My dear Theo,
Letter from Gauguin, to say that he pays me a heap of undeserved compliments, and to add that he won’t come until the end of the month. That he’s been ill... That he dreads the journey....1 What can I do about it..... But come on, let’s see — is this journey so exhausting, then, when after all the worst consumptives do it???
When he comes he’ll be welcome.
If he doesn’t come, well, then, it’s his business. But isn’t it clear, or shouldn’t it be, that he’s coming here precisely in order to get better?
And he claims to need to stay over there in order to recover! What stupidities! Honestly.
Thank you for your 20-franc money order. In my list of necessary purchases I said 35 francs for the chest of drawers-dressing table2 — well — I’ve just bought one for 14 francs and paid for it, of course.
Send me these 14 francs by money order, please.  1v:2
I was less hesitant about buying this piece of furniture because I want to be ready in case Gauguin were to come sooner.
I send you copy of my reply to his rather over-complimentary letter.3 Since he’s not coming right away, all the more reason why I want to try to have everything in good order and ready to receive him the day he comes.
I’ve done a new no. 30 canvas, and I plan to start another one this evening when they light the gas.
The one I’ve just done is another garden.4
These last few days I always have the feeling of spending money, but every day too, it astonishes me to find it in the house. You know, it really does you good to come back to your own home, and it gives you ideas for work. Gauguin writes very amiably, but he doesn’t actually say why he isn’t coming right away. He says ‘because he’s ill’, but would he come here to recover? It seemed to me, precisely, that that was just what we were looking for. Ah well, let them do all that seems best to them.

Ever yours,

Reply to Gauguin’s letter

My dear Gauguin.
Thank you for your letter — truly too full of compliments for me. So you’re not coming until the end of the month.
Perfect — seeing that it must appear to you that you’ll recover more quickly in Brittany than here.
I won’t press the point. Only, if your recovery wasn’t going well in Brittany, then think about this, that we think we could get you well here more quickly than that.
Look, everything is always for the best in this best of worlds — in which we have — still according to the excellent père Pangloss, the ineffable happiness of finding ourselves.5 In this case too, I have no doubt at all — all will be for the best.
But is it inordinately true that the journey to Arles is as exhausting as you say? Come on. Because the worst consumptives do it. You know very well that the PLM6 is for that. Or are you even iller than you say? I fear so, and if there is reason to, reassure me on this subject, or else write frankly that you’re in a bad way, ill.  1r:4
But you write business, you talk about lithography.
Here’s my opinion.
Making lithographs in the evening. You, me, Bernard, Laval..... fine — I’m in, of course — but as for their periodical publication I shall DEFINITELY NOT be in as long as I’m not any better off than now.
I have more than enough with painting. In lithography one is always in for one’s money, even when not buying the stones. It wouldn’t cost too much — I’m not saying — but in the end, for a publication, however modest it might be, the four of us would be in for at least 50 francs ‘each’. And even then......
Tell me the opposite if you like, I’m not pressing the point, but anyway, I say what I say. I already have some little experience of an attempt.7
But the .... even then... that I add, is that it wouldn’t last, and above all, wouldn’t catch on with the public, either. And we’d always continue to be in for our expenses. Even if we’re in for our expenses, if it comes to it, I’m still in for making these lithographs in question. On the other hand, I would never — even without expenses — be in favour of their publication. If it’s at our expense and for our own pleasure and use, then I repeat I’m in. Are you assuming something else?? I would not be in.
Don’t tell me that it costs as little as that if it’s a question of publishing.

Ever yours,

So come as soon as you can, then!

P.S. Did you receive my canvases???

P.S. to Gauguin:8
If you aren’t too ill, please come right away. If you are too ill, telegram and letter, please.

You’ll perhaps find the P.S. to Gauguin too blunt, but it’s up to him to say yes or no. HE IS ill, but look, he’ll recover much better here, come on.


Br. 1990: 706 | CL: 549
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Wednesday, 10 or Thursday, 11 October 1888

1. The letter from Gauguin to Vincent has not survived; he had also written to tell Theo that he would travel to Arles at the end of the month. He informed Schuffenecker on 8 October that he had had another attack of dysentery. See Correspondance Gauguin 1984, pp. 247-249.
2. In letter 694 Van Gogh had made a list of things he still wanted to buy for the Yellow House. He had estimated 40 francs for the dressing table with chest of drawers.
3. The ‘copy’ of the letter to Gauguin that Van Gogh includes here (ll. 55 ff.) has been so drastically edited that it is doubtful whether it can really be called a copy in the strict sense of the word: there are numerous crossings-out and insertions, so that it would appear to be an amended version of the letter to Gauguin.
4. This view of the park was Entrance to the public garden (F 566 / JH 1585 [2718]). In letter 703 Van Gogh says he has two paintings of this ‘other garden’ (to distinguish it from the ‘poet’s garden’); the second painting was The public garden with a couple strolling (‘The poet’s garden’) (F 479 / JH 1601 [2730]).
[2718] [2730]
5. See letter 568, n. 3, for this allusion to Voltaire’s Candide.
6. ‘PLM’ is the abbreviation for the ‘Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée’, the railway company that operated this line.
a. Read: ‘chacun’.
7. Van Gogh had made lithographs in The Hague and Nuenen. The cost of the process was a recurring theme in his letters to Theo at the time. See Van Heugten and Pabst 1995. His experiences with lithography did not produce the expected results, and this explains his dismissive attitude here.
8. Van Gogh wrote ‘P.S. to Gauguin’ so that Theo would understand that this remark belonged with the letter to Gauguin; it is in the bottom margin of p. [1r:1], and thus in the letter to Theo.