1. See for the scratches that may have been sent: letter 475, n. 1.
2. One of Theo’s clients must have offered him a job at 1000 francs a month. Mr van Gogh wrote to Theo about this on 24 January 1885 – in reply to Theo’s letter of 20 January – and warned him to be cautious: ‘You write again about the Gentleman who had made you an offer to go to work for him. But you had turned down that proposal.. but now you return to this, and call him your client? Someone who works in electricity and could become …. one of the richest people. And who still seems to want to take you into his office. You also say that you are involved in spite of yourself but don’t know yet whether he will be successful. I wanted to come back to this again. Although my opinion is biased and I know no more of his plans than your letter reveals, I still want to advise you to be careful. Should you perhaps consult Uncle Cent? He is a man who has a clear view of business and also courage enough to take a risk ... Does the Gentleman also need things for his company that belong to your present firm?’ There is a postscript in the margin: ‘We will not talk to Vincent about this business of yours. Do as you wish about that’ (FR 2266). Theo’s parents had obviously not stuck to this intention.
The annual profits payment was worked out after the inventory was compiled in January of the following year, and then paid out by the head office. For 1884 Theo was entitled to an annual share of the profits worth 6,943.65 francs; in total he had earned an average of 912 francs a month in 1884 (FR b2123). See also Account book 2002, pp. 15-16.
We do not know who is meant by ‘Someone who works in electricity’.
3. For a comparison of the size of wages in the second half of the nineteenth century: Introduction, III.3.
4. Strikes had broken out in April 1879 after a mining accident in the Borinage, see letter 151, n. 3.
a. Paarden die voor een (huur)rijtuig worden ingespannen. (Horses harnessed to a (hackney) carriage.)