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26th March, 1890
My very dear Arthur,
Your news awakes my warmest sympathy, and I am thankful indeed that so great a happiness has come to you. I need not tell you how near to my heart anyone will be to whom you have given yours. We all long to know your Sylvia. I can't half tell you how glad I am for you - I have the greatest confidence in your choice and I am very sure we shall all love her dearly.
I have felt pretty sure, dearest, for some time, from various little things you have said, that there was someone, but who it was I could not tell. I am so glad I know now and that I can share in your joy.
I kept your letter to myself as R. S. S. was here all breakfast-time, and made tea in a sort of dream! And then I went into the study and told your father. He will write himself to you if he has time when he and Tony come in from a long walk. He rejoices for you, and is full of interest. We both feel that you will have need of patience in the waiting there must be before you, and also in the separation which you will find trying. But I can quite believe that to you all looks very different now, and the thought of Liverpool far less depressing now that you have such an object to work for. How happy I am for you, darling!
Do tell us more about her - and when may we look for you both?
With tender love, your ever loving,
What does Charley say? I have not written to Maurice and Harry, thinking you may like to tell them yourself.
Peter's comments from his family "Morgue":
Of course one is prejudiced: but it does seem to me that these letters, and the immediately subsequent ones from Davieses and Cromptons, are particularly delightful, and I think Sylvia must have been entirely sincere in expressing to Arthur, as we find she did from his next letter, the pleasure they gave her. It may have been a bit overwhelming, but it's a moment when one probably wants to be a bit overwhelmed; and to be so welcomed into a family is far from being the experience of every young woman at the very first hint of her engagement.
Of the letter which John Ll.D may be presumed to have written when he came in from his long fell walk with Tony (Crompton Ll.D) I have no trace. I am sure it would have been a good and kind letter, but not so spontaneous or effusively affectionate as those of his wife and sons and daughter. He had not that natural warmth of expression which they all possessed. I think the Crompton strain predominated over the Davies strain in them all, and, for example, that if the vicar had been a Crompton, or only half a Crompton, he would have put off his start for the fells in the pouring rain for a few minutes in order to write a note at least to the first of his children to become engaged. Of such are first ascenders of Alps, perhaps. The country round Kirkby Lonsdale was still, of course, new and exciting to the 64 year-old climber.
One might conclude from these letters that Arthur was the favourite son and brother, but in fact they were all equally affectionate to each other; a most united family.
I take it, from the reference to patience in Mary Ll.D's letter, that Arthur had faced the inevitability of a long engagement, and this had probably been accepted as an essential feature of the situation in his talk with George du M.