Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (c. 17 September 1883) ... if our intentions were not
Personally, I would rather have stayed with the woman,
though it would have been doubly difficult; but as far as I
could see, it was impossible under the circumstances. And if I
constantly imagine her as a phantom, it is not as a reproachful
one, but I am melancholy because I did not have the means to
act toward her as I should have wished. Times are hard, and you
will have your share of it.
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (c. 22 September 1883) ... and life here are
doing me a lot of good. Oh, if only the poor woman could have
enjoyed it too. I think of her with such tender regret - though
my common sense tells me clearly that it is impossible under
I am worried about her because I have not heard anything,
and must conclude that either she did not want or was not able
to do the things I advised her to do. I can hardly even write
to her, because in the first place, as long as she continues to
live in Bagijnestraat, I know that my letter will probably be
opened by her brother or her mother; and in the second place,
as long as she lives there, I do not want to have
anything to do with them, not even with her. Well,
perhaps I may hear something yet, but if not, it will give me a
melancholy feeling. I had hoped to have news from an address
other than Bagijnestraat, namely that she had started a small
laundry with her mother.
Oh, Theo, if she hadn't had any family, she would have
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (c. 26 September 1883) ... out my work depends on it.
Besides, the fate of the woman and the fate of my poor
little boy and the other child cut my heart to shreds. I would
like to help them still, and I cannot. I am at a point where I
need some credit, some confidence and warmth, and, look here, I
find no confidence. You are an exception, but it makes me feel
even more how hopeless everything is just because you have to
bear the brunt of it all.
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (19 November 1883) ... Than the source of great rivers.]
Theo, I have heard from the poor woman a few times; she
seems to be doing her best, working, washing for people, going
out as a charwoman. Her writing is almost indecipherable and
incoherent, she seems to regret some things in the past. The
children are well and happy.
My pity and affection for her are certainly not dead, and I
hope that a bond of affection may remain between us, though I
do not see the possibility or the good of living together again
- pity may not be love, but for all that it can be rooted
Well, brother, to change the subject, it is snowing here
today, in the form of enormous hailstones. I call it snow
because of the effect.
I don't speak about the beauty of the scenery here because I
should have to say too much about it to you. As to the
work, I am almost too preoccupied with the idea that you should
take it up too, which quite absorbs me. I wish it were settled,
then we could make...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (c. 25-28 December 1883) ... several ugly symptoms
But now everything has changed for the worse, and I fear for
her life; and the poor little baby too, whom I cared for as if
he were my own, is no longer what he was.
Brother, I found her in great misery, and I am in great
sorrow over her. I know, of course, that it is more my own
fault than anyone else's, but you too might have spoken
Now that it is too late, I understand better some fits of
temper in her, and some things which I thought she did wrong on
purpose I now see as nervous symptoms, done almost
Just as she told me on more than one occasion afterward,
“Sometimes I do not know what I do.”
For me, as well as for you, there is an excuse in the fact
that one does not know to what extent such a woman can be
relied upon, and in the financial obstacles besides - but we
should have chosen a middle course, and if we could still find
it - though it will be difficult to find...