We who are born into the world's artificial system can never
adequately know how little in our present state and circumstances is
natural, and how much is merely the interpolation of the perverted
mind and heart of man. Art has become a second and stronger nature;
she is a step-mother, whose crafty tenderness has taught us to
despise the bountiful and wholesome ministrations of our true
parent. It is only through the medium of the imagination that we
can lessen those iron fetters, which we call truth and reality, and
make ourselves even partially sensible what prisoners we are. For
instance, let us conceive good Father Miller's interpretation of the
prophecies to have proved true. The Day of Doom has burst upon the
globe and swept away the whole race of men. From cities and fields,
sea-shore and midland mountain region, vast continents, and even the
remotest islands of the ocean, each living thing is gone. No breath
of a created being disturbs this earthly atmosphere. But the abodes
of man, and all that he has accomplished, the footprints of his
wanderings and the results of his toil, the visible symbols of his
intellectual cultivation and moral progress,--in short, everything
physical that can give evidence of his present position,--shall
remain untouched by the hand of destiny. Then, to inherit and
repeople this waste and deserted earth, we will suppose a new Adam
and a new Eve to have been created, in the full development of mind
and heart, but with no knowledge of their predecessors nor of the
diseased circumstances that had become incrusted around them. Such
a pair would at once distinguish between art and nature. Their
instincts and intuitions would immediately recognize the wisdom and
simplicity of the latter; while the former, with its elaborate
perversities, would offer them a continual succession of puzzles.
Let us attempt, in a mood half sportive and half thoughtful, to
track these imaginary heirs of our mortality, through their first
day's experience. No longer ago than yesterday the flame of human
life was extinguished; there has been a breathless night; and now
another morn approaches, expecting to find the earth no less
desolate than at eventide.
It is dawn. The east puts on its immemorial blush, although no
human eye is gazing at it; for all the phenomena of the natural
world renew themselves, in spite of the solitude that now broods
around the globe. There is still beauty of earth, sea, and sky, for
beauty's sake. But soon there are to be spectators. Just when the
earliest sunshine gilds earth's mountain-tops, two beings have come
into life, not in such an Eden as bloomed to welcome our first
parents, but in the heart of a modern city. They find themselves in
existence, and gazing into one another's eyes. Their emotion is not
astonishment; nor do they perplex themselves with efforts to
discover what, and whence, and why they are. Each is satisfied to
be, because the other exists likewise; and their first consciousness
is of calm and mutual enjoyment, which seems not to have been the
birth of that very moment, but prolonged from a past eternity. Thus
content with an inner sphere which they inhabit together, it is not
immediately that the outward world can obtrude itself upon their
Soon, however, they feel the invincible necessity of this earthly
life, and begin to make acquaintance with the objects and
circumstances that surround them. Perhaps no other stride so vast
remains to be taken as when they first turn from the reality of
their mutual glance to the dreams and shadows that perplex them
"Sweetest Eve, where are we?" exclaims the new Adam; for speech, or
some equivalent mode of expression, is born with them, and comes
just as natural as breath. "Methinks I do not recognize this
"Nor I, dear Man," replies the new Eve. "And what a strange place,
too! Let me come closer to thy side and behold thee only; for all
other sights trouble and perplex my spirit."
"Nay, Eve," replies Adam, who appears to have the stronger tendency
towards the material world; "it were well that we gain some insight
into these matters. We are in an odd situation here. Let us look
Assuredly there are sights enough to throw the new inheritors of
earth into a state of hopeless perplexity. The long lines of
edifices, their windows glittering in the yellow sunrise, and the
narrow street between, with its barren pavement tracked and battered
by wheels that have now rattled into an irrevocable past! The
signs, with their unintelligible hieroglyphics! The squareness and
ugliness, and regular or irregular deformity of everything that
meets the eye! The marks of wear and tear, and unrenewed decay,
which distinguish the works of man from the growth of nature! What
is there in all this, capable of the slightest significance to minds
that know nothing of the artificial system which is implied in every
lamp-post and each brick of the houses? Moreover, the utter
loneliness and silence, in a scene that originally grew out of noise
and bustle, must needs impress a feeling of desolation even upon
Adam and Eve, unsuspicious as they are of the recent extinction of
human existence. In a forest, solitude would be life; in a city, it
The new Eve looks round with a sensation of doubt and distrust, such
as a city dame, the daughter of numberless generations of citizens,
might experience if suddenly transported to the garden of Eden. At
length her downcast eye discovers a small tuft of grass, just
beginning to sprout among the stones of the pavement; she eagerly
grasps it, and is sensible that this little herb awakens some
response within her heart. Nature finds nothing else to offer her.
