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THE NEW ADAM AND EVE.
BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
WE, who are born into the world's their first day's experience. No longer artificial system, can never adequately ago than yesterday, the flame of know how little in our present state human life was extinguished; there and circumstances is natural, and how has been a breathless night; and now much is merely the interpolation of another morn approaches, expecting to the perverted mind and heart of man. find the earth no less desolate than at Art has become a second and stronger eventide. Nature; she is a step-mother, whose It is dawn. The east puts on its crafty tenderness has taught us to de- immemorial blush, although no human spise the bountiful and wholesome eye is gazing at it; for all the pheministrations of our true parent. It is nomena of the natural world renew only through the medium of the im- themselves, in spite of the solitude agination that we can loosen those that now broods around the globe. iron fetters, which we call truth and There is still beauty of earth, sea, and reality, and make ourselves even par. sky, for beauty's sake. But soon there tially sensible what prisoners we are. are to be spectators. Just when the For instance, let us conceive good earliest sunshine gilds earth's moun. Father Miller's interpretation of the tain tops, two beings have come into prophecies to have proved true. The life, not such an Eden as bloomed to Day of Doom has burst upon the welcome our first parents, but in the globe, and swept away the whole race heart of a modern city. They find of men. From cities and fields, sea- themselves in existence, and gazing shore and mid-land mountain region, into one another's eyes. Their emotion vast continents, and even the remot- is not astonishment; nor do they perest islands of the ocean-each living plex themselves with efforts to disthing is gone. No breath of a created cover what, and whence, and why being disturbs this earthly atmosphere. they are. Each is satisfied to be, beBut the abodes of man, and all that he cause the other exists likewise; and has accomplished, the foot-prints of their first consciousness is of calm and his wanderings, and the results of his mutual enjoyment, which seems not toil, the visible symbols of his intellec- to have been the birth of that very tual cultivation and moral progress, moment, but prolonged from a past in short, everything physical that can eternity. Thus content with the inner give evidence of his present position— sphere which they inhabit together, it shall remain untouched by the hand of is not immediately that the outward destiny. Then, to inherit and repeople world can obtrude itself upon their this waste and deserted earth, we will notice. suppose a new Adam and a new Eve Soon, however, they feel the invinto have been created, in the full devel- cible necessity of this earthly life, and opment of mind and heart, but with begin to make acquaintance with the no knowledge of their predecessors, objects and circumstances that surnor of the diseased circumstances that round them. Perhaps no other stride had become encrusted around them. so vast remains to be taken, as when Such a pair would at once distinguish they first turn from the reality of their between art and nature. Their instincts mutual glance, to the dreams and and intuitions would immediately re- shadows that perplex them everywhere cognize the wisdom and simplicity of else. the latter; while the former, with its “Sweetest Eve, where are we?" elaborate perversities, would offer them exclaims the new Adam,-for speech, a continual succession of puzzles. or some equivalent mode of expression,
Let us attempt, in a mood half-sport- is born with them, and comes just as ive and half-thoughtful, to track these natural as breath ;—“Methinks I do imaginary heirs ofour mortality through not recognize this place.”
“Nor I, dear Adam,” replies the he cries; “ surely we ought to dwell new Eve. “And what a strange place among those gold-tinged clouds, or in too! Let me come closer to thy side, the blue depths beyond them. I know and behold thee only; for all other not how nor when, but evidently we sights trouble and perplex my spirit.” have strayed away from our home; for
" Nay, Eve,” replies Adam, who I see nothing hereabouts that seems to appears to have the stronger tendency belong to us. towards the material world; “it “Can we not ascend thither ?” inwere well that we gain some insight quires Eve. into these matters. We are in an odd “Why not ?" answers Adam, hopecategory here!
