My dear Theo,
I must write you another line today. Yesterday they also presented the gas bill for ten francs (or 9.90), which I also paid.
That, added to the accounts I did for you in my previous letter, reduces to very, very little what I have left of the 50-franc note to feed myself. If you can, send me a bit more, I’ve explained everything about it clearly enough, I hope.
I’m still very weak, and I’ll have difficulty in regaining my strength if the cold continues. Rey will give me some quinine wine,1 which I dare believe will have some effect.  1v:2
I would have a lot more things to say to you in response to your letter, but I have a painting on the easel2 and am in a hurry.
You hadn’t told me yet, before now, that André Bonger was married.3 It can’t be very jolly when he complains about the high cost of running a home. Jo Bonger wrote me a line in response to the fact that I had congratulated her, that’s very kind of her.4 It has always seemed to me that you owed it to your social position and to the one you have in the family to marry, and it has been Mother’s wish for years.
And by doing thus what you must do, you’ll perhaps have more tranquillity than before, even amidst a thousand-and-one difficulties.
However, life isn’t easy for me either.  1v:3
What wouldn’t I have given to be able to spend a day here with you and to show you the work in progress and the house, &c. &c.
Now I would prefer that you hadn’t yet seen anything of what I have here than to leave with an impression of it in such distressing conditions. Ah well.
What is Guillaumin doing? You know he has a son now.5
Bernard is being pestered more and more by his father, it’s becoming even more of a hell in that house.
And the worst is that there isn’t much one can do about it, as soon as you put your hand in there you put it into a real wasps’ nest.
They’re now going to try, Gauguin and Bernard, to exempt Bernard from military service because of narrowness (?) of the chest. Good — but it would be a thousand times  1r:4 better for him if he did his service straightforwardly in Algeria with Milliet.
I’m becoming ridiculous as regards Milliet, because the latter constantly asks me for news about it.6
Roulin is on the point of leaving. His salary here was 135 francs a month, to raise 3 children with that and live on it, himself and his wife! You can imagine what that was like. And that isn’t all, the pay rise is a remedy worse than the ill itself... What a civil service. And in what times we live. I’ve rarely seen a man of Roulin’s stamp, there’s an enormous amount of Socrates in him, ugly as a satyr as Michelet said... until on the last day a god was to be seen there, by whom the Parthenon was illuminated, &c. &c.7 If Chatrian, whom you met,8 had seen that man...
Write to me at once at once. Please, because what you sent was really not entirely sufficient, as I’ve tried to explain to you with absolute clarity.

Ever yours,

I forget to say that yesterday I had a letter from Gauguin, still about the fencing masks and gloves.9 Full of varying and varied plans. And already he sees the end of his money on the horizon.
He already fears not being able to go to Brussels for that reason. And after that, if he can’t even go to Brussels, how will he go to Denmark10 and to the tropics?
The best thing he could still do and the very one which he won’t do. That would be quite simply to return here.
Anyway, we haven’t got to that yet, for he doesn’t yet tell me that he glimpses penury on the horizon, only it’s more than readable between the lines.
He’s still at the Schuffeneckers’ temporarily, and is going to do portraits of the entire family.11 So he still has time to think things over.  2v:6
I haven’t replied to him yet. What is fortunately certain is that I dare believe that at heart Gauguin and I like each other enough as characters to be able to start over again together if necessary.
It gives me great pleasure that you haven’t forgotten The anatomy lesson for Mr Rey.12 Later I myself will always have need of a doctor from time to time, and precisely because he knows me well now would be one more reason for me to remain quietly here.
I’ll write to you again soon, but as for the monthly money, draw your own conclusions; I won’t spend more net than any other month.


Br. 1990: 742 | CL: 572
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Saturday, 19 January 1889

1. Quinine wine (vin de quinquina) is a medicinal wine prepared from the bark of the cinchona tree. The drink has an invigorating and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effect.
2. This painting was possibly Van Gogh’s chair (F 498 / JH 1635 [2749]), which he mentioned working on in letter 736, or Blue gloves and a basket of oranges and lemons (F 502 / JH 1664 [2768]), which he had just finished when he wrote letter 741.
[2749] [2768]
3. Andries Bonger and Anne (Annie) Marie Louise van der Linden had been officially engaged since May 1886; their marriage took place on 3 May 1888 in Amsterdam. See Brief happiness 1999, p. 21.
4. Jo van Gogh-Bonger had written to Vincent on 15 January. See Brief happiness 1999, p. 90.
5. Van Gogh is mistaken about the sex: Guillaumin’s child, born on 14 October 1888, was a daughter, called Madeleine.
6. Van Gogh had asked Milliet if he would take charge of Bernard in Africa, if the latter went to serve with the Zouaves. See letter 628. Apparently no answer from Bernard was forthcoming.
7. Van Gogh compared Roulin to Socrates a number of times; see letter 652, n. 7. The passage on Socrates and the Parthenon is an allusion to Michelet’s L’amour; see letter 368, n. 4.
8. Alexandre Chatrian, of the writers’ duo Erckmann-Chatrian. Theo had told Vincent about his meeting with the author (see letter 723).
9. This was letter 737.
10. According to Van Gogh, Gauguin was thinking of settling in Brussels and travelling from there to Denmark to see his family. See letter 723.
12. Vincent had asked Theo to buy the engraving after Rembrandt’s Anatomy lesson for Dr Rey; see letter 732, n. 14.