Adam, after staring up and down the street without detecting a
single object that his comprehension can lay hold of, finally turns
his forehead to the sky. There, indeed, is something which the soul
within him recognizes.
"Look up yonder, mine own Eve," he cries; "surely we ought to dwell
among those gold-tinged clouds or in the blue depths beyond them. I
know not how nor when, but evidently we have strayed away from our
home; for I see nothing hereabouts that seems to belong to us."
"Can we not ascend thither?" inquires Eve.
"Why not?" answers Adam, hopefully. "But no; something drags us
down in spite of our best efforts. Perchance we may find a path
In the energy of new life it appears no such impracticable feat to
climb into the sky. But they have already received a woful lesson,
which may finally go far towards reducing them to the level of the
departed race, when they acknowledge the necessity of keeping the
beaten track of earth. They now set forth on a ramble through the
city, in the hope of making their escape from this uncongenial
sphere. Already in the fresh elasticity of their spirits they have
found the idea of weariness. We will watch them as they enter some
of the shops and public or private edifices; for every door, whether
of alderman or beggar, church or hall of state, has been flung wide
open by the same agency that swept away the inmates.
It so happens,--and not unlucklily for an Adam and Eve who are still
in the costume that might better have befitted Eden,--it so happens
that their first visit is to a fashionable dry-goods store. No
courteous and importunate attendants hasten to receive their orders;
no throng of ladies are tossing over the rich Parisian fabrics. All
is deserted; trade is at a stand-still; and not even an echo of the
national watchword, "Go ahead!" disturbs the quiet of the new
customers. But specimens of the latest earthly fashions, silks of
every shade, and whatever is most delicate or splendid for the
decoration of the human form, he scattered around, profusely as
bright autumnal leaves in a forest. Adam looks at a few of the
articles, but throws them carelessly aside with whatever exclamation
may correspond to "Pish!" or "Pshaw!" in the new vocabulary of
nature. Eve, however,--be it said without offence to her native
modesty,--examines these treasures of her sex with somewhat livelier
interest. A pair of corsets chance to be upon the counter; she
inspects them curiously, but knows not what to make of them. Then
she handles a fashionable silk with dim yearnings, thoughts that
wander hither and thither, instincts groping in the dark.
"On the whole, I do not like it," she observes, laying the glossy
fabric upon the counter. "But, Adam, it is very strange. What can
these things mean? Surely I ought to know; yet they put me in a
"Poh! my dear Eve, why trouble thy little head about such nonsense?"
cries Adam, in a fit of impatience. "Let us go somewhere else. But
stay; how very beautiful! My loveliest Eve, what a charm you have
imparted to that robe by merely throwing it over your shoulders!"
For Eve, with the taste that nature moulded into her composition,
has taken a remnant of exquisite silver gauze and drawn it around
her forms, with an effect that gives Adam his first idea of the
witchery of dress. He beholds his spouse in a new light and with
renewed admiration; yet is hardly reconciled to any other attire
than her own golden locks. However, emulating Eve's example, he
makes free with a mantle of blue velvet, and puts it on so
picturesquely that it might seem to have fallen from heaven upon his
stately figure. Thus garbed they go in search of new discoveries.