Let us look about fully. “ But no! Something drags us."
us down in spite of our best efforis. Assuredly, there are sights enough Perchance we may find a path hereto throw the new inheritors of earth after." into a state of hopeless perplexity. In the energy of new life, it appears The long lines of edifices, their win- no such impracticable feat to climb dows glittering in the yellow sunrise, into the sky! But they have already and the narrow street between, with received a woful lesson, which may its barren pavement, tracked and bat- finally go far towards reducing them tered by wheels that have now rattled to the level of the departed race, when into an irrevocable past! The signs, they acknowledge the necessity of with their unintelligible hieroglyphics! keeping the beaten track of earth. The squareness and ugliness, and regu. They now set forth on a ramble lar or irregular deformity, of every through the city, in the hope of making thing that meets the eye!' The marks their escape from this uncongenial of wear and tear, and unrenewed sphere. Already, in the fresh elasticity decay, which distinguish the works of of their spirits they have found the man from the growth of nature ! idea of weariness. We will watch What is there in all this, capable of them as they enter some of the shops, the slightest significance to minds that and public or private edifices; for know nothing of the artificial system every door, whether of alderman or which is implied in every lamp-post beggar, church or hall of state, has and each brick of the houses ? More- been flung wide open by the same over, the utter loneliness and silence, agency that swept away the inmates. in a scene that originally grew out of It so happens--and not unluckily for noise and bustle, must needs impress a an Adam and Eve who are still in feeling of desolation even upon Adam the costume that might better have and Eve, unsuspicious as they are of befitted Eden—it so happens, that the recent extinction of human exist- their first visit is to a fashionable dryence. In a forest, solitude would be good store. No courteous and imporlife; in the city, it is death.
tunate attendants hasten to receive their The new Eve looks round with a orders; no throng of ladies are tossing sensation of doubt and distrust, such over the rich Parisian fabrics. All is as a city dame, the daughter of num- deserted; trade is at a stand-still; and berless generations of citizens, might not even an echo of the national experience, if suddenly transported to watch-word—“Go ahead !”—disturbs the garden of Eden. At length, her the quiet of the new customers. But downcast eye discovers a smali tuft of specimens of the latest earthly fashgrass, just beginning to sprout among ions, silks of every shade, and whatthe stones of the pavement; she ever is most delicate or splendid for eagerly grasps it, and is sensible that the decoration of the human form, lie this little herb awakens some response scattered around, profusely as bright within her heart. Nature finds autumnal leaves in a forest. Adam nothing else to offer her. Adam, after looks at a few of the articles, but staring up and down the street, with throws them carelessly aside, with out detecting a single object that his whatever exclamation may correspond comprehension can lay hold of, finally to “ Pish !” or “Pshaw !" in the new turps bis forehead to the sky. There, vocabulary of nature. Eve, however, indeed, is something which the soul - be it said without offence to her nawithin him recognizes.
tive modesty,-examines these trea“Look up yonder, mine own Eve!” sures of her sex with somewhat live
lier interest. A pair of corsets chance might have recognized the purpose for to lie upon the counter; she inspects which the deep-souled founders reared them curiously, but knows not what to it. Like the dim awfulness of an make of them. Then she handles a ancient forest, its very atmosphere fashionable silk with dim yearn- would have incited them to prayer. ings—thoughts that wander hither Within the snug walls of a metropoand thither—instincts groping in the litan church there can be no such dark.
influence. “On the whole, I do not like it," Yet some odor of religion is still she observes, laying the glossy fabric lingering here, the bequest of pious upon the counter. But, Adam, it is souls, who had grace to enjoy a forevery strange! What can these things taste of immortal life. Perchance, mean? Surely I ought to know-yet they breathe a prophecy of a better they put me in a perfect maze !" world to their successors, who have
“Poh! my dear Eve, why trouble become obnoxious to all their own thy little head about such nonsense ?" cares and calamities in the present one. cries Adam, in a fit of impatience. “Eve, something impels me to look
Let us go somewhere else. But stay! upward,” says Adam. *« But it troubles How very beautiful! My loveliest me to see this roof between us and Eve, what a charm you have imparted the sky. Let us go forth, and perhaps to that robe, by merely throwing it we shall discern a Great Face looking over your shoulders !"
down upon us.” For Eve, with the taste that nature “Yes; a Great Face, with a beam moulded into her composition, has of love brightening over it, like suntaken a remnant of exquisite silver shine,” responds Eve. “Surely, we gauze and drawn it around her form, have seen such a countenance somewith an effect that gives Adam his where !" first idea of the witchery of dress. They go out of the church, and He beholds his spouse in a new light kneeling at its threshold give way, to and with renewed admiration, yet is the spirit's natural instinct
of adoration hardly reconciled to any other attire to a beneficent Father. But, in truth, than her own golden locks. However, their life thus far has been a continual emulating Eve's example, he makes prayer. Purity and simplicity hold free with a mantle of blue velvet, and converse, at every momeni, with their puts it on so picturesquely, that it Creator. might seem to have fallen from We now observe them entering a Heaven upon his stately figure. Thus Court of Justice. But what remotest garbed, they go in search of new dis- conception can they attain of the purcoveries.
