Herewith some of Coppée's poems which I promised to
send you. “Tristement” reminds me of a Poplar
Avenue by Hippolyte Boulanger - I think it is called “La
Vallée de Josaphat.” How much of an autumn
atmosphere there is in it! I thought you would admire them too.
There are many more in the same little volume; I chose only a
few at random.
These past few days I have made a number of studies in the
open air; I am sending you a little sketch of one of them.
My mother is recovering steadily; the fracture is healed
now, and the plaster cast has been taken off. But she will
still have to keep her leg in a horizontal position for about
six weeks. Yesterday, however, we carried her to the living
room on a kind of litter as a trial, and later on we shall be
able to carry her into the open air too once in a while.
I am adding to Coppée's poems an Arabian fable that I
found this week in an article by De Lesseps, “Voyage dans
le Soudan.” I thought the idea subtle, and I believe it
may be so. Seen from this point of view, human males do
not play a very noble part - oh well, that may happen too
sometimes. But in general it won't do, for after all... does
the candle burn for the moth's sake? If one knew that for
certain - well - it might be worth while to commit suicide in
But what if the candle itself should snigger at the burned
I was struck by it, whatever the truth of it may be. And - I
firmly believe that there are things like that in the depths of
our souls - and that they would cut us to the quick if we knew
about them. At times we are quite disenchanted by mankind - our
own selves included, of course - and yet - seeing that we are
going to pop off soon enough after all - it would hardly be
worth while to stick to our displeasure, even if it were well
And in case our ideas about the worthlessness of mankind
were unfounded, our mistake would be all the worse for us. In
my opinion the worst evil of all evils is self-righteousness,
and exterminating it in ourselves is an everlasting weeding
job...all the more difficult for us Dutchmen, as so often our
very education must induce us inevitably to become highly
self-righteous. But let's stop harping on the subject.
But, speaking for myself, this showing of my work to others
once in a while is something that stimulates me, now that I
have started to do so (perhaps it is very foolish of me).
Goodbye, with a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
1. See letter 360 to Theo.
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Anthon van Rappard. Written c. 1 March 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number R41.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.