They next wander into a Church, not to make a display of their fine
clothes, but attracted by its spire pointing upwards to the sky,
whither they have already yearned to climb. As they enter the
portal, a clock, which it was the last earthly act of the sexton to
wind up, repeats the hour in deep reverberating tones; for Time has
survived his former progeny, and, with the iron tongue that man gave
him, is now speaking to his two grandchildren. They listen, but
understand him not. Nature would measure time by the succession of
thoughts and acts which constitute real life, and not by hours of
emptiness. They pass up the church-aisle, and raise their eyes to
the ceiling. Had our Adam and Eve become mortal in some European
city, and strayed into the vastness and sublimity of an old
cathedral, they might have recognized the purpose for which the
deep-souled founders reared it. Like the dim awfulness of an ancient
forest, its very atmosphere would have incited them to prayer.
Within the snug walls of a metropolitan church there can be no such
Yet some odor of religion is still lingering here, the bequest of
pious souls, who had grace to enjoy a foretaste of immortal life.
Perchance they breathe a prophecy of a better world to their
successors, who have become obnoxious to all their own cares and
calamities in the present one.
"Eve, something impels me to look upward," says Adam; "but it
troubles me to see this roof between us and the sky. Let us go
forth, and perhaps we shall discern a Great Face looking down upon
"Yes; a Great Face, with a beam of love brightening over it, like
sunshine," responds Eve. "Surely we have seen such a countenance
They go out of the church, and kneeling at its threshold give way to
the spirit's natural instinct of adoration towards a beneficent
Father. But, in truth, their life thus far has been a continual
prayer. Purity and simplicity hold converse at every moment with
We now observe them entering a Court of Justice. But what remotest
conception can they attain of the purposes of such an edifice? How
should the idea occur to them that human brethren, of like nature
with themselves, and originally included in the same law of love
which is their only rule of life, should ever need an outward
enforcement of the true voice within their souls? And what, save a
woful experience, the dark result of many centuries, could teach
them the sad mysteries of crime? O Judgment Seat, not by the pure
in heart vast thou established, nor in the simplicity of nature; but
by hard and wrinkled men, and upon the accumulated heap of earthly
wrong. Thou art the very symbol of man's perverted state.
On as fruitless an errand our wanderers next visit a Hall of
Legislature, where Adam places Eve in the Speaker's chair,
unconscious of the moral which he thus exemplifies. Man's
intellect, moderated by Woman's tenderness and moral sense! Were
such the legislation of the world there would be no need of State
Houses, Capitols, Halls of Parliament, nor even of those little
assemblages of patriarchs beneath the shadowy trees, by whom freedom
was first interpreted to mankind on our native shores.
Whither go they next? A perverse destiny seems to perplex them with
one after another of the riddles which mankind put forth to the
wandering universe, and left unsolved in their own destruction.
They enter an edifice of stern gray stone standing insulated in the
midst of others, and gloomy even in the sunshine, which it barely
suffers to penetrate through its iron grated windows. It is a
prison. The jailer has left his post at the summons of a stronger
authority than the sheriff's. But the prisoners? Did the messenger
of fate, when he shook open all the doors, respect the magistrate's
warrant and the judge's sentence, and leave the inmates of the
dungeons to be delivered by due course of earthly law? No; a new
trial has been granted in a higher court, which may set judge, jury,
and prisoner at its bar all in a row, and perhaps find one no less
guilty than another. The jail, like the whole earth, is now a
solitude, and has thereby lost something of its dismal gloom. But
here are the narrow cells, like tombs, only drearier and deadlier,
because in these the immortal spirit was buried with the body.
Inscriptions appear on the walls, scribbled with a pencil or
scratched with a rusty nail; brief words of agony, perhaps, or
guilt's desperate defiance to the world, or merely a record of a
date by which the writer strove to keep up with the march of life.
There is not a living eye that could now decipher these memorials.