poses of such an edifice? How should They next wander into a Church, not the idea occur to them, that human to make a display of their fine clothes, brethren, of like nature with thembut attracted by its spire, pointing selves, and originally included in the upwards to the sky, whither they have same law of love which is their only already yearned to climb. As they rule of life, should ever need an outenter the portal, a clock, which it was ward enforcement of the true voice the last earthly act of the sexton to within their souls? And what, save a wind up, repeats the hour in deep and woful experience, the dark result of reverberating tones; for Time has sur- many centuries, could teach them the vived his former progeny, and, with sad 'mysteries of crime? Oh, Judg. the iron tongue that man gave him, is ment Seat, not by the pure in heart now speaking to his two grandchild- wast thou established, nor in the sim
They listen, but understand him plicity of nature; but by hard and wrinnot. Nature would measure time by kled men, and upon the accumulated the succession of thoughts and acis heap of earthly wrong! Thou art the which constitute real life, and not by very symbol of man's perverted state. hours of emptiness. They pass up On as fruitless an errand our wanthe church aisle, and raise their eyes derers next visit a Hall of Legislature, to the ceiling. Had our Adam and where Adam places Eve in the Speaker's Eve become mortal in some European chair, unconscious of the moral which city, and strayed into the vastness and he thus exemplifies. Man's intellect, sublimity of an old cathedral, they moderated by Woman's tenderness and
moral sense! Were such the legisla- and shame, and were only the more tion of the world, there would be no cruel to those unfortunates whose need of State Houses, Capitols, Halls pestiferous sores were flagrant to the of Parliament, nor even of those little common eye. Nothing, save a rich assemblages of patriarchs beneath the garment, could ever hide the plagueshadowy trees, by whom freedom was spot. In the course of the world's first interpreted to mankind on our lifetime, every remedy was tried for native shores.
its cure and extirpation, except the Whither go they next? A perverse single one, the flower that grew in destiny seems to perplex them with Heaven, and was sovereign for all the one after another of the riddles which miseries of earth. Man never had mankind put forth to the wandering attempted to cure sin by LOVE! Had universe, and left unsolved in their he but once made the effort, it might own destruction. They enter an edi- well have happened, that there would fice of stern grey stone, standing insu- have been no more need of the dark lated in the midst of others, and lazar-house into which Adam and Eve gloomy even in the sunshine, which it have wandered. Hasten forth, with barely suffers to penetrate through its your native innocence, lest the damps iron-grated windows. It is a Prison. of these still conscious walls infect The jailer has left his post at the you likewise, and thus another fallen summons of a stronger authority than race be propagated ! the sheriff's. But the prisoners ? Did Passing from the interior of the the messenger of fate, when he shook prison into the space within its outward open all the doors, respect the magis- wall, Adam pauses beneath a structrate's warrant and the judge's sen- ture of the simplest contrivance, yet tence, and leave the inmates of the altogether unaccountable to him. It dungeons to be delivered by due course consists merely of two upright posts, of earthly law ? No; a new trial has supporting a transverse beam, from been granted, in a higher court, which which dangles a cord. may set judge, jury, and prisoner at its “Eve, Eve!” cries Adam, shudderbar all in a row, and perhaps find one ing with a nameless horror. " What no less guilty than another. The jail, can this thing be?" like the whole earth, is now a solitude, “I know not," answers Eve; “but, and has thereby lost something of its Adam, my heart is sick! There seems dismal gloom. But here are the nar to be no more sky !--no more sunrow cells, like tombs, only drearier shine!" and deadlier because in these the Well might Adam shudder, and immortal spirit was buried with the poor Eve be sick at heart; for this body. Inscriptions appear on the mysterious object was the type of walls, scribbled with a pencil, or mankind's whole system, in regard to scratched with a rusty nail ; brief the great difficulties which God had words of agony, perhaps, or guilt's given to be solved—a system of fear desperate defiance to the world, or and vengeance, never successful, yet merely a record of a date, by which followed to the last. Here, on ihe the writer strove to keep up with the morning when the final summons march of life. There is not a living came, a criminal--one criminal, where eye that could now decipher these none were guiltless—bad died upon memorials.
