My dear sister:
If I didn't write to you in a hurry this Sunday morning,
while the canvases I have started are drying a little in the
sun, I should have to wait still longer before answering your
I hope all is well with you, and with Mother too - I think
of you both very often. I was unable to foresee at the time,
when I left Nuenen to go to Antwerp, that the course of events
would keep me away for so long, and at such a distance. Perhaps
this is the reason that my thoughts go back to those parts
involuntarily so often, and then it seems to me that I am
carrying on the same work that I left unfinished there, seeing
that so many things in nature are parallel.
I have just finished a landscape representing an orchard of
olive trees with grey leaves, somewhat like those of the
willows in colour, their violet shadows lying on the sunny
sand. And another one too, which represents a
field of wheat turning yellow, surrounded by blackberry bushes
and green shrubs. At the end of the field there is a little
house with a tall somber cypress which stands out against the
far-off hills with their violet-like and bluish tones, and
against a sky the colour of forget-me-nots with pink streaks,
whose pure hues form a contrast with the scorched ears, which
are already heavy, and have the warm tones of a bread crust.
I have still another one in which a wheat field on the slope
of the hills is all devastated and smashed to earth by the
pouring rain and the rushing water of a cloudburst.
It seems to me that the people of this country work a good
deal less than the peasants at home; one hardly sees any
cattle, and the fields make a much more deserted impression
than those in our country. In my opinion this is very
deplorable, all the more so as nature here is the reverse of
stingy, and the air is so pure and healthy. So what one should
like to see is a more energetic race of men. The cases where
doing nothing becomes doing wrong do not seem to be exceptional
here. Aren't there heaps of honest workers without enough bread
in the North because people there work so much that work is no
longer held in high regard. I don't mean to say that this is
always the case, but surely there is something of the kind.
Well, the farms here would produce three times as much as they
do now if they were well kept, and the whole land too if it
were sufficiently manured. And if the country here should
produce three times as much, it might feed a lot more
Now I think you asked me whether always supposing that love
is a bacillus, which I am unable to affirm or to prove, a fact
I request you please not to lose sight of, I think you asked me
whether there are persons who have said bacillus, and others
who do not, or whether on the contrary it is a fatal and
universal malady. There again I am pretty incompetent to form a
well-founded, clear opinion. But in my estimation it is
probable that, if somebody - let's say you for the sake of
argument - were convinced he did not have it, it would perhaps
be sensible of such a person to inoculate herself or himself
with the aforesaid bacillus according to the method of Pasteur
or someone else. Joking apart, I am of the opinion that a man
or a woman ought to be desperately in love with something or
somebody, and the only precaution one might be able to take is
to do it in a certain way according to one's ideas, and not in
any other way.
As to knowing one's own mind in matters of this kind - alas,
we know ourselves so little.
As a matter of fact I am inclined to believe that women are
apt to take the offensive in these things; that those among
them who are wise, or rather who have the truest and surest
instincts, do not wait for somebody else to love them before
they fall in love themselves—which (and I am disposed to
think there are good reasons for this) seems to them to be the
And finally, it is more than probable that, even after
having inoculated oneself with the attenuated bacillus of the
right virus, well chosen and of the correct dosage, and thus
having become all the more secure against contagion, at least
if one has not caught the malady yet, that does not definitely
prevent one from catching it, whereas, if one already has it,
one cannot catch it again.
I am sort of longing for news from Theo, who seems to be
rather absorbed in his honeymoon, which is a very good thing.
Last week he sent me a consignment of paints and canvases, but
a month has gone by since I received a letter from him. It is a
great consolation to me to know that he is no longer living
alone. His wife wrote me a very good letter [See Letter T08]
some time ago, which proved to me that she is a very serious
young woman. She will need this quality now and for a long time
to come, for Theo's life is rather complicated because of his
duty toward Boussod Valadon & Co. As for her, she will
learn to prefer life with him to life without him without being
obliged to change too much, or to forget all the things she
already knew in Holland.
Now I am going out to work a little, so I wish you all
prosperity and health, you and Mother too. With a kiss in
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Wilhelmina van Gogh. Written 16 June 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number W12.
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