My dear young friend,
It is good of you to ask. My health, in general, is quite good. There is a
goodly amount of pain in my bones, however, which does seem to get worse in time
of foul weather. Pain is now my companion in this life. I will not drink enough
wine to remove it, for that would be drunkenness. I must confess, however, that
a draft of wine now and then does ease the matter. I am fond of it at the end of
the day. It aids my sleep, I find, and adds to warmth. Since the passing of my
dear Mary Ann my body is not so warm as it once was. Particularly in the late
hours of the night, cold and pain are often my companions. Many a morning my son’s
wife finds me by the fire, especially in winter.
It is summer now, and I have a different remedy. The early hours are the best
for fishing, as all know. I do not fish as those who must live by it, but rather
use the pole than the net. It is a most enjoyable thing.
My eyes see none too well at distance. But close up they are still working,
and so I can still find the hook to put it on the line. My grandson has given me
many hooks with the lure in place. It has taken much time to master which lure
works best in which place, and with what fish. But that is the way of old men.
When I was a young man I would insert the hook in some pork. Only the greediest
of fish would take such bait. As I grew older I learned to net some small fish
and use them to snare the large ones. Now I have mastered the art. I tease the
fish with a bit of horsehair which only looks as if it could be eaten. I rather
enjoy the thought that I have snared them and given them nothing in return.
What a wicked fellow I am – to the fish! This is the way Satan deals with
us all. When I was young he dangled dead meat in my face. Only the young fool
would play the drunkard without thinking. Only the young fool would chase the
wench and expect more than a night’s pleasure. So it is with the fish; only
the young fools will eat dead meat.
When I grew older, Satan used live bait on me. No longer the pleasures of the
flesh, but the companionship of the world. How great is the desire to be
accounted one of the fellows! It is a small fish; I am a big fish; surely all is
well. At least the big fish got a last meal.
But now there is no last meal. I am Satan to these fish! As Satan wants to
give me pride and nothing of value, so I snare these fish with nothing but
horsehair and a hook. I float it on the water and pull on it erratically. It
appears to be a delicacy; an insect on the surface of the water. The poor fish
must decide; shall I make the great leap and devour the unsuspecting insect? It
is the fish who is unsuspecting!
Now you see why Satan hates fishermen – they know too much of his ways!
Perhaps this is why our Lord chose so many of them to become his Apostles. I
know not. I know that I shall bury this letter for you – and then I will go
Hoping you enjoy the same, I remain
Isaac the alchemist