To Theo van Gogh. Amsterdam, Friday, 7 September 1877.
My dear Theo,
It felt wonderful to hear Gladwell’s voice in the hall as I sat upstairs studying and to see him a moment later and to shake his hand. Yesterday we took a nice walk through the main streets and past most of the churches, and got up this morning before 5 to see the people coming to the dockyard and afterwards walked to Zeeburg and also saw a cemetery and went to the Trippenhuis (twice) and he alone to Van der Hoop, and he was also at Uncle Cor’s gallery (who isn’t in town, however) and with Mendes in the room. Now we also have plans to go to Uncle Stricker’s (because I’ve been invited to eat there today and will simply risk it and take him along), and if we have time also to see Vos and Kee. And I would also like very much to go with him to Bickerseiland, but perhaps there won’t be time. Have also strongly suggested that he go to Haarlem to see the paintings by Frans Hals, and now he’s going there and not to Antwerp as he had planned, but will save Belgium for later and is concentrating now exclusively on Holland.
We also spent a lot of time in the little study and talked of things new and old.
When he’s sitting beside me I again feel the same feeling that drew me to him so often, as though he were a son of the same family and a brother in faith because he loves ‘the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’. Who is our God and in Whose teachings and resurrection we believe, Whose spirit we seek, of Whose love we ask that it constrain us in life and that nothing separate us from it, nor things present, nor things to come. In him, too, godly sorrow shall work that which in many it has worked and works and shall work, a choice not to be repented of, for that good part which shall not be taken away, and choosing the only thing necessary and worthy of bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. He is a Christian and will become one more and more. This morning we read together the story of Elijah by the brook Cherith and at the widow’s – because when we lived together in Montmartre we found that the barrel of meal did not waste and the cruse of water did not fail – and yesterday evening the parable of the sower and others. Now he’ll stay with you for a while as well, and is longing to see your little room and what you have in the way of prints.
Received from him Bunyan, The pilgrim’s progress, that is an asset, as is Bossuet, Oraison funèbres, which I recently bought very cheaply, and The imitation by T. a Kempis in Latin, which I got from Vos and which I hope to be able to read in Latin some day.
He read here various bits of Bungener, Esquiros, Lamennais, Souvestre, Lamartine (Cromwell), and took pleasure in the lithographs after Bosboom, we bought one from a Jew, and he gave me instructions to buy some more for him when the opportunity presents itself.
I sincerely hope that you’ll have a pleasant evening with him, and I believe that the more you seek in him the more you will find in him.
We talked about this and that, and what we said to each other is this: many, having come to a point in life where one must make a choice about life, have chosen for their part ‘the love of Christ and poverty’, or rather ‘give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with bread convenient for me’. The time together flew past for me, and I wished we could have stayed together a little longer; but it cannot be, and everyone must return to his way and continue to do whatsoever the hand findeth to do in the calling wherein he was called, and I for my part am thankful from the bottom of my heart that I was able to see him again, and found in him that which drew me to him. He told me that you will certainly make the trip with the nouveautés, probably in about 4 weeks’ time, so I also hope to see you again then.
I sincerely hope that he’ll have pleasant and good memories of his visit to Holland, it’s courageous of him to have persisted with that plan.
Give my regards to your housemates, have a good evening with him; should wish for you to be attached to him as I feel attached to him at the moment, and accept in thought a handshake from
Your most loving brother
You’ve no doubt heard about the death of Mrs Richard; it must have been a difficult night.
To learn the Bible well and thoroughly and with love, would that not be a very desirable thing?