me anything. I assure you I try to be calm and sensible about all things, and if I say foolish things, I don't often do them, as our condition here shows. I never, but for two days in my life, felt so strongly about anything as to prevent my working and both times I think you would admit that I had sufficient cause. So neither feelings nor excitement do anyone very much harm.
Most sincere thanks for your letter. You won't forget the out-of-the-way ways that I can help you. I will be sure not to overwork myself; and it would be a great pleasure to me to help you more.
103, Milton Street, Dorset Square,
March 6th, 1859.
… Ruskin has written me such a kind letter telling me to take as long a holiday as I like. … I am to do "such a difficult thing from Turner" at South Kensington soon. I was much puzzled, knowing that would prevent my beginning work till ten o'clock any day; so after much thought I meant to give up the College. I mentioned it to Miss Sterling, who seemed quite dismayed, said I must know they could not possibly supply my place; it was impossible; the whole flourishing or decay of the classes depended on whom they had in my place; my value could not be calculated in £. s. d., or in any number of mechanical performances. So after calculating that I could get at the worst thirty or thirty-three hours' work weekly, I resolved to remain. I had no idea Miss Sterling cared so much about it. … To-morrow we have a grand tea-meeting at the Young Women's; Lord Shaftesbury will be there. … I draw at the College daily now. I have such nice expeditions to Dulwich, I go over the fields, and now the leaves are coming out it is most lovely.
Minnie and I never sing here now at all, we haven't time.
March 27th, 1859.
I really could not write last Sunday. I am now writing in the lovely early morning, before setting off to go to the eight o'clock Communion service at Lincoln's Inn. We shall think of you both. … I have nearly finished the cloud I have been copying at Dulwich, and am anxiously expecting Ruskin's criticism on it. You know I am going to Normandy on or about the 16th; fortunately I do not yet realise it, except as a point before which certain works must be done and preparations made; but when I am fairly off I suppose I shall believe it; and not until then. I think you would be very much interested in some of my drawing pupils. One little boy, James, is my great favourite. He is ten years old, and tells me he has lived in Worcestershire until last September; but he is not like a country child, he is so intelligent. He has bright beautiful eyes, and I like to see his queer little figure in his pretty white blouse waiting for me at the door. He is so earnest and interested in his drawing, and works so very hard at it, it is quite delightful to teach him. Then there is a little girl, Annie, who is now so good and attentive. I like to see her dear pretty little head, bent down over her drawing. She has a beautifully fair skin, and when I find fault with her, all her face colours; and she has large blue eyes with long lashes and soft fair hair. She hasn't special talent for drawing like James, but I like her personally so much. My women are progressing surely and steadily. They're getting the right spirit and aims. I take them leaves and sprays to show them their beauties and teach them their names. … I am reading the first volume of "Modern Painters." I thought you would like to look at these pictures in the light of his words. … I am so very much wrapped up in my drawing I seem to think of little else; and yet I do manage somehow to remember and dwell on a great deal besides. I often think of you both.
103, Milton Street,
April 3rd, 1859.
I have been suffering with severe pains in my back, but else I am quite well and I hope Normandy will set me up in health. It will seem very strange to you, but I dread it. I have been working so long, I don't feel as if I knew how to stop. I am afraid I shall be in everyone's way, and do everything awkwardly and ill. Mary will forgive me however. Dear Mary! Mrs. Harrison writes that she is looking forward to my visit most eagerly; and she thinks it will do her a great deal of good.
You will know how thankful I am that we shall stay in this dear little home. I need not tell you how kind everyone is, you know they always were, but it seems to me as if people even increased in kindness wherever I go, from the old man who takes care of the pictures at Dulwich, and brings me his first wallflowers and spray of sweet-briar, to Mr. Maurice's ready advice; poor and rich, learned and unlearned, old foe and new friend seem to help us; when I am good and humble and walk home watching the sunset or rooks' nests against the night sky, I often repeat the Magnificat and think thankfully of all people's kindness. Sometimes I look back thro' the strange long years and trace the growth of things and people. Then, dears, I think of you both.
Via della Scala,
April 5th, 1859.
Florence to Octavia.
You ask me if there is any danger for English at Florence. Everyone says that as long as the English minister is here, we are perfectly safe; but, if England takes any decided part in the war, if the minister goes, and it is not safe for the English to remain, they will be ordered to go, and a certain time allowed them; but people seem to think it very unlikely. … There is a great deal of excitement among the Italians, and a great deal of fine feeling. I heard an anecdote the other day which pleased me very much, particularly as it was about a Leghorn boatman, which I had always thought to be the most horrid class possible. There were two young men volunteers, who had to cross in a boat to go somewhere; on landing, they gave the boatman 5 pauls; he still held out his hand; they thought he was not contented, and gave him a Napoleon; he continued to hold out his hand, "What is it?" they said.—"Take your money back," he replied. "I never have taken any from volunteers, and hope never to do so; but if you would shake hands with me, I should like to shake hands with any one who is going to fight for Italy."
45, Great Ormond St.
April 16th, 1859.
Emily to her sister Miranda.
You will be glad to hear that Ockey has really gone to Dieppe … It seemed a great pity to shorten her holiday by two days, because of her college work this afternoon, which I was fortunately able to take. … She saw Ruskin yesterday. She went to Dulwich and took her work from there to Denmark Hill. Ruskin had said in his letter that he had only a quarter of an hour to spare; so of course she was careful to go away after a quarter of an hour; but altho' her visit was so very short, it seems to have been very nice. Ruskin was very pleased with all her work. The cloud is to be left till his return in the autumn; and O. is to draw other things at Dulwich, which Ruskin wants for the "Modern Painters." She is also to copy Turners at South Kensington, directly the pictures go there from Marlborough House; so this summer she will have three days at Dulwich and three at Kensington.
In speaking of the cloud, O. said that it was all wrong; why did Ruskin praise it? And he said he knew it was wrong, but that it was very difficult indeed. Salvator had a great deal of power, and what he blamed him for was for misdirecting it.
The Veronese which O. had been doing at home, Ruskin was delighted with. He said he wanted to keep it, to show some people what girls could do. You may think what a state of excitement dear Ockey was in yesterday with seeing Ruskin and with the thought of her journey. … Her costume looked so pretty and suitable. Gertrude made her a present of such a beautiful black silk dress, so nicely made that it has disclosed to me, what I did not know before, that Ockey has an extremely pretty figure.
27, Faubourg de la Barre, Dieppe.
April 18th, 1859.
To her Mother.
I am quietly, splendidly happy; everyone is kindness itself. I had a very rough passage indeed, but the wind was favourable and never shall I forget the vanishing of the cliffs of England in a deep intense blue mist of cloud, as the storms came on. I stayed on deck all the six hours we were on board, standing on a bench looking over the changing space of waters; the fresh free wind blowing delightfully. The old look of all things is enchanting; high flint walls are built up the hills, out of which grow hundreds of wallflowers. The large old church, with its time-eaten stones and boldly carved gargoyles, delights me more than anything; its pinnacles rise up in the sunny air; and its lovely flying buttresses against the blue sky, all crested and crowned with wallflowers and ferns; and all the grey stone mellowed and toned by thousands of gold and silver lichens.
I hope you are all comfortable and have all that you want. Tell Minnie that, though I gave her directions about what she was to do, she is not to think that I mean to bind her to do these things if circumstances alter. She will use her own judgment.
I took a vehement determination to have nothing to do with a short stout repulsive foreigner, who sat in the railway carriage opposite to me, and who, to my consternation, was most polite and attentive.
Tell Minnie this, it will amuse her. He was a man of immense curiosity; and, I must in justice allow, he gave me no cause whatever for my aversion to him unless it were that, though he was willing enough to discourse about France, Switzerland, etc., or open and shut windows when he had nothing else to do, he took good care to keep all his energies for himself at any time of bustle; and, after chattering nearly three hours to me, directly we reached Dieppe he never even looked round to see if I'd met my friends, or told or showed me anything, though he knew the regulations of the city well—which would have surprised me if I'd trusted his nasty eye, and would have made me feel desolate, if I hadn't been who I am, and in a state of happy and independent resolution (which, perhaps, I ought to give him credit for perceiving). I was really glad of his chatter at last, for I thought the voyage long.
April 24th, 1859.
