On Love: If only we try to live righteously…


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,


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.

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