I received your letter of June 7, and was glad to learn from
it that you had been to Etten and spent Sunday there; it was
fine that Father and little brother accompanied you back to
When I occupy a small place in that large Dutch Protestant
church, those recollections will furnish many a topic for
sermons. Let us go on with faith and confidence, you and I. Who
knows, we may shake hands one day, as I remember Father and
Uncle Jan did one time in the little Zundert church when Uncle
returned from his journey; many things had happened in both
their lives, and they finally felt, as it were, firm ground
under their feet.
As soon as you hear any particulars, be sure to write at
once. I hope we shall spend some quiet hours together before
you go. Though there does not seem to be any immediate
opportunity, such a thing can happen overnight. But I repeat,
brother, when I think of you, my heart goes out to you. I think
it is a very fine plan - my past comes to life again when I
think of your future. “Behold, I make all things
new,” will perhaps soon be your experience also.
Blessings on you during these days. Take a last good look at
the things around you and do not forget them, “walk
through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of
it,” as the Bible says.
I am very busy every day, so time passes quickly and the
days are almost too short, even when I stretch them very
little. I have such a great longing to make progress, and also
to know the Bible well and thoroughly - and also to know many
things like what I copied for you about Cromwell. “Not a
day without a line”; by writing, reading, working and
practicing daily, perseverance will lead me to a good end.
This week I visited the cemetery here outside the
Muiderpoort; in front of it is a little wood where it is very
beautiful, especially when the sun shines through the leaves in
the evening. There are many beautiful graves and all kinds of
evergreens, and roses and forget-me-nots are in bloom. I also
walked to the Zuider Zee again; it is forty minutes from here,
along a dyke from which one can see meadows and farms all
around; it always reminds me of Rembrandt's etchings.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city; today I again saw a little
corner for Thijs Maris or Allebé to paint - houses
behind the East Church on a little square. I had to speak to
the sexton about Uncle's seat in church, and I was in his
house; next door there lived a cobbler, etc.; but you will find
it everywhere, the world is full of it. That sexton
reminded me of a woodcut by Rethel I think, I suppose you know
it too - “Der Tod als Freund.” [Death as a Friend]
That picture has always struck me; when I was in London one
could see it in the show windows of almost every art shop.
There is a sequel to it, “The Cholera in Paris,”
and the “Dance of Death” is also by Rethel.
Sunday morning I heard the Reverend Mr. Laurillard at early
morning service; he spoke about, “Jesus walked in the
newly sown field.” He made a deep impression on me. In
that sermon he spoke also about the parable of the sower, and
about “the man who should cast seed into the ground and
should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring
up and he knows not how.” He also mentioned the
“Funeral Procession through the Cornfields” by Van
Der Maaten. The sun was shining through the windows; the few
people in the church were mainly working men and women. Later
that morning I heard Uncle Stricker in the East Church on,
“praise not from men but from God,” also referring
to the death of the Queen.
This morning at a quarter to five there was a terrible
thunderstorm here; shortly after, the first gang of workmen
came through the gates of the yard in the pouring rain. I got
up and went out into the yard, taking a few copybooks with me
to the summerhouse. I have been sitting there, looking out over
the whole yard and dock; the poplars and elderberry and other
shrubs were bowed down by the heavy storm, and the rain poured
down on the piles of wood and on the decks of the ships. Boats
and a little steamer were sailing back and forth, and in the
distance, near the village across the Ij, one saw swift-moving
brown sails and the houses and the trees on Buitenkant and the
more vividly-coloured churches. Again and again one heard the
thunder and saw the lightning; the sky could have been from a
picture by Ruysdael, and the seagulls were skimming the water.
It was a grand sight and a real relief after the oppressive
heat of yesterday. It has quite refreshed me, for I felt very
tired when I went upstairs last night.
Yesterday I visited the Reverend Mr. Meyes and Mrs. Meyes -
Father had asked me to - and had tea with them.
When I arrived, his reverence was taking a nap and I was
asked to come back in half an hour, and I did; fortunately, I
had the little book by Lamennais in my pocket, and read it
walking under the trees along the canals, where the evening sun
was mirrored in the dark water. Then I went back, and they
reminded me of “Winter” by Thorwaldsen. Father and
Mother remind me of it even more, but I repeat that they did,
The days fly by. I am four years older than you are, and
probably they seem to go more swiftly to me than to you, but I
fight against it by stretching them a little in the morning and
Will you write soon? It's a pity that Mager will not come
now after all. The weather has cleared: the sky is blue and the
sun is shining and the birds are singing - there are many of
them in the yard, all kinds. In the evening I generally walk up
and down there with the dog, and then I often think of that
poem, “Under the Stars.” The roses against the
house are in bloom, and in the garden, the elder bushes and the
A little while ago I went again to the Trippenhuis to see if
those rooms which were shut when we were there were open again;
but it will be another fortnight before they are open to the
public. There were many foreigners there, French and English;
hearing them speak called up many memories in me. Yet I am not
sorry to be back here. “Life has quicksands, life has
snares,” is a true saying.
How is Mrs. Tersteeg? If you meet Mauve or go to see him,
give him my best regards; also at Haanebeek's and Roos's.
Now I must set to work again; I have no lessons today, but
tomorrow morning, two hours, so I have a great deal to prepare.
I have studied through the Old Testament up to Samuel; tonight
I begin with the Kings, and when that is finished it will be
something worth while.
Now and then when I am writing, I automatically do a small
drawing, such as I sent you lately. I did one this morning
representing Elijah in the desert under an orange sky, with
some hawthorns in the foreground. It is nothing special, but I
see it all so clearly before me, and I think that at such
moments I could speak about it enthusiastically - may it be
given me to do so later on.
I hope you are having a good time; when you go to the woods
at Scheveningen or to the beach, say hello to them for me. When
you come here again, I shall be able to show you some fine
spots here, too. When I go to Mendes's, I pass the Jewish
quarter every day. And now à Dieu, a handshake from
Your loving brother, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 24 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 12 June 1877 in Amsterdam. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 101.
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