Nor is it while so fresh from their Creator's hand that the new
denizens of earth--no, nor their descendants for a thousand years--
could discover that this edifice was a hospital for the direst
disease which could afflict their predecessors. Its patients bore
the outward marks of that leprosy with which all were more or less
infected. They were sick-and so were the purest of their brethren--
with the plague of sin. A deadly sickness, indeed! Feeling its
symptoms within the breast, men concealed it with fear and shame,
and were only the more cruel to those unfortunates whose pestiferous
sores were flagrant to the common eye. Nothing save a rich garment
could ever hide the plague-spot. In the course of the world's
lifetime, every remedy was tried for its cure and extirpation,
except the single one, the flower that grew in Heaven and was
sovereign for all the miseries of earth. Man never had attempted to
cure sin by LOVE! Had he but once made the effort, it might well
have happened that there would have been no more need of the dark
lazar-house into which Adam and Eve have wandered. Hasten forth
with your native innocence, lest the damps of these still conscious
walls infect you likewise, and thus another fallen race be
Passing from the interior of the prison into the space within its
outward wall, Adam pauses beneath a structure of the simplest
contrivance, yet altogether unaccountable to him. It consists
merely of two upright posts, supporting a transverse beam, from
which dangles a cord.
"Eve, Eve!" cries Adam, shuddering with a nameless horror. "What
can this thing be?"
"I know not," answers Eve; "but, Adam, my heart is sick! There
seems to be no more sky,--no more sunshine!"
Well might Adam shudder and poor Eve be sick at heart; for this
mysterious object was the type of mankind's whole system in regard
to the great difficulties which God had given to be solved,--a
system of fear and vengeance, never successful, yet followed to the
last. Here, on the morning when the final summons came, a criminal
--one criminal, where none were guiltless--had died upon the gallows.
Had the world heard the footfall of its own approaching doom, it
would have been no inappropriate act thus to close the record of its
deeds by one so characteristic.
The two pilgrims now hurry from the prison. Had they known how the
former inhabitants of earth were shut up in artificial error and
cramped and chained by their perversions, they might have compared
the whole moral world to a prison-house, and have deemed the removal
of the race a general jail-delivery.
They next enter, unannounced, but they might have rung at the door
in vain, a private mansion, one of the stateliest in Beacon Street.
A wild and plaintive strain of music is quivering through the house,
now rising like a solemn organ-peal, and now dying into the faintest
murmur, as if some spirit that had felt an interest in the departed
family were bemoaning itself in the solitude of hall and chamber.
Perhaps a virgin, the purest of mortal race, has been left behind to
perform a requiem for the whole kindred of humanity. Not so. These
are the tones of an Eolian harp, through which Nature pours the
harmony that lies concealed in her every breath, whether of summer
breeze or tempest. Adam and Eve are lost in rapture, unmingled with
surprise. The passing wind, that stirred the harp-strings, has been
hushed, before they can think of examining the splendid furniture,
the gorgeous carpets, and the architecture of the rooms. These
things amuse their unpractised eyes, but appeal to nothing within
their hearts. Even the pictures upon the walls scarcely excite a
deeper interest; for there is something radically artificial and
deceptive in painting with which minds in the primal simplicity
cannot sympathize. The unbidden guests examine a row of family
portraits, but are too dull to recognize them as men and women,
beneath the disguise of a preposterous garb, and with features and
expression debased, because inherited through ages of moral and
Chance, however, presents them with pictures of human beauty, fresh
from the hand of Nature. As they enter a magnificent apartment they
are astonished, but not affrighted, to perceive two figures
advancing to meet them. Is it not awful to imagine that any life,
save their own, should remain in the wide world?
"How is this?" exclaims Adam. "My beautiful Eve, are you in two
places at once?"
"And you, Adam!" answers Eve, doubtful, yet delighted. "Surely
that noble and lovely form is yours. Yet here you are by my side.
I am content with one,--methinks there should not be two."
This miracle is wrought by a tall looking-glass, the mystery of
which they soon fathom, because Nature creates a mirror for the
human face in every pool of water, and for her own great features in
waveless lakes. Pleased and satisfied with gazing at themselves,
they now discover the marble statue of a child in a corner of the
room so exquisitely idealized that it is almost worthy to be the
prophetic likeness of their first-born. Sculpture, in its highest
excellence, is more genuine than painting, and might seem to be
evolved from a natural germ, by the same law as a leaf or flower.
The statue of the child impresses the solitary pair as if it were a
companion; it likewise hints at secrets both of the past and future.
"My husband!" whispers Eve.
"What would you say, dearest Eve?" inquires Adam.
