Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Monday, 29 July 1889.
My dear Vincent,
I’m a little worried that you haven’t received my letter, which contained a postal order for 10 francs. You usually write immediately you receive it, otherwise I’d say that you haven’t had the time. I reproach myself for writing to you so seldom, but writing letters has been extremely difficult for me of late, I don’t know why. I received your last consignment in perfect condition, and find it extremely beautiful. Are these things which you had put aside expressly to let them dry, for in most of these canvases I find more clarity of expression and such a beautiful ensemble. The Undergrowth with the trees surrounded with ivy, the Lane in Arles and the Fields with the gardens in springtime are really beautiful, these, and some others too, are now mounted on stretching frames from which we removed those that were on them and are currently at Tanguy’s. They make a fine display in the frame. Tanguy himself likes them very much too. I think you choose fine subjects for paintings, those tufted trees full of freshness and bathed in the light of the sun are marvellously beautiful. If you were living in surroundings entirely to your taste and you were surrounded by people you liked and who returned your friendship, I would be very pleased, for you cannot work better than you are doing. And what a quantity of fine things you’ve produced. It’s fortunate that your health is good. Mr Peyron wrote to me recently that he found your condition very satisfactory.
Let’s hope that it’ll go from strength to strength.
Jo’s parents are here at the moment, her mother with us and her father at André’s. It’s a good distraction, especially for Jo, and it forces her to move about, which appears to be necessary. She’s looking well and is merely a little weak. As for me, I look like a corpse, but I’ve been to see Rivet, who gave me all kinds of drugs, which are good, though, in that they’ve stopped that cough that was killing me. I think it has gone now. It’s the change of life, and with the way I’m looked after now I’ll regain strength, once the illness is over. Yesterday we all went to St-Germain. Oh, how beautiful the countryside is! Why do people go and wear themselves out in towns when they could breathe some of that good air that gives back life? Do you now leave the building sometimes?
Write to me when you can – tell me something of how things are going, don’t work too hard. Good handshake, from Jo as well.
Thank you a thousand times for the beautiful consignment.
Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Sunday, 4 August 1889.
I found it so strange to have received no letter from you that I telegraphed to find out if you were well. Dr Peyron answered me in a letter that you’ve been ill for a few days but that it’s already a little better. My poor fellow, how I wish I knew what to do to get these nightmares to stop. When your letter didn’t come I imagined, I don’t know why, that you were on your way here and would come and surprise us. Should you ever think that it might do you good to be among people who would like to do their best to cheer you up a little, and who would like to have you with them, then think of our little room. It was inaugurated not long ago by Jo’s mother, so it’s proved usable. I hope that this indisposition was nothing but an after-effect of the previous crisis, but if there was anything particular to which you ascribe this recurrence, at any rate tell me.
Are the doctor and the other staff good to you? Is a distinction made between the various patients, and does this depend on what they pay? When one’s concerned one imagines things to be different and worse than they are, so write to me as soon as you can, and even if it’s only a few words. I’m not getting more concerned than necessary, but all the same I hope you’ll tell me everything. We are well; I feel much better than a while ago and am not coughing at all any more because of Rivet’s medicine. In your last letter you wrote that we are brothers for more than one reason. I feel that too, and even if my heart isn’t as sensitive as yours, I can sometimes imagine the distress that you feel because of so many thoughts that aren’t resolved. Don’t lose heart, and remember that I need you so much. Jo sends her best wishes for your recovery. I hope that you’ll soon be able to send good reports.