To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, Friday, 24 March 1882.
I’ve been working hard these last few days, and have been at it from morning till night. First, the small drawings for C.M. They’re finished and have been sent to him, but I’d hoped that His Hon. would have sent the money immediately, and now that he hasn’t sent it immediately I’m afraid it’s slipped his mind, and when will he send it now??? I continue drawing similar small townscapes nearly every day and I’m getting the hang of it. I wish that Tersteeg and others who claim to be fond of me or willing to help me would ask me for things I can make instead of demanding impossibilities that discourage rather than encourage me. Well, so be it. But I did think that C.M. would pay me immediately. They were certainly no worse than the example that prompted His Hon. to order them, and they gave me enough trouble, more than 30 guilders’ worth at the very least. If people understood that nothing is nothing, and that days without a penny in one’s pocket are very tough and difficult, then I don’t think they’d begrudge me that little bit of money I get from you, which allows me to keep my head above water at this difficult time, or make me faint-hearted by reproaching me because of what I get from you.
Theo, I believe that Tersteeg does neither you nor me a good turn by meddling in this matter. He has nothing to do with it. If I work hard, do I not earn my bread? Or am I not worth the means to carry out my work?
I just wish, old chap, that you’d come here soon and see whether or not I’m deceiving you.
Blommers has asked me to give a talk one evening at Pulchri about my collection of woodcuts after Herkomer, Frank Holl, Du Maurier &c. I’d very much like to do it, I have enough for two evenings if necessary. At any rate, I’m well and I feel I’m progressing in my work.
I have to draw for about a year more, or at least several months yet, until my hand is steady and sure, and my eye, and then I see no reason at all why I shouldn’t become very productive commercially. That I ask for those few months’ time is reasonable. It can’t happen faster than that, or else I’d produce poor work and that’s not necessary, with a bit of waiting I’ll produce good work.
Can you send me something one of these days? I hope so. You know I gave Tersteeg the 10 guilders back. I repeat, I wish you’d become a painter, you could do it if you wanted to, and you’d lose nothing by it, only become something better, it seems to me, than if you remain an art dealer, even if you were the very best of art dealers.
Still, to make the most of your potential, you’d have to throw yourself into it with all your might.
I haven’t sent you any more sketches recently – I’m waiting now until you come here yourself – it’s better that way. Am busy with figures, and also with a couple of landscapes of a nursery here in Schenkweg.
Since when, I’d like to know, is one allowed to force or try to force an artist to change either his working method or his ideas? I find it very rude to try such a thing, especially if it’s someone like Tersteeg, who has the presumption to think he has ‘manners’.
Theo, if you can send me something, do, and every day earlier that you can send it is one day less of unpleasantness for me. Oh well, it’s back to work in any case. Adieu, write soon.