"I wonder if we are alone in the world," she continues, with a sense
of something like fear at the thought of other inhabitants. This
lovely little form! Did it ever breathe? Or is it only the shadow
of something real, like our pictures in the mirror?"
"It is strange!" replies Adam, pressing his hand to his brow. "There
are mysteries all around us. An idea flits continually before me,--
would that I could seize it! Eve, Eve, are we treading in the
footsteps of beings that bore a likeness to ourselves? If so,
whither are they gone?--and why is their world so unfit for our
"Our great Father only knows," answers Eve. "But something tells me
that we shall not always be alone. And how sweet if other beings
were to visit us in the shape of this fair image!"
Then they wander through the house, and everywhere find tokens of
human life, which now, with the idea recently suggested, excite a
deeper curiosity in their bosoms. Woman has here left traces of her
delicacy and refinement, and of her gentle labors. Eve ransacks a
work-basket and instinctively thrusts the rosy tip of her finger
into a thimble. She takes up a piece of embroidery, glowing with
mimic flowers, in one of which a fair damsel of the departed race
has left her needle. Pity that the Day of Doom should have
anticipated the completion of such a useful task! Eve feels almost
conscious of the skill to finish it. A pianoforte has been left
open. She flings her hand carelessly over the keys, and strikes out
a sudden melody, no less natural than the strains of the AEolian
harp, but joyous with the dance of her yet unburdened life. Passing
through a dark entry they find a broom behind the door; and Eve, who
comprises the whole nature of womanhood, has a dim idea that it is
an instrument proper for her hand. In another apartment they behold
a canopied bed, and all the appliances of luxurious repose. A heap
of forest-leaves would he more to the purpose. They enter the
nursery, and are perplexed with the sight of little gowns and caps,
tiny slices, and a cradle, amid the drapery of which is still to be
seen the impress of a baby's form. Adam slightly notices these
trifles; but Eve becomes involved in a fit of mute reflection from
which it is hardly possible to rouse her.
By a most unlucky arrangement there was to have been a grand dinner-
party in this mansion on the very day when the whole human family,
including the invited guests, were summoned to the unknown regions
of illimitable space. At the moment of fate, the table was actually
spread, and the company on the point of sitting down. Adam and Eve
come unbidden to the banquet; it has now been some time cold, but
otherwise furnishes them with highly favorable specimens of the
gastronomy of their predecessors. But it is difficult to imagine
the perplexity of the unperverted couple, in endeavoring to find
proper food for their first meal, at a table where the cultivated
appetites of a fashionable party were to have been gratified. Will
Nature teach them the mystery of a plate of turtle-soup? Will she
embolden them to attack a haunch of venison? Will she initiate them
into the merits of a Parisian pasty, imported by the last steamer
that ever crossed the Atlantic? Will she not, rather, bid them turn
with disgust from fish, fowl, and flesh, which, to their pure
nostrils, steam with a loathsome odor of death and corruption?--
Food? The bill of fare contains nothing which they recognize as
Fortunately, however, the dessert is ready upon a neighboring table.
Adam, whose appetite and animal instincts are quicker than those of
Eve, discovers this fitting banquet.
"Here, dearest Eve," he exclaims,--"here is food."
"Well," answered she, with the germ of a housewife stirring within
her, "we have been so busy to-day, that a picked-up dinner must
So Eve comes to the table and receives a red-cheeked apple from her
husband's hand in requital of her predecessor's fatal gift to our
common grandfather. She eats it without sin, and, let us hope, with
no disastrous consequences to her future progeny. They make a
plentiful, yet temperate, meal of fruit, which, though not gathered
in paradise, is legitimately derived from the seeds that were
planted there. Their primal appetite is satisfied.
"What shall we drink, Eve?" inquires Adam.
Eve peeps among some bottles and decanters, which, as they contain
fluids, she naturally conceives must be proper to quench thirst.
But never before did claret, hock, and madeira, of rich and rare
perfume, excite such disgust as now.
"Pah!" she exclaims, after smelling at various wines. "What stuff
is here? The beings who have gone before us could not have
possessed the same nature that we do; for neither their hunger nor
thirst were like our own."
