[Letterhead: Goupil Paris]

Paris, 25 Sept. 1875

My dear Theo,
The way is narrow,1 so we must be careful. You know how others have arrived where we wish to go; let us take that simple path as well. ora et labora.2
Let us do our daily work, whatever the hand finds to do, with all our might,3 and let us believe that God will give good gifts, a part that shall not be taken away,4 to those who pray to Him for it. And let us trust in God with all our heart and lean not unto our own understanding.5 God’s will and not ours.6
‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’. II Cor. 5:18.7
I’m going to get rid of all my books by Michelet &c. &c., you should too.8
How I’m longing for Christmas, but let’s be patient, that time will come soon enough.
Keep well, old chap, and give my regards to all my acquaintances, and believe me

Your loving brother

I’ll send the money for the frames9 as soon as possible; when I write to Mr Tersteeg I’ll tell him that I don’t have much money at the moment, because I’ve asked our cashier to keep back part of my monthly wages as I’ll be needing a good deal of money around Christmas for my trip &c.
I hope, though, that it won’t be so very long before I can send it.
If I were you I wouldn’t go to Borchers all that often.

Don’t you find these words beautiful? I Cor 2:4 and 510

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.


Br. 1990: 049 | CL: 39
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Paris, Saturday, 25 September 1875

1. Matt. 7:14: ‘Want de poort is eng, en de weg is naauw’ (Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way).
2. Pray and work (a Benedictine rule that has become a popular saying).
4. A combination of Matt. 7:11 and Luke 10:42.
6. An allusion to the Lord’s Prayer.
7. This is 2 Cor. 5:17 in both the Dutch ‘Statenvertaling’ and the King James bible.
8. Van Gogh’s resolution to dispose of nearly all his books displays striking similarities to the decision of Maggie Tulliver in George Eliot’s novel The mill on the Floss. As fate would have it, she comes under the spell of The imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and, of all her books, keeps only this work, the Bible and a hymnal: ‘she flung away the books with a sort of triumph that she had risen above the need of them, and if they had been her own, she would have burned them, believing that she would never repent. She read so eagerly and constantly in her three books, the Bible, Thomas-à-Kempis, and the “Christian Year” ..., that they filled her mind with a continual stream of rhythmic memories; and she was too ardently learning to see all nature and life in the light of her new faith, to need any other material for her mind to work on’. Ed. Leipzig 1860 (2 vols.), vol. 2, book iv, 3, pp. 26-34 (quotation on p. 33). It is likely that Van Gogh read this novel, although he never mentions the title; another reference to the book is a passage quoted in letter 294.
9. Money for framing the prints for Mrs van Gogh’s birthday; see letter 45, ll. 29-30.
a. Means: ‘de deur niet plat lopen’. Vincent here warns Theo not always to go knocking at Borchers’s door.
10. The quotation begins with 1 Cor. 2:2 and continues with 1 Cor. 2:4-5.