Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/278

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The period from 1870—1875, if it contains less of what may be called new departures in Octavia’s life than the period which preceded it, or that which followed it, yet can show phases of struggle, constructive work, and the discipline of trial and opposition, as remarkable as at any time of her life; and it also includes an important change in her circumstances, which much affected all her subsequent career.

It may be said, perhaps, that the distinctive characteristic of this period was that it brought her greater publicity than her previous efforts had produced, and so answered her question to Ruskin, “Who will ever hear of what I do?”

First of all: the time was one in which a variety of circum- stances had been compelling many, who had not hitherto shown much interest in the poor, to turn their attention in that direction; while many others, who had been anxious to do their duty to the poor, had begun to realise that the hap-hazard methods of relief hitherto in vogue had broken down.

The failure of large Mansion House Funds, which had been, raised in the ’sixties to meet special distress, had brought home to many workers among the poor the need of substituting closer co-operation for their isolated efforts. Some of those, who had realised this need, also perceived that it was necessary to make enquiry into the conditions of the applicants for relief, before they could discover the best means of assisting them.

The great variety of characters and ideals and experiences