It has seemed to me so wonderful really to see large spaces of almost uninhabited country; they give me a sense of loneliness and quiet, quite unequalled and delightful. We came to a large lonely chateau, surrounded with firs, just as the sun sank behind a low hill, towards which it looked. The hill, the firs, the birches opposite stood up dark against the sunset. Oh! it was so lovely! That night (Thursday) we slept at Houden in a room with great white-washed beams, looking out over the yard. We didn't sleep, we were so cold; and we got up only just in time for the diligence to Rambouillet. The country was flattish, and very like Weybridge in soil and trees and plants; only the poplars were exquisitely graceful. I never knew what avenues were till now. They are lovely, and seem to me to be particularly interesting in being so orderly; yet the order was only discerned, the beauty only felt, from one spot. …
We could hardly bear the suspense of climbing the hill, on which it stood. We wanted to see the carving, and could hardly have borne the time, but that we saw its spires. At last we stood at its foot, and saw the great thing towering in the sunlighted blue vault. We could not tear ourselves away from the rich old porches at the north end; tho' we were sinking with hunger;—one exclaiming, "Oh this is St. Peter—his key! look!" Another discovering, with delight, that there was the Virgin, or there was the Righteous Judgment. At last we went and had dinner, and on returning, entered. I think you will be greatly amused to hear of our adventures, and all the people we have seen. I have to do all the talking to people, I'm getting quite ready to ask questions, and it increases the fun very much. We have been in the most complete country and among quite rustic things; and I have laughed more since I came to France, than I have done for years, I think. I can't say that I think the people very nice; they are extremely polite, except the soldiers, but are wretched beggars. … I hope, dear people, that all goes on well with you, and that all is comfortable. Pray tell me if it is not.
Via della Scala,
Tuesday, April 24th, 1859.
Florence to Octavia.
There is great excitement in the town; a great many people about, and a great many gens d'armes. It seems the troops here want to go off to the war; and the Grand Duke does not know what to do; the soldiers are in great excitement, and it was said if he did not let them go there would be a revolution, or something or other to-day.
The poor old Hyena does not know what to do, he has too many keepers. I believe the end will be he will abdicate, and leave the management of affairs to his sons. Many people are going: and still more are talking about it, because of the war and the unsettled state of affairs. I cannot say I feel at all afraid, I feel so perfectly safe. I am in the hands of One who knows what is best. In case of a revolution, everyone seems to think there would be no danger for private individuals. The Italians, especially the Florentines, are a good people, passionate, but not bloodthirsty and savage like the French. It would certainly be very shocking to be among scenes of violence; and I do hope the French will not come here, on any excuse. Of course there is no knowing.
Wednesday, April 25th, 1859.
Well here we are without a government! Old Hyena has decamped, and all the family. The accounts at present are rather confused; but it seems the troops said they would go to the war, and it would be the worse for the Grand Duke if he did not let them; so he was obliged to consent: but then the people wanted a constitution, and he was to tell them his decision at the Pitti Palace this afternoon; I do not know if he appeared; but at six he was gone. To-morrow General something or other from the King of Sardinia comes. You have no idea of the happy wild excitement the town has been in all day; everywhere the Italian colours, troops of men, with bright coloured flags, going about the streets, crying "Viva l'Italia!" "Viva il re Vittorio Emanuele!" "Viva l'independenza Italiana!"; at the cafes and hotels great flags up, and hardly a man without a bow or feather or something of Italian colours. It is very impressive and exciting; there is something so beautiful in unity, in men forgetting for a time their petty cares and dislikes, enmities, passions, interests, uniting in the great common feeling. Coachmen seem especially patriotic. I have not seen one without the Italian colours; perhaps it may be that, being mezza festa, and many people wanting carriages, in the present state of feeling a coachman who had the colours would be preferred. M. would call it very wrong of me to be suspicious, and attribute bad motives to people.
I cannot help pitying poor old Hyena; I hope he is pretty comfortable. No doubt he has been sending his things off for a long time. He would not have been bad, if he had been a private gentleman, poor fellow; he was out of his place, like a poor old dog having to draw a great cart. There were great placards up saying that the Grand Duke had gone, and that General —— from Piedmont would come, and in the meanwhile begging of the people to behave properly, and not to make any disturbance. But they were as peaceable as possible; seemed as if they would like to shake hands with everyone. I never saw such a happy expression on the Florentine faces; it was quite pleasant; even the little dust-heap boys had the colours on their ragged hats. I wonder how it will all end. What a terrible thing war is. A thing for the ninth and not the nineteenth century. …
B. told me to say we have had a most peaceable revolution; and there is no danger. It seems the Grand Duke first refused everything that was demanded; but afterwards said he would do anything; but the people would not accept then.
May 12th, 1859.
Octavia to Gertrude.
I've enjoyed all. It is right to let people hear of joy in this world. We were so delighted with Mortain, where there are immense grey granite rocks, and soft green dells of richest grass, bright with millions of flowers. … I saw showers of rain in the distance changed to bright mist, as they were between me and the sun, and the mist swept over the waves of blue hills, and from higher still among wastes of moor desolate with wind, tho' bright with furze and cranberry, to which I climbed with hands and feet. I saw the sea, nine miles away, one golden blaze, on which the motionless grey rock of Mt. St. Michel stood faint and clear and firm. I delighted in the diligences. We always took the coupé, and there we were almost always alone. … The view from the top of the castle of Mt. St. Michel was magnificent, rising suddenly 300 feet out of the flat sand. This granite rock is very impressive; it had a wonderful tendency to become deep purple and has a look of solemn solitude which is rather increased than diminished by its one neighbour Tombe-lame. … Light and shadow passed quickly over the immense space now turning the grey sand to dazzling yellow white, now lighting a silver thread of some far-off, before unnoticed, stream; now leaving some space of water the brightest green, or purest blue; while far in the distance a long white line tells of the approach of the tide of dashing waves and rushing waters, and of the deep unfathomed ocean.
To Miss Sterling.
My own impression about the Library is that all books may be read rightly or idly; that, if the pupils are inclined to choose the latter course, they will not read "instructive books" and will get no good from wise ones. I should choose books by great authors, whether fiction, poetry or science; because they will repay earnest and careful reading; and any which seem to me likely to be delightful, because they treat truthfully anything that ought to interest people. I would suggest a few books; but they will probably be those which have taught me much, and which other people have been interested in, more because they knew them better than other books than because they were naturally suited to them. Longfellow, Wordsworth, Scott, George Herbert (too difficult "?), Tennyson, Mrs. Gaskell's "Moorland Cottage," "Lizzie Leigh and other Tales" (cutting out "Lizzie Leigh") and "Mary Barton" (perhaps). For the girls "Moral Courage" and "Steadfast Gabriel," published by Chambers. The "Ocean Child," "Birds and Flowers," and some of Miss Martineau's books are full of right and interesting thoughts. Miss Bremer's "Strife and Peace" and "The Home" always seemed to me very beautiful books. If we might add one copy of the "Lectures on Great Men" to the Library and one of the "Feats on the Fiord" I think it would be well; the former would be a most valuable addition, and the more often it was read the better. I don't know the price of Kingsley's "Good News" nor whether it be much read, or if not whether or no it would be worth while to get it for Mary Moore's benefit. I know very well the harm that would be done by any one reading these books only; and I would give you a far more serious list if I were able, provided always that they were great books of their kind. None of the books that I have read of a more studious kind seem to me the least suited to them; and of course you will remember that, where study is voluntary, it is begun because something has become living and interesting to us, as poets and writers of fiction often can make things, and people who love actual fact, like Ruskin and Carlyle, so seldom do. I don't mean to exclude the two last from amongst the poets; but there is a great deal of simple fact and logic, untouched by feeling, in both. It often seems to me that, if we all had more of the poet nature, we should get people much more interested in all things near and far; and then, if we loved truth more, they would go thro' much otherwise dry hard work to know facts. And one thing more, we mustn't forget that reading forms but a small portion of a working woman's life.
103, Milton St., Dorset Sq.,
May 29th, 1859.
I have Ruskin's notes ready to send you by the next opportunity; and they will tell you far more about the exhibition than I can. I saw him on Monday week; and he told me that he saw from all I had done that I had the power to become all he wanted of me, namely a thoroughly good copyist. He wants me to learn to copy in water-colours the great Venetian masters. He asked me if I could be quite happy to do this, and told me he could be quite happy to spend his life thus, if he were in circumstances to do it. He then said to me that he had thought of setting me this summer to copy things for Mod. Paint.; but that, as that would not teach me much, it would be better for him, if I could be happy not to do any work which was to be used by him at once; to get a greater power. "In the one case," he said, "at the end of six or eight months I should have several useful drawings, but you would be of little more use than now; whereas, in the other, you would have attained considerable power." …
I believe it will be a real comfort to Ruskin, to feel that I am going to copy the pictures that he feels to be so precious, and that are being so destroyed. You see no one is taught to be humble enough to give up setting down their own fancies, that they may set down facts; and they deify these fancies and notions and imaginations of their own hearts, till they really think it a mean thing to represent nature, or other men's works simply and faithfully: people hate copying because they do not copy simply, I believe. One tells me that when she copies, she is striving to appropriate the excellence of the picture; another that she is not wanting to copy the picture, but to sketch nature; she therefore will go so far off that she cannot see it clearly. … One lady assures me she should despise a person who paints exactly from nature, as she should a person who copies pictures: that Art has a higher function than either to delight or to teach ; it has to remind us of our glory before the fall. Mr. D. informs me that in the time I take to copy a foreground, he would get the essence of every picture in the Dulwich collection. It sets me wondering what the essence of a picture is, that it can be got at so rapidly ; and whether, if it is worth much, it may not also be worth much labour to gain it, and require much of the much talked of thought and spirit of man ; whether faithful and earnest work may not be the only fit preparation for perception of truth in picture or in life ; whether before we can understand, much less embody, noble truth, it may not be necessary firmly to believe day after day, when it is inconvenient, and when it is agreeable, that there really is a truth and a God of Truth, distinct from the imaginations of men's hearts ; whether simplicity is not much more necessary than excitement, even in art. So that I think one has reason to be very thankful to have been taught to look at real lines and colours and sizes, which one may not misrepresent ; which don't change when we change, nor depend for their power or beauty on our thoughts about them.
