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Galgenberg, Jan. 14th.
Dear Mr. Anstruther,—I see no use whatever in a friend if one cannot tell him about one's times of gloom without his immediately proposing to do the very thing one doesn't want him to do, which is to pay one a call. Your telegram has upset me, you see, into a reckless use of the word one, a word I spend hours sometimes endeavoring to circumvent, and which I do circumvent if I am in good bodily and spiritual health, but the moment my vitality is lowered, as it is now by your telegram, I cease to be either strong enough or artful enough to dodge it. There are four of it in that sentence: I fling them to you in a handful, only remarking that they are your fault, not mine.
Now listen to me—I will drop this playfulness, which I don't in the least feel, and be serious:—why do you want to come and, as you telegraph, talk things over? I don't want to talk things over; it is a fatal thing to do. May I not tell you frankly of my moods, of my downs as well as of my ups, without at once setting you off in the direction of too much kindness? After I had written that letter I was afraid; and I opened it again to tell you it was not your comfortings and pityings that I wanted, but the sterner remedy of a good scolding; yet your answer is a telegram to ask if you may come. Of course I telegraphed back that I should not be here. It is quite true: I should not if you came. I will not see you. Nothing can be gained by it, and everything might be lost,—oh everything, everything might be lost. I would see to it that you did not find me. The forests are big, and I can walk if needs be for hours. You will think me quite savagely unkind, but I can't help that. Perhaps if your letters lately had been different I would not so obstinately refuse to see you, but I have a wretched feeling that my poor soul is going to be pruned again, pruned of its last, most pleasant growth, and you are on the road to saying and doing things we shall both be for ever sorry for. I have tried my best to stop you, to pull you up, and I hope with all my heart that I may not be going to get a letter that will spoil things irreparably. Have not my hints been big enough? Let me beg you not to write foolishnesses that cannot, once sent, be got back again and burned. But at least when you sit down to write you can consider your words, and those that have come out too impulsively can go into the fire; while if you came here what would you do with your tongue, I wonder? There is no means of stopping that once it is well started, and the smallest things sets it off in terrible directions. Am I not your friend? Will you not spare me? Must I be forced to speak with a plainness that will, by comparison, make all my previous plainness seem the very essence of polite artificialness? Of all the wise counsel any one could offer you at this moment there is none half so wise, none that, taken, would be half so precious to us both, as the counsel to leave well alone. I offer it you earnestly; oh, more than earnestly—with a passionate anxiety lest you should refuse it.
Your sincere friend,
I suppose it is true what I have often suspected, that I am a person doomed to lose, one by one, the things that have been most dear to me.
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