I am rather surprised that I haven't heard from you, seeing
as you wrote, “if it inconveniences you to wait, write me
by return mail.”
Well, I wrote to tell you that it certainly did
inconvenience me to wait longer - but I got no direct answer to
that. The purport of my letter was exactly that, as I thought
too much half-heartedness was creeping into our friendship, it
was not stimulating, etc., which I need not repeat. It is
certainly a bad economy, time is money too, and as I even have
to wait for my colours, it is perfectly absurd in my
opinion. But you know all that - after all my business is not
your business - and if you do not understand it of your own
accord, why should I lose patience and time harping on it?
As long as there is any spirit left in me, you can hardly
expect me to agree to this slackening more and more.
You should carefully train yourself in that system of
prudence and respectability and all the rest of it, for then
you will make great progress - precisely in the direction of
mediocrity, I mean to say. The one leads to the
other - straight. Not because I say so - but because
one has only to open one's eyes and take the trouble to look
about one to see it happen a thousand times.
But I hear that your friend Braat has fallen ill - (in fact
I always found him so during the short time I knew him) -
perhaps that was the reason you forgot it - well.
However it may be, be so kind as to answer my last letter,
and to let me know whether or not you will change it in that
Mother is gradually improving.
Yours sincerely, Vincent
In the normal case of being on good terms with each other
there could never be any question of stipulating that we should
not meddle with each other's private affairs, and if you felt
the least bit of warmth for my work you would not neglect it
absolutely. And I write you as I do more particularly to make
you feel how cold you have become toward what we undertook
together full of courage, and moreover that too much coldly
respectable diplomacy is creeping into your life - I say this
much more emphatically than I would if I attached much value to
an agreement being more or less fixed.
The real cause of the question is understanding or
misunderstanding each other - a question of coolness or warmth
of feeling between us.
And I find what Zola says about “dragging on a
connection” as true as you do - it deadens all energy.
But the question remains, What is the cause of this dragging
I, for my part, who like to live in the country rather than
the city, certainly do not want to break with you; but as it is
now, when I see that notwithstanding my working all day long I
do not get any further with you, I cannot stand it, as I see in
it a neglect of my own affairs, for which, after all, I
should be responsible later on. Will you see to it that my work
is brought under the eyes of those people who, if not now then
later on, must become its buyers? - all right - then! I need
not bother about it, and only have to occupy myself with my
But leaving it alone the way you do is negligence. If
you want to think this conceited of me - well, that's your own
business - but for myself I think you conceited where
there is no occasion for it. Because of the very fact that
again this month you haven't the money for the usual
remittance, you may as well reflect whether playing the big bug
will get us anywhere.
If I did not feel more strongly every day that I must earn
some money, I should keep my studies quietly for myself, as
Rappard does. But, as you say, we are not in Rappard's position
- but for all that I am getting more and more cramped. Today I
brought home my ninth painted study of a weaver; painting costs
money, and when I have to wait for the colours - as it now
happens over and over again - I lose time. And look here - if
you had a little more interest in it, we should have what we
need. And what kind of impression will it make on others if
you act like this? Truly, this is not conducive
to inspiring confidence.
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 26 March 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 363.
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