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134 To Theo van Gogh. Amsterdam, Monday, 19 November 1877.

METADATA

No. 134 (Brieven 1990 133, Complete Letters 113)


From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Amsterdam, Monday, 19 November 1877

Source status
Original manuscript

Location
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b132 V/1962

Date
Letter headed: ‘Amsterdam 19 Nov 1877’.

ORIGINAL TEXT

1r:1
Amsterdam 19 Nov. 1877

Waarde Theo,
Het is mij behoefte om U weer eens te schrijven want ik denk dikwijls aan U en verlang zeer naar Kerstmis wanneer wij elkaar
weder hopen te zien.─ Nu, de donkere dagen voor kerstmis zijn reeds in het gezigt en daarachter ligt kerstmis even als het
vriendelijk licht 1 van de huizen achter de rotsen en het water dat er tegen aan slaat op een donkeren avond.
Een lichtpunt was dat kerstfeest altijd voor ons en dat blijve het.─
Er is aan de hoogeschool hier voor het eerst admissie examen afgenomen ─ het is hier in stad dat ook ik examen zal
doen.─ 2 Men heeft daar behalve de gewone 4 vakken latijn, grieksch, algebra en meetkunst ook gevraagd geschiedenis,
aardrijkskunde, Holl. taal.─
Heb werk gemaakt om een meester te vinden voor Algebra & Meetkunst en ben daarin geslaagd, n.l. met een neef v. Mendes,
Texeira De Mattos, onderwijzer aan de Israel. Godsdienst en a
armenschool. 3 Hij geeft mij hoop dat wij tegen Oct. v.h.
volgend jaar het vereischte zullen hebben afgehandeld.─ Mogt mij dan het examen lukken, zal het voorspoedig gegaan zijn.
Want toen ik begon zeide men er 2 jaar zouden noodig zijn voor de 4 eerstgenoemde vakken terwijl indien ik in Oct. slagen
mogt, ik in nog korteren tijd meer zou hebben gedaan.─ Moge God mij de wijsheid schenken die ik van noode heb en mij geven
de begeerte van mijn hart, n.l. om de studiën zoo spoedig mogelijk te doorloopen en bevestigd te worden in de betrekking en
het praktische werk van predikant. In dat werk zijnde en daarvoor ijverende geloof ik dat men doet wat God wil dat men doen
zal.─
De voorbereidende studie (n.l. die de eigentlijke Theologische studien en het oefenen in het preeken en voordragen
voorafgaat) komt zoo ongeveer neer op de geschiedenis, taal en aardrijkskunde van Griekenland, Klein Azie (daartoe kan men

