van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
» Home < Previous   Next >
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Dordrecht, 26 February 1877

Dear Theo,

I have enclosed a photograph of The Huguenot; hang it in your bedroom. You know the story: the awakening on the day before St. Bartholomew's, a young girl, who knows what is going to happen, forewarned her lover and insisted that he wear the insignia of the Catholics, a white brassard around his arm; his refusal because he feels that his Faith and his duty were stronger than his love for his sweetheart.

I don't remember whether I've already sent you that poem by Longfellow 1 which I'm enclosing a copy of now. It has often given me pleasure and will do the same for you. I am glad that we saw the pictures by Scheffer together. That evening I went to see Mager 2, who boards with the sexton of the Lutheran church, in a real old Dutch house; his room is nice. We sat talking together a long time; he told me about Menton and a Christmas he had celebrated there. Thanks for coming this way yesterday. Let us have as few secrets from each other as is possible. That is what brothers are for.

'It is not over yet,' you say. No, it could not be over yet. Your heart will feel the need for confidence in itself; you will be hesitating between two roads: she or my father. As far as I am concerned, I believe that Father loves you more than she does - that his love is more valuable.

Do go there, whenever it becomes too much for you.

A pile of futile tasks has given me a lot of work today; but that is my duty; if one did not have it, very tenaciously have the feeling for it, how would anybody be able to collect one's thoughts at all? The feeling of duty sanctifies and unifies everything, making one large duty out of the many little ones.

Write me soon whether you arrived safely, and whether or not the walk and journey were too much for you. I am anxious for a letter from you, to hear also if you are going to Etten. A handshake from

Your loving brother, Vincent

This is perhaps a time when you feel the want of “a Psalm tone from the past, and a plaint from the cross.”

And I seemed to hear in the stillness of the night

His voice so tender and so soft.

  1. “The Light of the Stars.”

  2. Nico Mager, at the time fellow employee in Blussé and v. Braam's bookstore.

At this time, Vincent was 23 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 26 February 1877 in Dordrecht. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 086.

This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.
» Home < Previous   Next >

or find:         Credits & feedback