Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/114

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94
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

the first clause of the sentence, certainly always the last, "I am happy while I work; when I play I am miserable."

Is it not strange that tho' I have an unusually clear idea of the sermon, the only impression last Sunday afternoon is one of complete quiet? It was no effort to understand, nor was I, as usual, dreadfully tired in church; but I had the consciousness, not of peace nor of rest, but of quiet, such as when one sits out of doors in the country, not thinking, only seeing.


4, Russell Place, 
January 17th, 1857.

To Mary Harris.

On Wednesday evening we went to hear Ruskin give a lecture on the occasion of the presentation of some money offered by him as a prize; but, owing to the imperfection of the work, the money was divided between the competitors, as some compensation for their loss of time. Their failure, he explained, was mainly owing to his having set them to work which was not possible for them to do well;—the carving of a panel, the subject to be taken from some historical event of the year. Apparently both parties took it for granted that it was to be about the Crimean War; for Ruskin said that he had overlooked the fact that no one could represent that which he had never seen; and, when the old builders lived, happily for art, but unhappily for the nations, wars were continually fought within sight, their scenes were present with the workman; they haunted him; he dreamed of them by night, and could not help carving them. Ruskin had expected better things of the workmen, because he saw with what spirit cheap periodicals were illustrated; really we see quite wonder-