From The Life of Charlotte Bronte, by Elizabeth Gaskell:

As a forlorn hope, we tried one publishing house more. Ere long, in a much shorter space than that on which experience had taught him to calculate, there came a letter, which he opened in the dreary anticipation of finding two hard hopeless lines, intimating that “Messrs. Smith and Elder were not disposed to publish the MS.,” and, instead, he took out of the envelope a letter of two pages. He read it trembling. It declined, indeed, to publish that tale, for business reasons, but it discussed its merits and demerits, so courteously, so considerately, in a spirit so rational, with a discrimination so enlightened, that this very refusal cheered the author better than a vulgarly-expressed acceptance would have done. It was added, that a work in three volumes would meet with careful attention.

I just received a very encouraging rejection. It included a three-line critique, including a description of what the reader liked and disliked about the story. Yay!
This story also got a “there’s some nice writing here” from another editor.
I’ve been trying to find ways to tell myself that each rejection is a positive sign, that somehow there is evidence that I’m “almost there.” Lately I’ve had the yucky suspicion that I’ve been deluding myself, but no, today I really, truly feel like I am “almost there.”
Thank you, Karen. It means a lot.