the gallows. Had the world heard the Nor is it while so fresh from their foot-fall of its own approaching doom, Creator's band, that the new denizens it would have been no inappropriate of earth-no, nor their descendants act, thus to close the record of its for a thousand years—could discover deeds by one so characteristic. that this edifice was a hospital for the The two pilgrims now hurry from direst disease which could afflict their the prison. Had they known how the predecessors. Its patients bore the former inhabitants of earth were shut outward marks of that leprosy with up in artificial error, and cramped and which all were more or less infected. chained by their perversions, they
They were sick—and so were the might have compared the whole moral purest of their brethren—with the world to a prison-house, and have plague of_sin. A deadly sickness, deemed the removal of the race a indeed! Feeling its symptoms within general jail-delivery. the breast, men concealed it with fear They next enter, unannounced-but
they might have rung at the door in creates a mirror for the human face in vain-a private mansion, one of the every pool of water, and for her own stateliest in Beacon street. A wild great features in waveless lakes. and plaintive strain of music is quiver- Pleased and satisfied with gazing at ing through the house, now rising like themselves, they now discover the a solemn organ peal, and now dying marble statue of a child in a corner of into the faintest murmur; as if some the room, so exquisitely idealized, that spirit, that had felt an interest in the it is almost worthy to be the prophetic departed family, were bemoaning likeness of their first-born. Sculpture, itself in the solitude of hall and in its highest excellence, is more genuchamber. Perhaps, a virgin, the purest ine than painting, and might seem to of mortal race, has been left behind, to be evolved from a natural germ, by perform a requiem for the whole kin- the same law as a leaf or flower. The dred of humanity ? Not_so! These statue of the child impresses the soliare the tones of an Æolian harp, tary pair as if it were a companion; it through which Nature pours the har- likewise hints at secrets both of the mony that lies concealed in her every past and future. breaih, whether of summer breeze or “My husband !" whispers Eve. tempest. Adam and Eve are lost in “What would you say, dearest rapture, unmingled with surprise. The Eve ?” inquires Adam. passing wind, that stirred the harp “I wonder if we are alone in the strings, has been hushed, before world," she continues, with a sense of can think of examining the splendid something like fear at the thought of furniture, the gorgeous carpets, and other inhabitants. “This lovely little the architecture of the rooms. These form! Did it ever breathe? Or is it things amuse their unpractised eyes, only the shadow of something real, but appeal to nothing within their like our pictures in the mirror ?" hearts. Even the pictures upon the walls " It is strange!" replies Adam, pressscarcely excite a deeper interest; foring his hand to his brow. “There are there is something radically artificial inysteries all around us. An idea flits and deceptive in painting, with which continually before me - would that I minds in the primal simplicity cannot could seize it! Eve, Eve, are we sympathize. The unbidden guests treading in the footsteps of beings that examine a row of family portraits, but bore a likeness to ourselves? If so, are too dull to recognize them as men whither are they gone?-and why is and women, beneath the disguise of a their world so unfit for our dwellingpreposterous garb, and with features place ?" and expression debased, because in “Our great Father only knows," herited through ages of moral and answers Eve. " But something tells physical decay.
me that we shall not always be alone. Chance, bowever, presents them And how sweet if other beings were with pictures of human beauty, fresh to visit us in the shape of ihis fair from the hand of Nature. As they image!" enter a magnificent apartment, they Then they wander through the are astonished, but not affrighted, to house, and everywhere find tokens of perceive two figures advancing to meet human life, which now, with the idea them. Is it not awful to imagine that recently suggested, excite a deeper any life, save their own, should remain curiosity in their bosoms. Woman has in the wide world ?
here left traces of her delicacy and re“How is this?” exclaims Adam. finement, and of her gentle labors. “ My beautiful Eve, are you in two Eve ransacks a work-basket, and inplaces at once?"
stinctively thrusts the rosy tip of her “And you, Adam !" answers Eve, finger into a thimble. She takes up a doubtful, yet delighted. “Surely that piece of embroidery, glowing with noble and lovely form is yours. Yet mimic flowers, in one of which a fair here you are by my side! I am con- damsel of the departed race has left tent with one-methinks there should her needle. Pity that the Day of Doom not be two!"
should have anticipated the completion This miracle is wrought by a tall of such a useful task ! Eve feels almost looking-glass, the mystery of which conscious of the skill to finish it. A they soon fathom, because Nature piang-forte has been left open. She flings