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dan ook Palestina rekenen) & Italie. Die moet ik dus bestudeeren met denzelfden ijver waarmede een hond een been afkluift en
evenzoo zou ik wel graag kennen de taal, geschiedenis & aardrijkskunde van de noordelijke landen, nl. van die zoo om de
Noordzee en het Kanaal.
Ben eindelijk naar wensch geslaagd met eene kaart van Klein Azie, Griekenland & Italie, nogal groot (waarop nu ook de
reizen van Paulus 4 staan) en ook eene v. Engeland waarin eindelijk iets is van wat ik er in hebben wilde, ten minste Mendes
ziet het er in, n.l. dat die niet zonder gevoel en liefde is geteekend. (De namen zet ik er op naar eene kaart in den Atlas Antiquus
v. Sprüner Menke 5 die Mendes heeft want het is er eene voor bij de geschiedenis.) Toe, doe uw best eens om dien atlas eens
te zien even als vooral ook die van Stieler. 6 Want dat is artistenwerk. (Sprüner Menke, Atlas Antiquus.)
1v:2
Zondag hoorde ik Ds ten Kate 7 over Joh. XIV:1-6 (In het huis Mijns Vaders zijn vele woningen: Wie dat zegt, wat dat
Vaderhuis ons te herinneren geeft, wat het ons belooft.) Hij eindigde met: De ure komt waarin de dooden de stem van den Zoon
des menschen zullen hooren en zullen opstaan die het goede gedaan hebben tot de Opstanding ten Eeuwigen Leven. 8 Zalig
die het heimwee hebben want zij zullen t’huis komen.─ 9
Het was een stampvolle kerk zoodat ik heb gestaan.─
Was twee avonden bij Oom Cor, eens om oude boeken te zien (daar waren onder jaargangen v. de Illustration waar ik veel
oude kennissen in vond, dat is toch een interressant blad, o.a. een oud portret van Dickens 10 en eene houdsnede door de
Lemud, “La tasse de café”, 11 een jongmensch met eenigzins strenge en scherpe trekken en ernstige uitdrukking die er juist
uitziet alsof hij dacht over dat stuk uit L’imitation, De la Vie monastique, 12 of als of hij eenig moeielijk maar goed werk of
plan overdacht zooals alleen une âme en peine 13 dat doen kan.─ Zulk werk is niet altijd het slechtste maar wat men als het
ware met smart doet, dat blijft leven.
Heureux celui que la Verité instruit non par des mots fugitifs mais par elle-même en se montrant telle qu’elle est, 14 is wel
een goed woord.)
Dan was ik ook bij Oom Cor op Tantes verjaardag, nl. ll. Vrijdag, 15 toen werd er des avonds kaart gespeeld en daar ik dat
niet kan heb ik zitten lezen in Aug. Gruson, Histoire des Croisades (Panthéon Classique 50cmes). 16 Dat is een zeer mooi
boekje, ik zou haast zeggen hier en daar geschreven met het sentiment van Thijs Maris (hierbij o.a. een bladzijde die mij
trof) 17 als hij b.v. schildert een oud kasteel op een rots met de bosschen in den herfst en in de schemering met zoo op den
voorgrond de zwarte akkers met een boer die met een wit paard ploegt, 18 en het deed mij ook denken aan Michelet &
Carlyle.─
Zoo gaarne wilde ik dat Pa die ets van Un jeune Citoyen de l’an V 19 kende. Zoudt Gij goed vinden die op Pa’s verjaardag of
voor dien tijd te geven met nog eenige kleine phot. over de Omwenteling 20 zoodat het een geheel vormt waaruit Pa zien kan
waaraan wij dikwijls denken.─
Gij weet misschien al dat er heden droevige tijding uit Brussel is, dat Pa er reeds heen is. Oom Jan, die een telegram deze
berigten inhoudende van Moe ontving, telegrafeerde aan Pa en ontving ten antwoord “Toestand onveranderd kom nog niet ik
ben hier”.─ Reeds waren Oom Jan en Oom Cor gereed er zamen heen te gaan, nu wachten zij op nadere waarschuwing van die
trouwe Pa. Zou er dan eindelijk een einde komen aan dat lang en vreesselijk lijden? 21
Dag Theo, schrijf eens spoedig jongen, als Gij kunt, God beware onze gezondheid en geve ons de helderheid van het hoofd en
de kracht en opgewektheid die wij noodig hebben iederen dag.─ Oom Jan, Oom Cor en de familie Stricker groeten U en
ontvang een hartelijken handdruk in gedachten van

Uw liefh. broer
Vincent

Dat berigt aangaande Oom Hein komt terwijl ik dezen onderhanden heb.

Naar alle waarschijnlijkheid zal Paul Stricker om zijne gezondheid naar Holland moeten terugkeeren. 22

een goede brief v. Johan v. Gogh en Willem 23 maakt het betrekkelijk ook goed maar moet zich toch in acht nemen en
voorzigtig zijn.

