Etten, 31 December 18761
My dear Theo,
I sincerely wish you the best in the new year, I wish you well and may you be blessed in all things. Wonderful to have seen each other again, how beautiful it was that morning you left, and how often we’ll think back on that trip to Chaam.2
Ma’s eye is hurting a lot again, she has a bandage on; Pa delivered such a beautiful sermon again this morning.
And now this evening New Year’s Eve again, if only you were here.
Now then, there’s something I must tell you: a couple of days ago Mr Braat of Dordrecht3 paid a visit to Uncle Vincent and they spoke about me, and Uncle asked Mr B. whether he would have a place for me, if I should wish it. Mr B. thought he might have a place, and said that I should come sometime to talk about it. So I went there early yesterday morning; Pa and Ma and I, too, thought it was something we shouldn’t let pass without seeing what it was.
Agreed that after the New Year I should go to him for a week, after that we’ll see.4
There are many things that make it desirable, first and foremost my being back in Holland near Pa and Ma, and also you and the others.5 Moreover, the salary would certainly be a little better than with Mr Jones, and especially with an eye to later, when a man has need of more,
1v:2 one is obliged to think of such things.
As far as the other thing is concerned, for these reasons I won’t give it up. Pa’s spirit is so great and many-sided, and at all events I hope that something of it will develop in me. The change means that now, instead of teaching those boys, I’ll be working in a bookshop.
How often we’ve longed to be together, and how terrible it is to feel so far away from one another in cases of illness or anxiety, as we felt, for example, during your illness, and then the feeling that lack of money may very well stand in the way of our being together in times of need.
It’s quite possible, then, that I’ll go there.
Yesterday evening I was at Uncle Vincent’s to tell him that I’d just been to Dordrecht, it was a stormy evening, you can imagine how beautiful the road to Princenhage was with the dark clouds with their silver linings. I also went briefly to the Roman Catholic church, where evening Mass was under way, it was a beautiful sight, all those peasants and their wives with their black clothes and white caps, and the church looked so friendly in the evening light. You must also tell Mr Tersteeg straightaway that I’ll be going there for a week to see how it goes, let His Hon. read this letter, if you will, and be sure to give him and his wife my best wishes for a happy New Year. I’m writing in great haste, Anna and the girls6 and Cor went to Princenhage, and Pa wanted me to go with them. Aunt7 came back with them in the carriage and I went for a walk with Willem Carbentus.8 Now, old boy, dear brother, what good days those were when we were all together,9 have a good New Year’s Eve and believe me
Your loving brother
More soon – adieu. If you write, send your letter to Dordrecht.10