I have just received your letter and felt I must add some further comments.
Your brother is interned in the hospital on the orders of
the police and as a result of the petition signed by neighbors.
This petition, which I have read, certifies that his
appearances and his acts are those of a lunatic and that there
is a real danger to leave him at liberty.
Since his admission to hospital the commissioner has made an inquiry of the signatories of
the petition. You understand, it is all done discreetly and without noise: depositions have
been collected in writing and filed. I have read some and my impression it is that they are
exaggerated. Evidently to the point where the neighbours fear your brother and they have
overexcited each other. The acts that they reproach your brother with (supposing that they are
true) do not justify accusing a man of insanity and to request his imprisonment.
They say that the children flock around him and run after him, that he, on his part, chases them,
and he could hurt them; that he drinks in excess (the café owner, his neighbor,
has told me exactly the opposite), and finally that women fear
him “because he has seized some by the waist and has
engaged in touching their persons.” This last expression
appears several times in the depositions.
Unfortunately the act of madness that necessitated his first
admission to the hospital has resulted in a most unfavorable
interpretation of all the eccentric acts the poor young man has
engaged in. In any other person they would perhaps not be
noticed, but for him they immediately take on particular
I hope, despite the conviction of the central commissioner
and his resolution to incarcerate your brother, that we will
succeed in keeping him here and that we will be able to avoid
what you, with just reason, fear.
As I told you yesterday, everyone in the hospital is well
disposed to him and, after all, it is the physicians and not
the commissioner who must be judges in these cases.
Yours Faithfully, Salles.
P. S.: I fully take note of what you tell me in your letter
and I will make my duty to do as you wish when I believe it
necessary. For the moment your brother is well enough and can
attend to his own business.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Reverend Salles. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 02 March 1889 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number to.
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