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How grateful I was for your little note, and for Mother's
letter; so we shall wait until Christmas and may God give us a
happy meeting then. “My illness is no misfortune.”
No, for “sorrow is better than laughter.” No, when
God supports us, illness is no misfortune, especially when we
get new ideas and new intentions in those days of illness that
would not have come to us if we had not been ill, and when in
those days we achieve clearer faith and stronger trust in
“Man's extremity is God's opportunity.” In our
weakness we are strong. Illness sanctifies health and teaches
us to keep well. But do get well soon, my boy. Oh! how I long
Yesterday I was in Mr. Jones's church 1 to help
with the preparations for tonight. A clergyman from Leicester
will then lecture on the Reformation and illustrate it by magic
lantern with slides of that period. I have already seen some of
the pictures, they are in the style of Holbein - you know that
many painters and graphic artists here work in that style.
There was a very beautiful picture of Luther's marriage.
Last Monday there was a “tea meeting” in that
church; it was the anniversary of its opening. More than two
hundred and fifty people were at tea, and afterward Mr. Jones
and a few other clergymen spoke until late in the evening.
It has been very beautiful here lately, especially the
streets in the evening when it is more or less hazy and the
lamps are lit, and also in the park which I wrote you about. A
few days ago I saw the sun setting there behind the elm trees
with their bronze-coloured leaves. Over the grass was that haze
which Anna wrote about, and the brook which the swans swim in
runs through the park. The acacia trees in the playground have
almost lost their leaves; I see them through the window in
front of my desk - sometimes they stand out dark against the
sky, sometimes I see the sun rise red in the mist behind them.
It will soon be winter now; I am so glad Christmas comes in
winter - that's why I like winter best of all the seasons.
How delightful it will be to sail down the Thames and across
the sea, and see those friendly Dutch dunes and the church
spire that is visible from so very far away.
How little we see of each other and how little we see of our
parents, and yet the family feeling and our love for each other
is so strong that the heart is uplifted and the eye turns to
God and prays, “Do not let me stray too far from them,
not too long, O Lord.”
No, when God supports us, illness is no misfortune,
especially when we get new ideas and new intentions in those
days of illness that would not have come to us if we had not
been ill, and when we achieve clearer faith and stronger trust
À Dieu, boy, my very best wishes; regards to Roos,
and to other acquaintances if you see them and believe me with
Your loving brother, Vincent
A little wooden church at Turnham green.
At this time, Vincent was 23 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 24 October 1876 in Isleworth. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 078.
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