"Pray hand me yonder bottle," says Adam. "If it be drinkable by any
manner of mortal, I must moisten my throat with it."
After some remonstrances, she takes up a champagne bottle, but is
frightened by the sudden explosion of the cork, and drops it upon
the floor. There the untasted liquor effervesces. Had they quaffed
it they would have experienced that brief delirium whereby, whether
excited by moral or physical causes, man sought to recompense
himself for the calm, life-long joys which he had lost by his revolt
from nature. At length, in a refrigerator, Eve finds a glass
pitcher of water, pure, cold, and bright as ever gushed from a
fountain among the hills. Both drink; and such refreshment does it
bestow, that they question one another if this precious liquid be
not identical with the stream of life within them.
"And now," observes Adam, "we must again try to discover what sort
of a world this is, and why we have been sent hither."
"Why? to love one another," cries Eve. "Is not that employment
"Truly is it," answers Adam, kissing her; "but still--I know not--
something tells us there is labor to be done. Perhaps our allotted
task is no other than to climb into the sky, which is so much more
beautiful than earth."
"Then would we were there now," murmurs Eve, "that no task or duty
might come between us!"
They leave the hospitable mansion, and we next see them passing down
State Street. The clock on the old State House points to high noon,
when the Exchange should be in its glory and present the liveliest
emblem of what was the sole business of life, as regarded a
multitude of the foregone worldlings. It is over now. The Sabbath
of eternity has shed its stillness along the street. Not even a
newsboy assails the two solitary passers-by with an extra penny-
paper from the office of the Times or Mail, containing a full
account of yesterday's terrible catastrophe. Of all the dull times
that merchants and speculators have known, this is the very worst;
for, so far as they were concerned, creation itself has taken the
benefit of the Bankrupt Act. After all, it is a pity. Those mighty
capitalists who had just attained the wished-for wealth! Those
shrewd men of traffic who had devoted so many years to the most
intricate and artificial of sciences, and had barely mastered it
when the universal bankruptcy was announced by peal of trumpet! Can
they have been so incautious as to provide no currency of the
country whither they have gone, nor any bills of exchange, or
letters of credit from the needy on earth to the cash-keepers of
Adam and Eve enter a Bank. Start not, ye whose funds are treasured
there! You will never need them now. Call not for the police. The
stones of the street and the coin of the vaults are of equal value
to this simple pair. Strange sight! They take up the bright gold
in handfuls and throw it sportively into the air for the sake of
seeing the glittering worthlessness descend again in a shower. They
know not that each of those small yellow circles was once a magic
spell, potent to sway men's hearts and mystify their moral sense.
Here let them pause in the investigation of the past. They have
discovered the mainspring, the life, the very essence of the system
that had wrought itself into the vitals of mankind, and choked their
original nature in its deadly gripe. Yet how powerless over these
young inheritors of earth's hoarded wealth! And here, too, are
huge, packages of back-notes, those talismanic slips of paper which
once had the efficacy to build up enchanted palaces like
exhalations, and work all kinds of perilous wonders, yet were
themselves but the ghosts of money, the shadows of a shade. How
like is this vault to a magician's cave when the all-powerful wand
is broken, and the visionary splendor vanished, and the floor strewn
with fragments of shattered spells, and lifeless shapes, once
animated by demons!
"Everywhere, my dear Eve," observes Adam, "we find heaps of rubbish
of one kind or another. Somebody, I am convinced, has taken pains
to collect them, but for what purpose? Perhaps, hereafter, we shall
be moved to do the like. Can that be our business in the world?"
"O no, no, Adam!" answers Eve. "It would be better to sit down
quietly and look upward to tine sky."
They leave the Bank, and in good time; for had they tarried later
they would probably have encountered some gouty old goblin of a
capitalist, whose soul could not long be anywhere save in the vault
with his treasure.
Next they drop into a jeweller's shop. They are pleased with the
glow of gems; and Adam twines a string of beautiful pearls around
the head of Eve, and fastens his own mantle with a magnificent
diamond brooch. Eve thanks him, and views herself with delight, in
the nearest looking-glass. Shortly afterward, observing a bouquet
of roses and other brilliant flowers in a vase of water, she flings
away the inestimable pearls, and adorns herself with these lovelier
gems of nature. They charm her with sentiment as well as beauty.
