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.
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.
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.
The pleasure of the eye is the beginning of love. For no one loves if he has not first been delighted by the form of the beloved; but he who delights in the form of another does not, for all that, love her, but only does do when he also longs for her when absent and craves for her presence.
It is pleasant to be loved, for this makes a man see himself as the possessor of goodness, a thing that every being that has a feeling for it desires to possess: to be loved means to be valued for one’s own personal qualities.