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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

What a shock your letter has been! I am indeed glad to hear you are not orphan – it is a miserable condition – but it beggars belief that your parents have failed you so. What is truly astonishing is that this is the custom of your times. You are all mad.

Permit me to explain it to you in your own words. Without the advice of wiser heads, a young man sets out into the world and encounters a female. Should that form of madness you call “being in love” strike, he then proposes marriage, in the hopes of “living happily ever after.” Tell me – what evidence do you have that this actually works? In our time a man’s friends would restrain him from so rash an act, on the simple grounds that “being in love” can be put simpler, “insane.” I have no doubt divorce is as common in your time as fleas are in mine. It could hardly be otherwise.

No doubt there are some select fools upon whom God has mercy. But consider please what you are doing to the women of your time! Do you not know that a woman finds her hope in the man she marries? If that man sees naught but beauty in her, how long before she becomes as nothing in his sight? His eyes will soon rest on a younger one. Whether he breaks his marriage vow or not, she will know that she is no longer esteemed by him. For what cause? Is it for any action of her own? No, God grants that women grow old – and do you not consider it a fault in her? By what right?

It seems to me that this method of yours is thoroughly unjust to the women of your time. Yet are they not God’s children too? Is there justice in this? I think not.

If you marry for beauty alone, I tell you this: you will soon have a wife who lives in quiet despair. For her there can be no hope. She will age, and watch your affection grow cold and distant. Would you condemn a woman to that? Would you have such a woman as the mother of your children?

Consider it well; I think you do greatly err.

In wonderment I remain,

Isaac the Alchemist

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