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Dear brother and sister,
Jo's letter told me a very great piece of news this morning,
I congratulate you on it and I am very glad to hear it. I was
much touched by your thought when you said that neither of you
being in such good health as seems desirable on such an
occasion, you felt a sort of doubt, and in any case that a
feeling of pity for the child who is to come passed through
your heart. Has the child in this case even before its birth
been less loved than the child of very healthy parents, whose
first movement must have been quick with joy? Certainly not. We
know life so little that it is very little in our power to
distinguish right from wrong, just from unjust, and to say that
one is unfortunate because one suffers, which has not been
proved. Remember that Roulin's child came to them smiling and
very healthy when the parents were in straits. So take it as it
comes, wait in confidence and possess your soul with great
patience, as a very old saying has it, and with good will.
Leave nature alone.
I very much like to think that illness sometimes heals us,
that is to say, when the discomfort comes to a crisis, it is
necessary for the recovery of the body's normal condition. No,
after he has been married for some time, he will recover his
strength, as he still has a reserve of youth and power to
I am very glad that he is not alone, and truly I do not
doubt but that after some time he will recover his old
temperament. And then above all, when he is a father and the
sense of fatherhood has come to him, it will be so much
In my life as a painter, and especially when I am in the
country, it is less difficult for me to be alone, because in
the country you feel more easily the ties that unite us all.
But in town, as he has been for ten years on end with the
Goupils in Paris, it is impossible to exist alone. So with
patience it will all come back.
I am going to Arles tomorrow to get the canvases which are
still there, and which I will send you soon. And I am going to
send some of them as soon as possible to try to give you, even
though you are in town, a peasant's thoughts.
This morning I talked a little with the doctor here - he
told me exactly what I already thought - that I must wait a
year before thinking myself cured, since the least little thing
might bring on another attack.
Then he offered to store my furniture here, so that we
should not be paying double. Tomorrow I am going to Arles to
talk it over with M. Salles. When I came here, I left M. Salles
50 francs to pay the hospital in Arles; he is sure to have some
of it left. But as I was still pretty often in need of various
things here, the surplus which M. Peyron had is exhausted. I am
rather surprised, myself, that while I have been living with
the greatest possible frugality and regularity for six months,
not counting having my studio free, I spend no less and produce
no more than the previous year, which was comparatively less
frugal, and inwardly I feel neither more nor less remorseful,
as it is called. That is as much as to say that what is called
good and bad is, however - as it seems to me - pretty
I live soberly because I have a chance to, I drank
in the past because I did not quite know how to do otherwise. Anyway,
I don't care in the least!!! Very deliberate sobriety - it's
true - leads nevertheless to a condition in which thoughts, if
you have any, move more readily. In short, it is a difference
like painting in grey or in colours. I am going to paint more
in grey, in fact.
Only instead of paying money to a landlord, you give it to
the asylum, I do not see the difference - and it is hardly any
cheaper. The work is a thing apart and has always cost me a
As for being godfather to a son of yours, when to begin with
it may be a daughter, honestly, in the circumstances I would
rather wait until I am away from here.
Then Mother would certainly rather set her heart on its
being called after our father. I for one would think that more
logical in the circumstances.
I enjoyed myself very much yesterday reading Measure for
Measure. Then I read Henry VIII, in which there
are such fine passages, such as that of Buckingham, and
Wolsey's words after his fall.
I think that I am lucky to be able to read or reread this at
leisure and then I very much hope to read Homer too at
Outside the cicadas are singing fit to burst, a harsh
screeching, ten times stronger than that of the crickets, and
the scorched grass takes on lovely tones of old gold. And the
beautiful towns of the South are in the same state as our dead
towns along the Zuyder Zee that once were so bustling. Yet in
the decline and decadence of things, the cicadas dear to the
good Socrates abide. And here certainly they still sing in
ancient Greek. If our friend Isaäcson heard
them, it would certainly rejoice his heart.
What Jo writes about your having all your meals at home is
splendid. Altogether I think it is all going very well, and
once more, while sharing with all my heart all possible
uneasiness about Theo's health, with me the hope predominates
that in this case a more or less sickly condition is only the
result of nature's efforts to right herself. Patience. Mauve
always asserted that nature was good and even much more so than
is generally believed; was there anything in his life that
proves he was wrong? The fits of depression during his last
days, do you think? I should be inclined to think
Good-bye for the present, but I wanted to write straight off
and tell you how pleased I am with this morning's news.
A handshake from
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 6 July 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 599.
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