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The Hague, 22 July 1883
There isn't any reason for it, is there? If there is
anything, then tell me straight out what kind of obstacles
At all events, write too, by return of mail if possible,
whether there is anything or not. I can't help it if there is
no reason for it, but all at once I'm in the dumps. It may be a
reaction from my overexerting myself.
At all events, write soon, boy; did you get the photographs?
I'm going to take a long walk to try to shake it off.
Yours sincerely, Vincent
Except for what I told you about, there is nothing the
matter with me, and things are going well - but perhaps I am a
little feverish or something - I feel miserable. I had to pay
money right and left - landlord, paint, baker, grocer,
shoemaker, heaven knows what - and only a little is left But
the worst is that after many such weeks, one feels one's
resistance ebbing, and is overcome by a pervading feeling of
If you can't send anything at once, brother, at all events
try to write me by return of mail if possible. And as to the
future, if there is some danger, tell it straight out,
“homme avisé en vaut deux,” it is better to
know exactly what one has to fight against.
I had written you early this morning, but after I had mailed
my letter, it suddenly seemed as if all my troubles crowded
together to overwhelm me, and it became too much for me because
I could no longer look clearly into the future. I can't put it
any other way, and I can't understand why I shouldn't succeed
in my work.
I have put all my heart into it, and, for a moment at least,
that seemed to me a mistake.
But, boy, you know it yourself - what things in practical
life must one devote one's strength and thought and energy to?
One must take a chance and say, I will do a certain thing and
carry it through. Well, then it may turn out wrong, and one may
hit an impenetrable barrier when people do not care for it; but
one needn't care after all, need one? I don't think one has to
worry over it; but sometimes it becomes too hard, and one feels
miserable against one's will.
And now I thought,
I am sorry that I didn't fall ill and die
in the Borinage that time, instead of taking up painting, for I
am only a burden to you. And yet I cannot help it, for one must
go through many phases to become a good painter, and what one
makes in the meantime is not exactly bad if one tries one's
utmost; but there ought to be people who see it in the light of
its tendency and objective, and who do not ask the
Things are looking dark right now. If it were only for me,
but there is the thought of the woman and the children, poor
creatures whom one would keep safe, and feels responsible
The woman has been doing well recently.
I cannot talk about it with them, but for myself it became
too much today. Work is the only remedy; if that does not help,
one breaks down.
And you see the trouble is that the possibility of working
depends on selling the work, for there are expenses - the more
one works, the greater the expenses are (though the latter is
not true in every respect). When one does not sell and has no
other income, it is impossible to make the progress which would
otherwise follow of its own accord.
The fact is, brother,
that the general state of affairs
oppressed me more than I could bear, and I am telling you my
thoughts. I only wish you would come soon. And do write soon,
for I need it. Of course there is nobody but you whom I can
speak to about it, for it does not concern other people, and
they have nothing to do with it.
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 22 July 1883 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 302.
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