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1v:3
Au bout de quelques jours, toutes les misères souffertes par les Croisés devant les murs d’Antiochie se trouverent faibles et
douces comparées aux maux qu’ils souffrirent à l’intérieur.─ La faim et la soif commencaient à sevir affreusement. Tant qu’il
resta quelque nourriture pour les chevaux on les garda pour boire leur sang, quelques jours après, on se vit contraint de les tuer
pour se nourir de leur chair. Les vegetaux de quelque nature qu’ils fussent, étaient dévorés avec avidité. On se nourrissait de
feuilles d’arbres et de peaux d’animaux bouillies. Le cuir desséché des armures servait même d’aliment. La faim faisait trouver à
cette nourriture un goût exquis et agréable. Et ce n’etait pas seulement la classe infime des Croisés qui se trouvait plongeé dans
cet état de dénûment, les mêmes souffrances rendaient tous les hommes égaux, et nivelaient toutes les têtes. Chefs, soldats,
femmes, jeunes filles, tous souffraient en commun. Le peuple se plaignait de sa faim à grands cris, et nul ne pouvait s’entr’aider,
ni se soustraire au fléau. Godefroid lui-même se trouva sans chevaux et sans argent.─
On rapporte que plusieurs malheureux se trainaient à demi-morts d’inanition par les rues de la ville en criant: “O Seigneur!
que Ton nom soit sanctifié!” et ils se consolaient dans l’espoir que les souffrances de cette vie auraient leur récompense dans
l’autre. Mais la même résignation ne régnait pas dans toute l’armee, et les désertions recommencèrent; Guillaume le
Charpentier, oubliant le serment qu’il avait fait de rester fidèle à la sainte cause, s’enfuit une seconde fois. Alexis Comnène,
dont on espérait du secours, retourna sur ses pas, en apprenant la situation pénible des Chrétiens d’Antioche.─ Quelques
heures après le retour de Pierre l’Ermite qui avait été envoyé au camp des infidèles pour les sommer d’abandonner le siège
d’Antioche et de livrer passage aux Chretiens et qui n’en avait rapporté que des paroles menacantes, on vit un enthousiasme
étrange s’emparer des Chrétiens, révoltés des paroles altières du Chef turc. Leurs visages pâles et défaits, leurs yeux ternes et
éteints s’étaient ranimés tout à coup, et leurs corps voûtés et amaigris s’étaient redressés avec orgueil. On fit les apprets du
combat qui devait avoir lieu le lendemain, et on s’y prepara par des prières et des processions réligieuses.─ C’était le jour de la
fête de St Pierre et de St Paul et cette circonstance redoubla encore le courage de l’armée. Toutes les troupes à l’exeption du
Comte de Toulouse et d’un petit nombre de Provencaux qui furent laissés pour contenir la garnison de la Citadelle, quittèrent
Antiochie et se formèrent en ordre de bataille dans la plaine située devant la ville. L’avantgarde était précédée par des prêtres et
des moines portant des crucifix dans leurs mains, implorant à haute voix la protection du Ciel et s’écriant dans le langage du
Psalmiste “Sois une tour de défense pour ceux qui mettent leur confiance en Toi”. Chaque événement semblait un présage
favorable, et la rosée du matin embaumant l’air du parfum des roses fut même regardée comme une marque de la faveur
speciale du ciel.─ (Et ils gagnèrent la bataille).

Ce fut le 15 Juillet 1099 que les Croisés se rendirent maîtres de la Cité Sainte. Près de 3 ans s’étaient écoulés depuis leur départ
d’Europe.─ Ce fut vers trois heures, à l’heure-même où le Sauveur expira sur la croix, un espace vide se fit sur les remparts. Les
Turcs reculaient.─ 24

Godefroid de Bouillon. Par une belle soirée du mois d’Août 1096 un homme de 36 ans environ était accoudé dans une attitude
méditative sur le seuil d’une fenêtre du superbe chateau de Bouillon, les yeux fixés sur les tourelles qui flanquaient les murs
crénelés et dont les flèches aiguës dessinaient leurs silhouettes brunes sur la blancheur mate du ciel. L’ombre s’étendait
lentement sur l’horizon et quelques étoiles pointaient dans l’azur comme des regards d’or. Dans une vaste cour située
audessous de lui, on entendait des cliquetis d’armures qui se heurtaient, des voix d’hommes d’armes causant entre eux, des
hennissements de chevaux impatients et des ordres dictés par des ecuyers aux soldats.─ 25 Het einde v.h. boek is: C’était une
personification de cet Esprit de Dieu Qui toujours jeune et fort traverse les Siècles et les survit.─ 26

1r:4
Ziehier waaraan ik dacht bij het teekenen v. die kaart v. Engeland die Gij met Kerstmis zien zult: If you look at a map of the
world, you will see, in the left hand upper corner of the Eastern Hemisphere, two Islands, lying in the sea. They are England
and Scotland, and Ireland. England and Scotland form the greater part of these Islands. Ireland is the next in size. The little
neighbouring islands, which are so small upon the Map as to be mere dots, are chiefly little bits of Scotland ─ broken off I dare
say, in the course of a great length of time by the power of the restless water. In the old days, a long long while ago, before Our
Saviour was born on earth and lay asleep in a manger, these Islands were in the same place and the stormy sea roared round
them, just as it roars now. But the sea was not alive then, with great ships and brave sailors, sailing to and from all parts of the

