To Theo van Gogh. Cuesmes, Tuesday, 5 August 1879.
My dear Theo,
I’m writing to you in haste. Won’t you be going to Paris quite soon now? If so, write and tell me which day and what time, and in all likelihood I’ll see you at the station. If you have time to stay here for a day, or longer or shorter, I sincerely wish that this could happen.
Would be able to show you some drawings, types from here, not that they alone make it worth your while to get off the train, but here you would easily find something that appeals to you in the scenery and in the singularity of everything, for there’s so much picturesque character in everything in this region. Have you ever read Dickens, ‘Les temps difficiles’, I’m giving you the title in French because there’s a very good French translation for 1.25 francs published by Hachette, Bibliothèque des meilleurs romans étranger. It’s masterly, one of the characters is a worker, Stephen Blackpool, who’s well portrayed and extremely likeable.
Was recently in Brussels and Maria-Horebeke and Tournai,4 partly on foot.
Am at the following address at the moment
Mr Francq. Evangelist in CUESMES (at Marais, near Mons).
There have been a lot of storms here lately.
Come on, old chap, if you can arrange it, come and stay over till the next train.
Was recently in a studio, the Rev. Pieterszen’s, who paints in the style of Schelfhout or Hoppenbrouwers and really understands art.
He asked me for one of my sketches, a mine-worker’s type. Often sit up drawing until late at night to have some keepsakes and to strengthen thoughts that automatically spring to mind upon seeing the things. But old boy, I don’t have any time, had to write urgently to Mr Tersteeg to thank him for the box of paints he sent and the sketchbook, already half full. In Brussels I bought another large sketchbook with old Dutch paper from a Jewish bookseller.
If I should get to see you, how pleased I’d be, I promise you Dickens, Les temps difficiles, if you want to come and fetch it, but otherwise I’ll send it when I get the chance. Adieu, accept a handshake in thought, and believe me ever