To Theo van Gogh. Paris, Thursday, 14 October 1875.
My dear Theo,
Yet again a few lines to cheer myself up as well as you. I advised you to get rid of your books, and I still advise you to do so, certainly, just do it; it will give you peace. But while you’re doing it, take care not to become narrow-minded and to shy away from reading what is well written; on the contrary, that is a comfort in our lives.
‘Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’
Just seek light and freedom and don’t delve too deeply into the mire of the world. How much I’d like to have you here, and show you the Luxembourg and the Louvre &c., though I have the idea that in time you’ll be coming here too. I’ve had rather a good letter from Anna, I’m sending it to you to read, but send it back. Pa once wrote to me ‘don’t forget the story of Icarus, who wanted to fly to the sun and, having arrived at a certain height, lost his wings and fell into the sea’. You’ll often feel that neither I nor Anna are what we hope to become, and that we’re still a long way from Pa and others, that we’re lacking in solidity and simplicity and sincerity; one can’t become simple and true all at once. But let’s persevere nonetheless, but above all be patient, those who believe shall not make haste; yet there is a difference between our desire to become Christians and that of Icarus to fly to the sun.
I believe it can do no harm to have a relatively strong body, so take care to eat enough, and if occasionally you’re terribly hungry, or rather have a terrible urge to eat, be sure to eat well. I assure you that I also do it often enough and above all, have done. Especially bread, I believe, old boy, don’t hesitate, ‘Bread is the staff of life’ as the English say (although they also have a taste for meat, and even much too much of it in general). And now, write to me again soon and tell me about everyday things too.
Remain steadfast, and give my regards to anyone who asks after me. Let’s hope we see each other in 10 weeks or so. I shake your hand heartily in thought, and am ever,
Your loving brother