To Theo van Gogh. London, Friday, 31 July 1874.
My dear Theo,
I’m glad you’ve been reading Michelet and that you really understand it. A book like that at least teaches one to see that there’s a lot more to love than people usually think. That book was a revelation and immediately a gospel to me.
‘There is no such thing as an old woman!’
(This isn’t to say that there are no old women, but that a woman doesn’t grow old as long as she loves and is loved.) And then a chapter like The longing for autumn, how rich it is.
That a woman is ‘a completely different being’ from a man, and a being that we do not yet know, or at least only very superficially, as you say, yes, that I certainly believe. And that a woman and a man can become one, that is, one whole and not two halves, that I believe too. Anna is managing well, we go on wonderful walks together. It’s so beautiful here, if only one has a good and a single eye, without many beams in it. But if one has that, then it’s beautiful everywhere.
Pa isn’t at all better, even though he and Ma say he is. Yesterday we received a letter with all kinds of plans (whether we shouldn’t try this and that), which would be unfeasible and certainly useless, and at the end Pa said yet again that he’d leave it all to us &c. &c. Rather feeble and disagreeable, Theo, and it reminded me so much of Grandfather’s letters, but what can be done about it? Our dear aunts are staying there now, and are certainly doing a lot of good!
Things are as they are, and what is a body to do about it, as Young Jochem said. Anna and I look at the newspaper faithfully every day and answer the advertisements if there are any. Moreover, we’ve already registered with a Governess agency. So we’re doing what we can. More haste, less speed. It’s good that you go to the Haanebeeks so often; give everyone there my warm regards and give them some news of me. That painting by Thijs Maris that Mr Tersteeg bought must be beautiful, I’ve already heard about it, and I myself have already bought and sold one completely in the same genre. My passion for drawing has again vanished here in England, but maybe inspiration will strike again one day. I’m reading a lot again. We’ll probably be moving on 1 January 1875 to another, larger gallery. Mr Obach is in Paris at the moment, deciding whether or not we’ll take over that gallery. Don’t mention this to anyone for the time being.
I wish you well; write to us again soon. Anna takes quite some pleasure in paintings, and has rather a good eye. She already finds Boughton, Maris and Jacquet beautiful, for example, so that’s a start. Between you and me, I think we’ll have trouble finding something for her, everywhere they say she’s too young and they require German as well, but at any rate she certainly has more of a chance here than in Holland. Adieu
You can imagine how wonderful it is for me to be here with Anna. Tell Mr T. that the paintings arrived in good order and that I’ll write to him soon.