van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
London, 8 May 1875

Dear Theo,

Thanks for your last letter. How is the patient? 1 I had already heard from Father that she was ill, but I did not know it was as bad as that. Please write me soon about her.
Ay, boy, “What shall we say?”
Farewell and my compliments to the patient.
With a handshake, Vincent

Pour agir dans le monde il faut mourir à soi-même. Le peuple qui se fait le missionnaire d'une pensée religieuse n'a plus d'autre patrie que cette pensée.
L'homme n'est pas ici-bas seulement pour être heureux, il n'y est même pas pour être simplement honnête. Il y est pour réaliser de grandes choses pour la société, pour arriver à la noblesse et dàpasser la vulgarité où se traîne l'existence de Presque tous les individus.

[To act well in this world one must sacrifice all personal desires. The people who become the missionary of a religious thought have no other fatherland than this thought.
Man is not on this earth merely to be happy, or even to be simply honest. He is there to realize great things for humanity, to attain nobility and to surmount the vulgarity of almost everybody.]


  1. Their cousin, Annette Haanebeek, who died soon after.

At this time, Vincent was 22 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 8 May 1875 in London. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 026.

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