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world.─ It was very lonely.─ The Islands lay solitary, in the great expanse of water. The foaming waves dashed against their
cliffs, and the bleak winds blew over their forests; but the winds and waves brought no adventurers to land upon the Islands,
and the savage Islanders knew nothing of the rest of the world, and the rest of the world knew nothing of them.─ Dickens, A
childs history of England. 27

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the
face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said “Let there be Light” and there was
Light. And God saw the Light that it was good, and God divided the Light from the darkness. And God called the Light “Day”
and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.─ 28

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.─ The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.─ In Him was Life and the Life was the
Light of men. That was the true Light which lighteth on every man that cometh into the world.─ 29

TRANSLATION

1r:1
Amsterdam, 19 Nov. 1877

My dear Theo,
I feel the need to write to you again, because I often think of you and long so much for Christmas, when we hope to see each
other again. Well, the dark days before Christmas are already in sight, and behind them lies Christmas, just like the kindly
light 1
from the houses behind the rocks and the water that breaks against them on a dark evening.
The Christmas celebration was always a bright spot for us, and may it remain so.
An entrance exam has been held at the university here for the first time — it’s here in the city that I’ll sit the exam as well. 2

In addition to the usual 4 subjects of Latin, Greek, algebra and geometry, they also tested history, geography and Dutch.
Have taken pains to find a teacher of Algebra and Geometry and have succeeded, namely a cousin of Mendes, Teixeira de
Mattos, a teacher at the Jewish School for the Poor. 3 He gives me hope that we’ll have met the requirements by around
October of next year. If I should then pass the exam, things will have gone very well indeed. Because when I started they said
that 2 years would be necessary for the first 4 subjects mentioned, whereas if I should pass in October, I’ll have done more in an
even shorter time. May God give me the wisdom I need and grant me my heart’s desire, namely to complete my studies as soon
as possible and to be inducted into a living and the practical duties of a minister. Doing that work, and being devoted to it, I
believe one would be doing what God wants one to do.
The preparatory studies (i.e. those preceding the actual theological study and practice in preaching and speaking) more or
less comes down to the history, languages and geography of Greece, Asia Minor (which can be taken to include Palestine) and
Italy. So I have to study these just as diligently as a dog gnaws a bone, and similarly I should like to know the languages, history
and geography of the northern countries, i.e. those around the North Sea and the English Channel.
Have finally succeeded in making a map of Asia Minor, Greece and Italy, fairly large (which now includes Paul’s 4 travels
as well), and also one of England which finally has something of what I wanted it to have, at least Mendes sees it in it, namely
that it was not drawn without feeling and love. (I put in the names from a map in the Atlas Antiquus of Spruner-Menke 5 that
Mendes has, because it’s one to be used for history.) Come on, do your best to take a look at that atlas sometime, likewise the
one by Stieler in particular. 6 Because it is artistry. (Spruner-Menke, Atlas Antiquus.) 1v:2
On Sunday I heard the Rev. Ten Kate 7 on John XIV:1-6 (In my Father’s house are many mansions: Whosoever says that,
what our Father’s house holds in memories for us, what it promises us). He ended with: The hour is coming in which the dead
shall hear the voice of the Son of the people and shall stand up, they that have done good, unto the Resurrection of the Eternal

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Life. 8 Blessed are the homesick, for they shall come home. 9 The church was so packed that I stood.
Spent two evenings at Uncle Cor’s, once to look at old books (including volumes of L’Illustration in which I found many old
acquaintances, that is really an interesting magazine, among other things an old portrait of Dickens 10 and a woodcut by De
Lemud, ‘The cup of coffee’, 11 a young man with rather severe and sharp features and a serious expression who looks exactly
as though he were thinking about that passage from The imitation, On the monastic life, 12 or as though he were
contemplating some difficult but good work or plan, as only a soul in need can. 13
Such work isn’t always the worst, but what
one does in sorrow, as it were, lives on. Happy the man who is instructed by Truth itself, not by signs and passing words, but as
it is in itself, 14 are good words).
Then I was also at Uncle Cor’s on Aunt’s birthday, 15 i.e. last Friday, they played cards that evening, and because I can’t I
sat there reading A. Gruson, Histoire des croisades (Panthéon classique 50 cmes). 16
That’s a very beautiful little book, I
would almost say that here and there it was written with the sentiment of Thijs Maris (herewith, among other things, a page
that struck me), 17 such as when he paints an old castle on a rock with autumnal woods at twilight, with the black fields with
a peasant ploughing with a white horse in the foreground, 18 and it also made me think of Michelet and Carlyle.
I should like so much for Pa to know that etching of A young citizen of the year V. 19 Do you approve of giving it on Pa’s
birthday or before then, along with some small photos of the Revolution, 20 so that it forms a whole from which Pa can see
what we often think about?
Perhaps you already know that there have been sad tidings today from Brussels, that Pa has already gone there. Uncle Jan,
who received a telegram containing this news from Ma, telegraphed Pa and received the answer ‘Condition unchanged don’t
come yet I’m here’. Uncle Jan and Uncle Cor were already set to go there together, now they’re awaiting further notice from
faithful Pa. Will there then finally be an end to that long and terrible suffering? 21