"Surely they are living beings," she remarks to Adam.
"I think so," replies Adam, "and they seem to be as little at home
in the world as ourselves."
We must not attempt to follow every footstep of these investigators
whom their Creator has commissioned to pass unconscious judgment
upon the works and ways of the vanished race. By this time, being
endowed with quick and accurate perceptions, they begin to
understand the purpose of the many things around them. They
conjecture, for instance, that the edifices of the city were
erected, not by the immediate hand that made the world, but by
beings somewhat similar to themselves, for shelter and convenience.
But how will they explain the magnificence of one habitation as
compared with the squalid misery of another? Through what medium
can the idea of servitude enter their minds? When will they
comprehend the great and miserable fact--the evidences of which
appeal to their senses everywhere--that one portion of earth's lost
inhabitants was rolling in luxury while the multitude was toiling
for scanty food? A wretched change, indeed, must be wrought in
their own hearts ere they can conceive the primal decree of Love to
have been so completely abrogated, that a brother should ever want
what his brother had. When their intelligence shah have reached so
far, Earth's new progeny will have little reason to exult over her
old rejected one.
Their wanderings have now brought them into the suburbs of the city,
They stand on a grassy brow of a hill at the foot of a granite
obelisk which points its great finger upwards, as if the human
family had agreed, by a visible symbol of age-long endurance, to
offer some high sacrifice of thanksgiving or supplication. The
solemn height of the monument, its deep simplicity, and the absence
of any vulgar and practical use, all strengthen its effect upon Adam
and Eve, and leave them to interpret it by a purer sentiment than
the builders thought of expressing.
"Eve, it is a visible prayer," observed Adam.
"And we will pray too," she replies.
Let us pardon these poor children of neither father nor mother for
so absurdly mistaking the purport of the memorial which man founded
and woman finished on far-famed Bunker Hill. The idea of war is not
native to their souls. Nor have they sympathies for the brave
defenders of liberty, since oppression is one of their unconjectured
mysteries. Could they guess that the green sward on which they
stand so peacefully was once strewn with human corpses and purple
with their blood, it would equally amaze them that one generation of
men should perpetrate such carnage, and that a subsequent generation
should triumphantly commemorate it.
With a sense of delight they now stroll across green fields and
along the margin of a quiet river. Not to track them too closely,
we next find the wanderers entering a Gothic edifice of gray stone,
where the bygone world has left whatever it deemed worthy of record,
in the rich library of Harvard University.
No student ever yet enjoyed such solitude and silence as now broods
within its deep alcoves. Little do the present visitors understand
what opportunities are thrown away upon them. Yet Adam looks
anxiously at the long rows of volumes, those storied heights of
human lore, ascending one above another from floor to ceiling. He
takes up a bulky folio. It opens in his hands as if spontaneously
to impart the spirit of its author to the yet unworn and untainted
intellect of the fresh-created mortal. He stands poring over the
regular columns of mystic characters, seemingly in studious mood;
for the unintelligible thought upon the page has a mysterious
relation to his mind, and makes itself felt as if it were a burden
flung upon him. He is even painfully perplexed, and grasps vainly
at he knows not what. O Adam, it is too soon, too soon by at least
five thousand years, to put on spectacles and bury yourself in the
alcoves of a library!
"What can this be?" he murmurs at last. "Eve, methinks nothing is
so desirable as to find out the mystery of this big and heavy object
with its thousand thin divisions. See! it stares me in the face as
if it were about to speak!"
Eve, by a feminine instinct, is dipping into a volume of fashionable
poetry, the production certainly the most fortunate of earthly
bards, since his lay continues in vogue when all the great masters
of the lyre have passed into oblivion. But let not, his ghost be
too exultant! The world's one lady tosses the book upon the floor
and laughs merrily at her husband's abstracted mien.
