To Theo van Gogh. Dordrecht, Sunday, 21 January 1877
My dear Theo,
You’ll have expected a letter sooner; things are going rather well in the shop, and it’s so busy that I go there at 8 o’clock in the morning and come back at 1 o’clock at night, but I’m happy about that.
I hope to go to Etten on 11 February. As you know, that’s when they’ll celebrate Pa’s birthday, would you be able to come as well? I hope to give Pa Eliot’s ‘Novellen’ (a translation of Scenes from clerical life), if we were to give something together we could give him Adam Bede as well.
Wrote last Sunday to Mr Jones and his wife that I’m not coming back, and without my being able to help it, the letter grew quite long – out of the abundance of the heart – did wish that they, for their part, would remember me, and asked them ‘to wrap my recollection in the cloak of Charity’.
The two prints of Christus Consolator that I got from you are hanging in my little room – saw the paintings in the museum, and also ‘Christ in Gethsemane’ by Scheffer, which is unforgettable, a long time ago that painting moved Pa just as much – then there’s a sketch of The sorrows of the earth and various drawings, and also the portrait of his studio and, as you know, the portrait of his Mother. There are other beautiful paintings as well, such as the Achenbach and Schelfhout and Koekkoek and, among others, a beautiful Allebé, an old man by the stove.
Will we look at them together some day?
The first Sunday I was here I heard a sermon on ‘Behold, I make all things new’, and in the evening ‘Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things’.
This morning I went to hear the Rev. Beversen in a small old church, it was the Lord’s Supper and his text was ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink’.
The window of my room looks out over gardens with pine trees and poplars etc. and the back of old houses, including a large one covered with ivy, ‘a strange old plant is the ivy green’, said Dickens. There can be something so serious and rather sombre in that view, and you should see it with the morning sun on it.
When I look at it I sometimes think of a letter of yours in which you speak of such an ivy-covered house, do you remember it?
If you can afford it – if I can, I’ll do it too – subscribe to this year’s Katholieke Illustratie, which has Doré’s prints of London – the wharves on the Thames, Westminster, Whitechapel, the Underground railway &c. &c.
One of the people in the house I live in is a schoolmaster. Last Sunday, and today as well, we took a lovely walk along the canals and outside town as well, along the river Merwede, we also passed the place where you waited for the boat.
This evening when the sun went down and was reflected in the water and the windows, throwing a strong golden glow on everything, it was just like a painting by Cuyp. This evening I went to hear the Rev. Keller van Hoorn, who spoke on ‘I come to do Thy will, O Lord’. He just lost his daughter, and in all his words – I also heard him speak on ‘He that hath not loved knoweth not God; for God is love’ – one can sense what he feels.
Write again soon when you have the time, I’ll have rather a lot of bookkeeping to do for the time being and will no doubt be busy. Give my regards to everyone at the Rooses’, and accept a handshake in thought from
Your loving brother