Goodbye Theo, write soon, old boy, if you can, may God preserve our health and give us the clarity of mind and the strength
and vigour we need every day. Uncle Jan, Uncle Cor and the Stricker family send you their regards, and accept a hearty
handshake in thought from

Your loving brother


Vincent

That news about Uncle Hein comes while I’m writing this.

Paul Stricker will in all likelihood have to return to Holland because of his health. 22

A good letter from Johan van Gogh, and Willem 23 is also doing relatively well, but does have to look after himself and be
careful.

1v:3
After some days, all the miseries suffered by the Crusaders before the walls of Antioch were seen as trivial and mild compared
with the woes they suffered within them. Hunger and thirst were beginning to harass them dreadfully. As long as there was any
fodder left for the horses, they kept them to drink their blood; some days later, they found themselves forced to kill them, in
order to feed on their flesh. Plants of whatever kind were avidly devoured. People ate the leaves of trees, and boiled animal
skins. Even the dried leather from pieces of armour provided nourishment. Hunger lent this food an exquisite and delightful
flavour. And it was not only the lowliest among the Crusaders who found themselves cast into this state of destitution; the same
suffering made all men equal and brought all heads to the same level. Commanders, soldiers, women, maidens, all suffered
together. The people bemoaned their hunger with loud cries, and none could assist another, nor escape the scourge. Even
Godfrey found himself with no horses and no money.
It is reported that several unhappy people dragged themselves, half dead from inanition, through the streets of the city,
crying: ‘O Lord, may Thy name be blessed!’, and they consoled themselves in the hope that the sufferings of this life would have
their reward in the next. But the same resignation did not hold sway throughout the army, and desertions recommenced;
William the Carpenter, forgetting the oath he had made to remain true to the sacred cause, fled for a second time. Alexius

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Comnena, from whom help was expected, turned back on learning of the agonizing situation of the Christians of Antioch. Some
hours after the return of Peter the Hermit, who had been sent to the infidels’ camp to order them to abandon the siege of
Antioch and to give free passage to the Christians, and who had reported nothing but threatening words, a strange excitement
was seen to seize the Christians, incensed at the haughty words of the Turkish commander. Their pale, defeated faces, their
dull, lifeless eyes suddenly revived, and their bowed, wasted bodies stood up straight and proud. All was made ready for the
battle that was to take place on the following day, and people prepared themselves with prayers and religious processions. It
was the day of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and this circumstance increased still further the army’s courage. All the troops,
with the exception of the Count of Toulouse and a small number of soldiers from Provence, who were left behind to hold the
garrison of the Citadel, left Antioch and were drawn up in battle order on the plain that lay before the city. The advance guard
was preceded by priests and monks carrying the Crucifix in their hands, calling aloud for Divine protection and crying out in
the words of the Psalmist, ‘Be Thou a tower of strength to those who put their faith in Thee’. Every incident seemed to be a
favourable omen, and even the morning dew, making the air fragrant with the scent of roses, was seen a mark of Heaven’s
special favour. (And they won the fight.)

