My dear Theo,
Thanks very much for your kind letter and for the 50-franc note it contained. Is your own health reasonably good, and is the weather in Paris bearable?
Here we have days of sunshine and wind, I walk a lot to take the air. Up to now I’ve been sleeping and eating at the hospital. Yesterday and today I began to work. When Mrs Roulin also left, to go and live with her mother in the country for the time being,1 she took away the Berceuse. I had the sketch of it and two repetitions. She had a good eye and took the best one, only I’m currently redoing it.2 And I don’t want this one to be inferior.
I have this to say in reply to Mourier’s letter, which gave me pleasure:3 if Gauguin wants to make an exchange with you for a version of the Berceuse, he can send it to his wife in Denmark,4 and in this way I would gladly see a canvas of mine there. But as I’ve already told you, perhaps this canvas is incomprehensible.5 I would also wish to send something to Holland. But I haven’t got up my confidence for all of that yet.
Will you see a bit of greenery there, in your new apartment? I hope so.
As regards Koning, really I daren’t encourage him too much to come here, nor even with his gusto to get carried away with the south, with the experience I’m having of it at the moment.6 If he goes to Nice, Menton, where it may be healthier, he’s bound to be cheated by the gamblers because of his good humour &c., for that’s a real nuisance, even here already, and warps characters. But fortunately, if he goes there he won’t go there alone. For his painting, certainly there are some very fine things here.
But if one has too many annoyances, what can one say and do then?
Anyway, you can see that I don’t quite know what to think yet.
Bernard has written to me as well. I haven’t been able to reply yet, for it’s so difficult to explain the nature of the difficulties one might encounter here, and with our northern or Parisian customs and ways of thinking it’s inevitable that if one stays here for a long time one must suffer something that isn’t amusing in these parts.
Must however admit that in all the towns there are schools of drawing and masses of art lovers, but you understand that run by invalids or idiots of the fine arts it’s nothing but appearance and show.
Mr Salles remitted me the 50 francs immediately.7 It gives me great pleasure that Gauguin has finished some lithographs.8
I believe also what you say, that if one day it was to take a graver turn one would have to follow what the doctors said, and I don’t oppose that. But that day may not be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
Now it isn’t rare in these parts, it appears, to see even an entire population seized by panic – thus at Nice during the earth tremor.9 Currently all the town is anxious, nobody knows precisely why, and I saw in the newspapers that recently in places not very distant from here there had been more light shakes of earth tremor again.10 All the more reason, then, for me to be of the opinion that, as far as I myself am concerned, I should wait with as much patience as I can muster, hoping that afterwards it will settle down again.
At another moment, if I were less impressionable, I would probably poke a good deal of fun at what seems to me to be askew and deranged in the local customs. At present, from time to time it doesn’t have a very happy effect on me. Right, well – in fact, there are so many painters who are cracked in one way or another that little by little I’ll be consoled by it.
More than ever I understand the sufferings of Gauguin, who caught the same thing in the tropics, an excessive sensitivity. At the hospital I just glimpsed a sick negress who’s living there and works as a servant. Tell him that.
If you were to say to Rivet that you have so many anxieties for me he’ll certainly reassure you by saying that, because there’s so much affinity and community of ideas between us, you feel the same thing a little. Don’t think too much about me – with an idée fixe.
What’s more, I’ll get along better if I know that you’re calm. Whatever happens, aren’t there a great many of us in France who try to remain calm whatever happens, adversity or prosperity? I shake your hand firmly in thought. You’re really kind to say that I could come to Paris, but I think that the bustle of a big city will never be worth anything to me. More soon.