My dear Theo and dear Jo.
I’ve just received the letter in which you say that the child is ill;1 I’d very much like to come and see you, and what holds me back is the thought that I’d be even more powerless than you are in the given state of distress. But I can feel how very exhausting it must be, and would like to be able to lend a hand. By coming straightaway I fear I would increase the confusion. However, I share your anxieties with all my heart. It’s a real pity that at Mr Gachet’s the house is so cluttered with all sorts of things. Otherwise I think it would be a good plan to come and lodge here – at his house – with the little one, at least for a good month – I think that the country air has an enormous effect. In the street here there are kids born in Paris and really sickly – who however are well. Coming here to the inn would be possible too, it’s true. So that you aren’t too alone I could come myself to stay at your place for a week or fortnight.
That wouldn’t increase the expenses. For the little one, truly I’m beginning to fear that he must be given air, and especially the little bustle of the other children of a village. Surely, Jo too, who shares our anxieties and risks, I think that from time to time she must take this distraction of the country.
A rather melancholy letter from Gauguin,2 he talks vaguely of having definitely decided on Madagascar, but so vaguely that one can clearly see that he’s only thinking of it because he doesn’t really know what else to think about. And the execution of the plan seems almost absurd to me.
Here are three croquis – one of a figure of a peasant woman, big yellow hat with a knot of sky-blue ribbons, very red face. Coarse blue blouse with orange spots, background of ears of wheat.
It’s a no. 30 canvas but it’s really a little coarse, I fear.3 Then the horizontal landscape with the fields, a subject like one of Michel’s – but then the coloration is soft green, yellow and green-blue.4 Then undergrowth, violet trunks of poplars which cross the landscape perpendicularly like columns. The depths of the undergrowth are blue, and under the big trunks the flowery meadow, white, pink, yellow, green, long russet grasses and flowers.5
The people here at the inn used to live in Paris; there they were constantly indisposed, parents and children, here they never have anything, and especially not the littlest one which came here when it was 2 months old, and then the mother had difficulty in suckling him, while here all of that went well almost immediately.6 In another respect you work all day long, and at the moment you’re probably hardly sleeping. I’d willingly believe that Jo would have twice as much milk here, and that then when she came here one could do without cows, donkeys and other quadrupeds. And as for Jo, so that during the daytime she has company, my word, she could also go and stay just opposite père Gachet, perhaps you remember that there’s an inn just opposite at the bottom of the slope.7
What do you want me to say as regards the future, perhaps, perhaps, without the Boussods?
What will be, will be, you haven’t spared yourself trouble for them, you’ve served them with an exemplary fidelity all the time.
I, too, am trying to do as well as I can, but I don’t hide from you that I scarcely dare count on always having the necessary health.
And if my illness recurred you would excuse me, I still love art and life very much, but as to ever having a wife of my own I don’t believe in it very strongly. I fear, rather, that towards let’s say the age of forty – but let’s not say anything – I declare that I know nothing, absolutely nothing, of what turn it may yet take.
But I’m writing to you at once that as regards the little one I think you mustn’t worry yourselves excessively; if it’s that he’s teething, well to make the task easier for him perhaps we could distract him more here where there are children, animals, flowers and good air.
I shake your hand and Jo’s firmly in thought, and kiss the little one.
Thank you for the consignment of colours, for the 50-franc note and for the article on the Independents.8
An Englishman, Australian, called Walpole Brooke will probably come to see you; he lives at 16 rue de la Grande Chaumière – I told him that you would let him know a time when he could come and see my canvases that are at your place.9
He’ll probably show you some of his studies, which are still rather lifeless, but however he does observe nature. He has been here in Auvers for months, and we went out together sometimes, he was brought up in Japan, you would never think so from his painting – but that may come.