"My dear Adam," cries she, "you look pensive and dismal. Do fling
down that stupid thing; for even if it should speak it would not be
worth attending to. Let us talk with one another, and with the sky,
and the green earth, and its trees and flowers. They will teach us
better knowledge than we can find here."
"Well, Eve, perhaps you are right," replies Adam, with a sort of
sigh. "Still I cannot help thinking that the interpretation of the
riddles amid which we have been wandering all day long might here be
"It may be better not to seek the interpretation," persists Eve.
"For my part, the air of this place does not suit me. If you love
me, come away!"
She prevails, and rescues him from the mysterious perils of the
library. Happy influence of woman! Had he lingered there long
enough to obtain a clew to its treasures,--as was not impossible,
his intellect being of human structure, indeed, but with an
untransmitted vigor and acuteness,--had he then and there become a
student, the annalist of our poor world would soon have recorded the
downfall of a second Adam. The fatal apple of another Tree of
knowledge would have been eaten. All the perversions, and
sophistries, and false wisdom so aptly mimicking the true,--all the
narrow truth, so partial that it becomes more deceptive than
falsehood,--all the wrong principles and worse practice, the
pernicious examples and mistaken rules of life,--all the specious
theories which turn earth into cloudland and men into shadows,--all
the sad experience which it took mankind so many ages to accumulate,
and from which they never drew a moral for their future guidance,
the whole heap of this disastrous lore would have tumbled at once
upon Adam's head. There would have been nothing left for him but to
take up the already abortive experiment of life where he had dropped
it, and toil onward with it a little farther.
But, blessed in his ignorance, he may still enjoy a new world in our
worn-out one. Should he fall short of good, even as far as we did,
he has at least the freedom--no worthless one--to make errors for
himself. And his literature, when the progress of centuries shall
create it, will be no interminably repeated echo of our own poetry
and reproduction of the images that were moulded by our great
fathers of song and fiction, but a melody never yet heard on earth,
and intellectual forms unbreathed upon by our conceptions.
Therefore let the dust of ages gather upon the volumes of the
library, and in due season the roof of the edifice crumble down upon
the whole. When the second Adam's descendants shall have collected
as much rubbish of their own, it will be time enough to dig into our
ruins and compare the literary advancement of two independent races.
But we are looking forward too far. It seems to be the vice of
those who have a long past behind them. We will return to the new
Adam and Eve, who, having no reminiscences save dim and fleeting
visions of a pre-existence, are content to live and be happy in the
The day is near its close when these pilgrims, who derive their
being from no dead progenitors, reach the cemetery of Mount Auburn.
With light hearts--for earth and sky now gladden each other with
beauty--they tread along the winding paths, among marble pillars,
mimic temples, urns, obelisks, and sarcophagi, sometimes pausing to
contemplate these fantasies of human growth, and sometimes to admire
the flowers wherewith nature converts decay to loveliness. Can
Death, in the midst of his old triumphs, make them sensible that
they have taken up the heavy burden of mortality which a whole
species had thrown down? Dust kindred to their own has never lain
in the grave. Will they then recognize, and so soon, that Time and
the elements have an indefeasible claim upon their bodies? Not
improbably they may. There must have been shadows enough, even amid
the primal sunshine of their existence, to suggest the thought of
the soul's incongruity with its circumstances. They have already
learned that something is to be thrown aside. The idea of Death is
in them, or not far off. But, were they to choose a symbol for him,
it would be the butterfly soaring upward, or the bright angel
beckoning them aloft, or the child asleep, with soft dreams visible
through her transparent purity.
Such a Child, in whitest marble, they have found among the monuments
of Mount Auburn.
"Sweetest Eve," observes Adam, while hand in hand they contemplate
this beautiful object, "yonder sun has left us, and the whole world
is fading from our sight. Let us sleep as this lovely little figure
is sleeping. Our Father only knows whether what outward things we
have possessed to-day are to be snatched from us forever. But
should our earthly life be leaving us with the departing light, we
need not doubt that another morn will find us somewhere beneath the
smile of God. I feel that he has imparted the boon of existence
never to be resumed."
"And no matter where we exist," replies Eve, "for we shall always be