To Theo van Gogh. Paris, on or about Thursday, 9 September 1875.
My dear Theo,
You hadn’t expected to get this letter back again, had you?
No, old boy, this isn’t the path to follow.
The death of Weehuizen is certainly sad, but sad in a different way than you say.
Keep your eyes open and try to become strong and resolute. Was that book by Michelet really meant for him?
Actually, I’d like to suggest something to you, Theo, which will perhaps amaze you:
Read no more Michelet or any other book (except the Bible) until we’ve seen each other again at Christmas, and do what I told you, go often in the evenings to the Van Stockums, Borchers &c. I believe you won’t regret it, you’ll feel much freer as soon as you’ve started this regimen. Be careful with the words I underlined in your letter.
There is quiet melancholy, certainly, thank God, but I don’t know if we’re allowed to feel it yet, you see I say we, I no more than you.
Pa wrote to me recently ‘Melancholy does not hurt, but makes us see things with a holier eye’. That is true ‘quiet melancholy’, fine gold, but we aren’t that far yet, not by a long way. Let us hope and pray that we may come so far and believe me ever
Your loving brother
I’m already a little bit further than you and already see, alas, that the expression ‘childhood and youth are vanity’ are almost completely true. So remain steadfast, old chap; I heartily shake your hand.