I write you often these days, and I often write the same
thing, but let it prove to you that I have one thing especially
in mind - the necessity of entering that period of figure
If I am not mistaken in this, I think we cannot join each
other soon enough, and I keep objecting to a stay in the
country. For though the air is bracing, I should miss there the
distraction and the pleasant company of the city, which we
should enjoy so much more if we were together. And if we were
together soon, I should disappoint you in many things, yes, to
be sure, but not in every-thing, and not in my way of looking
at things, I suppose.
Now that we are discussing things, I want to tell you to
begin with that I wish both of us might find a wife in some way
or other before long, for it is high time, and if we should
wait too long, we should not be the better for it.
But I say this in all calmness. However, it is one of the
first requisites for our more hygienic life. And I mention it
because in that respect we may have to overcome an enormous
difficulty, on which a great deal depends. And herewith I
break the ice on the subject; we shall always have to return to
it. And in the intercourse with women one especially learns so
much about art.
It is a pity that, as one gradually gains experience, one
gradually loses one's youth. If that were not so, life would be
Have you already read that preface to Chérie by de
Goncourt? The amount of work those fellows have achieved is
enormous when one thinks of it.
It is such a splendid idea, that working and thinking
together. And every day I find new proof of the theory that the
main reason for much misery among the artists lies in their
discord, in their not co-operating, not being good but false to
each other. And now, if we were more sensible in that respect,
I do not doubt for a moment that within a year's time we should
make headway, and be happier. I am not getting on very well
with my work, but I do not force things, because in fact I am
almost completely forbidden to.
And I want to keep up my strength for that first time in
Paris, if that is to follow first, without any other interval
than that one month in the country. For should like to go there
in good condition.
It was Sunday today, almost a spring day. This morning I
took a long walk alone all through the city, in the park, along
the boulevards. The weather was such that I think in the
country they will have heard the lark sing for the first
In short, there was something of resurrection in the
Yet what depression there is in business and among the
people. I do not think it exaggerated to be pessimistic about
the various strikes, etc., everywhere.
They will certainly prove not to have been useless for the
following generations, for then they will have proved a
success. But now it is of course hard enough for everybody who
must earn his bread by his work, the more so because we can
foresee that it will get worse and worse from year to year. The
labourer against the bourgeois is as justifiable as was the
tiers état against the other two a hundred years ago.
And the best thing to do is to keep silent, for fate is not on
the bourgeois side, and we shall live to see more of it; we
are still far from the end. So although it's spring, how many
thousands and thousands are wandering about, desolate.
I see the lark soaring in the spring air as well as the
greatest optimist; but I also see the young girl of about
twenty, who might have been in good health, a victim of
consumption, and who will perhaps drown herself before she dies
of any illness.
If one is always in respectable company among rather
well-to-do bourgeois, one does not notice this so much perhaps,
but if one has dined for years on la vache enragée, as I
have, one cannot deny that great misery is a fact that weights
One may not be able to cure or to save, but one can
sympathize with and pity them. Corot, who after all had more
serenity than anybody else, who felt the spring so deeply, was
he not as simple as a workingman all his life, and so sensitive
to all the miseries of others? And what struck me in his
biography was that when he was already very old in 1870 and
1871, he certainly looked at the bright sky, but at the same
time he visited the ambulances where the wounded lay dying.
Illusions may fade, but the sublime remains. One may
doubt everything, but one does not doubt people like Corot and
Millet and Delacroix. And I think that in moments when one does
not care for nature any more, one still cares for humanity.
If you can, send me something extra this month, be it more
or less, even if it's only 5 francs, do so. If you can't, then
it can't be helped.
I am greatly longing to know your decision, if perhaps you
would approve of my coming to Paris already about April 1. At
all events write soon about it.
Goodbye. With a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 14 February 1886 in Antwerp. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 453.
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