van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 10 letters relate to health - eyes...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(5 February 1883)
... for instance, “The Pew.” Boy, I still feel poorly, and I've had a rather plain warning that I must be careful - my eyes felt so tired sometimes, but I wouldn't pay any attention to it. Now, last night, especially, there was a rather strong secretion of the tear glands, and the lashes stuck together, and my eyes are giving me trouble and my sight is poor. Ever since the middle of December I have been drudging incessantly, especially on those heads. This last week I have been out-of-doors a good deal to refresh myself. I have taken baths, washed my head often with cold water, etc., etc. But one feels so miserable at such a time; I have a large pile of studies, but they don't interest me then, and I find them all bad. Rappard wrote me again this week; he said he was recovering, but slowly, still feels weak but is beginning to walk a little bit now and then. But he wrote very clearly and plainly about many things concerning the work. There is a spring...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
(c. 7 February 1883)
... which I find I can't overcome. The same thing happened to my eyes, so that even simply looking at things bothered me. But I have walked a good deal in the country these last days, and my eyes are normal again. 2 I think I have at least 150 drawings that you have not seen yet. The changes in my household, instead of causing me to work less, have caused me to work more; I worked even with a sort of fury, but a quiet fury, if you will allow me to use the expression. I also started reading again, which I had neglected for some time. I think you will be delighted with the baby - those who abandon a woman when she is pregnant know not what they do - such a baby can be said to bring a rayon d'en haut - a ray from heaven - into the house. As for the woman herself, do you remember what Gavarni said? - “Il y a une creature, insupportable, bête, méchante, c'est la jeune fille; il y a une creature sublime et dévouée c'est cette fille...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(8 February 1883)
... the tide and leave the sea unchanged. Since I wrote to you last, I have given my eyes some rest and it has done me good, though they still ache now and then. Do you know what has come into my mind, that in the first period of a painter's life one unconsciously makes it very hard for oneself - a feeling of not being able to master the work - by an uncertainty as to whether one will ever master it - by a great ambition to make progress, by a lack of self-confidence - one cannot banish a certain feeling of agitation, and one hurries oneself though one doesn't like to be hurried. This cannot be helped, and it is a time which one must go through, and which in my opinion cannot and should not be otherwise. In the studies, too, one is conscious of a nervousness and a certain dryness which is the exact opposite of the calm, broad touch one strives for, and yet it doesn't work well if one applies oneself too much to acquiring that broadness of touch. This gives...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(11 February 1883)
... doesn't prevent occasional hard times. I am glad that my eyes are no worse, rather a little better, but it is not quite over yet and I must be careful. I can tell you, it was quite upsetting. How I should love to talk with you - for I am not discouraged about the work, nor listless nor disheartened, but I am at a standstill, and that is, perhaps, because I ought to have some intercourse with someone who is sympathetic to me and whom I could talk to about it; right now there is not a soul here whom I can confide in. I do not mean that nobody can be trusted, far from it, but unfortunately I am not in touch with them. I sometimes think of years ago when I came to The Hague for the first time, and of the three years I spent at Goupil and Co.; the first two were rather unpleasant, but the last one was much happier, so who knows whether the same won't happen now? I like the proverb, “When things are at their worst, they are sure to mend,” but now and then I ask...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(12 February 1883)
... [Written at the top of the letter] Until today every night or morning when I woke up, my eyelids were stuck together because of the discharge, but last night for the first time both eyes were all right. Otherwise nothing was apparent except for the whites being somewhat muddy and bloodshot and what they call bags (?) under the eyes, but this is as good as gone, too. ...

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