van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 10 letters relate to attitude - sisters...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(8 April 1877)
... For human sufferings.] And how sweet she was with that family at Welwyn, sharing their happiness and misfortune, and never withholding any help or comfort that was within her; also in the days that child fell ill and died. I have seen so clearly how they all loved her. From the very beginning she exerted herself to the utmost, rising early in winter to light the fire with her own hands, even though the first days were not easy for her, and she wrote she often thought, “Without Thou, O Eternal Being, Ah, what would man be on this earth; Who is there in heaven but Thou; Nought delights me any more on earth but Thou.” 1 And how she looked forward to Communion, and went to it, and was fortified by it. And how Pa and Mother love her, as, indeed, we all do; ay, let us stay close together. Saturday night I took the last train from Dordrecht to Oudenbosch, and walked from there to Zundert. It was so beautiful on the heath; though it was dark, one could ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(9 July 1877)
... Dear Theo, Well, what have you got to say about Anna? I was surprised, I can tell you, and it seems to be serious too - and it just might come off. The difficulties connected with occupying a subordinate position - especially if you have to persevere in it for a long time, as she has done for so many years in all honour and decency - are very great, at times becoming a severe struggle making what seems easy, extremely hard. Yet there is much poetry in it, and such years are a treasure which one does not easily lose, and if, particularly at first, one denies and humbles oneself, one attains a glorious feeling of inner peace. For all that, one could well understand - even if this were so - that at times the future may have seemed dark to her, too. As far as she is concerned, her decision on this step may seem sensible. Also I am inclined to believe she loves him sincerely. I am firmly confident of this, else things would not have gone so far. And therefore with all my heart I...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
(c. 18-20 January 1884)
... Amice Rappard, I want to tell you in a few words something which our minds are full of these days. My mother had a pretty serious accident getting off the train - she broke her right thighbone. 1 The setting of the fracture went off rather smoothly; she is quiet and does not suffer much pain. But I need not tell you that we are all greatly worried about it. Now I am glad I am here, as my sisters are physically weak too, and I can easily find something useful to do. My sisters are well enough otherwise; the one who is usually at Soesterberg is the weaker of the two. I can hardly find words to describe how bravely the sister who was at home when you were staying with us is bearing up these days. My mother will require a lot of nursing - the doctor assures us that she canrecover completely - but under the most favourable circumstances it will take at least half a year before she can walk again and even then that leg will be shorter than the other one. Just imagine that at present...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 24 January 1884)
... pension being equal to his present salary. But, brother, the poor sisters - without capital at a time in our society when the inclination to marry a penniless girl is not great - for them life might remain dark and dreary - and their normal development frustrated. But let's not anticipate things. It is difficult to say in advance how the constant lying still in bed will influence Mother's health. All precautions we can take to prevent bedsores are, of course, of the greatest importance. We have made a kind of stretcher to move Mother if necessary, but at present the less it happens the better. The most important thing is for her to lie quietly. Taking her difficult situation into consideration, I am glad to say Mother's spirits are very even and bright. And she is amused by trifles. The other day I painted for her a little church with the hedge and the trees (like this) . You will easily understand that I love the scenery here. When you...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 1 March 1884)
... to heal - now he speaks of a good 3 months - and he told Mother, “But we have your daughter to thank for that, for I have rarely, very rarely, come across care as good as she gives.” What Wil does is exemplary, exemplary, I shan't easily forget it. Almost everything fell on her shoulders from the beginning and she has spared Mother a great deal of misery. To give just one example, it is undoubtedly thanks to her that Mother has so few bedsores (which had been absolutely dreadful in the beginning and in quite an advanced condition). And I assure you that the chores she has to do are not always pleasant. Now look, when I read your letter about the drawings I immediately sent you a new watercolour of a weaver and five pen drawings.

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