June 26th, 1859.
To Florence. ... I quite trust Ruskin about his plans for me ; only I wonder why he should speak so despisingly of all copies, and yet set me to do them ; but some day I shall understand it. I haven't any doubt that Mrs. Browning feels passionately and intensely ; but probably her passion is both controlled and concealed. I think her turning away, when you spoke of England, simply showed she saw you were feeling a great deal, and she meant to help you to conceal it. Ruskin says of her that she is the only entirely perfect example of womanhood he knows. You will see her again ? I wish it were possible, or would be of any use, to thank her thro' you for all she has taught me. You know sometimes as I walk to Dulwich in the scorching sun and am doubtful, or as tiredly I return up the New Road, the sunset or moonlight speaking less to me than haunting uncertain fears about those I love, I begin repeating " Isabel's Child " to myself. The wonderful power of contrast of wild storm without, and dream within, the glory of the child's vision, the almost awful infinity of thought in every verse, the perfect reality of the whole, are fresh delights to me, and yet I forget them all in the perfect rest of the last verse.
Earth's tender and impassioned few !
Take courage to entrust your love
To Him so named, Who guards above
Its ends, and shall fulfil,
Breaking the narrow prayers that may
Befit your narrow hearts, away
In His broad loving will."
And numbers of other lines and verses and poems teach me day by day. Well ! you ask what I mean about not singing. Simply that I sing out of tune and haven't time to learn not to do so, having a bad ear ; and so I think I'd better make up my mind to the fact.Thanks, dearest, for all your sympathy ; but don't be unhappy about me for any reason. I am so happy ; and more so day by day. Miss Rogers returns this week. Mrs. Yarnall has a little daughter.
103, Milton Street,
July 24th, 1859.
I want to ensure giving you some account of a speech of Kingsley's. An Association of ladies has been formed to help sanitary reform ; they have published tracts, etc. Their first public meeting was held on Thursday at Willis's Rooms. Lord Shaftesbury made a speech as chairman, and urged ladies to attend to all the details of the question, as men could not. The legislative and theoretical was to be done only by them ; the minute and much of the practical by ladies. Mr. Kingsley said: "After the excellent résumé of your intentions which we have just heard in your report, there seems nothing left for me to say, except to ask you to consider what will be the result, if you succeed in accomplishing your aims. Now just consider! very great aims, very important aims—very dangerous aims some people would tell you that they are ; nothing less than saving alive of some four out of every five (?) children that die annually. If you believe the teaching of many great political economists, who think that England is in great danger of being over-populated, and who advocate preventive checks on the increase of population, you had better pause and think whether it wouldn't be better on the whole, just to let the children die ; whether we mayn't have difficulty in finding work and food for them. But if you hold, as I confess I do, that a human being is precisely the most precious thing the earth can have ; if you think that the English race is the very noblest race the world contains ; that it has, moreover, a greater power of adapting itself to every kind of climate and mode of life than any other, except the old Roman, ever had ; that, besides all this, it is, on the whole, a young race, showing no signs of decay ; you will see that it is worth while for political economists to look on the map, and see that at least four-fifths of the world is uninhabited, and not cultivated even in the most ordinary way."
I ought to tell you that, before this he had shown us how he expected women principally to be of use, by saying that he looked upon this Association most thankfully because, for reasons which he wasn't going to explain here, he looked upon the legislative part of sanitary reform with something more like despair than ever. They were not reasons connected with this Government, or with any possible Government, but resulted from his consideration of the character of the individuals, into whose possession small houses were passing more and more. He was not going into the question here ; it would have to be attended to, but it seemed a great way off. Therefore he hoped women would go, not only to the occupiers, but to the possessors of the house, and influence people of "our own class." And it's so easy," he said ; "there isn't a woman in this room who couldn't save the lives of four or five children within the next six months ; and this, without giving up me of your daily duties, one of your pleasures, one even of your frivolities, if you choose.
"You ask me what is more terrible than a field of battle, and I tell you outraged nature. Nature issues no protocols, nor warning notes to bid you be on your guard. Silently, and without stepping out of her way, by the same laws by which she makes the grass grow, she will kill and kill and kill and kill. And more than this, we have our courtesies of war and our chivalries of war ; a soldier will not kill an unarmed man, a woman or a child ; but nature has no pity. By an awful law, but for some blessed purpose, she is allowed to have none ; and she will strike alike the child in its cradle, the strong man or woman. I wish to God someone had pictorial power to set before the mothers of England what that means—100,000 (?) preventable deaths ! Oh be in earnest. Remember that, as a live dog is better than a dead lion, so one of those little children in the kennel out there is worth saving. Try to remember that it is not the will of our Father that one of these little ones should perish."
103, Milton St., Dorset Sq.,
August 14th, 1859.
I hope you haven't thought me unkind, which indeed I haven't meant to be, but only very busy, as assuredly I do mean to be all my life long, if I can contrive it. Thanks for your sweet and welcome letters. You will have received the French lines, without accents. I will neither vouch for spelling nor grammar, but you must treat them as if they were exercises in Chapsall.The event of my life since I last saw you has been, as you know, an expedition last Sunday of which I would wish to speak reasonably and calmly if I can succeed. Indeed it was glorious! I never saw a better friendship than that between the men and him (Mr. Furnivall). I'm a little weary of thinking over the Sunday question, and yet—lest you cast me off utterly, and Mr. Durrant ceases to send me kind messages, and Mary be shocked indeed—I must tell you a little how we stand here about it Of course I told Mr. F. that I should never dream of entering into a plan involving habitual absence from church ; tho' I didn't tell him how much I can sympathise with the spirit of some people who do. He goes with the men every Sunday ; they, some of them at least, remain at home to go to church each alternate Sunday ; but that is no part of his plan. His own faith is just as deep and living as ever ; but he has evidently been disappointed with the amount or kind of union the church gives. They go regularly and very happily all together ; he is ever ready to sympathise and enter into all kinds of happiness from the greatest to the least. He showed me where they walked, he told me when we were coming to the loveliest groups of trees, when to the creek where they bathe, how the park looked at moonlight, and how they all enjoyed it. He wants us to join them in an excursion to Leith Hill or Box Hill in September. I asked if it must be a Sunday, and he thought much about it, but says the men can't get holidays. He talked about Rossiter, told me he heard one of my sisters was down with Durrant. He amused me vastly by saying, "Hoets, whom you saw at Cambridge, wants people to go and see his wife and children, as he's thinking of going to Australia." As if one could go and call on Mrs. Hoets without introduction, on such a plea! Oh, Minnie, but it was so glorious! As we walked through the park at Richmond at night, we sang hymns, "No ! never part again," "There is a happy land," "Here we suffer grief and pain." In the chorus of the last, a number of working, or rather loitering, men in Richmond joined very earnestly. We saw the pictures at Hampton Court with which I was much pleased. The men were very nice ; they are so learned about flowers, etc., so respectful, so thoroughly happy. Several of our own pupils were there ; everyone behaved well.
103, Milton Street, Dorset Square,
August 20th, 1859.
To Rev. F. D. Maurice.
I hope that you will, in your great kindness, forgive my troubling you by asking whether you can give me a few words of advice on questions that are troubling me practically very much indeed.
1st. I have been very much impressed by the good and joy Mr. Furnivall's Sunday excursions seem to be giving to the men and to their wives, sisters, and friends, who from time to time accompany them. I have rarely seen a more respectful, intelligent, and happy party than they. Of course I shouldn't approve of members of the Church missing service habitually ; but that doesn't seem to me to be at all necessary to the plan. I know some people, to whom such a refreshment after their week's work would be an inestimable good. It would give me a great delight to accept invitations for them ; and have this opportunity of seeing them, and helping them ; nor can I see any rule which can make it right for me to go and see my friends on Sunday, or go into the country, and yet makes it wrong for them to go all together. Ought I to give up my only day for seeing relations and friends ? I shouldn't have hesitated about it, but that I imagine, perhaps incorrectly, that you disapprove of those excursions. May I ask if it is so ? I have been trying to enter into the full purpose of Sunday, as you told me, quite giving up work, and, as you told me, everything that was an effort (except writing to my sisters, which ought to be none), and I do at last understand Sunday as a duty as well as privilege ; but is not refreshment by seeing friends and change of scene right ? I wanted to ask two still more difficult questions but really ought not to trouble you more. Oh that you were in London that I might ask you ! No ! I am glad you are resting. And truly too, I don't depend on your advice, but I know our Father has thousands of ways to teach me, if only my stubborn will and foolish fancies don't blind me.
