The cleaning woman, who looks after him with a certain devotion,
noticing his more than abnormal state, considered it her duty to report it - and the
neighbors bought it to the attention of the central commissioner. This man put your
brother under surveillance, and this afternoon had him driven to the hospital, where he has
been placed in an isolation cell. I have just seen him and his state made a very painful
impression on me. He has withdrawn into absolute muteness, hides himself under
his bedcovers and sometimes cries without uttering a word.
Today, according to the cleaning woman, he has refused all food; all day yesterday and this
morning he has spoken little and at times his behaviour has frightened this poor woman, who
told me that while he was in this state she could not continue to look after him.
What are we to do now? After I met with the bursar, the intern and doctor Deloy,
it was decided that I would write to you to get your opinion. Obviously it is necessary
that your brother is put under constant supervision and also receive the special care that can only be given
to him in a nursing home or by the family. He cannot remain in the hospital; he would only be
cared for poorly there, although they have agreed to keep him for several days more. Tell me
if you want to have him close to you or at least in a home located in the neighbourhood of
the capital. In this case, the cleaning woman could get a permit for Paris (her husband being
an employee at the train station) and she would gladly accompany him. In any case it is
necessary to make a quick decision, and we will only act after having received your answer.
I regret, Sir, having to give you such distressing news. Be assured that I will do everything
in my power to ease your brother's situation the entire time that he is locked up in the hospital.
Tonight I saw that a fire was lit in his cell, for it felt very cold to me, and that someone keeps
it going all night. We will see tomorrow if we can install him in a better room.
My very cordial greetings, and believe me, your devoted in Christ, Salles.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Reverend Salles. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 7 February 1889 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number to.
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