[Letterhead: Goupil Paris]

Paris, 10 Dec. 1875

My dear Theo,
Herewith what I promised. You’ll like the book by Jules Breton. There’s one poem of his that I found especially moving: ‘Illusions’.1 Blessed are those whose hearts are thus attuned.
All things work together for good to them that love God2 is a beautiful saying. It will be so for you, too; and the aftertaste of these difficult days will be good.
But write and tell me soon how things are and when the doctor says you’ll be better, if you haven’t done so already, that is.
In a fortnight I hope to be in Etten, you can imagine how much I’m looking forward to it.  1v:2
Have I already told you that I’ve taken up pipe-smoking &c. again? I’ve rediscovered in my pipe an old, trusty friend, and I imagine we’ll never part again.
I heard from Uncle Vincent that you smoke too.
Tell everyone at the Rooses’ especially that I bid them good-day; you and I have had a lot of good times in their house, and have met with much loyalty.
We have ‘Sunday morning’ by Emile Breton here at present.3 You know it, don’t you? It’s a village street with farmhouses and sheds, and at the end the church surrounded by poplars. Everything covered with snow and little black figures going to church. It tells us that winter is cold but that there are warm human hearts.
I wish you the very best, old boy, and believe me ever

Your loving brother

The packages of chocolate marked X are for you, the other two are for Mrs Roos. Smoke the cigarettes with your housemates. Adieu.


Br. 1990: 060 | CL: 48
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Paris, Friday, 10 December 1875

1. Vincent had promised to send Theo Les champs et la mer by Jules Breton (see letter 60). The poem ‘Illusions’, dedicated to Anatole France and dated ‘Courrières, 1873’, reads:

‘How rashly leaps the wounded heart,
When in the grip of winter’s heavy shroud,
To that first refuge where, young and at peace,
It heard itself amid the silence sing.

How bitter the delight, my soul, with which you revel in
Your childhood home, the fields and flowers round the lake’s
Inlet, where on the reeds the bird sways back and forth;
And yet, Chimaera, you deceived us then!

For in your fair mirage a splendid future time
Like a glorious summer unfurled its ripened sheaf
Whose drifting ears of corn were veritable suns.

You lied.– And yet how irresistible their charms,
Those phantoms that we see in crimson distances,
Through our tears’ great prism shimmering!’

(Qu’impétueusement un coeur blessé s’élance,
Lorsque l’hiver l’étreint sous son linceul épais,
Vers le premier asile où, jeune et dans la paix,
Il s’écoutait chanter au milieu du silence.

Avec quelle âpre ardeur, âme, tu te repais
Du toit natal, des prés et des fleurs bordant l’anse
De l’étang où l’oiseau sur les joncs se balance;
Et pourtant, ô Chimère, alors tu nous trompais!

Car dans ton beau mirage un avenir superbe,
Comme un été splendide ouvrait sa riche gerbe
Dont les épis flottants étaitent de vrais soleils.

Tu mentais.– Mais qu’ils ont d’irrésistibles charmes
Ces fantômes qu’on voit dans les lointains vermeils
S’iriser à travers le grand prisme des larmes!)
See Breton 1875, pp. 75-76.
3. Emile Adélard Breton, Sunday morning in winter (present whereabouts unknown); the painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1873 (no. 180). Eugène Louis Pirodon and P. de Comte (?) made a print of it, which appeared in L’Illustration 61 (10 May 1873), p. 320. This print, Un dimanche matin en hiver, is to be found in Van Gogh’s estate (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, t*637). Ill. 1762 [1762]. A reproduction of it also appeared in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts 15 (1873), 2nd series, vol. 8, p. 51.