I am eager to write you again - you will also let me hear
from you soon, I hope?
This morning I went to the early service, the text was
Ephesians 5:14, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from
the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” It was
raining as I left the house, and also when the service was
over; but during the sermon the sun was shining brightly
through the windows.
Father had an early-morning service today at Etten, and
after that he had to go to Zundert. Later on I heard good Uncle
Stricker in the Oudezijds Chapel on the text, “Beware of
the leaven of the Pharisees,” - namely, a warning against
attaching too much importance to outward forms and ceremonies
without true and sincere religious feeling in the heart and, on
the other hand, life without belief in anything more than
material things. There were very few people in church, except
the boys and girls from the orphanage in their red and black
clothes; they filled a great part of the little old church.
When you come here again, I hope to take you there someday.
The Oudezijds Chapel is on a very narrow street called the Old
Teertuinen, and also the Warmoes Straat. It is a very curious
part of town, and reminds one of the heart of London -
Bookseller's Row, for instance.
I am very busy making a summary of the
Reformation; the history of those days is quite stimulating and
Last week I spent an evening with the old Reverend Mr. Meyes
and met his son, the Reverend Mr. Jeremie Meyes, with his wife,
a daughter of Professor Tilanus, and two of their sons; one is
here at the gymnasium, and the other is studying to be an
engineer. The latter has helped to build those sheds here in
the yard (in which they build the ships, like we saw with Uncle
that afternoon when you were here) and also he has helped to
build that new Kattenburg bridge. It was a pleasant evening and
we spoke about many things abroad. He [the Reverend Mr. Jeremie
Meyes] is a very gifted man, and has great talent and great
faith. I heard him in the West Church. I watched him leave the
pulpit and pass through the church after the sermon; that tall,
noble figure, that pale, tired face and the noble head, and the
hair already mixed with grey, made a deep impression upon me.
It seems to me a blessing to be tired from your work in that
Mendes told me last week about a very interesting part of
the city - namely, the outskirts extending from the Leidsche
Poort, near the Vondel Park, to the Dutch Railway Station. It
is full of windmills and sawmills, workmen's cottages with
little gardens, also old houses, everything; it is very
populous, and the quarter is cut up by many small canals and
waterways full of boats and all kinds of picturesque bridges,
etc. It must be splendid to be a clergyman in such a
The study is very difficult, boy, but I must keep on.
If you see Mauve and Jet one of these days, give them my
best regards. Have a good time there and say hello to the dunes
and the sea for me. And tell Mauve that the photograph of his
drawing, “The Plough in the Field,” is hanging in
my little room, and reminds me of him every day.
Are you reading a nice book? There are so many books I
should like to read, but I must not. If you can get John
Halifax, read it again. Although it's depressing to read, we
must not say, “This is not for me,” for it is good
to keep your faith in everything that is good and noble. I
heard that the man whose life and character inspired the author
of this book died not long ago; his name was Harper, and he was
the head of a large publishing firm in London.
Once I met the painter Millais on the street in London, just
after I had been lucky enough to see several of his paintings.
And that noble figure reminded me of John Halifax. Millais once
painted “The Lost Mite,” a young woman who early in
the morning, at dawn, is looking for the mite she has lost
(there is also an engraving of “The Lost Mite”),
and not the least beautiful of his paintings is an autumn
landscape, “Chill October.”
À Dieu, boy, a firm handshake in thought and believe
me, with kind regards to the family,
Your loving brother, Vincent
The room in the Trippenhuis where Rembrandt's
“Drapers' syndicate” is hung is open again. Coming
from church, I went inside for a moment; right next to the
Rembrandt hangs a portrait by Van der Helst.
At this time, Vincent was 24 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 15 July 1877 in Amsterdam. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 102.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.