Letter T 5
Paris, 14 April 1889
My dear Vincent,
I was greatly touched by your letter, which we received
yesterday 1; really, you are making far too much of
something which is entirely natural, without taking into
account that you have repaid me many times over, by your work
as well as by your friendship, which is of greater value than
all the money I shall ever possess. It is very painful for me
to know that you are still in an imperfect state of health.
Though it seems to me that nothing in your letter betrays a
weakness of the mind - on the contrary - the fact that you deem
it necessary to go to a sanatorium is in itself rather serious.
Let's hope that this is meant only as a preventative measure.
Seeing that I know you well enough to consider you capable of
all imaginable sacrifices, I have been contemplating the
possibility that you have thought of this solution in order to
inconvenience less those who know you. If this should be the
case, I implore you not to do it, for life in such an
establishment can hardly be pleasant. So you should know well
what you are going to do, and I think you ought to consider
whether you should perhaps try something else first. Either you
might come here for some time, or you might go to Port-Aven
during the summer, or again you might go and board with people
who would take care of you.
If, however, there was no hidden meaning in what you said
when you wrote me, I think that you are quite right in going to
St. Rémy. By staying there for some time you will
be able to regain confidence in your strength, and nothing will
prevent you from returning to Arles after a certain lapse of
time, if you should feel the inclination. Mr. Salles sent me
some prospectuses of the St. Rémy establishment,
and it says that a third person should apply for admission. So
I enclose the letter to the director of the establishment,
which you may use as you think fit. As soon as you have decided
in going away, I shall let you have the necessary money.
Now I only want to add that we have been here since
Saturday. By Monday we had more or less installed ourselves,
and the apartment looks more lived in every day, thanks to all
sorts of inventions of Jo's. We thoroughly understand each
other, so we feel such a complete mutual satisfaction that we
feel happier than I should say. We left Mother and the sisters
in perfect health. Mother seems to be growing younger. She has
now returned to Breda after an absence of about a month.
My wedding gave her a lot of pleasure, particularly because
Jo and she and Wil got on perfectly with each other; besides,
she has something so sincere in her ways that there are quite a
number of persons on whom she makes a very pleasant
Although there are many things in life which she knows
nothing of, and which she will have to form an opinion about,
she has such a foundation of good will and of zeal for doing
the right thing that I am no longer afraid of the disillusions
which I feared before our marriage. Up till now all goes better
than I have been able to imagine, and I never dared hope for so
In Holland I lacked the time to see many pictures;
notwithstanding this I saw the “Jewish Bride” and
the other Rembrandts again, the Frans Halses at Haarlem which I
thought more beautiful than ever before, and the portrait of an
old woman by Rembrandt in the Museum at Brussels. How beautiful
the last-named picture is. There is really nothing more
remarkable and characteristic in Holland than those old
portraits. One feels far removed from this epoch when one looks
at the follows of today. There was an exhibition at C.M.'s of
charcoal sketches by Mauve, leaves out of his sketchbooks. Very
touching things. Jet gave us one of these drawings as a
present, which I am very, very glad of.
Write us soon what you have definitely decided, and do not
despair, for assuredly better days will come to you.
I shake both your hands.
See Vincent's letter 585.
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 24 April 1889 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T5.
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