Ramsgate, 1 May 1876

My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter, and for placing the advertisement. It would be good to place it again. The postal order was in the letter, wasn’t it?
The wind was blowing so hard here yesterday afternoon that Mr Stokes didn’t want the boys to go out. I asked permission anyway for 6 of the oldest boys and myself to go out for a walk. We went to the beach; the seas were high and it was difficult to walk against the wind. We saw the lifeboat being pulled by a steamboat, coming back from a ship that had been stranded on a sandbank a long way off;1 but they hadn’t brought anything back.
I know that painting by Willems very well;2 the drawing by Mauve you wrote about  1v:2 must be beautiful.3 Do you ever go and see him in his studio?4
And now you ask what I have to teach the boys; chiefly French, fundamentals, one boy has started to learn German, and also a variety of things like sums, hearing them their lessons, giving dictations &c. For the time being, then, giving the lessons isn’t so difficult, but it’ll be more difficult to make the boys learn them.
And now today is your birthday, I shake your hand in thought, and once again I sincerely wish you blessings and all the best.
Outside school hours, of course, the boys are pretty much under my supervision, and that takes up quite a lot of my time and will probably do so more and more. Last Saturday night I washed 6 or so of the young gentlemen; I did this for fun, though, and because it helped us to finish on time, not because I had to do it. I’ve also tried to get them to read, I have quite a few things that would be suitable for them, ‘The wide, wide world’5 &c. &c.
And now good-day, thanks for your letter, for placing the advertisement, and for sending the newspaper,6 and ever

Your loving brother

One of these days you’ll be receiving a couple of English hymnals, I’ll mark a few of them. There is so very much that is beautiful in them. One grows very fond of them, especially when one has heard them here so often.


Br. 1990: 078 | CL: 64
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Ramsgate, Monday, 1 May 1876

1. The Happy Return had been wrecked on the Goodwin Sands; the crew were saved by another ship. See Bailey 1990, p. 78.
2. This most likely refers to The painter by Florent Willems, which Goupil’s Hague branch bought on 4 April 1876 for 7,000 guilders and resold on 7 May 1876 to Goupil in Paris for 25,000 guilders (RKD, Goupil Ledgers). The painting has not been identified; Willems’s known oeuvre contains several treatments of this subject.
3. Theo had probably written about one of the two drawings by Mauve which Goupil had only recently acquired: After the rain and Dusk, bought on 19 and 21 April for 150 and 100 guilders, respectively. Both works were eventually resold to the London branch (RKD, Goupil Ledgers).
4. Mauve was living and working – one year after his marriage on 26 November 1874, in any case – at Alexanderplein 19 (old numbering) in The Hague. See Engel 1967, p. 54.
5. The wide, wide world (1851) by Elizabeth Wetherell (pseudonym of Susan Warner). This extremely popular novel, which was translated into many languages, is the story of a ‘motherless girl who learns Christian forbearance and love despite numerous trials and cruel treatment’; the book has ‘a rural background and a marked religious flavor’. See Notable American women 1607-1950. A biographical dictionary. Ed. E.T. James. Cambridge 1971, p. 543.
6. This was the Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant of 28 April 1876: see letter 78, n. 10.