God bless you all. I hope Mrs. Maurice is better. Please don't answer if you are busy or tired. Is it really difficult to tell what is right ? Or is it only that one will not see the truth ? Or does one not pray trustfully enough ?
The classes are going on steadily and well. I am very well too ; and dear Mama and Minnie are having happy holidays. I am all alone.
Octavia to Rev. F. D. Maurice.
I cannot attempt to express the thankfulness I feel for your kindness in answering my letter, perhaps most of all for the first words, "You should never apologise for asking my opinion," because it seems as if it might be understood to have reference to our baptism ; and although I quite feel the help you would give to everyone to be the most precious, and don't want any special right to more than you would give to others, yet I often feel as if I very much wanted to be sure that I was not wrong in asking you questions about our own life, which I do not feel wise enough, or old enough, to decide myself, and which I cannot trust, though I sometimes do leave, to the decision of others. It is not about questions referring to faith that I feel this most. I know always about this to Whom I can go, and thank God ! for some years (until this question of Sunday) have felt His help all sufficient ; and it has been, except for my own sin and weakness, but one long blessed revelation of His love, of the meaning of prayer and sacraments. It was not about them that I feel as if I wanted any more help than I have ; seldom now (tho' most deeply when I feel it at all) about home-life ; for we have learnt a good deal now about where we have been wrong about it ; it is principally about the application of principles to other social questions ; it is all very well for people to tell me not to trouble myself about them, but they are involved in every action of daily life. Earnest thought, life itself, and some words of your own and others, for whom I have a great respect, have led me to convictions which, as I say, would lead me to actions differing widely from yours, and, I suppose, proceeding from some difference in principle. Sometimes I act for a little while on my own convictions, and am very happy, till the recollection of how wrong I was, and how sure I was about other things which you have taught me, principally by advising my giving up a course of action and adopting another, or some partial failure, make me think I am arrogant and self-willed ; and yet when I take the other course I am oppressed with a sense of neglected duties, fear of my own honesty, and confusion about how far I ought to trust people, and you specially. This produces inconsistency in action; tho', on the whole, I adopt the latter course for the questions relating principally to work at the College ; I feel my position there implies very complete obedience. When I can see you (but that is so seldom now), I so try (indeed I try always) to understand the grounds on which you act ; and I own myself fairly puzzled. It was to this I referred. Your letter has shown me a much deeper meaning in Sunday than I had ever perceived in it ; and I see the difficulty about the excursions very clearly, as not speaking to people as spiritual beings, called to full rest in trust in God : I am not sure that I do not think that, after the Church service has done this, the rest of the day would not be better passed among God's works in the country, and in friendly intercourse ; but I am less sure of having entered into the teaching of the Bible on the subject, than of setting a sufficient value on mere cessation from toil and recreation ; and so I shall decidedly give up these excursions, till I have thought more about them. And even then I hope I am not wrong in feeling that I do not think, especially as College people are concerned, I could feel it right to go to them, when you feel as you do about it.
I am afraid this letter will give you the impression that I am trusting far too much to you, far too little in God ; tho' I have stated very frankly (it reads to me almost unkindly), how fears that you may be wrong about some things mingle with my sure knowledge how wonderfully you have been proved right about others. I accept both reproaches. I am often tempted to trust too much to you ; not, I think, to believe your wisdom, and gentleness, and patience, and faith to be greater than they are, but to think too much that I was to trust to them in you, instead of in God, because I have not felt Him to be an ever-present guide, not only into the mysteries of His own Love, not only into the meaning of past wants, but into the grounds of all right and all wise action. This and this only has confused me ; all has been ordered to teach me, all to strengthen me ; and I alone am wrong. Only with these thoughts others mingle ; I must not, in order to recover faith in a Director, give up the direction He places in my way ; I must not mistake self-will for conscience, nor impatience for honesty. No one on earth can distinguish them for me ; but He will. It so often seems to me as if two different courses of action were right or might be right ; and this is what puzzles me, even tho' it is a blessing as binding me to people of widely different opinions. Thank you once more, dear Sir, for all teaching, given now and before.
(Undated, probably August, 1859.)
To Miranda.Thanks for your sweet letter received yesterday. What have I been thinking and feeling about ? Dear me, that is a question. Well, dear, of extra things, first and foremost of a delightful dance Mr. Furnivall gave to his friends among the men and their friends, and to which he invited me. I went with Louisa  and Henrietta ;  and a glorious evening we had ! Before that, I had been one of their Sunday excursions with them. ... I received, however, a letter from Mr. Maurice in answer to my enquiries (oh such a beautiful letter !), which makes me feel I have much to learn about Sunday, and at any rate I could not go with College people, his feeling being so strong on the subject, I think. This has been, as you may imagine, a great effort to me ; for really my day refreshed me so entirely ; and I was so happy. Do you know perhaps I'm going down to Godmanchester (where Cromwell was born) to visit a new friend, Miss Baumgartner, during my next holidays.
103, Milton Street,
September 11th, 1859.
.... I have just begun the most wonderful piece of drapery, black and gold, copied from a Rubens at Dulwich. Neither Jupiter, nor any of my other Dulwich work, is finished ; they are waiting for Ruskin. .... Last night I had the glorious delight of looking over a sketch book of his, which Mr. Ward brought to Margy's. It was called "Notes by the Wayside, 1845-46." The things were exquisite ; some of Florence specially interested me of course. The original coloured sketches of the two engravings of sunset clouds behind mountains, and St. George of the Seaweed at Venice, which are published in the "Modern Painters," were there too. Oh so lovely ! Miss Sterling is now in Ireland. I begin to long dreadfully for their return.... While Gertrude is in Scotland, I have the use of her Library subscription. I have been revelling in Oliver Cromwell, and Ludlow's "India," and look forward to several delightful books, if only I can get a little time. . . . My drawing class for the Portman Hall children is going on so very well. I have had it all alone since July. Oh ! and they begin to draw so well ! T. is I think very pleased. I am teaching Mrs. W. and a new lady, illumination ; that is to say they come and draw here, while I am at work, two hours weekly. I've been writing an article for the College Magazine, at Mr. Litchfield's request.
103, Milton Street,
September 25th, 1859.
Decidedly take lessons from Kraus. . . As to sending money home, dearest, don't think of it; we have ample, as my balance sheet next week will show you ; spend it in any way that will be most useful to you in promoting health, rest, and knowledge ; we are getting, one way, or another, an immense amount of change and rest here, and I earnestly hope you will do the same to the best of your power. ... I do indeed sympathise with you about church ; it is a quite inexpressible blessing, and must be specially so to you. ... I have read Tennyson's "Idylls of the King." I consider the whole book glorified by Arthur's last speech to Guenevere. Tennyson takes the view that, if she had been pure and worked with Arthur, his noble efforts and reforms would have lived and triumphed. He goes away to fight his best knight, all his hopes and successes blighted. I always did like Launcelot, in spite of everything ; and I do still. There is a lovely character too, called Enid. But the whole book is painfully impressed on my mind, as written by a man, so vividly and perpetually conscious of sensuality, tho' of so much that is noble ; but I should love to possess the book. Oh it is so real ! I am reading, too, Carlyle's " Cromwell" with intensest interest. Mama  is so very very happy in her life, it is quite delightful. I have answered your question briefly, because I'm so sure of the answer. . . . We want to see that we and our work are not essential to the world ; that, if we do our work imperfectly, so that we love Him, that is what He asks. He can save and teach people without us. My own dearest, God will lead us all, will He not ? We know how our blunders of judgment, and want of power can never hinder His work ; that He asks us, not for great works, but self-forgetting peaceful hearts ; that our wisdom at best can fathom little of His purposes ; but that He reigns and sends His spirit to us. I fancy, if we saw God working and resting, instead of our own working, our faces would shine like that of Moses ; and we should care very little that we could not speak, but would trust Him to fill us with such love that it would breathe in all we did.
October 10th, 1859.
