To Theo van Gogh. Dordrecht, Monday, 26 February 1877.
My dear Theo,
The hours we spent together passed quickly, that small path behind the station where we saw the sun going down over the fields and the evening sky reflected in the ditches, and where those old moss-covered tree-trunks are standing, and the little mill in the distance – I’ll walk there again and think of you.
Herewith the photograph of ‘The Huguenot’; hang it up in your room. You know the story, how a young man, on the day before St Bartholomew’s Eve, was warned by his girl, who knew what would happen that night, how she wanted him to wear the sign by which Catholics were recognized, a white arm-band. He didn’t want to do it, though, his religious beliefs and his duty were dearer to him than his girl.
Don’t know if I already sent you that poem by Longfellow which I herewith copy out, it has often held a strong attraction for me, and will perhaps for you, too.
Am glad that we saw Scheffer’s paintings together; that evening I went to see Mager, who lives with the lay reader of the Lutheran church in a truly old Dutch house. He has a nice room there, we sat together for a long time talking, he told me about Menton and about a Christmas he had spent there, and I told him about ‘The wide, wide world’, which is such a beautiful book.
Thanks for coming here yesterday, and do let’s carry on having as few secrets as possible. We’re brothers, after all.
Had rather a lot of work today, a great many trifling matters – but they’re my duty – if one had no sense of duty, who would be able to collect his thoughts at all, but a sense of duty sanctifies things and joins them together, and turns many small things into one large one.
Write soon about how you got home, and whether that walk and the journey didn’t exhaust you too much. Am longing for a letter from you, also to hear whether you’ll be going to Etten.
Accept in thought a handshake, and believe me
Your loving brother,