To Theo van Gogh
The Hague, Thursday evening
My dear Theo,
Accept my thanks for your letter and the enclosure. When I received your letter I was back in Etten, following Mauve’s advice, as I wrote to you. But now, as you see, I’m back in The Hague again.
At Christmas I had a rather violent argument with Pa, and feelings ran so high that Pa said it would be better if I left home. Well, it was said so decidedly that I actually left the same day.
Things actually came to a head because I didn’t go to church, and also said that if going to church was something forced and I had to go to church, I’d most certainly never go again, not even out of politeness, as I’ve been doing fairly regularly the whole time I’ve been in Etten. But oh, there’s actually much more to it, including the whole story of what happened this summer between me and K.V.
I was angrier than I ever remember being in my whole life, and I told Pa plainly that I found the whole system of that religion loathsome, and precisely because I dwelled on those things too much during a miserable time in my life I don’t want anything more to do with it, and have to guard against it as against something fatal.
Was I too angry, too violent? – so be it, but even supposing that to be the case, then at least now it’s over and done with.
I went back to M. and said, listen M., I can’t stay in Etten and I have to go and live somewhere else, preferably here.
Well, M. said, stay here then. And so I’ve rented a studio here, namely a room and alcove which can be made suitable. Inexpensive enough, just outside town in Schenkweg, about 10 minutes from M.
Pa told me that if I needed money he would lend it to me if necessary, but now that’s impossible, I must remain completely independent of Pa. How? I don’t know yet, but M. is willing to help me if necessary, and you too, I hope and trust, and of course I’ll work and do my utmost to earn a little.
I’m here now, and the fact is there’s no turning back. At an inconvenient time, but what’s to be done?
I must have some simple furniture, and my expenses for drawing and painting materials aren’t getting any lower.
I also have to try and dress better. It’s a daring move, and a question of sink or swim. But some day I’d have set up house on my own, so what else can I do? Now things have gone faster than I expected.
As far as the relations between Pa and Ma and me are concerned, they can’t be put to rights so very quickly. The difference in our mentality and outlook on life is simply too great.
And although I spoke in anger, I said things that I also think when I’m in a calmer mood. So I don’t take back what I said, and anyway Pa has now heard it plainly. If I’d been calmer, I’d have said it in other, less extreme colours, but basically I’d have thought the same.
And I hope that in any case it will lead to something good. I must endure bad times and the waters will rise, possibly as high as the lips and possibly even higher, how can I know beforehand? But I’ll fight my fight and sell my life dearly and try to win and pull through.
I’ll be moving into the studio around 1 January. Regarding furniture, I’ll take the very simplest, a wooden table, a couple of chairs.
For a bed, I’d be content with a woollen blanket and the floor. But M. wants me to buy a bed and will lend me the money if necessary. When drawing up an account of the 100 francs, there turned out to be money left over, even though I made two journeys this summer, and once, the last time, for such a long time. It’s true that I ate and slept at home, but Pa himself said at the time that he could spare it.
You understand that I’m now extremely worried, and foresee much toil and tribulation. But still it’s a relief to me that I’ve gone so far that I can no longer go back, and that even though the path is difficult, my path is now clear enough.
It goes without saying that I’m asking you, Theo, if you can do it, to send me now and then what you can without going short yourself. And – in the circumstances, send it to me rather than giving it to others. Because if possible we shouldn’t get Mauve mixed up in this, as far as financial matters are concerned. It’s already of inestimable value that he helps me artistically in word and deed. He insists, however, that I buy a bed, for instance, and a couple of pieces of furniture, and says, I’ll lend it to you if necessary. Because according to him I must, no matter what, appear presentable as regards my clothing, and not try to scrimp and save.
I’ll write to you again soon. I don’t want to consider it a misfortune that it’s turned out this way, on the contrary, despite all the emotion I feel a certain calm.
There is safety in the midst of danger. What would life be if we didn’t dare to take things in hand?
I ran around everywhere to find that studio, both in the city and in Scheveningen.
Scheveningen is terribly expensive. This studio costs only 7 guilders a month, but the furniture makes it difficult. Still, if one has one’s own things, they won’t disappear, and one has surer ground beneath one’s feet.
The light comes from the south, more or less, but the window is large and high, and I have hopes that it will look nice after a time.
You can imagine how stimulated I feel. What will my work be like in a year? If only I could express what I feel – well, Mauve understands all this and wants to give me as many technical tips as he can – what fills my head and heart must be expressed in drawings or paintings.
Mauve himself is very busy with a large painting of a pink against the dunes being hauled by horses. I think it’s wonderful to be in The Hague, and I find no end of beautiful things and I must try and depict some of them.
Adieu, old chap, accept a handshake in thought and write soon, believe me
Many regards from M. and Jet.
I still have a bit of money, but how long will I be able to get by on it? I have to stay at the boarding-house until 1 January.
Just address your letters to the address A. Mauve. Uilebomen 198, since I go there almost every day.