My dear Theo,
Just a brief word in haste. Have you received the drawings and my later letter yet? I mean the portfolio with the large Sorrow in it and the tree roots1 &c.
I hear that Uncle Cent is in Paris — I hope you haven’t discussed the matter in question with him, because you know what terrible gossips they are in Princenhage — having little else to do. Of course they regard this as a ‘demoralization’, or something even worse. Fine. As long as I don’t have to listen to them and am not present, they can gossip for all I care.
Yesterday I had a friendly letter from Pa and Ma that would give me great pleasure if I could believe this mood would last. However, when I talk to them about the question of Christien (which I’ll definitely do in 3 weeks or so — when she’s in Leiden and I can get away — but not before), when, I say, they know about one thing and another, will they still speak kindly then??? It isn’t up to them, though, and you know well enough what I think about the matter; and since I’m not doing anything not permitted by law, and since I doubt their competence to make moral judgements, their refusal would hurt but wouldn’t make me stop or stand still.  1v:2
I’m working again on the drawings for C.M. But will he like them? Perhaps not. I can’t see such drawings as anything other than studies of perspective — and so I’m doing them mainly to practise.
Even if His Hon. doesn’t take them I won’t regret the effort I’m putting into them, because I’d like to keep them myself and get some practice in the matter on which such an enormous amount depends — perspective and proportion.2
I’ve been rather weak for the last fortnight and haven’t felt well. I didn’t want to give in to it and carried on regardless. But I couldn’t sleep for several nights on end, and was feverish and nervy. Yet I force myself to keep going and to stay busy, for this is no time to fall ill. I must carry on — Christien and her mother have moved to a smaller house,3 because when Christien returns from Leiden she’ll move in with me, wherever I am, whether in better or worse circumstances.
It’s a small house with a courtyard which I hope to do a drawing of this week. With every day that passes I see more and more that the step I’m taking opens up an interesting field for me to draw and find models. People should take this into account if they want to judge me. It’s because of my occupation that I dare do this; I couldn’t do it if I had a different kind of work.  1v:3
I long for your letter and hope you’ll soon find time to write. It seems to me that you can do a great deal of good in this affair in that, knowing how matters stand (and if you need further information about that, I’ll be happy to provide it as honestly as I can), in that, as I say, knowing what the position is, you’ll be able to moderate and modify somewhat the judgement of those who will later hear about the matter but still not understand exactly what it’s all about, so that it doesn’t lead to unpleasantness.
For you will understand this — I want to avoid any unpleasantness, gossip or dispute as far as possible — and it was for the sake of peace that I said nothing to anyone except you, and shan’t say more than absolutely necessary, for instance to Pa, until she’s in Leiden.
This isn’t something that I’ve sought myself; I encountered it on my way and have taken it on, and am glad that what’s required here is to act without hesitation — not to meditate on the matter. And have first shown you the darkest side of the question, in the hope that it won’t look so bad later on.  1r:4
But — I did wish I knew what to do about the studio I wrote to you about. I would also be content with a poorer house, but I don’t know of a more suitable and practical one. And fear that a less practical one wouldn’t really be cheaper, because then my work would suffer, even if I saved a few guilders a month by paying less rent.
And later would probably say, why did I let that studio go and not take more trouble to get it?
More than for a letter, I long for your visit, but I understand that it may have to wait for some time. I’m not really in the mood for writing, but sometimes I have to. If you could send me a little more, it would be good, for things aren’t easy for me. Well, in any case write soon. I would especially like to know what you think about the studio — it could be gone any day. Adieu. Again, don’t inconvenience yourself, but if you can, send me a little more.

Ever yours,

And also write to say whether you’ve received the drawings.


Br. 1990: 229 | CL: 200
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, on or about Tuesday, 23 May 1882

1. This is the unknown large version of Sorrow (see letter 222, n. 1) and Study of a tree (F 933r / JH 142 [2371]), which were mentioned in letter 226 as having been sent.
2. Van Gogh added ‘perspective and proportion’ later.
3. Both Sien and her mother were registered as living at Noordstraat 16 and Slijkeinde 31. In May (the exact date is not known) the address became Slijkeinde, corner of Breedstraat 31a (GAH and exhib. cat. The Hague 1990, pp. 50-52). For Van Gogh’s drawings of this house, see letter 231.