My dear Theo,
I couldn’t yet go into detail about my plans in my last letter, but now I can in some respects.
I’ll begin my telling you that I now know for certain that one thing and another that I already suspected as regards the woman is true — that recently she was negotiating about her future even before I’d come to the decision to separate. I had to decide to separate, precisely because I was almost as certain of that then as I am now that I know more exactly what the plans were.
Having taken the decision, I wanted to go ahead with my travel plans without delay.
The first measure to be taken was to give notice to the landlord — that has now been done.
The second measure is what to do with my things, which would be an encumbrance and lead to costs at a time of not knowing exactly where I’ll stay for long. They’ll stay here in this house in the attic, since I’ve agreed this with my landlord.
You will ask, do I have plans to come back to The Hague then? No.
But in, say, 1/2 a year or 1 year
1v:2 I may have to get in touch with some painters here, when I’ve got much further, when I have a batch of studies of the real countryside.
And then for a while I’ll probably take a room or rather an annexe well suited for use as a studio from the same landlord1 in his own house in VOORBURG, not in The Hague, which will be much cheaper for me than living here in the city, which I shan’t readily do again.
So I’m relieved of superfluous encumbrances, and know at once where to head for if I reach a point (certainly not for the time being, of course, but say in 1 year) when a temporary return here would be feasible. Why? — because, for instance, by that time I might be able to become a member of the Drawing Society,2 just to mention one thing. Which is one of the things I might desire and could achieve then.
You’ll agree with me that The Hague is a very remarkable place. It really is the centre of the art world in Holland, and at the same time the surroundings are varied and extremely beautiful, so that one can always work there.
And so — though certainly not for the time being — after a period of 1 year, say, there will probably be a reason for being here for a brief or a longer stay. And through this arrangement regarding my things I stay in touch with someone who knows me and so can at any rate find me a place to live, if I ask.
So I’m a free man without encumbrances, I can leave when I like.
And I can now do more with the 150 francs from you than when so much had to come out of it. And because I have some relief from worries that were nerve-racking.
The travel costs are made much simpler in this way.
The only ‘drawback’, ‘disadvantage’ or whatever you want to call it is that, for my part, I really did have hope that the woman would turn out all right in Drenthe, and now have grave doubts about that. It’s certainly her own behaviour that made me decide to act, but if I’d been able to find the means I’d have taken her to Drenthe nonetheless, in a final attempt for her.
Well, I had to decide, because every week of delay got me more entangled in thorns here, without any progress with her.
If I took my things, a 1/2 wagon to Drenthe would certainly cost something more than 25 guilders, according to a revised calculation by Van Gend & Loos,3 because there’s also the cost of delivering to and collecting from home, although this isn’t all that much.
Well, some packing cases would be needed, which I would have to buy, and that’s another expense.
It would have been convenient to have my things, but it works out too expensive, and especially if one moved about over there.
I would first like to have a look at Katwijk, to do some sea studies, and because that at any rate is within reach, even if the journey to Drenthe has to wait a while on account of the money.
Oh, Theo, you’ll understand my feelings in recent days, a great melancholy about the woman and the children, but it couldn’t be otherwise — at the same time all my thoughts are about work and I’m really eager, because now I can do things which would have been impossible for me otherwise.
Dear brother — if you could feel precisely what I’m feeling, and how I’ve devoted a piece of myself, so to speak, to the woman, namely forgetting everything else and concentrating on getting her back on her feet — if you could feel precisely a kind of sadness about life, which doesn’t, however, make me indifferent to it, on the contrary, I would rather have my sorrow about one thing and another than forget or become indifferent — if you could feel precisely the extent to which I draw my serenity from worship of sorrow4 and not from illusion — perhaps even for you brother, my inner self would be very different and more detached from life than you can now imagine. I’ll certainly not say much more about the woman, but I’ll still continue to think about her often. From the beginning, with her, it was a question of all or nothing when it came to helping. I couldn’t give her money to live on her own before, I had to take her in if I was to do anything of use to her. And in my view the proper course would have been to marry her and take her to Drenthe. But, I admit, neither she herself nor circumstances allow it. She isn’t kind, she isn’t good, but neither am I, and serious attachment existed throughout everything as we were.
I need to work and I also need you to write soon. Adieu, with a handshake.