My dear Theo,
I’m writing you another few lines to tell you that I’ve been to see the gentleman whom the Arab Jew in Tartarin calls ‘the shustish of the beace’.1 I still got 12 francs back and my host was reprimanded for keeping my trunk; as I wasn’t refusing to pay, he had no right to hold it. If they’d found in favour of the other party, that would have done me harm, because he wouldn’t have failed to go around saying that I had not been able or not been willing to pay him, and that he’d been forced to take my trunk. Whereas now — because I left at the same time as him — he said as we went that he’d been angry but hadn’t really wished to insult me. But that’s just what he was trying to do, probably seeing that I had seen enough of his shack — and that he couldn’t make me stay — he’d have gone to tell tales where I am at the moment. All right. If I’d wanted to get the actual reduction, I’d probably have claimed more in damages, for example. If I let myself be annoyed by just anybody I’d soon not know where to turn, you understand.  1v:2
I’ve found a better restaurant where I eat for 1 franc.2
My health’s been better these days.
Now I have two new studies like this:

You already have a drawing of it, a farmhouse beside the wide road in the wheatfields.3

A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees — a strip of blue sky.4  1v:3
If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful and I had trouble finding the composition. A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.
Having asked the price for sending the consignment that went off by goods train, it will be 7 francs at the station in Paris. As I don’t have very much left I didn’t put postage on it here — but if they asked more you’d have to complain. The crate is marked UV and W1042.
We’ve had the mistral again yesterday and today. I hope my consignment arrives before Tersteeg comes to Paris.5
Handshake, write to me soon.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 611 | CL: 487
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Saturday, 12 May 1888

1. In 1888 there were two justices of the peace in Arles, one for the western canton and one for the eastern canton. Since Hotel Carrel was on the east side of the town, Van Gogh and the hotel-keeper would have taken their dispute to the justice for the eastern canton. This was Eugène Giraud, who was open for business from 10.00 a.m. on Saturday mornings (L’indicateur marseillais 1888).
Van Gogh is referring to Alphonse Daudet’s Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon, in which an Arab Jew with a strong accent cries out: ‘Au zouge de paix! Au zouge de paix!’ See Daudet 1986-1994, vol. 2, p. 537 (3e épisode, chapter 3).
The inhabitants of Tarascon are described in the novel as gullible people with vivid imaginations. Their favourite occupations are hunting – in the absence of game they shoot at their caps – and singing love songs. Because Tartarin excels in both pursuits he is very highly regarded. He likes bragging about his long voyages, but in fact he has never been outside Tarascon. To maintain his reputation he goes to Algeria to hunt lions, has all sorts of adventures, shoots a solitary (tame) lion and is greeted as a hero on his return to Tarascon.
2. This was Restaurant Vénissac on place Lamartine, where Van Gogh ate every day (at least in August and September). It was next door to the Café de la Gare, where he was staying. The owner was the widow Marguerite Vénissac-Canin. See letter 658, n. 10, and letter 691.
3. The study is Farmhouse in a wheatfield (F 408 / JH 1417 [2603]), reproduced in the letter sketch of the same title F - / JH 1418. Van Gogh had sent Theo the drawing Farmhouse in a wheatfield (F 1415 / JH 1408 [2598]) not long before; see letter 605.
[2603] [2598]
4. View of Arles with irises in the foreground (F 409 / JH 1416 [2602]) after which Van Gogh made the sketch of the same title here (likewise F - / JH 1418).
5. Tersteeg’s visit to Paris took place in the first half of June; see letter 625.