To Anna van Gogh-Carbentus. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Monday, 9 or Tuesday, 10 December 1889.
I can very well understand that you say in your letter that it did you good ‘to have lots of people around again’ when Anna’s children and Lies were with you. Wil described the house to me in detail, and I’m very glad that your experience proves that the reasons for the change were justified. And so I hope that you’ll have many more very good days in Leiden — and rest assured I think of you very often here, where I spend my days more turned in on myself than sometimes seems to me desirable. All the same, I certainly have no reason whatsoever to complain, feeling stronger and healthier and calmer than before and compared with this time last year; then I certainly thought I wouldn’t recover again. I’ll always go on feeling the shock of that time, though, and if I just stick to my work it will be all right, wholly giving up the rest as difficult to reconcile, and as worrying about things can do little either way.
As regards the exhibition in Brussels, why it doesn’t leave me indifferent is because I’ll have a few paintings from here which, notwithstanding that they were made in a very different region, have remained completely and utterly as if they were painted in Zundert, say, or Kalmthout, and I believe could also be understood by people who don’t, as they say, know anything about paintings. And so people could say that it would perhaps have been simpler had I just stayed quietly in North Brabant — but that’s as it is, and what is a body to do about it?
Your thoughts will be much with Theo and Jo; I think it’s a very good plan for Wil to go and lend a hand in January and hope that that will work out, and if you go to stay with Aunt Mina in the meantime will also be doing a favour there, now Aunt is ill. Please don’t forget to remember me to her when you see her. It’s brave of her that, as you write, she suffers without complaining.
I imagine I’ll spend a large part of next year here, too, since even if this were no longer absolutely necessary for my health, it would turn out best for my work — since I’m now fairly oriented here. It’s certainly not cheap for what one gets for it — but change is always damaging to the painting, and so I’m seriously thinking about staying, seeing as I can be very regular in my work here. And apart from that the region has hardly been painted, if at all, by anyone else yet. Because this is a region of the south here that’s no warmer than at home, and the other painters usually go a little further, to Nice, for instance. It’s great news that Aunt is no longer in Princenhage, but in any case she was very right to have dispensed with Jacob and Co., since they indeed seemed to have always been the actual owners of the whole show — and that was really too much to bear.
It’s one of those strange things in life that one finds hard to make head or tail of in order to understand the reason for them. Anyway, I think she’s absolutely right — and yet she must have been or still is attached to Princenhage. And attachment to things is a part of us and it’s hard for others to take away from us.
And now I say goodbye to you and Wil for today. Thanks again for the messages about Cor — and embraced in thought by