My dear Theo and dear Jo.
In normal circumstances I would certainly have already hoped for a brief line from you in these early days. But considering things as faits accomplis – my word – I think that Theo, Jo and the little one are a little on edge and worn out – besides, I too am far from having arrived at some kind of tranquillity. Often, very often, I think of my little nephew – is he well? Jo will you believe me – if you again happen to have more children, which I hope, don’t have them in town, give birth in the country and stay there until the child is 3 or 4 months old. At present – it seems to me that although the child is no more than 3 months old yet, the milk is already becoming sparse, already you’re like Theo, too tired.
I don’t at all want to say exhausted, but anyway troubles are taking up too much room, are too numerous, and you’re sowing among thorns.1 That’s why I’d have you consider not going to Holland this year, the journey is always very, very costly and it has never done any good. Well yes, it does Mother good, if you like, as she’ll love to see the little one – but she’ll understand and will prefer the little one’s well-being to the pleasure of seeing him. Besides, she won’t lose anything by it, she’ll see him later. But – without daring to say that it might be enough – whatever the case it’s certainly preferable that father, mother and child take an absolute rest in the country for a month.
On the other hand, I too greatly fear being confused – and find it strange that I shouldn’t know at all under what conditions I left – if it’s as before at 150 a month in three instalments – Theo didn’t arrange anything, and so to begin with I left in confusion.2
Would there be a way of seeing each other again more calmly – I hope so. But the journey to Holland, I fear that it would be the last straw for all of us.
I still foresee that it makes the child suffer later to be brought up in town. Does Jo consider that an exaggeration? I hope so, but anyway I believe that one must be prudent, though. And I say what I think because you well understand that I take an interest in my little nephew and care about his well-being; since you really wanted to name him after me, I’d wish him to have a less anxious soul than mine. Which is foundering.
Let’s talk now about Dr Gachet. I went to see him the day before yesterday, I didn’t find him.
I’ve been very well the past few days, I’m working hard and have four painted studies and two drawings.3
You’ll see a drawing of an old vineyard with a figure of a peasant woman. I’m planning to do a large canvas of it.
I think that we must in no way count on Dr Gachet. In the first place he’s iller than I am, it seemed to me, or let’s say just as much, there you have it. Now when one blind man leads another blind man, do they not both fall into the ditch?4
I don’t know what to say. Certainly my last crisis, which was terrible, was due in considerable part to the influence of the other patients,5 anyway, the prison was crushing me, and père Peyron didn’t pay the slightest attention to it, leaving me to vegetate with the rest, who were profoundly corrupted.
I can have lodgings, 3 small rooms at 150 a year. This if I don’t find better, and I hope to find better, is in any case preferable to the bedbug-infested hole at Tanguy’s,6 and besides I’d find a shelter myself there and could retouch the canvases that need it. In such a way the paintings will be less spoiled, and by keeping them in order the chance of deriving some profit from them would increase. For – I’m not talking about my own – but the Bernard, Prévost,7 Russell, Guillaumin, Jeannin canvases that ended up there – that’s not the place for them.8
Now canvases like those – once again I’m not talking about my own – are merchandise which has and will retain a certain value, and neglecting it is one of the causes of our mutual financial embarrassment.
It rather saddens me to have to insist that you send me at least part of my month right at the beginning. But I’ll still do all I can to ensure that all goes well.
It’s certain, I think, that we’re all thinking of the little one, and Jo must just say what she wants, I dare believe that Theo, like me, will go along with her opinion. Myself, all I can do at the moment is say that I think that we all need some rest. I feel – a failure – that’s it as regards me – I feel that that’s the fate I’m accepting. And which won’t change any more. But one more reason, setting aside all ambition, we can live together for years without ruining ourselves on either side. You see that with the canvases that are still in St-Rémy – there are at least 8 of them9 – and with the 4 from here, I’m trying not to lose my touch. That, though, is the absolute
1r:4 truth, it’s difficult to acquire a certain facility of production, and by ceasing to work I would lose it much more quickly, more easily than it cost me in troubles to acquire it. And the prospect darkens, I don’t see a happy future at all.
Write to me by return of post if you haven’t already written, and good handshakes in thought, I would hope that it might be possible to see each other soon with more rested minds.