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When I Am Gone

c. December 3, 1898 — At the unveiling of her portrait by John Singer Sargent, a gift from her supporters on her 60th birthday


When I am gone, I hope my friends will not try to carry out any special system, or to follow blindly in the track which I have trodden. New circumstances require various efforts, and it is the spirit, not the dead form, that should be perpetuated. When the time comes that we slip from our places, and they are called to the front as leaders, what should they inherit from us? Not a system, not an association, not dead formulas. We shall leave them a few houses, purified and improved, a few new and better ones built, a certain record of thoughtful and loving management, a few open spaces, some of which will be more beautiful than they would have been but what we care most to leave them is not any tangible thing, however great; not any memory, however good; but the quick eye to see, the true soul to measure, the large hope to grasp the mighty issues of the new and better days to come — greater ideals, greater hopes, and patience to realize both.



Source: Octavia Hill: A Biography, by E. Moberley Bell (London: Constable) 1942, pp. 216-217.


Also: Three Victorian Women Who Changed Their World: Josephine Butler, Octavia Hill, Florence Nightingale, by Nancy Boyd (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1982, p. 135.