My dear Theo,
The news that you’re already on the way by now gave me great pleasure. Thanks for your letter and the enclosure.
I don’t need to tell you that I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing you — I’ve been far from well in the last few days — always the same thing — heart palpitations as well at times — in the end, with me it may come down to the heart being affected. Well, I don’t know all about it in detail, but I do know that you mustn’t mention it at home or to anyone else for fear of it being misconstrued in their ideas of my circumstances.
By which I mean only that I want to do something good, come what may, and there’s a chance of bringing that about if we keep our serenity, dark future or no dark future.
I could meet you if I knew when, that’s to say on which train, you were coming. And supposing you come to see me while I’m out, the woman can tell you where I am because, so as not to miss you, I’m not going further from home than the Binkhorst1 behind here, to paint some studies.  1v:2
I’m very curious to know what you’ll think of the work, whether there’ll be anything which you think has something or not. Well, we’ll see. I keep thinking about undertaking the potato grubbers as a large painting, although it wouldn’t be finished before next year, and only half finished this season. It seems to me that the composition could stay as it is2 and a start could be made on it.
I’m not competent to determine the extent to which my feeling unwell has a physical cause or is due to nervous tension. It seems to me as if I ought to have been able to talk to you in the meantime and discuss the work, but now you’ve come at last and I firmly believe that our being together will calm me down at any rate.  1v:3 I hope we’ll also go for a long walk together. Did I write to you that I had found thorn-bushes at Loosduinen exactly like Ruisdael’s Bush?3
That’s the area in which I propose to do studies for the potato grubbers.
I hope I’ll soon be completely normal again, I’ll do my best at that, for I thoroughly detest not being able to make headway as I could if I had my full strength. As regards what I wrote to Rappard, that I didn’t think I was put into the world to conserve my constitution,4 this is a question of there being circumstances in which one must choose between working and not eating, or eating and letting the work go hang (namely when the work leads to expenses and for the time being produces no return). Well, in some cases I chose the former, and I don’t believe that was a mistake, since our work remains but we ourselves defnitely do not, and having something to do is life, and I would rather have a few years of that than many years of just daydreaming about it and procrastinating. And I also said then to Rappard that I, for one, thought there was truth in the mysterious words, whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it and whosoever shall lose his life for the sake of something higher shall find it.5
Adieu, old chap, goodbye for now, with a handshake.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 375 | CL: 310
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Sunday, 12 or Monday, 13 August 1883

1. De Binkhorst was a polder near to Van Gogh’s house and to the south-west of The Hague in the direction of Rijswijk and Voorburg.
2. Van Gogh means that the composition of the proposed painting would stay the same as in the drawing Potato grubbers (F 1034 / JH 372 [2442]), of which Theo had an idea from a letter sketch in letter 357. In fact the painting (F 9 / JH 385 [2444]) was to have not four figures, but five.
[2442] [2444]
3. Van Gogh had written about discovering this spot in letter 369. For Jacob van Ruisdael’s The bush [1707], see letter 34, n. 4.
4. Van Gogh had written to Van Rappard about this in letter 341. The phrasing here – from which it could be concluded that Vincent is reacting to a comment on the subject by Theo – may indicate that Van Rappard had written to Theo about Vincent’s remark. It is also possible that Van Rappard referred to it in his letter to Vincent, which the latter had sent on to Theo (see letter 355).
5. This biblical reference (Matt. 16:25) was indeed included – in a slightly shorter form – in letter 341.