I have a good deal to tell you to-day. On Saturday I saw Ruskin. I think he was very well satisfied with my work, tho' it was none of it finished, and none of it right ; still it was very satisfactory to me to find that it had none of the faults my work had last year, i.e., not being dark enough, nor massed enough. I returned, in spite of all this, in a horrid state of wretchedness ; but this I have got over now, as I will tell you. . . .I believe what made me so wretched was the sudden vivid thought of how very little pleasure I could ever give Ruskin, even by the most conscientious work ; that one stanza of Tennyson's was better to him, would teach more that he wanted to teach, than all my life's work. I. had thought that, by earnestness and humility, and sacrifice of other works and thoughts, I might really help him considerably. I have no doubt that an immense deal of thought of self is mixed with this notion ; but it has its root deeper than that ; and now I come to think over all Ruskin said, I see no reason to alter my conviction that I can do this work. The fact is, if one sits down to make a plan, it is often foolish and impracticable ; but the plans life reveals to us, which are unfolded to us, and which we are hardly conscious of,—these, I think, are usually God's plans, and He helps us to carry them out. If this is not what He means me to do, may He, for He alone can, help me to give it up ; but if, as now I think, He has been preparing me by multitudes of things, childhood in the country, girlhood in town, hard work, most precious and direct teaching of drawing, sympathy with people round, affection for and gratitude to Ruskin, and an ever deepening admiration for him, and knowledge of his plans, if, I say, God has been preparing me by this, and much more, first to love Nature and Art, second, to care that all should love Nature and Art, and third to see how to help them to do so ; will He not too give me humility to take the place He ordains for me in this great work, tho' it be the lowest of all, faith to believe I can help, and oh such energy and earnestness ? I am very happy indeed now. . . . Ruskin was particularly pleased with the bull's head. ... I believe one of the things that made me so unhappy on Saturday was that I had been reading the "Political Economy of Art" ; and I could not help thinking of the passage about the great man, beginning, "He can be kind to you, but you can never more be kind to him." And then too I had wanted to take home a very good account to dearest Mama and Minnie ; and he did not criticise it altogether ; and in spite of all the praise he gave it, I felt how miserably incomplete it was. But I am sure I have progressed ; and perhaps the dissatisfaction is also a gain. But this they could not feel, and all the way home, and even now, I can't help crying at the thought of it ; and the less they show they're disappointed, the more I feel it ; and sometimes Mama seems to think Ruskin capricious ; and I am certain he is not. Well it is all over now.
Chivery, near Tring,
October 10th, 1859.
To Harriett, a former toy-worker.
I had been thinking a good deal of our conversation about teaching. ... I will just tell you a very little what I think of it, I believe most people render their position a blessing, or otherwise, themselves good or wretched ; and that the post becomes one of interest and usefulness, according to the estimate of it held by her who occupies it ; in fact that all work done as routine without love, whether it be a queen's or a chimney-sweep's, is quite despicable, and all done with love most honourable. I know some works have greater responsibilities, and call for higher, or rather more, powers ; some works (writing poems for instance) are in themselves greater ; but I believe the noblest faculties of every human being are called for in her work. Conscientiousness for instance is wanted everywhere. Much intellect is not. But that which equalises the dignity of various works is, that all, or all that I can think of, are exercised either with people or for people. And people, being God's children, may be taught and influenced, unconsciously often to themselves, by every part of those round them. I believe this teaching to be the most precious part of all our lives. Those of us who are called to be teachers may, I believe, thank God that it is so with them so clearly, so definitely ; but I often think that the influence over us by those who are not definitely set to teach us is the most powerful. Love and mercy and gentleness and humility and thought fulness each of us needs equally in her work. And, as I said at first, people give us the work they find we can do. A nurse may wash and dress children for many years in love and faithfulness ; but she can do more besides, sometimes. She can tell them stories and teach them, and in a thousand ways call out their powers. No one expects this in a nurse, because they cannot get it ; but once give it them, and you raise your position, probably in their eyes, at any rate in our Father's. We are not half ambitious enough ; we struggle for little honours, seldom for the far more difficult and far nobler ones. . . . With most affectionate wishes for your future, dear, and love to Sarah and yourself, and in remembrance of old days, I am
Ever your loving friend,
I don't know when I felt so proudly pleased as when I gathered that you were trying to be cheerful and useful in your present work.
October 15th, 1859.
Here I am, all safe and well. This is the loveliest, dearest old house. I never was in such a one before. Miss Baumgartner met me at the station, and we walked here. The house stands in a long old street, almost opposite the church. It is (the house is) old red brick, not very pretty, but quite old. The dining room is like a grand old hall ; the staircase, which is in the centre of the house, faces it, and is separated from it by three Gothic doors ; low steps, broad banisters, and a kind of gallery landing make it feel quite ancient ; the hall is hung with old pictures. The garden is not large, it consists of a glorious lawn of smooth bright green grass, a few brilliant flower borders, and a long bright old brick wall, a small cedar on the lawn ; but it is bounded at the bottom by the Ouse, a deep clear stream, across which is a pretty bridge leading to an embowered island, belonging to this house ; a water mill is above ; below the view of Hinchinbrook where Cromwell's uncle lived. The boathouse contains several boats ; one Miss B. pointed out to me as hers. She will teach me to row. She is very kind and interesting ; her mother, a nice old lady of whom I am rather afraid and rather fond. Her father very old. Her brother very fond of flowers, very nice, I think. They have lived here for years. It is very nice.
103, Milton Street, Dorset Square,
October 23rd, 1859.
Your letter of delight about the music lessons gives me great pleasure. I received it one morning in a large wood-panelled dining-room, looking out to a smooth field set with large elms. I had just entered the room thro' one of three Gothic doors, after descending a low-stepped staircase with massive oaken banisters, into a large wood-panelled hall hung with old pictures. Just as I had finished your note, an old lady entered by another door, whom you would not at all have known, if you had been watching in a magic mirror ; a tall stately old lady dressed all in black, with a quick step and very kind face, holding in one hand a basket of keys, and in the other some scented-leaved verbena and heliotrope, some of which she gave to me ; and some was laid on the bright breakfast table for someone who had not yet arrived. The door opened, and there came in with springing step, and upright carriage, someone whom you would have felt inclined now to call girl now woman. Her cheerfulness, and the air of one who has long been the youngest of the house, and the darling of many brothers, as well as of father and mother, her slight figure, all seemed to give her the first name ; but when you looked at her, there were older lines about her face that made you say "30" ; and, as you knew the face better, you would trace, under all that glad manner, lines of deeply felt suffering ; and certain looks in the deep softness of her grey eyes,—a certain calmness, even in her enthusiasm, would have made you feel that the best of womanhood and of girlhood were combined in her. I suppose you have guessed long ago that I am describing Emma Baumgartner, my new and very dear friend. As I went down there a perfect stranger, having only seen her twice, and her mother once, knowing nothing about who they were, and we had no mutual friends, we had to be specially communicative ; and so, I suppose, our friendship sprang up more quickly than otherwise it could have done. Then, except at meals, we were quite alone, drawing, walking, rowing or resting. But the principal thing that drew us together was my delight in finding in her a great nobleness of judgment and of sympathy, right views about work, and all religious and social questions ; and I think she found a great pleasure in my companionship. We taught her night-school for men and boys together. We attended her men's reading-room. We taught in the Sunday school. We drew. We talked of Kuskin and Mr. Maurice, as well as of her brothers, my sisters, architecture, and all kinds of things. I have had a delightful visit ; and she says she does not know when she has enjoyed a week so much. She has no friends in London now, and greatly longs to come up in the spring, to see the exhibitions, or earlier in order to see Ruskin.
When you can, will you look carefully at the tracery of the head window of the Campanile of Giotto at Florence, if you have an opportunity. I have the most splendid engraving by me in the "Seven Lamps." Also an arch from the faade of the Church of San Michele at Lucca. How you would delight in the book! I have not yet read it. He says the Gothic of Verona is far nobler than that of Venice, and that of Florence nobler than that of Verona. He says, that, in Italian traceries the whole proportion and power of the design is made to depend upon the dark forms.
November 20th, 1859.
To Miranda. Thanks for your sweet sympathetic letter. I think Ruskin is right. First, about work in general, I think he wishes us to perceive the wide difference between that which shows moral Tightness in the worker, and that which shows peculiar intellectual and other greatness. Then as to my work, Ruskin has set me to one which he believes to be the right training for an artist ; and he would be glad that at present I did not look beyond it ; first, because one must be contented to do a work before one can do it, and secondly, because he would then be sure I loved art, not only my own ambitious notions ; in addition to which he really longs to have things well copied. This is what I think on the subject ; but your letter was very delightful, dearest. . . .
Dearest Andy, how heartily I wish you all success in your work. It is just a year to-day since that terrible parting at London Bridge— a year not lost to any of us. I think we can feel something at least has been done, since then. We feel a little stronger, surer, better, fuller of hope, more able to bear patiently any shock or storm that may come. . . .
My love to little Florence, for whose dear sake I am kind to every dog and cat I see, and even love them a little. I protected a little cat from some teasing children on Tuesday, by nursing her for an hour !
November 21st, 1859.
To Miss Baumgartner.
You must not (in charity please, you must not) contrast your letters with mine. Depend on it, those whose minds are most healthily toned write, more often, true and sympathetic accounts of facts than about faiths, principles and theories. It is so invigorating to be brought in contact rather with God's facts than with men's fancies; and, though the question "What do all these things mean?" "What should they teach us?" is indeed a deeper one than "What are they?" yet one is too apt, if one asks the question too often, to lose sight of the facts in their simple existence ; to see only their relation to men, at last only to oneself.
