London, 31 July 1874

My dear Theo,
I’m glad you’ve been reading Michelet and that you really understand it. A book like that at least teaches one to see that there’s a lot more to love than people usually think.
That book was a revelation and immediately a gospel to me.1

‘There is no such thing as an old woman!’2

(This isn’t to say that there are no old women, but that a woman doesn’t grow old as long as she loves and is loved.)
And then a chapter like The longing for autumn,3 how rich it is.  1r:2
That a woman is ‘a completely different being’ from a man, and a being that we do not yet know, or at least only very superficially, as you say, yes, that I certainly believe. And that a woman and a man can become one, that is, one whole and not two halves, that I believe too.
Anna is managing well, we go on wonderful walks together. It’s so beautiful here, if only one has a good and a single eye,4 without many beams in it.5
But if one has that, then it’s beautiful everywhere.
Pa isn’t at all better,6 even though he and Ma say he is. Yesterday we received a letter with all kinds of plans (whether we shouldn’t try this and that), which would be unfeasible and certainly useless, and at the end Pa said yet again that he’d leave it all to us7 &c. &c. Rather feeble and disagreeable, Theo, and it reminded me so much of Grandfather’s8 letters, but what can be done about it? Our dear aunts9 are staying  1v:3 there now, and are certainly doing a lot of good!
Things are as they are, and what is a body to do about it, as Young Jochem said.10
Anna and I look at the newspaper faithfully every day and answer the advertisements if there are any. Moreover, we’ve already registered with a Governess agency. So we’re doing what we can. More haste, less speed.
It’s good that you go to the Haanebeeks so often; give everyone there my warm regards and give them some news of me.
That painting by Thijs Maris that Mr Tersteeg bought11 must be beautiful, I’ve already heard about it, and I myself have already bought and sold one completely in the same genre.12
My passion for drawing has again vanished here in England,13 but maybe inspiration will strike again one day.  1v:4 I’m reading a lot again.
We’ll probably be moving on 1 January 1875 to another, larger gallery. Mr Obach is in Paris at the moment, deciding whether or not we’ll take over that gallery.
Don’t mention this to anyone for the time being.
I wish you well; write to us again soon. Anna takes quite some pleasure in paintings,14 and has rather a good eye. She already finds Boughton, Maris and Jacquet beautiful, for example, so that’s a start. Between you and me, I think we’ll have trouble finding something for her, everywhere they say she’s too young and they require German as well, but at any rate she certainly has more of a chance here than in Holland. Adieu


You can imagine how wonderful it is for me to be here with Anna. Tell Mr T. that the paintings arrived in good order15 and that I’ll write to him soon.


Br. 1990: 027 | CL: 20
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: London, Friday, 31 July 1874

1. In saying this Van Gogh was indicating that he did not doubt the truth of Michelet’s book. Thus the word ‘gospel’ does not refer to the bible.
2. ‘Il n’y a point de vieille femme’ is the title of a chapter in Jules Michelet’s L’amour (part 5, chapter 4); the phrase also occurs in the text itself (see Michelet, L’amour, pp. 381-386 (quotation on p. 386)).
3. For ‘Les aspirations de l’automne’ (The longing for autumn), see letter 14, n. 19.
6. Mr van Gogh had been suffering for several weeks from a persistent cough (FR b2710 and b2711).
7. Cf. Mr van Gogh’s letter to Theo in response to a letter from Anna and Vincent: ‘they haven’t yet succeeded in finding a position and say that we must simply let them muddle along on their own and that we mustn’t worry’ (FR b2713, 4 August 1874).
8. Van Gogh’s grandfather on his father’s side, the Rev. Vincent van Gogh.
9. The sisters Elisabeth Petronella van der Burg and Louisa Christina van der Burg (Aunts Betje and Louise). They were not, strictly speaking, aunts, but rather the unmarried daughters of Rev. Abraham van der Burg at Zundert, who was the minister there before Theodorus van Gogh, Vincent’s father (FR b2714).
10. The phrase ‘zei Jochem’ (‘Jochem said’) or ‘Meester Jochem’ (‘Master Jochem’) occurs often in Dutch proverbial sayings. Cf. also letter 826.
11. It is not known to which work by Matthijs Maris this refers.
12. It is not known to which painting this refers.
13. During his stay in Helvoirt, Van Gogh had done a lot of drawing. On 10 July 1874, Mrs van Gogh wrote to Theo: ‘Vincent did a fair amount of drawing, for Lies, the bedroom window and a piece of the front door, thus that part of the house, he was standing to the side of Jans’s little house, it turned out charming, for us he made a large drawing of the houses they see from their window in London, we are all very happy with them, it’s a wonderful gift, that he can profit from greatly’ (FR b2710). On 18 July 1874 she wrote to Theo: ‘Vincent made many beautiful little drawings, including one for us that he’s taken with him to frame and will then return to us through you’ (FR b2711).
14. During a Bank Holiday, Vincent and Anna went together to Dulwich, where the famous Picture Gallery is located. Vincent had been there exactly one year earlier (see letter 12).
15. Four works found in the ledgers of Goupil’s Hague branch were sent to London on 21 July 1874: H. ten Kate, Force passe droit (Might overcomes right), purchased on 13 May 1873; Ph. Sadée, Femme à la bêche (Woman at work with a spade), purchased on 17 April 1874; B.J. Blommers, La petite fileuse (Little spinner), purchased on 17 April 1874; and J. Maris, Paysage. Environs de La Haye (Landscape. Vicinity of The Hague), purchased on 8 June 1874 (RKD, Goupil Ledgers).