It was on 15 July 1099 that the Crusaders took possession of the Holy City. Almost 3 years had passed since their departure
from Europe. It was towards three o’clock in the afternoon, the very hour at which the Saviour expired on the Cross; an empty
space opened up on the ramparts. The Turks retreated. 24

Godfrey de Bouillon. On a fine evening in August 1096, a man of about 36 years of age was leaning in a meditative attitude on
the sill of a window of the superb Castle of Bouillon, his gaze fixed on the turrets placed next to the crenellated walls, whose
finials stood out in dark brown silhouette against the dull whiteness of the sky. Darkness spread slowly over the horizon, and a
few stars appeared in the sky like golden eyes. In a huge courtyard below him could be heard the clatter of armour striking
armour, the voices of men of arms talking amongst themselves, the neighing of restless horses and the orders issued by the
squires to the soldiers. 25 The end of the book is: It was a personification of that Spirit of God Who, ever young and strong,
lives through the Centuries and beyond them. 26

1r:4
Now here’s what I was thinking about while drawing that map of England that you’ll see at Christmas: If you look at a map of
the world, you will see, in the left-hand upper corner of the Eastern Hemisphere, two Islands, lying in the sea. They are England
and Scotland, and Ireland. England and Scotland form the greater part of these Islands. Ireland is the next in size. The little
neighbouring islands, which are so small upon the Map as to be mere dots, are chiefly little bits of Scotland — broken off I dare
say, in the course of a great length of time by the power of the restless water. In the old days, a long long while ago, before Our
Saviour was born on earth and lay asleep in a manger, these Islands were in the same place and the stormy sea roared round
them, just as it roars now. But the sea was not alive then, with great ships and brave sailors, sailing to and from all parts of the
world. It was very lonely. The Islands lay solitary, in the great expanse of water. The foaming waves dashed against their cliffs,
and the bleak winds blew over their forests; but the winds and waves brought no adventurers to land upon the Islands, and the
savage Islanders knew nothing of the rest of the world, and the rest of the world knew nothing of them. Dickens, A child’s
history of England. 27

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the
face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said ‘Let there be Light’ and there was
Light. And God saw the Light that it was good, and God divided the Light from the darkness. And God called the Light ‘Day’ and
the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 28

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was Life and the Life was the
Light of men. That was the true Light which lighteth on every man that cometh into the world. 29

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NOTES

1. Cf. hymn 200:2, hymn 271:2, and the hymn ‘Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom’.

2. This entrance examination to the Faculty of Arts at the University of Amsterdam took place on 9 November 1877; that year
there were 28 candidates. See Jaarboek der Universiteit van Amsterdam (1877-1884). Amsterdam 1885, p. 64.

a. Van Gogh’s ‘en’ in the name of the school is incorrect and misleading.

3. It is not clear which Teixeira de Mattos is intended. Wim Heijen, who has researched this family, thinks that it was probably
Isaäc Teixeira de Mattos, a retired doctor who could have volunteered as a teacher at the Israëlitische Godsdienst Armenschool
(Jewish School for the Poor), from 1871 a continuation of the Nederlandsch-Portugeesch-Israëlitische Armenschool (Dutch-
Portuguese-Jewish School for the Poor). In the account-book of the Portuguese-Jewish community, Isaäc Teixeira de Mattos
occurs frequently as a moneylender. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, two members of the Teixeira de Mattos family
had been members of the board of governors of the Portuguese school for the poor.
Another candidate is a nephew of the aforementioned, another Isaäc Teixeira de Mattos (in 1881 an office clerk), who felt
compelled to become involved in the care of the poor. See SAAm; I. van S. Mulder, Verslag van de commissie belast met het
toezigt over de Nederlandsch-Israëlitische godsdienstige scholen binnen het synagogaal ressort van Amsterdam. Amsterdam
1863, p. 11; W.Chr. Pieterse, Inventaris van de archieven der Portugees-Israëlitische Gemeente te Amsterdam 1614-1870.
Amsterdam 1964, p. 18 and Wim Heijen, ‘Teixeira de Mattos. Bankschandaal tastte goede naam aan’, Ons Amsterdam 49-6
(1997), pp. 160-164.

4. The apostle Paul.

5. Spruner-Menke, Atlas antiquus. Karoli Spruneri opus, tertio edidit Theodorus Menke. Göttingen 1865. The atlas consists of
31 plates with explanations. ‘Britannia et Hibernia’ is map no. 18. The makers of the atlas were Karl von Spruner von Merz and
Theodor Menke.

6. Adolf Stieler, Hand-Atlas über alle Theile der Erde und über das Weltgebäude. Gotha. This much-used atlas originally
stemmed from 1817-1823, but was completely revised in 1871-1875 and subsequently reprinted a number of times. The
complete atlas comprised 90 maps, which were also sold separately (Stieler 1876).

