van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Van Gogh Family to Theo van Gogh
Zundert, 1875

Reverend van Gogh to Theo.

7 January 1875

I am glad she [Anna] is still together with Vincent.

Mrs. Van Gogh to Theo.

We are still enjoying the memories of those nice days together. Those were very good days that we won't forget easily, and Vincent being with us that cold evening, and Anna's nice letter arriving when we were all sitting together around the stove.

Reverend van Gogh to Theo.

1 February 1875

Together with Vincent she had seen Hamlet there and seems to have well enjoyed it all.

Reverend van Gogh to Theo.

11 February 1875

She [Anna] is happy and feels well placed, she likes her work and gets satisfaction out of it. She is really becoming a very capable person and she blesses the opportunity of being surrounded by such beautiful nature; she says it gives her courage and force to work and struggle on, and serenity and peace in the heart.

Anna van Gogh to Theo

28 April 1875

I am really sorry I went to stay with him during the school holidays and was a burden to him. If I would have had any reason to foresee that that would be the case I certainly would have found some way to arrange things differently. I did not tell this to the people at home; they think he is a great support to me and that seems to give Father and Mother a great sense of relief. Well, the sun shines into my little room too beautifully and joyfully to think about unpleasant things and still less to write about them; if, however, you know why he is like that to me, I should be very glad if you would tell me.

Lies to Theo

30 May 1875

Oh, if only Anna wanted to, how much she would be able to do for him. I don't understand she has changed so much; I used to think she loved him so much.

I have never had the opportunity of really getting to know Vincent well, but during that holiday and at that moment I realized what he is and what it meant to have such a brother. Theo, I for one, I think we should be proud of him and should follow his example instead of going against him. If only Father could hear but once how he talked to us then and could realize the purity of his thoughts, how differently he would think of him.

Reverend van Gogh to Theo

9 July 1875

If with regard to Vincent, we sometimes were worried about something strange in him, this does not mean - you do know that, don't you? - that we overlooked all the good qualities he has.

There is a kind of naturalness that is blamable. Someone who yields to low passions, follows nature, that is to say bestial nature, but human nature teaches him to dominate those passions.

Now don't misunderstand me; I don't want to say that I suspect you or Vincent of yielding to those ignoble passions, no indeed!

But this is the course of my reasoning: a person can sometimes be not natural enough. Youth is allowed to be lively, gay, cheerful; a youthful person is allowed to enjoy meeting people who are also youthful, gay and cheerful. In those years it is even a good thing if one doesn't go against one's nature, for there is in a cheerful mood a beneficial force. Melancholy can be harmful, and to indulge in melancholy does not help to produce energy.

My dear Theo! You should really think about that; I see that recently your liveliness has diminished, your cheerfulness is no longer what it was before.

Reverend van Gogh to Theo.

11 August 1875

The time is near that Anna and Willemien are going to leave us.

[They both went to Welwyn, in England.]

Reverend van Gogh to Theo

31 December 1875

How Vincent is going to go on, we don't know yet - he certainly is not happy. I believe it is not the right place for him there. We talked quite openly and discussed possibilities. Yesterday he went to Uncle Cor to consult him too; he is also a businessman. I tend to believe that I must advise Vincent to ask for his resignation in two or three months. (I tell you this confidentially!) Don't think I act hastily; I have noticed the signs of the times, seriously noticed them! In the meantime, these are only deliberations; it is not a definite decision. We also keep an eye on God in this matter. May His light give us wisdom and courage to act, when we see it necessary […] There is so much good in Vincent. That is why it may be necessary to make a change in his position.

At this time, Vincent was 22 year old
Van Gogh Family. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 1875 in Zundert. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number htm.

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