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
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
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
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.
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
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