Good & Evil, Right & Wrong
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh (New York Graphic Society, 1958).
One must be careful not to fall back on opaque black — on deliberate wrong — and even more one has to avoid the white of a whitewashed wall, which means hypocrisy and everlasting Pharisaism. I must tell you that with evangelists it is the same as with artists. There is an old academic school, often detestable, tyrannical, the accumulation of horrors, men who wear a cuirass, a steel armor of prejudices and conventions; Their God is like the God of Shakespeare's drunken Falstaff, le dedans dune eglise [the inside of a church].
Vincent van Gogh on Compassion said...
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L192, Written May 3-12, 1880 (New York Graphic Society, 1958), I:349.
Last winter I met a pregnant woman [Sien], deserted by the man whose child she carried. A pregnant woman who had to walk the streets in winter, had to earn her bread, you understand how. I took this woman for a model, and have worked with her all winter. I could not pay her the full wages of a model, but that did not prevent my paying her rent, and thank God, so far I have been able to protect her and her child from hunger and cold by sharing my own bread with her. It seems to me that every man worth a straw would have done the same in such a case. What I did was so simple and natural that I thought I could keep it to myself. Posing was very difficult for her, but she has learned; I have made progress in my drawing because I had a good model. The woman is now attached to me like a tame dove. For my part, I can only marry once, and how can I do better than marry her? It is the only way to help her; otherwise misery would force her back into her old ways which end in a precipice.
Vincent van Gogh on Love said...
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L133, Written July 23, 1880 (New York Graphic Society, 1958), I:193.
I think that everything which is really good and beautiful — of inner moral, spiritual and sublime beauty in men and their works — comes from God, and that which is bad and wrong in men and in their works is not of God, and God does not approve of it. But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things. Love a friend, a wife, something — whatever you like — you will be on the way to knowing more about Him.
Vincent van Gogh on Love and God said...
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L161, Written November 23, 1881 (New York Graphic Society, 1958), I:274.
You must not be astonished when, even at the risk of your taking me for a fanatic, I tell you that in order to love, I think it absolutely necessary to believe in God (that does not mean that you should believe all the sermons of the clergymen) — far from it. To me, to believe in God is to feel that there is a God, not dead or stuffed, but alive, urging us toward aimer encore [steadfast love] with irresistible force.
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L164, Written Dec 21, 1881 (NY Graphic Society, 1958), I:285-86.
I cannot live without love, without a woman. I would not value life at all if there were not something infinite, something deep, something real. Every woman at every age can, if she loves and is a good woman, give a man, not the infinity of a moment, but a moment of infinity.
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L72, Written Aug 2,1876 (NY Graphic Society, 1958), I:64.
To express my feelings for her [Kee], I said, "She, and no other." And her "no, never, never" (niet, nooit, nimmer) was not strong enough to make me give her up. I still had hope, and my love remained alive, notwithstanding this refusal, which I thought was like a piece of ice that would melt. But I could find no rest. The strain became unbearable because she was alwys silent and I never received a word in answer. Then I went to Amsterdam. There [her parents] told me, "When you are in the house, Kee leaves it. She answers, 'Certainly not him' to your, 'she, and no other'". Your persistence is disgusting. I put my hand in the flame of the lamp and said, "Let me see her for as long as I can keep my hand in the flame"... no wonder that Teersteg perhaps noticed my hand afterward. But I think they blew out the lamp and said, "You will not see her." Well, it was too much for me, especially when they spoke of my wanting to coerce her, and I felt that the crushing things they said to me were unanswerable, and that my "she, and no other" had been killed.