Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/69

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49
CHILDREN'S CONSCIENCES

such a long letter; but I hardly remembered what I was doing.

Ladies' Guild, 
4, Russell Place, 
Fitzroy Square, 
July 16th, 1855.

To Miss Harrison.

It has given me much pleasure to receive your very kind letter. I thank you in my own name and in that of the children for your welcome invitation. It will give us very great pleasure to accept it. … Your letters have given me much pleasure because they are assurances that we are not working utterly alone; because we want this assurance; because the evil which is so great, and so near, is almost crushing, without a consciousness of having fellow labourers. It is such a very small number that can come within our reach; our influence is so limited even on those with whom we have most to do; there is "so much in ourselves that hinders us from understanding and loving these children as we should do; so much in them that hinders them from caring for our love. Fancy appealing to a child's sense of duty to do something which will delay her work, prevent her earning so much as she would otherwise have done, perhaps deprive her of a meal, very often of a new pair of shoes! How strong her sense of duty must be, how real right must seem to her (if she is to prevail), to counterbalance the reality of the dinner and clothes! How dare I hope, I very often ask myself, to awaken this sense? And yet I do go on acting as if it were existing; appealing to it, and receiving proofs of its existence continually. I dare not hope that I shall have the power of creating it. I dare not dis-