The Hague – 1883, February

If women do not always show in their thoughts the energy and elasticity of men, who are disposed towards reflection and analysis, we cannot blame them, at least in my opinion, because in general they have to spend so much more strength than we in suffering pain. They suffer more and are more sensitive.

Written from Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theo van Gogh.

The beginning of the letter mentions of a woman whom Theo had befriended with since Paris. She was a sick and alone at the time of their friendship and this may have been to Vincent a profound reminiscent with his relationship with Siene – a prostitute left deserted on the street which the Sketch The Sorrow was entitled to.

My hearty congratulations for Father’s birthday, and thanks for your letter, which I was very glad to receive just now. I congratulate you especially on the operation being over. Such things as you describe make one shudder! May the worst be over now, at least the crisis is past! Poor woman!

Vincent was 29 years old.
Theo was 25 years old.

Arles – 1888, May

Can’t you see that similarly self-sacrifice, living for other people, is a mistake if it involves suicide, for in that case you actually turn your friends into murderers.

At times, Vincent van Gogh’s words reveal the meanings beyond the words. He doesn’t complicate with fancy vocabularies but only in manner he feels natural.

“To live for others such as friends, to sacrifice for them…” he says: “is to turn them into murderers in a suicide.” And for us to think that he may had killed himself… but without a resentment for any of his friends…

So if it has come to this, that you have to travel around like this, with never any peace, it honestly kills any desire in me to get back my own ease of mind. 

Ever yours, Vincent

Letter written from Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theodore (Theo) van Gogh.
On the 25th May, 1888 in Arles.

Vincent was 35 years old & Theo was 31 years old at that time.

1883 – March, The Hague

It may well seem to you that the sun is shining more brightly and that everything has taken on a new charm. That, at any rate, is the inevitable consequence of true love, I believe, and it is a wonderful thing.

“What is it to fall in love?”

And I also believe that those who hold that no one thinks clearly when in love are wrong, for it is at just that time that one thinks very clearly indeed and is more energetic than one was before.

“What could possibly be more irrational than falling in love?” One might say.

And love is something eternal, it may change in aspect but not in essence. And there is the same difference between someone who is in love and what he was like before as there is between a lamp that is lit and one that is not.

“A person in love and a lamp on and a lamp off?”

The lamp was there all the time and it was a good lamp, but now it is giving light as well and that is its true function. And one has more peace of mind about many things and so is more likely to do better work.

Sometimes the simplest metaphor brings the light to the most controversial questions.

By loving, “one has more peace of mind” and “is more likely to do better work.” 👀👍🏻

two-lovers-frag
Two Lovers (Fragment)  Oil on Canvas, 32.5 by 23cm 12.75 by 9 in, Painted in Arles March 1888, Sold for 7.1 Million at Sotheby’s Lot
Vincent van Gogh was 29 years old.
This part is from the letter written to his brother Theo van Gogh.

1878 – April in Amsterdam

If only we try to live righteously, we shall fare well, even though we are bound to encounter genuine sadness and real disappointments and shall probably commit real mistakes and do things that are wrong, but it is certainly better to be ardent in spirit, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and over-cautious.

When I read lines from Vincent on love and his philosophy behind governing conduct of his mind… are we not smitten by his words?

This is from 1878, at age 25. He had turn 25 a month before this letter dating April.

It continues:

It is good to love as many things as one can, for therein lies true strength, and those who loves much, do much and accomplish much, and whatever is done with love is done well. If one is affected by some book or other, let us say by Michelet’s L’ hirondelle, L’alouette, Le rossignol, Les aspirations d’aut-omne, Je vois d’ici une dame, J’aimais cette petite ville singulière – to mention just a few, then it is because that book is written from the heart in simplicity and meekness of spirit. Better to say but a few words, but filled with meaning, than to say many that are but idle sounds and as easy to utter as they are useless.

If you have more time here’s the rest:

So let us go forward quietly, each on his own path, forever making for the light, `sursum corda’ [lift up your hearts], and in the knowledge that we are as others are and that others are as we are and that it is right to love one another in the best possible way, believing all things, hoping for all things and enduring all things, and never failing. And not being too troubled by our weaknesses, for even he who has none, has one weakness, namely that he has none, and anyone who believes himself to be consummately wise would do well to be foolish all over again.

`Nous sommes aujourd’hui ce que nous étions hier’, that is, `honnêtes hommes’, yet men who must be tested in the fire of life to become fortified inwardly are confirmed in what, by the grace of God, they are by nature.

So may it be with us, my boy, and may you fare well along your path, and may God be with you in all things and help you to succeed, which, with a warm handshake on your departure [Theo had been temporarily transferred to the Goupil house in Paris], is the wish of

Your very loving brother,

Vincent

It is only a very small light, the one in the little Sunday-school room in Barndesteeg, but let me keep it burning. Even if I should not, however, I do not think that Adler is the man to let it go out.