Amsterdam, 28 May 1877

My dear Theo,
Today Uncle Jan found some clothes that were Hendrik’s1 which he’s grown out of, and asked if I could use them, and I said if I might share them with you I’d gladly take them. So herewith a pair of duffle trousers2 which may well be of use to you in the autumn and winter, by which time you’ll likely be in need of them. I have a black pair.
Today was stormy, on my way to my lessons this morning I looked towards the Zuiderzee from the bridge. There was one white stripe on the horizon with dark grey clouds above it, the rain pouring down from them in slanting lines in the distance, standing out against this was the long row of houses with the Oosterkerk.3
Uncle Jan went to Leiden yesterday, so I was alone that day. In the morning I went to the Oosterkerk and heard a sermon4 on Isaiah 55:8 and 9, ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts’.
Walked to the seaside in the afternoon, and spent the rest of the day writing. The work and writing don’t yet go as fast and easily as I’d wish, but I hope to learn by practice, but, old boy, if I could I’d like to skip over a few years, though I trust that I shall succeed and that my lips shall speak the fullness of preaching the gospel and that my hand shall write it, and I pray that that be given me, but first one must get some rest when one already has several years of work behind one and feels one is on the way and is doing the same thing as those whom one loves.
This morning I was in Uncle Stricker’s study, it’s beautiful and he has a portrait of Calvin after Ary Scheffer5 hanging there, although I should have liked very much to see more prints on the wall.  1v:2
Last week I got as far as Gen. XXIII, the burial of Sarah in the field that Abraham bought to bury her there in the cave of Machpelah,6 and I couldn’t help making a little drawing of how I imagined that place to be, it’s nothing very special but I’m enclosing it anyway.7
A good letter from home yesterday, wrote back today, also to Anna. You must also write again soon, for I’m longing to hear from you.
Right now all the people are leaving the dockyard to go home, that’s nice to see. One hears them already early in the morning, I think there are around 3,000 of them,8 the sound of their footsteps is something like the sound of the sea. This morning bought from a Jew ‘Tobias’ after Rembrandt, a small engraving, for six cents.9
Uncle Jan sends you many regards, write him a word or two, or else write a sentence in a letter to me that I can read to him to thank him for the clothes.
How is Mrs Tersteeg doing? I’m also eager to hear whether you’ve been to see Mauve.
Aunt Mina and Paul’s girl10 will soon be going to Etten, that will be nice for them at home. Pa wrote that the church had been whitewashed and the organ painted. Yesterday 3 children were baptized. Lips11 is still no better, and Willem van Eekelen’s wife12 is also very ill. Did you hear that Uncle Vincent has bronchitis again, and it seems to be serious? It’s fortunate that Uncle is back in the country, and in his own house, and that Pa and Ma visit him almost every day.
Now, old boy, I wish you the very best, give my regards to your housemates, please forgive me for not being able to pay the postage on the parcel, old chap, do write soon and accept in thought a hearty handshake, and believe me

Your most loving brother


Br. 1990: 116 | CL: 97
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Amsterdam, Monday, 28 May 1877

2. Trousers made of a coarse woollen material.
3. The Oosterkerk is located at Wittenburggracht 25, near the Marinewerf (naval dockyard) where Van Gogh lived. He probably saw the panorama he describes from the Kattenburgerbrug.
4. On Sunday, 27 May, the Rev. Gerardus Johannes Vinke preached at 10 a.m. in the Oosterkerk.
5. Numerous reproductions were made of the painting Calvin, 1858 (Paris, Musée de la Vie Romantique) by Ary Scheffer; the known ones include lithographs, wood engravings and an etching. The lithograph by Frederik Hendrik Weissenbruch Dzn., which was published in the Scheffer-album (1859) to accompany the article ‘Calvijn’ by W.J. Hofdijk, was no doubt widely known. Ill. 1825 [1825]. See Ewals 1987, pp. 378-379, and exhib. cat. Dordrecht 1990, pp. 36-38, cat. no. 2
7. The enclosed drawing is The cave of Machpelah (F Juv. XXX / JH -).Van Gogh wrote on the back of this drawing, between several Latin exercises: ‘Ask Mendes about exam, when it takes place. Would it be possible to attend it?’ The sheet used to be regarded as youthful work. Anita Vriend discovered that it belonged with this letter. See Vriend 1990, and cat. Amsterdam 1996, pp. 64-65, cat. no. 10.
8. At the beginning of 1885 the Rijkswerf was ‘a government enterprise with more than 2,000 employees’. See Ph. M. Bosscher, ‘Van ’s lands werf tot marine-etablissement. Amsterdam als marinebasis’, Marineblad 4 (1965), p. 46.
9. Rembrandt made two etchings of the blind Tobit (B42,1 and B153,1); several copies after the latter are known (Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet). Ill. 1826 [1826] and Ill. 1827 [1827]. The small engraving Van Gogh bought could have been made after these prints (an impression after the first one is in the family estate) (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. p109) or after The archangel Raphael leaving Tobias, of which Rembrandt had made an etching (B43; Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet). Ill. 1828 [1828].
[1826] [1827] [1828]
10. Aunt Mina is W.C.G. Carbentus, the wife of J.P. Stricker; Margreet Meyboom was Paul Stricker’s girlfriend.
11. The farmer Jacobus Lips was married to Maria Leentje Silvius. They had two sons and lived at Bremberg G 10 (RAW).
12. The farmer Willem van Eekelen was married to Maria van Eekelen. They had two daughters and one son. The family lived at Haansberg J 61 (RAW).