My dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ginoux,
So, my dear friends, as
now and then we suffer together, this makes me think of what
Mrs. Ginoux said - “When you are friends, you are friends
for a long time…” Personally I believe that the
adversities one meets with in the ordinary course of life do us
as much good as harm. The very complaint that makes one ill
today, overwhelming one with discouragement, that same thing -
once the disease has passed off - gives us the energy to get up
and to want to be completely recovered tomorrow.
So who am I to encourage others,
you will say, for actually this is my style. Well, it is only
to tell you, my dear friends, that I hope so ardently, and even
dare believe that Mrs. Ginoux's illness will be of very short
duration, and that she will rise from her sickbed a much
stronger fellow, but she knows only too well how fond we all
are of her, and how much we wish to see her in good health. In
my own case my disease has done me good - it would be
ungrateful not to acknowledge it. It has made me easier in my
mind, and is wholly different from what I expected and
imagined; this year I have had better luck than I dared hope
But if I had not been so well cared for, if people had not
been so good to me as they have been, I am convinced I should
have dropped dead or lost my reason completely. Business is
business, and in the same way duty is duty, and therefore it is
only fair that I go back to see my brother soon, but I assure
you that it will be hard for me to leave the South; I say this
to all of you who have become my friends - my friends for a
So I write you this letter, my dear friends, in order to try
and distract our dear patient for a moment, so that she may
once again show us her habitual smile and give pleasure to all
who know her. As I told you, within a fortnight I hope to visit
you, wholly recovered.
Diseases exist to remind us that we are not made of wood,
and it seems to me this is the bright side of it all.
And after that one dreams of taking up one's daily work
again, being less afraid of obstacles, with a new stock of
serenity; and even at parting one will tell oneself, “And
when you are friends, you are friends for a long time” -
for this is the way to leave each other.
Well, we shall be seeing each other soon, and my best wishes
for Mrs. Ginoux's swift recovery.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Ginoux. Written 30 or 31 December 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number .
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.