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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

My apologies about impeachment. Your word confused me. I thought you had beheaded the man. Your explanation makes it much clearer.

Indeed, I now see the point – and wonder that you do not. That a prince should have his paramour is common; that the old women should gossip about it more common. The common use is not an excuse, however. What is indeed disturbing is the matter of the oath.

You seem to treat the oath as if it were but a formality. If you but knew the peril!

What is an oath? Is it not an appeal to Almighty God to stand as surety for your words? Would you so lightly invoke the name of God if you were perjuring yourself? No prince would fear a mere magistrate – but God rules over all. To take an oath knowing your words to be a lie is a deliberate offense against the Almighty, and He will not leave it unavenged. If your prince lies on oath so lightly, he has much to fear – and soon.

Indeed, the matter is so serious – in my time, at least – that men hire lawyers to put words in their mouths upon oath. These words are carefully crafted to say one thing and mean its opposite. God no doubt will deal with the lawyers in the next world; would God we could do without them in this.

Perhaps more telling is this: what kind of man would so perjure himself? It is not a matter for the lawyers but for the priest. To break an oath so casually tells of a conscience so seared as to be completely dead. Such a man should not be selected prince or president.

Were our prince to be caught in such a lie – upon his oath, I mean – his vassals would desert him quickly. For if his sworn word will not stand, who then would trust his fortune or future to the man? Better robbed by a brigand than an oath-breaker. A brigand has your purse; an oath-breaker your soul.

I remain,

With tongue of acid,

Isaac the Alchemist

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