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Letter T 3
Paris, 27 October 1888
My dear Vincent,
I was overjoyed to find your telegram and your letter in
reply to my first one when I got back from Brussels. I am
sending you a post office money order; for, although it is
possible that Gauguin received the letter I addressed to him at
Pont-Aven, thinking he was still there, there is also the
possibility that you have not received it, and as you are two
now it will be harder to have enough to live on than when you
were alone. Why don't you try to get credit with some purveyor
of food in case I am not there, as happened a short while ago,
or if it is impossible for me to send the money at once? I am
very happy that Gauguin is with you, for I was afraid that he
had encountered some obstacle which prevented him from coming.
As it is certain that money question will not disappear
before a formidable revolution or probably a series of
revolutions has come about, it is necessary to treat it like
smallpox if one has caught it. That is to say, take the
required precautions against accidents which may result, but
don't bother your head about it. You have been thinking about
it far too much lately, and although there may be no symptoms
of an accident, you are suffering under it. By accidents I mean
misery, and in order to avoid arriving at this pass, it is
necessary to take things easy, and not to commit excesses, and
to try to escape the other diseases as much as possible. You
speak of money which you owe me, and which you want to give
back to me. I won't hear of it. The condition I want you to
arrive at is that you should never have any worries. I must
work for the money. Seeing that we two together haven't got
very much, we must see to it that we don't take too much on our
shoulders, but apart from this consideration we shall be able
to go on for some time to come, even without selling anything.
If you very much feel the need of working for yourself,
go ahead, say the word, and I think that notwithstanding this
we shall be able to stick it out, but I don't understand the
calculations of so many pictures at 100 francs apiece.
1 If one wants them to be worth 100 francs, they are
worth nothing at all, for the ignoble society we are living in
is only on the side of those who do not stand in need of it.
But knowing this, let's do as society does, and let's say, We
don't stand in need of it; isn't it true that a warned man
counts as two? You may do something for me if you like - that
is, go on as in the past, and create an entourage of artists
and friends for us, something which I am absolutely incapable
of doing by my own self, and which you have been able to
do, more or less, since you came to France. Isn't it true that,
if the artists show the way, the others will follow suit, if
the moment should come when we stand in need of it because of
being unable to continue working as we are now? Personally I am
firmly convinced of it. You don't know how much pain you give
me when you say that you have worked so hard that you feel as
though you had not lived.
In the first place I don't believe this is true, for in
point of fact you are living and living like the great
ones of the earth and the aristocrats. But I beseech you, warn
me in time, in order that you may not feel that you have been
living in misery, and that you have fallen ill because you
lacked a piece of bread to keep alive. I hope Gauguin's company
will be pleasant for you, and that you will recover within a
very short time.
I have not received the canvases yet. Did he send them off,
or shall I get them through the agency of somebody else? At
Brussels I made the acquaintance of De Groux's son, who is also
an artist. Unfortunately it was on the last night of my stay
there, so that I could not take a look at what he does. The
movement in art we are having here seems to be zealously
discussed but also approved of over there, and it would be a
good thing to organize a permanent exhibition at Brussels, too.
De Haan is coming tomorrow to stay with me, which I am very
glad of; I am very curious to know what he is going to do, for
he is anxious to start working at once. Enclosed you will find
a letter from our mother, which she requested me to forward to
I hope to see you soon, and a cordial handshake to
1. See Vincent's letter 557.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 27 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T3.
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