My dear Theo,
I just received your letter. Perhaps because your letter crossed a missive of mine in the same tone as the one you replied to today, you’ll see that I’m speaking here in a mood other than the rashness you assume. Precisely because I calmly say what I say, albeit not in the tone that’s used every day (this is a serious matter), I can’t avail myself of your generosity in regarding it as having been spoken ‘in haste’. It is this very view of yours (that I must have spoken in haste and without reflection) that is proof enough for me that we’re now at a point where more words wouldn’t get us any further, and I think it right that we let this matter rest.
You say you have to speak about the finances. So do I.
Brother, know that I repeat what I said before, without change, about how you have helped me nobly — and that:

money can be repaid, but not kindness such as yours.1

But — this is what I want, and what you would approve of my wanting.  1v:2
I must take measures such that I have what I have.
I mean that I can only accept that money that I can do with as I see fit without having to ask anyone’s opinion.
I would rather have 100 francs a month and free use of it, than 200 francs and not entirely free use of it.
If we were more of one mind in our views, I would consider an arrangement like the one agreed between you and me up till now to be far and away the best.2
But where there’s too much difference in views, where there’s too little understanding each other, an arrangement such as the one agreed between you and me isn’t viable or wise. Supposing that, after all, both your character and mine want to avoid disorder or commotions, then we’ll break it off quietly and calmly — but definitely in such a way that neither you nor I can be criticized for folly or rashness.  1v:3
I would wish it to remain the usual until March. That will enable me to pay everything I have to pay, and to provide myself with a few things by way of materials. First order of business that has to be dealt with.
The last year, namely ’83, was a hard, sad year for me, and the end particularly sad, bitter and bitter. Well, we won’t refer to that again. After March we are free on both sides. But if you could still give Pa some contribution for a while, because I don’t want to be too much of a burden, that would be wise and good in my view. But this must be between Pa and you.
Then, if necessary, I’ll find something to do on the side. I don’t much care what, only not with you in the same trade. Only be aware that I definitely mean it, facing the fact that we evidently couldn’t remain sufficiently in agreement were we to go on any further, I’ll try not to  1r:4 accept any more favours in the form of money from you, since they can’t leave me completely free in my approach to life.
You’ll say that you leave me free — yes, but there’s still a certain awkwardness.
And I would rather have less from someone else, if I am not, after all, free in things that touch no one other than me personally.
You mustn’t take this to mean that I want nothing to do with you any more, the opposite is true — you’re a dealer. Very well, if I make something saleable in your view, I would even rather sell it to you than to someone else, but it must be an arrangement such that my position doesn’t become false as a result, so I really do want a sale in the literal sense. You can take this, too, just exactly as you like, I think that what I say is understandable.
I thank you for your letter, I appreciate many things in it. Regards, and believe me

Yours truly,


Br. 1990: 437 | CL: 361
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Nuenen, between about Sunday, 6 and about Sunday, 13 January 1884

a. Read. ‘geschreven’ (written).
1. This was not the first time Van Gogh had quoted this line, originally from Tennyson: see letter 413, n. 4.
b. Read: ‘waar’ (with which).
2. Since June 1882 the agreement had been that Vincent would receive a fixed sum of 50 francs from Theo three times a month and that he would keep his brother up to date with his progress by sending him works that he had done. Theo was free to keep what he wished; Vincent believed that he was entitled to them (cf. letter 265).