I spent an hour last Tuesday evening at the house of one of my pupils (W.M. College pupils). Her mother had begged that I would go. They live at the very top of a house near one of the London markets, rather a wretched neighbourhood. Sarah, my pupil, a quiet girl of fourteen, walked with me. Her mother, prettily dressed, opened the door, carrying in her arms the baby, dressed in its little white frock, and coral fastening its little shoes. I had never been there before ; and I was conducted up the dark staircase to the attics. Here I saw by the furniture that they had seen "better days." One tiny room was their sitting room, comfortably furnished ; a bright clean fire, tea set, and the children's grandmother sitting primly attired to receive me. All this I saw, and it made me understand something more of the people at once. It would have done anyone's heart good to see the self-forgetfulness of these people ; the five tiny little girls, the eldest only seven, each delighted to give place to one another; and as to Sarah, who is their half-sister, it was lovely to see how quietly she served everyone. They are earnest High-Church people ; the baby is called Amy Herbert, after Miss Sewell's heroine, and also because Mrs. —— is so fond of George Herbert's poems. The tiny children all sang some hymns, "O let us be joyful," and others.
Sarah comes to my drawing class, and we had much talk about her lessons. Her mother means to read aloud to her these winter evenings, while she draws ; and then she will read while her mother works. It is a brave faithful little home, and such as one loves to come upon ; and I was much touched by their hospitable cordial reception of me. I thought you would like to hear thus much.
103, Milton Street, Dorset Square,
November 27th, 1859.
To Miss Baumgartner. Mrs. Browning has taught me so very much, or rather has been such a friend to me, saying precisely what I wanted to hear (first expressing my own feelings so completely, and then carrying me on to the only hopes and thoughts that can satisfy one at such times), that it seems to me as if I knew her, and that she really had suffered and thought with me. . . .
Why is entering into other people's feelings, even sad, so restful ? Is it not because we are meant to bear one another's burdens ? So I've been reading authors who don't echo my own feelings so much, and trying more than ever to understand all kinds of people. . . .
I always feel so solemnly about my own birthday ; ... Your way of spending yours makes me ashamed, for ... in the evening we shall have friends, who are far from being among the sad and poor. ... I never have seen any but specially nice people on my birthday.On the 5th, I shall take my drawing class to South Kensington which I shall consider also a kind of celebration of my birthday. About Arthur, I believe that the duty of a wife, even of a friend, is, with regard to a man's work, so terribly misunderstood. Mr. Ludlow says, "He sacrificed his wife to his Kound Table," not seeing that, as he loved her, had she been anything worthy of the name of wife, her highest joy and duty should have been to work for it with him ; and that it was his great glory that he expected this of her. . . . And this is true, in part, of all relations and friends, the glory of each is not in demanding attention, but in love, sympathetic fellow-work, ready sympathy. . . . Tried by the precious test of facts near home, I say my theory is right ; and I think you, of all people, believe it.
December 5th, 1859.
To Margaret Howitt.
Dear Miranda is deeply interested in her little Italian pupils, and longs much for nice English stories for them. She just wrote to beg us to send her all that remained of our childhood's stock. I never read them now ; they would be of real use there ; and I conquered my selfishness at last ; but I couldn't help a great pain in packing the dear books which Mrs. Howitt had given me so long ago. I remember well the night she gave me "Fireside Verses," and the many many happy hours it gave us as children. And now the books are gone, to do a little more blessed work ; but I have instructed Miranda to bring them carefully back with her.
December 5th, 1859.
To Miss Baumgartner.
I am glad you have redeemed your birthday from melancholy, and consecrated it to charity, which, after all, is one of the most surely joyous things. I must read the St. Andrew's Day carefully ; but now I must give you an account of my birthday. It was a cold, bright day. I woke late ; it was post time as I left my room, no letters ; time went on, no letters. I was fairly disappointed ; but, half an hour too late, owing to frost, your letter and one from Miss Harris arrived. I was leaving the house for Dulwich, and so read them in the omnibus with thankful delight. I enjoyed my walk much ; the snow lay white on the long finger-like boughs of Ruskin's cedar, as I passed, and prayed God's blessing might rest on the house. I worked well, and then went to the College and did the same, thinking of many things. Dear Miss Sterling was most kind, and allowed me to leave early. When I reached home thro' long damp-aired gas-lighted windy streets, all looked bright and warm. Gertrude had arrived bringing presents, one a pair of quaint, delightful, old silver bracelets from an old lady, a friend of grandpapa's, whom I had never seen, but who has heard of me. When I entered the room I was amazed. It was brightly lighted, and decorated with ivy a friend had sent ; another dear old lady had herself gathered me the last roses and lauristinus, myrtle leaves and chrysanthemums from her garden. One long table was set for tea, but the other was covered with presents. Mary Harris had sent me the "Idylls" and the "Two Paths." One dear lady, whom I have never seen but often written to (Mrs. Robins), had sent eleven volumes of poems Scott (who will be very valuable to me) and Crabbe whom I don't yet know. I tell you of the books, because they are such very precious things to possess. . . . Miss Rogers read us the loveliest Arab story. Gertrude, Minnie, and I sang ; and all my best available friends were here, and were delighted to make one another's acquaintance. I was proudly delighted with them all, and most humbly delighted by all their kindness which I felt I had so very little deserved. It was almost too much to bear. Once or twice I dwelt thankfully on the thought that, except Mr. Maurice, who was ill, I had seen or heard from everyone I cared for specially, except Ruskin. When nearly everyone had left, Gertrude rushed upstairs, handed me a parcel saying, "Someone thinks it's from Mr. Ruskin." "No," I said quietly, looking at the unformed handwriting. "Then what made the servant say so?" I sat down on the stairs and tore it open. It was! I enclose his letter, which specially pleased me, for its sympathy with my work among people. The books are by Souvestre, an author whom I love already, from the little I know of him. It was very sweetly thoughtful of Ruskin to remember me. ... Do you know the old Spanish proverb, "To him that watches, everything is revealed." It certainly is true ; and how glorious it is to gaze backward upon the past, which, be it ever so dark, is fact and therefore God-permitted. And as one gazes one sees gradually the unbroken way in which our Father leads us towards Him, unbroken save by our own rebellious wills and by many sharp rocks which seemed hindrances ; but now we see that they bridged for us many a dark gulf.
I have been reading the most beautiful book called "The Missing Link." It is an account of the Bible women of whom you may have heard. They are quite poor women, sent by ladies to sell Bibles, to teach and help and cheer the very poorest people. It is wonderful what they have done, and what lovely things they have seen. They have reached the very lowest class, seen and helped them in their homes. They give nothing away, but get people to buy beds and clothes, for which they pay gradually. They encourage women to take a pride in keeping their children and homes neat ; and, living among them, can do so much. Mr. and Mrs. Maurice are so deeply interested in the plan, that they have lent me the book, to see if we cannot help at all.
December 10th, 1859.
Emily to Miranda.
You cannot think how affectionately everyone at the Shaws took leave of Mama, and how sorry Emily and Willy were to lose their lessons. Willie said, "Well, Baby, what shall we do without lessings ? It's horrid!"
103, Milton Street,
December 18th, 1859.
To Miss Baumgartner.
. . . Last night we had the second practice of our men's and women's advanced singing class at the College. It was very delightful ; the mere singing was that ; arid then it was nearly the first united thing we have had, and so full of promise. When I contrasted the nervous shamefaced way our ladies behaved, seeming to think it would kill them if they happened to open the door of a room where there were only men, etc., etc., with the natural, free noble way in which you work among them, I was proud of you, and thankful too. . . .
We go down to Grandpapa's at Weybridge. But many other things are Christmas celebrations too. On the 28th, I am to be at a "Musical Evening" at the Boys' Home, where are about 50 destitute boys. The singing will delight them, I've no doubt. Then on the 5th we shall have a social party at the College ; Mr. Maurice and Mr. Hughes will be there and many other good and great people. Have you ever read Crabbe's life ? I think nothing can be nobler than Burke's behaviour ; and how fine Crabbe's letter to him is !
The Pines, Weybridge,
Christmas Day, 1859.
To Miranda.... I am particularly happy about my work. Ruskin is so pleased with it all. My four Dulwich
Dr. Southwood Smith.
Grandfather of Octavia Hill.
From a Chalk Drawing by Margaret Gillies.
Snowball fell down yesterday when I was riding him. Mama and Minnie were being driven by Gertrude just behind. If anyone else had been driving, I must have been run over; but G., with her grand calmness and power, stopped Ariel at once, turning her to one side. I am only shaken, not hurt at all. I was not thrown, but fell with Snowball.
To Miss Baumgartner.
On Friday I was shown into Ruskin's study. One window had the shutters shut; the table was covered with books and papers; the fire burned brightly; at one window Ruskin sat drawing from a Turner, all squared over that it might be reduced. With his own exquisite elegance and ease, which enables him to do the oddest things in a way that one can't feel rude, instead of rising, he threw himself back in his chair and shook hands with me, as I stood behind; then he rose and giving me his chair walked to the fire—and then, Emma, he produced the loveliest drawings of boughs of oak to show me, one beautifully foreshortened, and explained the growth of it to me; how every leaf sends down a little rib that thickens the stems—how the leaves grow in spirals of five. He got a bit, and showed me the section. They were lovely. Then he told me that he wanted me to do an example of good work for "Modern Painters," one he had meant to do himself but for which he will not now have time a bit of the fir boughs in Turner's "Crossing the Brook," now at South Kensington.
