1. Theo must have responded critically to the passage about sowing wheat in the right soil in letter 400 (and hence about Theo’s ‘true’ destiny), accusing Vincent of mistakenly believing that he could judge the situation in Paris. These opening sentences are the reply to this.
2. Van Gogh originally wrote ‘waterhoozen’ (waterspouts), and changed it to ‘crisissen’ (crises).
3. Theo supported several members of the family and Marie.
4. Van Gogh’s ‘Beware’ both in this context and in letter 406 has to be read as the English word (cf. also ‘Make up your mind’, l. 270). In the present letter he wrote it in very large letters.
5. Cf. Heb. 12:13.
6. From this remark it again appears that it was Theo who encouraged Vincent to start drawing. See also letter 214.
a. Read: ‘Ik werd geacht u niet te vleien’ (I was not supposed to flatter you) (i.e. at Theo’s own insistence in his previous letter).
7. Theo saw Drenthe during one of the sales trips with nouveautés that he undertook for the Hague branch of Goupil in 1876-1878 (see FR b2071).
8. Micah 6:8.
9. Saying, cf. ‘Audentes Deus ipse iuvat’ (WNT).
10. Cf. for this expression: letter 288, n. 15.
11. Probably Jules Breton.
12. ‘The heart upwards’ is the translation of ‘sursum corda’; see for this letter 143, n. 49.
13. See for the expression ‘How (not) to do it’: letter 179, n. 3.
14. Cf. 1 Cor. 10:25.
15. For the ‘conscience’, see letter 133, n. 12.
16. See for ‘Le rayon blanc’ (the white ray) and ‘le rayon noir’ (the black ray), later in the sentence, derived from Victor Hugo’s Quatre-vingt-treize: letter 388, n. 22.