To Theo van Gogh. Ramsgate, Friday, 12 May 1876.
My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter; I also like ‘Tell me the old, old story’ very much. I first heard it sung in Paris, in the evening in a small church I used to attend sometimes.
No. 122 is also beautiful. I regret not having gone to hear Moody and Sankey when they were in London. There’s such a yearning for Religion among the people in those big cities. Many a worker in a factory or shop has had a remarkable, pure, pious youth. But city life often takes away ‘the early dew of morning’, yet the yearning for ‘the old, old story’ remains, the bottom of one’s heart remains the bottom of one’s heart. In one of his books, Eliot describes the life of factory workers &c. who have joined a small community and hold religious services in a chapel in ‘Lantern Yard’, and he says it is ‘God’s Kingdom upon earth’, nothing more nor less.
And there’s something moving about seeing the thousands now flocking to hear those evangelists. I think your plan to give Pa and Ma ‘After the departure’ by Sadée6 is very good; that’s agreed, then.
Willemien may be already there on 21 May. I see from your letter that you’re also thinking of going. Do it, old boy, if you can manage it. Sometimes such actions receive a special blessing. How it would surprise them.
There was something wistful in Ma’s last letter, in which she wrote a word or two about the necessity of our being so far from home. And Ma’s eyes are hurting her again.
Come on, old boy, brighten them up again by being there on that day. This afternoon Mr Reid sent me the catalogue of the exhibition in London. In thought a handshake, and congratulations on the birthdays of Lies and Cor, and also on 21 May. Regards to everyone at the Rooses’. In haste.
Your loving brother.