I told him about you, about my visit, about your work among the men how lovely I thought it, and how fresh. He was very much pleased, and told me about the daughter of a friend of his, who does much the same to whom it seems he has sent several of my drawings for her men to use.
We got at last upon the subject of the education of working women ; and he asked much about it, seemed greatly interested. I told him many anecdotes, and something of what I said in my article on the subject. He was much interested about the question of fiction. He hopes to publish the fifth volume in the spring. I was with him an hour and a quarter. When I came away he said, "We'd quite a nice chat" ; he "wasn't so horridly busy as usual."
January 8th, 1860.
To Miss Baumgartner.
In a description of a gathering at the Working Men's College she says : "I was much interested in an earnest young countryman of the name of Cooke, who had presented a collection of butterflies and moths, etc., to the College. As every scrap of natural history is eagerly learnt by me, to be repeated wherever I go, and lovingly remembered, I got him to tell me some of their names and habits. . . .
"I was delighted to hear Mr. Dickinson (whose portrait of Mr. Maurice you may remember) praising Mr. Ward's drawings. . . It was very nice to see old faces back again and to feel as if I never should have done shaking hands. ... its joy consisted so much in the momentary grasp of a hand, in the sudden sight of a face which owed all its preciousness to the thought of natures I had learnt to know in sad moments or hard working days. . . . Does it not seem to you one of the main things we long for in heaven that every strong affection for visible things will have some answer? ... I often feel so sure that the love of places, employments, books, as well as people, is not to perish, but to be justified."
January 29th, 1860.
To Miss Baumgartner. Yesterday I saw Ruskin. "Do you come by appointment?" the servant asked me, "because Mr. Ruskin said he would see no one." "Mr. Ruskin fixed the day, I named the hour ; but if he is busy——." The servant, however, seemed sure that I was to be admitted, and I was shown into the study, where Ruskin greeted me with the words, "I'm very glad to see you." I saw he was ill, and found he had been suffering from toothache, and awake all night. I begged him, therefore, not to attend to my work. However he would do it. I shall not readily forget the afternoon. He was not busy, and showed me the loveliest things, exquisite copies of illuminations, wonderful sketches by Mr. Bunney (one of his College pupils), sketches which Ruskin said he had seen nothing like them except Turner. . . . And then Ruskin showed me two of Turner's loveliest small drawings, one of Solomon's pools, and beyond their square basins, and the battlements, amidst which the light gleamed, the sun was setting ; and clouds gathered about him, because, Ruskin said, the clouds gathered about Solomon's wisdom. Oh that sky palpitating with colour, changing on every thousandth inch !
Kuskin asked me if I'd been reading anything lately ; and we talked about Tennyson. I said he was so very sad. He said, "You see far more to make you sad than I do ; but I don't think Tennyson a bit too sad. I haven't found that he sees far enough." "He knows, however," Ruskin said, "how far he does see, and that is more than other people do." I told him how years ago Tennyson's words had distressed me, because I believed that good was then and always, and that we it is who mar it all ; I forgot that what had distressed me most of all was Tennyson's apparent uncertainty about the fact at all. "So runs my dream," etc.
Ruskin said, "Do you think that good is coming now to bad people?" "Yes," I replied, "and that their greatest sin is in refusing it." "But how much more that is than most people see," he went on. "Oh, yes, I see that now," I agreed, smiling ; "I am amused now that I did not know that then."
We spoke about the wickedness of rich and poor people. Ruskin spoke of the little children like angels he saw running about the dirty streets, and thought how they were to be made wicked. I spoke about the frightful want of feeling in all classes ; but added that I thought rich people were now waking up to a sense of their duties. "Yes," he said, "I'm glad that you and I have probably a good deal of life still to come. I think we may live to see some great changes in society." "I hope at least," I said, "to see some great changes in individuals before I die." "Oh, no," he said, " that's quite hopeless ; people are always the same. You can't alter natures."
We talked a good deal about it ; but not quite decisively. I see we quite agree that you can only call out and make living that which is in a nature. Kuskin meant a great truth when he said, "I can never alter myself. I think I had better make the best of myself as I am." When I said, "I am very much altered during the last few years," he laughed very kindly, saying, "Oh, no, you're not ; you're just the same as ever ; only you know more."
But it does make all the difference in the world whether we are fully developing all that we are meant to be, conquering all bad passions, or not.
103, Milton Street,
February 5th, 1860.
To her sisters Miranda and Florence.
I am afraid that it is long since I wrote to you ; but of course I am always thinking of you both, dears, and longing to have you home again, that you may really know all our doings and lives. Mine lately you would assuredly consider rather of the dissipated kind. I've been giving some book-keeping lessons to Miss J. B. She is a bright, spirited, brave, generous young lady living alone in true bachelor style. It took me three nights to teach her, and she begged me to come to dinner each time. . . . She has a friend, who is killing herself by hard work to support her younger sisters. ... I gather she would gladly give her friend help, for she speaks most sadly of the "modern fallacy" "that the money must be earned." She thinks it might be given when people are dear friends ; she says they've given the most precious thing ; and what difference can a little money make? I am so very happy about my work, now that I've finished nine drawings altogether for the " Modern Painters." Oh, you old Mirry, what a person you are for a joke ! I've found you out ! How came you to write that I'd received 6d. from Lord Palmerston, and spent 6d. in seven birds' nests ! Impertinent old thing ! I came upon the entries in looking thro' my cash book ; and I think Mama will never forget it.
February 26th, 1860.
Mrs. Hill to Miranda.
Gertrude, Octavia and Minnie went to a party at Mrs. Shaw's. Gertrude and Minnie say Octavia looked "perfectly lovely." She had a high white dress, a grand scarlet sash and scarlet net. . . . Ockey, tho' looking so ill, is unusually nice, genial and merry. She has met with some amusing people lately, and it is as good as a play to hear her relate her dealings with them. She attracts an unusual share of confidence. Even strangers go to her for advice. Ladies at S. Kensington read their letters to her tell her their history. She could not help laughing one day ; she said a lady, a perfect stranger, told her all about herself, even to the time she went to bed.
April 1st, 1860.
To Miss Howitt,
My Dearest Maggie,As to those old days I owe more to those visits than I can ever express. I remember now that strange imagination of yours that peopled the world for us with wonderful and beautiful beings, and I am sure we always went on happily together. (She also speaks of the impression of Mrs. Howitt's loving, cheerful look.)
April 15th, 1860.
Emily to Miranda.Yesterday we took Miss Baumgartner to see Ruskin's Turners. . . . Ruskin says lie does not mean to write any more for ten years, but to teach more. . . . He said he did not want to write any letters to people. He wanted Ockey's advice, as to what excuse he should make. She said he should think what was the truth, and try if he could not say that. Then he began talking about truth, saying it was difficult to speak the truth ; but to convey a truthful impression was almost impossible. That those who speak the truth are often the most misunderstood. O. asked him if he had read Mrs. Browning's new poems. He called them beautiful but absurd. O. said, "Why absurd ? Because she trusts Louis Napoleon?" "No," he said ; "I hold it is right to trust a man till he does something which proves him wrong. But mind, you're not to say I'm wrong if he turns out treacherous." Ruskin said that the taking of Savoy did not implicate Napoleon's character, because it was no pecuniary advantage to him, "not much larger than my garden and very poor." Do you think an ambitious man would spend thousands of men and money for that? He takes it just to pacify the French, who want some substantial proof that they were conquerors. To me personally it was a great blow, because it was so nice and dirty and tumble-down, and those wretched French will go and put it all to rights. It will be much better for the people, but I shall get no lore sketching."
103, Milton Street,
April 29th, 1860.
At last I've returned to my old proper habit of writing once a fortnight to you, I hope. I've been gadding about in the idlest way possible, and yet with my time quite full. You ask me about Good Friday. My dear sister, I'm far more afraid of your plaguing and torturing your conscience than of your doing wrong.
Mr. Maurice and Mr. Da vies seem to me decidedly to think it a mistake to treat going to church as always a duty ; of course you must do whatever you think right. I shouldn't hesitate to give up going to church on one day, or even fifty, for one of you. You dear old thing, I wish I had you here to give you a thorough good rest, and rousing, and refreshing. How I should enjoy it ! I'm as merry as a grig. I greatly enjoyed Miss Baumgartner's visit. Miss J. B. and I are great companions. I'm always doing things with her. You know she's teaching me Euclid. We went to see Holman Hunt's picture. It is very wonderful, in some respects extremely beautiful, exquisitely beautiful as to colour. But I don't feel as if the picture had thrown much light on the subject for me. I have taken a class in the night-school for girls here for three weeks, during the absence of Miss C. S. I am so glad at last to get into parish work. Miss Sterling and Miss J. B. give me almost unlimited money help for poor people ; the only question is how to use it wisely. . . .
