I received your letter, many thanks.
The death of cousin A. touched me too. How suddenly things
I often thought she was not very happy, or rather, for my
part, I do not doubt it for a single moment. I think one can
hardly be happy as the wife of a banker, least of all nowadays.
You will say, That's not true - but my thoughts are pretty much
fixed about those things.
There is a certain sphere which one had better avoid, in my
To change the subject, the people of the Heike were always
cheating each other, and I cannot say for sure that it never
happens here. But I think that generally the people of the
Heike proved to be very united basically, though they cheated
each other under certain circumstances and though this was
considered quite natural. I always found the Heike a remarkable
example of energy, those little huts, each with a patch of
ground, that poor little group of people struggling together
against the barrenness of the heath - I do not deny their
faults, but those are not the things which strike me first. So
here I had not yet thought about whether people cheated each
other. Now that I think of it, I suppose they do - probably it
happens now and then - but in general what strikes me is the
same thing I saw on a small scale in the Heike. Here things are
generally on a larger scale and more interesting, and they have
more character. It is something just as beautiful and well
ordered as an ant's nest or a beehive. That's how things are,
generally speaking - for me they are admirable as they are -
but now what might they be basically? They might be better, I
don't deny it - but I repeat, I see so much positive good here
that I abstain from finding fault, especially as I am not at
all able to distinguish coincidences from faults of character
as yet. I must see more of it before I can decide that.
Now, when I compare the population of a city with the people
here, I do not for a moment hesitate to say that the population
of the heath, the peat workers here, seem to me to be better.
Yes, then the differences seem enormous, though they may cheat
each other here, no less than at the Heike, but I do not say
they do, I do not know it yet. Recently I had a conversation on
the same subject with the man whom I board with, who is a
farmer himself. It was by chance, because he asked me how
things were in London, he had heard so much about it. I told
him that in my opinion a simple farmer who works, and works
intelligently, is the civilized man, that it has always
been so and always will be, that in the country one finds an
example of it here and there, and in the city one finds a few
men who are almost as noble, though in quite a different way,
among the very, very rare excellent people. But that in my
opinion it goes no further, and that in general there is more
chance of finding a reasonable human being in the country than
in the city. And that in my opinion the nearer one gets to the
large cities, the further one gets into the darkness of
degeneration and stupidity and wickedness. He said, in fact,
that he was of the same opinion.
There is a difference, and in the country it is more
quiet, more peaceful, a little better, too - though they may
cheat each other, it is not so bad as in the city. Here
beautiful, clear autumn days alternate with stormy ones. I
really like the latter best, though it is difficult to walk
out-of-doors then, and sometimes even quite impossible. But
going out anyway and taking a study one has made on a fine day,
and correcting it according to what one sees out-of-doors in
the rain, is possible, after all, and satisfying to me.
Don't worry about my health, I take care of myself, and I am
feeling even better here these first days than I think there is no better
place for meditation than by a rustic hearth and an old cradle
with a baby in it, with the window overlooking a delicate green
cornfield and the waving of the alder bushes.
At present I am studying the ploughers all the time, so I
must be off again. Goodbye, dear parents; my overcoat is all
right, the woolen undervest is very comfortable, believe
Your loving Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to His Parents. Written c. 27 October 1883 in Drenthe. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 334.
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