Dordrecht, 23 April 1877

My dear Theo,
I received your letter of 21 April, thanks for writing so quickly – and that letter gave me a feeling of joy such as the woman must have had who found the piece of silver she had lost,1 namely, you wrote that Aunt Koos’s little reading-desk2 containing Pa and Ma’s letters was found at the Rooses’ when the house was being cleaned.3
What fear and worry I felt last year, looking for it and imagining that I’d taken it to England and that it got left behind at one of the houses I stayed at in London. It’s wonderful that it has turned up, I’m so grateful, keep it for the time being, I’ll be needing it in Amsterdam when I’m ‘on the way’.4
I now remember very clearly having left it behind at the Rooses’ when I left for England, because there wasn’t much room in my trunk and also because I thought it would be safer there than travelling with me in foreign parts.
It seems to me to be new proof, as it were, and a sign like others that I think I’ve been noticing recently,  1v:2 that my efforts will be blessed, that things will go well for me, and the thing I desire so fervently will be granted me – something of the faith of old5 has come alive in me that my thoughts shall be established6 and a right spirit renewed7 and the soul restored to the old faith. I alone am making a choice for my life. Set your heart and mind, you too, on something good, on a good cause, and desire it of the Lord.8
Uncle Jan was in Etten and said that my room was already ready.9 Mr Braat is negotiating with someone, so in May I’ll probably put my hand to the plough.10
Hanging in that little room will be the prints I got from you, and so I’ll be reminded of you daily – beneath that one after Rosenthal, that monk,11 I have written ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.12 Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me13 – in the kingdom of heaven14 they do not marry, and are not given in marriage’.15 Beneath its pendant, The imitation of Jesus Christ (after Ruipérez),16 I wrote what we used to hear Pa say: ‘Lord, I should so much like to be earnest’.17  1v:3
This morning I heard a very beautiful sermon by the Rev. Keller van Hoorn on ‘and that from a child thou hast known the scriptures’.18 This afternoon Görlitz, Mager, Ten Broek19 and I went to the museum to see the Scheffers – they’re really beautiful. Have I already told you that Görlitz went to Etten to apply for the teaching position that has fallen vacant in Leur?20
He came back filled with everything he had seen there. Pa had given a sermon on Jacob who slept in the field at Bethel,21 and he had found it all so moving.
I’d be happy for him if he got the position; then he would probably marry very soon.
Last week I got a letter from Harry Gladwell himself. Something has happened to him, a little different, admittedly, and yet essentially the same as what happened to you, and he is in dangerous surroundings there – the fowlers22 are many and clever. I hope to hear more soon, and we’ll talk about it sometime.
I know little of Taine’s life, I assume that he travelled a lot in France, Italy, England and also Holland, one could deduce as much from his writings.23 He is certainly an artist. I still have the first book by Bürger, Musées.24  1r:4
Now, Theo, have a nice Sunday today. I hope to see you if I go to Amsterdam.
For a ‘sower of the word’25 as I hope to become, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, just like for a sower of corn in the field26 – and the earth shall bring forth all manner of thorns and thistles27 – do let’s continue to support each other and to seek brotherly love.
Adieu, give my regards to your housemates, and accept a handshake in thought, and believe me ever

Your loving brother

It’s raining here today and one could imagine oneself in London. But how green everything outside is becoming. This morning Görlitz, Ten Broek and I went for a walk while it was still early. Isn’t it beautiful in the Scheveningen Bosjes as well?28 Shall we walk there together again, and on the beach? I hope so! When I go to post this I hope to take that small path behind the station again where we walked together.29


Br. 1990: 112 | CL: 93
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Dordrecht, Sunday, 22 and Monday, 23 April 1877

2. ‘Aunt Koos’ could refer to Jacoba Wilhelmina van der Burg. Regarding Van Gogh’s reading-desk in England, cf. letter 102, n. 57.
3. Before leaving for England, Van Gogh boarded with the Roos family in The Hague; see letter 1.
4. ‘On the way’ means ‘on my way to becoming a clergyman’.
9. Van Gogh was planning to live in Amsterdam with his Uncle Jan, who lived at Grote Kattenburgerstraat 3 on the Marinewerf (naval dockyard) on the island of Kattenburg, not far from the centre.
10. An expression based on Luke 9:62. As also emerges from the family correspondence, Van Gogh’s employer did not want to let him go until he had found a replacement (FR b2520).
11. This most likely refers to the print Humility, which was published in Thomas a Kempis, L’Imitation de Jésus-Christ. With reflections by F. de Lammennais at the end of every chapter. Inscribed below it, in addition to ‘Rosenthal pinxit’ and ‘Girardet & Pelé sc.’, is ‘Furne, Pagnerre, Perrotin, Éditeurs’. See 12th edition. Paris 1844, between pp. 148-149. Ill. 1802 [1802]. Vincent had received the print from Theo, to whom he had recommended the book in November 1876 (see letter 197). The engraving is part of a series, the others being by Auguste Blanchard (père), Johannes de Mare and Tony Goutière. The painting was most probably made by Constantin David Rosenthal.
14. ‘The kingdom of heaven’ is alluded to many times in the Gospel according to Matthew.
16. For Ruipérez, see letter 40, n. 16.
17. Cf. hymn 73:10, ‘Dus past de waakzaamheid den Christen, En daaglijks ernstig onderzoek’ (Thus watchfulness becomes the Christian, And serious probing every day).
19. This perhaps refers to the clerk Christiaan van de(n) Broek, who lived at Groenmarkt A 209 and is recorded in the 1873 Adresboek. The civil registration records of the municipality of Dordrecht for the years 1860-1890 contain no Ten Broek.
20. See letter 111 concerning Görlitz’s application for this position.
22. Used in the Bible as a name for the godless and for the evil threatening humankind; cf. such passages as Ps. 91:3 and rhy. ps. 124:4.
23. Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was probably mentioned by Theo in his letter of 21 April. From letter 133 of 30 October 1877, it emerges that Vincent had read Taine’s Histoire de la littérature anglaise. He could have inferred that Taine had visited the countries mentioned from the list of Taine’s other publications appearing in the front of Histoire de la littérature anglaise of 1874, a list which includes Voyage aux Pyrénées, Notes sur l’Angleterre, Notes sur Paris and Voyage en Italie. It is not known which of these works Van Gogh read, but he certainly knew Voyage aux Pyrénées. See Pabst 1988, p. 27.
24. E.J.T. Thoré (writing under the pseudonym W. Bürger), Musées de la Hollande, i. Amsterdam et La Haye; Vincent had sent part 2 to Theo (cf. letter 111).
26. An allusion to the parable of the sower in the four Gospels, including Matt. 13:3-8. See for ‘sufficient ... thereof’: Matt. 6:34.
29. Regarding this walk, see letter 103.