To Theo van Gogh. Etten, Monday, 5 August 1878.
My dear Theo,
I’m enclosing a few words with Pa and Ma’s letter. I, too, am again longing very much for a letter from you to come again. I sincerely hope that you’re doing as well as you possibly can over there and are seeing and hearing much that is of benefit. A postcard just arrived from the Rev. Pieterszen. I have to go to Brussels around mid-August. As no date was stipulated and Pa and Ma think it better this way — and I too, for that matter — I’ll stay here until after Anna’s wedding and then leave for there as soon as everything is over. Uncle Cent was here this afternoon, most likely he’ll also be writing to you soon. It was a short but pleasant visit, Aunt Cornelie continues to be miserable.
Yesterday Pa went to Zundert and Ma went along — as Cor and I did for a way, as far as Sprundel Heath and walked back together. In the afternoon the Rev. Kam preached here for Pa so that Pa and Ma could stay at Zundert a bit longer for once, and weren’t in such a hurry and could also stop at Princenhage on their way home. They returned around dinner-time, just when I’d walked some distance down Leurseweg with the Rev. Kam. The evening was very enjoyable, while drinking tea we took turns reading from a book about Paul which is very beautiful. In the evenings we also occasionally read from Silas Marner by Eliot, the story of a weaver.
Recently made with Cor, who made part of the sketch, a little drawing after A Sunday morning by Emile Breton in pen and ink and pencil. How beautiful it is, that work of his; has he made anything special this year, or do you see much of him?
Wrote a theme yesterday and today on the parable of the mustard seed, which has become 27 pages long, may there be something good in it.
Tomorrow morning I’m going out with Cor to fetch some greenery for the room when they register the banns. Joan is coming tomorrow evening. Our sister, though, is still far from being as one would like to see her, sometimes she still looks so pale and tense, and is always so weak.
If only she were further along, though we cannot have it as we should like but have to take it as it comes. However, it’s better to be married than engaged, just as an ordinary day with daily work is better than a kind of holiday, once one has crossed the bridge a knot has been untied and all things have been made new, as it were, but before things reach that point there’s a time of tension, many times I even take it to be fear, which one usually has to keep to oneself, in which others can hardly share or give reassurance.
As you can imagine, Pa and I quite often take walks together around the parish or to Hoeven or Leur, and Cor and I make many excursions to the heath, either to Zundert Heath or the one near Sprundel.
You can understand that I really long to know how it will be in Brussels, may the work go well and also be blessed.
Aunt Mina was here, and promised to return this summer with Uncle, may that happen, for once Anna is married things will be quiet again here at home.
The fields here are so beautiful now, the wheat is being brought in and the potatoes are ripening and their leaves are beginning to wilt, and the buckwheat has beautiful white blossoms.
Uncle Jan was also here, as you’ve already heard, I believe, but only very briefly.
Now, old boy, I’m writing to you by the light of a lantern and the candle is becoming very short, adieu, I wish you well; if you can, write a few words with something about the painters, and if you hear something interesting about this or that, but better still would be your own impressions of whatever you like. Good-night, accept in thought a hearty handshake, and believe me ever