7. On Sunday, 18 November the popular minister J.J.L. ten Kate conducted the 10 a.m. service in the Zuiderkerk.

8. Cf. John 5:28-29.

9. Van Gogh’s later addition – ‘Blessed are the homesick, for they shall come home’ – was inspired by the Sermon on the Mount
in Matt. 5.

10. The portrait of Dickens, drawn by Achille Isidore Gilbert and engraved by Burn Smeeton, appeared nine days after the death
of the writer on the front page of L’Illustration 28 (18 June 1870), p. 429. Ill. 1858 .

11. An engraving after La tasse de café (The cup of coffee) by Aimé de Lemud, in L’Illustration 6 (1 November 1845), p. 136. Ill.
1046 .

12. ‘La vie monastique’ (The monastic life) is the title of book ^, chapter 17 in L’imitation de Jésus-Christ, the French translation
of De imitatione Christi by Thomas a Kempis.

13. Van Gogh could have become familiar with the current expression ‘A soul in need’ from a publication on Tissot; see letter
158, n. 26.

14. The opening lines of book ^, chapter 3 in L’imitation de Jésus-Christ (ed. 1850), p. 7. Quoted, with variations, in letter 135 as
well; cf. also letter 108, n. 17.

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http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let134/print.html

15. Johanna van Gogh-Franken turned 41 on 16 November.

16. Auguste Gruson, Histoire des croisades. Racontée à la jeunesse. Paris n.d. This book appeared as no. 247 in Panthéon
Classique et Littéraire, a series of inexpensive schoolbooks that were put on the market simultaneously by a number of
publishers in various countries.

17. See the end of the letter.

18. This is a description of Matthijs Maris, The castle ploughman, 1875-1876 (Cardiff, National Museum of Wales). Ill. 1860 .
This painting was owned at the time by E.J. van Wisselingh, who lived in Amsterdam, where Van Gogh might have seen it,
though it is possible that he had seen it as early as 1875-1876 in Maris’s studio in Paris.

19. For A young citizen of the year ? by Jules Goupil, see letter 132, n. 17.

20. The French Revolution of 1789.

21. The condition of Uncle Hein, who had been ill for years, had worsened. Alerted to the situation, Mr van Gogh travelled on
Sunday, 18 November to Laken, whence he returned on Wednesday, 21 November. Writing to Theo after Uncle Hein’s death on
26 November, he said: ‘So you already know that I left a week ago Sunday for Brussels and came back on Wednesday evening.
There seemed to be some change then, but at last he was released from his suffering and died yesterday morning at 4 a.m.
Fortunately he has been relieved of that heavy burden. The last few days he no longer regained consciousness, but on the last
day I was with him he recognized me and stroked my hand, since he could no longer speak, and gave clear signs that he
understood my words. Again, it is fortunate that his suffering is over, but his death affects me deeply nonetheless’ (FR b2571, 27
November 1877).

22. Paul Stricker, who was working in the Indies, was forced by poor health to return to the Netherlands. Mrs van Gogh wrote
to Theo: ‘It appears to be neurosis; his stomach refused to take food. The doctor appears to have said that he must return to the
Netherlands, so any illusions of his fine position there and his prospects are a thing of the past’ (FR b2569, 21 November 1877).

23. Johan and Vincent Wilhelm van Gogh, sons of Uncle Jan. Johan had left on 6 January 1877 for the Dutch East Indies,
where he worked on Java as a planter. Vincent Wilhelm was an administrator at the Cinchona and Tea enterprise at Payung
(Madjalengka, Cheribon). It is not known what was wrong with Wilhelm, who had married Maria Christina Elisabeth Musch on
25 July 1877 at Cianjur.

24. Van Gogh joined together several passages from Histoire des croisades, which he took from pp. 53, 54, 55, 56, 74 and 71 in
the 1845 Brussels edition.

25. Ed. Brussels 1845, p. 8.

26. Ed. Brussels 1845, p. 200. In the book this closing line is in the interrogative.

27. Beginning of Charles Dickens’s A child’s history of England, of which there were a number of editions. See Master
Humphrey’s clock and A child’s history of England. Introduction by Derek Hudson. Oxford etc. 1981, p. [129].

28. Gen. 1:1-5.

29. John 1:1-4 and John 1:9.

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