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Galgenberg, Oct. 28th.
Dear Mr. Anstruther,—Well, yes, I do think you must get over it without much help from me. You have a great deal of my sympathy, I assure you; far more than you think. I don't put it into my letters because there's so much of it that it would make them overweight. Also it would want a great deal of explaining. You see it's a different sort from what you expect, and given for other reasons than those you have in your mind; and it is quite impossible to account for in any way you are likely to understand. But do consider what, as regards the broken-off engagement, you must look like from my point of view. Candidly, are you a fit object for my compassion? I see you wandering now through Italy in its golden autumn looking at all your dear Luinis and Bellinis and Botticellis and other delights of your first growing up, and from my bleak hill-top I watch you hungrily as you go. November is nearly upon us, and we shiver under leaden clouds and driving rain. The windows are loose, and all of them rattle. The wind screams through their chinks as though somebody had caught it by the toes and was pinching it. We can't see out for the raindrops on the panes. When I go to the door to get a breath of something fresher than house air I see only mists, and wreaths of clouds, and mists again, where a fortnight ago lay a little golden town in a cup of golden hills. Do you think that a person with this cheerless prospect can pity you down there in the sun? I trace your bright line of march on the map and merely feel envy. I am haunted by visions of the many beautiful places and climates there are in the world that I shall never see. The thought that there are people at this moment sitting under palm-trees or in the shadow of pyramids fanning themselves with their handkerchiefs while I am in my clammy room—the house gets clammy, I find, in persistent wet weather—not liking to light a lamp because it is only three o'clock, and yet hardly able to see because of the streaming panes and driving mist, the thought of these happy people makes me restive. I too want to be up and off, to run through the wet pall hanging over this terrible gray North down into places where sunshine would dry the fog out of my hair, and brown my face, and loosen my joints, and warm my poor frozen spirit. I would change places with you this minute if I could. Gladly would I take the burden of your worries on to my shoulders, and, carrying them like a knapsack, lay them at the feet of the first Bellini Madonna I met and leave them there for good. It would give me no trouble to lay them down, those worries produced by other people. One little shake, and they'd tumble off. Always things and places have been more to me than people. Perhaps it is often so with persons who live lonely lives. Anyhow don't at once cry out that I'm unnatural and inhuman, for things are after all only filtered out people,—their ideas crystallized into tangibleness, their spirit taking visible form; either they are that, or they are, I suppose, God's ideas—after all the same thing put into shapes we can see and touch. So that it's not so dreadful of me to like them best, to prefer their company, their silent teaching, although you will I know lecture me and perhaps tell me I am petrifying into a mere thing myself. Well, it is only fair that you should lecture me, who so often lecture you.
Yours quite meekly,
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