van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 61 letters relate to health - mental...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 17 February 1889)
... My dear Theo, I have been so completely out of sorts mentally that it would have been useless to try to write an answer to your kind letter. Today I have just come home provisionally, I hope for good. I feel quite normal so often, and really I should think that if what I am suffering from is only a disease particular to this place, I must wait here quietly till it is over, even if it returns (and let's say that it won't). But this is what I told M. Rey once and for all. If sooner or later it is desirable that I go to Aix, as has already been suggested, I consent beforehand and I will submit to it. But in my character as a painter and a workman it is not permissible for anyone, not even you or a doctor, to take such a step without warning me and consulting me about it, also because since up till now I have always kept a comparative presence of mind in my work, I should have the right to say (or at least to have an opinion on) whether it would be better to keep my studio...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 22 February 1889)
... Gauguin has finished some lithographs. I agree with what you say, that if it takes a more serious turn someday, I must do what the doctors say and not oppose it. But that may be neither tomorrow nor the next day. Now it is not uncommon, it seems, to see even a whole population in these parts seized with panic, as at Nice during the earthquake. Just now the whole town is uneasy, no one rightly knowing why, and I saw in the papers that actually there have again been slight earthquake shocks in places not far from here. The more reason then, I consider, why as far as I am concerned I should wait with as much patience as I can muster, hoping that things will clear up again. At another time, if I were less impressionable, I should probably poke a good deal of fun at what seems to me topsy-turvy and off-beat in the ways of this country. At present it doesn't make a particularly funny impression on me. Well, well, after all there are so many painters...
Letter from Reverend Salles to Theo van Gogh
(18 March 1889)
... anybody and I am not dangerous to anyone. He understands, that goes without saying, that he has had a bout of insanity and this thought grieves and revolts him at the same time. I told him that, once he is completely recovered, he must agree that it would be in his best interest and in view of his peace of mind to move to another quarter. He appears to have accepted this idea, while calling my attention to the fact that perhaps it would be difficult to find an apartment elsewhere after what has happened. In summary, I have found your brother transformed and, God willing, this improvement will be maintained. There is something in his state which is indefinable, and it is impossible to account for the so abrupt and sudden changes that have happened to him. It is evident that while he remains in the situation where I have seen him, there is no question that he will remain confined; no one that I know has this sad courage. He told me that he will hasten to write to you. ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(19 March 1889)
... only complicate and confuse things. All the more because you will understand that, while I am absolutely calm at the present moment, I may easily relapse into a state of overexcitement on account of fresh mental emotion. So you understand what a staggering blow between the eyes it was to find so many people here cowardly enough to join together against one man, and that man ill. Very good - so much for your better guidance; as far as my mental state is concerned, I am greatly shaken, but I am recovering a sort of calm in spite of everything, so as not to get angry. Besides, humility becomes me after the experience of the repeated attacks. So I am being patient. The main thing, I cannot tell you this too often, is that you should keep calm too, and let nothing upset you in your business. After your marriage we can set ourselves to clearing all this up, and meanwhile I beg you to leave me quietly here.
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 22 March 1889)
... me the right to go out into the town. As far as I can judge, I am not properly speaking a madman. You will see that the canvases I have done in the intervals are steady and not inferior to the others. I miss the work more than it tires me. Certainly I should be pleased to see Signac, if he has to pass through here after all. Then they must let me go out with him to show him my canvases. Perhaps it would have been a good thing for me to accompany him where he was going, and if we had tried to find a new place together, but there, there isn't much likelihood of that now, so what's the use of his putting himself out on purpose to come and see me? There is one very good thing in your letter, where you say that one must not let oneself have any illusions about life. The thing is to put up with the real facts of your destiny, and then there you are. I am writing in haste to send off this letter, which will, however, perhaps only reach you on Sunday, when...

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