You probably expected a letter from me sooner. I am getting
along pretty well at the bookstore and am very busy; I go there
at eight o'clock in the morning and I leave at one o'clock at
night. But I like it that way.
I hope to go to Etten on 11 February, as you know, we
celebrate this day as father's birthday. Will you be there
also? I want to give him the Eliot's “news” (the
translation of Scenes from a Clerical Life). If we put our
money together to get him a present, we could give him in
addition Adam Bede.
Last Sunday, I wrote to Mr. & Mrs. Jones to tell them
that I was not coming back, and unintentionally the letter
became rather long - out of the fullness of my heart. I wished
them to remember me and asked them to wrap my recollection
in the cloak of charity.
I have hung in my bedroom the two engravings Christus
Consolator that you have given me. I saw the pictures at the
museum, as well as Scheffer's “Christ in
Gethsemane,” which is unforgettable. Then there is a
sketch of “Les Douleurs de la Terre” and several
drawings, a sketch of his studio, and, as you know, the
portrait of his mother. There are still other fine pictures,
for instance, Achenbach and Schelfhout and Koekkoek and also a
fine Allebé - an old man near the stove. Shall we look
at them together someday?
The first Sunday I was here, I heard a sermon on
“Behold, I make all things new.” This morning I
heard the Reverend Mr. Beversen in a little old church. There
was Communion, and his text was: “If any man thirst, let
him come unto me, and drink.”
The window in my bedroom looks out on the gardens where I
can see pine trees, poplars, and the backs of old houses etc.,
one of them has a gutter covered with ivy. Dickens said:
“A strange old plant is the ivy green.” This view
from my window can be solemn and gloomy, but you should see it
in the light of the morning sun. Then when I contemplate it, I
imagine a letter of yours in which you talked to me of houses
covered with ivy. Do you remember it?
If you can afford it - if I can, I will do the same - you
must subscribe to the Catholic Illustration of this year; there
are prints in it from London by Doré - the wharves on
the Thames, Westminster, Whitechapel, the underground railways,
A schoolmaster [Görlitz] lives in the same house as I.
Last Sunday, and today too, we took a fine walk together along
the canals and outside the town along the river; we also passed
that spot where you were waiting for the steamer.
This evening when the setting sun was reflected in the water
and in the windows and cast a bright golden glow over
everything, it looked just like a picture by Cuyp.
Write again as soon as you can. I shall have to do a lot of
bookkeeping these days and shall be very busy.
Give my kind regards to Roos, a handshake from
Your loving brother, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 23 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 21 January 1877 in Dordrecht. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 084.
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