Thanks for yesterday's letter; it was a good one - there was
so much in it, it was quite refreshing to me.
I found a few stamps enclosed, for which many thanks, and
then you say you will send a money order so that I can come to
The Hague to see the exhibition of drawings. The money order
arrived today, Sunday; many thanks for it and for your kind
offer, but I am sending it back and will not come, much as I
should like to see the beautiful and interesting things which
you write about.
I have already refused to go to Baarn, first, because I'd
rather spend my Sunday in going to church a few times, in
writing, and in studying a little; second, because I should
have to ask Uncle Stricker for the money for the journey. He
has money from Father which is at my disposal in case of need,
but I hope to use it as little as possible. If I go to The
Hague, I must also go to Baarn, and then once is not enough -
quoi qu'il en soit - I had rather not. Besides, boy, I know you
need the money yourself. But many, many thanks, you know.
I do not regret in any way not always having money in my
pocket. I do have a craving for thousands of things that, if I
had money, I would spend it perhaps on books or other things
which I can very well pass by and which would distract me
perhaps from my studies. Even in my current situation it is not
always easy to resist distractions; if I had books in reach of
my hand it would only make it worse. I understand that, the
same as the pauper and needy of the world, one can be enriched
in God and that this treasure, nothing can take it from you.
Perhaps, one day, we will have leisure for all books: we would
then have regretted spending our youth only in our personal
satisfaction - particularly if we had a hearth and a family
which would be necessary for us to take care of and to
says, “There are thoughts that make the strong heart
weak,” but above all it is written, “Let him who
puts his hand to the plough not look back, and be a man.”
I often look at that engraving after the picture by Ruysdael,
“Haarlem and Overveen”; that painter knew, too.
If she should soon recover enough to be moved to The Hague,
and if you see her then, remember me to her. If you can find
words which will cheer her or give her courage, remind her of
how much she is needed in this world and of the right and
reason she has to live, especially for her children's sake, say
them; you will be doing a good deed. Spoken in time, forceful
words from the heart can cheer and comfort.
This morning I was up rather early and left the house about
six o'clock to go to early morning service. Then I walked
through all kinds of old streets where I wished you were with
me; you know the picture (at least the lithograph and wood
engraving after it) by Daubigny, “Le Pont Marie” -
it reminded me of that. I like to walk on old, narrow, and more
or less gloomy streets, with drugstores, lithographic and other
printing offices, sea-chart shops and stores with ship's
victuals, etc., which one finds there near the Oudezijds Chapel
and the Teertuinen and at the end of the Warmoes Straat;
everything is interesting there. I just stepped in to say good
morning to Vos and Kee, and then went on to the Island Church,
where the Reverend Mr. ten Kate, the poet of “The
Creation” and author of many beautiful books, preached on
Romans 1:15-17. The church was very crowded, and one saw an
expression of faith written on many faces, men's as well
as women's, but written in different characters. Sometimes his
intonation and expression were like Father's. He spoke very
well and from a full heart, and though the sermon was not
short, the service was over almost before one knew it, for his
words were so interesting that one forgot the time.
For a change last week I made an excerpt from the journeys
of Paul and drew a map of them; it is a good thing to have.
The other day Uncle Stricker gave me a book on the geography
of Palestine (in German, by Raumer) of which he had a duplicate
The following is a fine fragment from
Télémaque. Mentor says:
The earth is never ungrateful, she always bestows her fruit
on those who cultivate her with care and with love; she refuses
her wealth only to those who fear to labour for her. The more
children the peasants have, the richer they are - if their
lords do not tax them too heavily - for from their earliest
childhood the children begin to assist them. The youngest tend
the sheep in the meadows; those who are a little older have
large herds entrusted to their care; the oldest work with their
father. Meanwhile the mother prepares a simple meal for her
husband and her dear children, who will come home tired from
the day's toil. She milks the cows and the goats, and streams
of milk are flowing; she makes a big fire, around which the
whole innocent, happy family sits singing of an evening, until
the time comes for peaceful repose.
It is more beautiful still when one thinks of it illustrated
with etchings by Jacque.
Your postcard arrived just now, thanks for the quick news. I
hope you had a good Sunday. Cousin Fanny and Betty and Bertha
are still here and are like flowers in the house. Bertha
especially is a nice little girl. My compliments to the Rooses
and a handshake in thought from
Your loving brother, Vincent
I cannot get a money order, so I must send back the amount
At this time, Vincent was 24 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 5 August 1877 in Amsterdam. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 105.
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