Etten, 15 Aug. 1878

My dear Theo,
I’m enclosing a few words with Pa and Ma’s letter1 to bid you good morning. It’s raining outside and has done so a lot lately, with strong winds too. It was nice the day Anna and Joan registered their banns. Now that Joan is here, Anna looks a lot more cheerful and better than before.2 For their honeymoon they’re thinking of making a journey through Belgium, first to Brussels and from there probably south to Liège or Chaudfontaine or the cave in Han. Wrote and told the Rev. De Jonge that I was ready to come to Brussels straightaway if work or duty should call me, but that if there were no sound reasons that made it desirable for me to go there now, I’d like to stay here another week (because of Anna’s wedding), coming in that case before Sunday, 25 Aug.3  1v:2
I’m very curious to know whether the exhibition of paintings there will still be open,4 I should so much like to see it.
Things are very sad at Princenhage, Aunt suffers a lot, and they’re all very worried about her.
I long for a word from you, hope to write to you in more detail as soon as I’m in Brussels, also about the exhibition, at least if it isn’t over yet.
Give my regards to Braat and Soek, if you see them, and Ernest. Adieu, I wish you the very best, not a day goes by that we don’t speak of you. Do write again soon, and accept a hearty handshake in thought from

Your loving brother

In haste.


Br. 1990: 146 | CL: 125
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Etten, Thursday, 15 August 1878

1. The enclosed letters from Mr and Mrs van Gogh have both survived (FR b990 and b996). Nine days later Mrs van Gogh wrote again to Theo; her letter betrays her anxiety about Vincent’s future: ‘How will things turn out for Vincent? We watch him go with trepidation. His ideas about everyday life are so unhealthy that it seems to me he won’t be able to teach people; may things turn out better than expected. He travels there on Monday’ (FR b2433, 24 August 1878).
2. Although Anna was cheered by the situation, her relations with Vincent did not improve. She wrote to thank Theo for the ‘splendid prints’ he had sent, and spoke plainly of Vincent’s stubbornness: ‘Vincent is more of a wooden lion than ever and is very annoyed at the preparations. For Pa and Ma’s sake I hope so much that this thing in Belgium will succeed, but I fear that his extreme obstinacy and lack of human understanding won’t do him much good in his new situation’ (FR b989, 13 August 1878). Her characterization of Vincent as a ‘wooden lion’ probably refers to her brother’s lofty inaccessibility.
3. Anna and Joan were married on 22 August 1878; Vincent originally planned to leave for Brussels on the 24th, according to a letter written by Mr van Gogh to Theo: ‘Vincent will leave next Saturday. May he have the good fortune to succeed there.’ Mrs van Gogh wrote the following about him in the same letter: ‘He is more withdrawn than ever, no doubt because he is concentrating hard on writing his sermons, which he is stocking up on’ (FR b991, 21 August 1878). The caves of Han, a tourist attraction, are in Han-sur-Lesse in the Ardennes. In the end he left on Monday 26 August (FR b2433).
4. This quite possibly refers to the Brussels Salon, which lasted from 5 September to 15 October. See Exposition générale des Beaux-Arts 1878. Catalogue explicatif. Brussels 1878, pp. 11, 23.