We have been twice to Spitalfields and seen much poverty there among the weavers, besides making the acquaintance of a most nice Ragged School master there. He went round with us to the people's houses quite gladly, after his hard day's work ; and it was so very nice to see the welcome all the people gave him, but especially the children. He told us such an interesting story about a pupil of his, a very desperate bad character, about 16, who gambled in school, and only came with the avowed intention of having "a lark," i.e., pouring out the ink, and upsetting the forms. At last this schoolmaster spoke to him, told him he had no children of his own, and that he should be one to him, if he would. The boy was deeply touched. He always sat by the master and studied hard. To quote Mr. S., "I assure you, and I'm not ashamed to own it, he distanced me out and out. He was a first-rate mathematician ; he solved some of the greatest problems of the age (?). 'There, old 'un,' he used to say, showing me his slate in triumph, ' do you know anything about that ? '"
"And what became of him at last ? " we asked. " He died at twenty-one," Mr. S. answered, his eyes filling with tears as he went on "He died a peaceful and triumphant Christian. My wife and I never left his bed for three days and nights. That's his portrait; he'd long promised it to me, and on the Thursday (he died on Tuesday) he said, ; Old fellow, if you don't have it now, you'll never Jiave it.' I never could break him of his rough way of speaking. He'd come in here to the last and say, ' Well, old 'un, have you got anything to eat ? ' He wanted to come over from his father's house, and die in my easy chair ; and the little wife and I would have given him his wish. But the doctor forbade it. Yes, I do miss him."Maggie Yarnall is now on her voyage to England, which gives me the faintest most precious hope that Mary Harris may possibly come to London.
103, Milton Street, Dorset Square,
August 16th, 1860.
Your sweet and kind letter gave me a great deal of pleasure. I have written to Florence, as you will probably see. I am glad that you asked me to do so. I have a great deal to tell you. I do not know how you think or feel about Portman Hall school. You know that I do not think the omission of all religious teaching a sufficient reason, for disapproval to counter-balance the immense good which I consider they are doing there, especially as the teacher and three of the monitors are earnest believers in our Lord ; and I do believe more is taught indirectly than directly. I teach my drawing class there, and heartily wish the school success ; tho' I confess I look to a day when we shall have as liberal views about education carried out by members of the Church. I would not give my whole or main strength to the school unless I were obliged ; but I would and do very willingly help. You will wonder why I write all this. It is because they are trying to find a lady to help there ; and I have mentioned you to them. They could not meet with what they wanted, and had just made arrangements for extra lessons instead until spring, when my note proposing your taking the work next spring arrived. I mentioned Mrs. Malleson as able to say what she thought of your fitness for the post ; and, since communicating with her, Mme. Bodichon is very anxious to arrange it in the spring when she again returns from Algiers. They first wanted a person's entire time for ₤100 ; but now they have resolved to divide their fund, and would probably like to have you for about two or three hours daily except Saturday. I do think that a permanent work of this sort, and among that class of children, would be deeply interesting ; that it would make a nice change from private pupils ; that you would find Mme. Bodichon and Mrs. Malleson delightful people to work under ; you would have such power to carry out what you thought best ; and, dearest Andy, it is not the least part of the pleasure of the thought to me that it does seem to me it would make it so safe for you both to return, so certain that you would, if you had the prospect of this daily work. I must tell you that Miss Sterling appears, from the short talk we have had, to think that it is not a good thing to do, only a nice thing to have a certainty ; but she herself confesses, and I am sure it is true, she does not know about it. Nothing has to be, or can be, settled yet, but I should like to know how you feel about it. I mean to learn what Mr. Maurice thinks. Oh, darling, you must come home in spring somehow. We are on Mr. Davies' side of the street, two doors nearer to the New Road. I am doing such a glorious illumination round a photograph of Raphael's Madonna della Seggiola, with the words, "For unto us a child is born, etc." It reminds me of the glorious chorus.
August 19th, 1860.
To Miss Baumgartner.
Yes, I am really back again, and so hard at work that our glorious tour only comes to me at moments as a precious bright possession that nothing can take away, and interpreting splendidly one passage after another in this glorious volume of Ruskin (which I have at last obtained to read). . . . If you had any notion of my state of mind just now ! Everything I want to do seems delayed. One girl, a darling protegee of mine, says her mistress starves her, will not try another place, insists upon going home. Oh such a home ! irreligious, dirty, cruel, impoverished ; and the girl has just had two years' training. Well ! she must just try her home, and God bring her safe out of it. ... We hope to have my dearest sisters home next spring. I have been offered some delicious teaching for Andy, in a school near here, Just the kind of work, and among the class of children that she would enjoy ; and the supporters of the school are earnest generous people. There is, however, no religious teaching given in the school ; wherefore, say many wise people to me, you as a Christian should not accept it at all. So I have not thought ; but I suppose I hardly feel sure enough about whether I ought to give my sister advice, however strong my conviction may be, when wise good people think differently. ... I never have stopped, I hope I never shall stop, to consider what set or sect of people are at work, if I thoroughly and entirely approve of the work. I may think the work incomplete ; but, if it comes in my way, and I think it good, as far as it goes, I do help it with the little power I have. Above all I would not, in this age, refuse help to a society because it did not state that it was working in Christ's cause. I do believe we want all generous and good work recognised as Christ's, whether conscious or unconscious. I think the tendency is very much for doubters to think the best work is done by benevolent unbelievers ; to think our faith cramps our labours and narrows our hearts. I would like, so far as in me lies, to show them we care for men as men, we care for good as good. I never would deny faith. I care very little to express it anywhere but in life. . . . How much these people lose by their omission I believe they will one day know. I think the time will come when all this round world will seem to them mainly precious, because it was made by a Father and redeemed by His Son.
October 30th, 1860.
To Miss M. Howitt.
In these days, when so many conscientious people seem to be seeking over the whole world for some new good work, and cannot see the holiness of that which lies near them, it is very delicious to find people owning their home work as first and most blessed. At the same time, I cannot feel that I should join your Society further than I have joined it already. It feels to me that all people who are obeying the best part of the nature that has been given them, do, more or less, belong to it ; that those, who know from Whom the light proceeds " that lighteth every man that cometh into the world," know themselves to be bound into a society by that gift, by being children of God and heirs of Christ.
Do, dear Maggie, believe that I feel it the greatest honour to have been asked to join your Society, and have great sympathy with you about it.
To Mary Harris.
How the real bond of family re-asserts itself, dominant over fancy, attraction, yes even perhaps, in a measure, over friendship itself ! as tho' it would teach us how tremendous is the botod of duty. Certainly we have duties to our friends too ; but they seem to have more relation to what we feel instinctive longing to do, innate capacity for doing,—to stand more by virtue of relations we have chosen for ourselves, than solely, wholly on the command of God. I suppose it must be because He is our Father.
November 15th, 1860.
I have spoken to Mr. Maurice about Portman Hall ; and he decidedly thinks you ought not to undertake it. He says, what one sees at once, that you could not bind yourself not to speak to the children in any way that seemed best to you. He said that he believes those who are acting up to all they know will learn more ; but those who habitually ignore what they know, lose it. He was so good, and took a great interest in all our plans.
I begin not to wonder that men of business look forward to leaving off work, when they get old. I think it would be very delicious to have done with the bustle, and be able to see people one loves, and think a little in peace. However, 1 daresay it's all right ; and it certainly is a glorious life ; but lists of things one has to do, and machinery to keep things going, never can be as interesting as writing to my darling sister.
December 17th, 1860.
To Miss Baumgartner,
Account of the taking of the lease of 14, Nottingham Place.
My own dearest Emma,
All has been arranged about the house at last. I am very thankful indeed about it ; and we are all thoroughly pleased with the house. . . . Ruskin was very kind indeed about it.
We had a delicious talk afterwards about my life and life in general, and cultivated affection, its duties, practicability ; whether or not the cultivation of it deteriorated natures and how.
Ruskin spoke of his own father and mother. He quite willingly wrote what he imagined would satisfy Mr. Harlowe, and so did Mr. Maurice ; but in the meantime Miss Wodehouse had most kindly offered a guarantee. She was perfectly convinced of the success of the plan, and was anxious that Miss Jex Blake should have her rooms.
I had such a glorious talk with Ruskin, stayed till 2.20 ; had to take a cab, and to drive furiously to College, where I was ten minutes late, and recovered from shame and remorse for it, by finding everyone in a state of alarm about me ; only so thankful I was safe, my unpunctuality being unprecedented. I was a little proud, and vastly amused.
- She was drawing for Ruskin and walking a great part of the way to Dulwich and back and standing there for five or six hours.
- Miss Harrison, with whom she was to travel.
- Chartres Cathedral.
- Octavia had only learned a little French from her mother, and had had no practice in speaking except a very little to the refugee Poles, who worked at the Ladies' Guild, eight years previously.
- Miss Emily Smith.
- The wife of Mr. Ellis Yarnall and sister of Miss Harrison.
- One of the girls who made toys.
- The daughter of a former nurse.
- She was teaching all day.
- Miranda's former pupils, whom Mrs. Hill was teaching.
- Where Octavia was drawing.
- A visit to Wales, where she first saw mountains.
- The landlord of 14, Nottingham Place.