Man After The Fall

Who is there among us that would not give twenty of the best volumes from his shelves, for twenty lines which should acquaint him with the condition of our first parents during the first years after the fall, and their expulsion from paradise? This knowledge is withheld from us; yet, from what  does transpire, some inferences may be deduced, and some reasonable conjectures offered.

A question of deep interest is, Whether they repented of their crime, and humbled themselves before Him whom they had so deeply offended? From all that appears up to the time when judgment was pronounced, they were in a state of mind which God could not regard with pleasure, and which would have left little hope for their welfare in this world, or in the world to come, if they had remained in it. We therefore seize with eagerness every hint, however slight, which will allow us to hope that their hearts were touched and softened, by their being dealt with much more leniently than they could have ventured to hope. Death was indeed brought into the world, and woe; but the death was not immediately inflicted, and was divested of many of its terrors; and the woe, though awful, was attended with mitigating circumstances, and prospects of deliverance. They might have been extinguished from the face of the earth. But to what purpose? Should man’s sin render the work of God of none effect? No; this race should still replenish the earth with intelligent inhabitants, fit to bear rule over all other creatures; punished, indeed, and degraded, but not consumed; cast down, but not destroyed. We are apt to regard the scene as one merely of punishment; but it was one of mercy also—of great mercy, of far greater mercy than Adam and Eve had any right or reason to expect. We, therefore, willingly embrace the opinion, that they did humble themselves under the mighty hand of God; and that the same hand which provided for the comfort of their now shivering frames, by covering them with the skins of beasts in lieu of the rudely intertwisted leaves with which they had, in the first instance, covered their naked bodies, did also soothe their grief, and send comfort into their souls. This is the general belief of the Oriental writers, who furnish ample accounts of the remorse and lamentations of the first man. The Jewish writers enter into the same view, and even go so far as to ascribe to Adam the authorship of Psalms 22.  We see no reason to concur in that opinion; but it must be admitted that the particular psalm has been selected with judgment. The poets are entirely on the same side. Thus Milton makes Adam, after some discourse (not all pleasant) with Eve, conclude thus—

“We need not fear
To pass commodiously this life, sustained
By him with many comforts, till we end
In dust, our final rest and native home.
What better can we do, than, to the place
Repairing where He judged us, prostrate fall
Before him reverent; and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg; with tears
Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek?
Undoubtedly He will relent, and turn
From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
When angry most He seemed, and most severe,
What else but favor, grace, and mercy shone?”

Probably more than a hundred and twenty years of the life of Adam and Eve pass without record in the sacred history, save what relates to the history of Cain and Abel. These sons seem to have been born soon after the expulsion from Eden; and as Seth, who was born when Adam was a hundred and thirty years old, received his name in commemoration of the then recent death of Abel, we cannot suppose the interval much less than a hundred and twenty-five years, even allowing for some time in Eden before the fall. A period fruitful in experiences this must have been in the life of the first pair. Adam was to till the ground from which he was taken; and as he had previously dressed and kept the garden of Eden, he had a knowledge of the processes and implements necessary to this culture. He had also, as we apprehend, much knowledge of various kinds, brought with him from Eden, and was far from being the mere “noble savage” which some fancy him to have been. Still, in his new condition, with a sterner soil, a less genial climate,  and less pacific animal subjects, Adam would have many needs in food, clothing, and habitation, of which he had no experience in Eden; and it is our impression, that instead of being now, as before, inspired with all the knowledge necessary to his condition, he was left much to himself, to build up a mass of knowledge acquired by experience upon the basis of his attainments in Eden. In this, no doubt, he made great progress; for although no longer gifted with the very enviable faculty of acquiring knowledge by intuition, there is no reason to question that his intellectual powers were strong and active, and, with the advantage of his education in paradise, would readily suggest to him the uses of things, and the means by which the results he desired might be achieved. We do not know of any writer who has endeavored to fill up this blank in the history of Adam more fully and pleasingly, than the old French poet Du Bartas, whose work we have more than once had occasion to quote.

He thinks that at first Adam must have had rather hard work to get a living.

“E’er yet the trees, with thousand fruits yfraught,
In formal chequers were not fairly brought;
The pear and apple lived dwarf-like there,
With oaks and ashes shadowed everywhere.
And yet, alas! their meanest simple cheer,
Our wretched parents bought full hard and dear
To get a plum sometimes poor Adam rushes
With thousand wounds among a thousand bushes.
If they desire a medlar for their food,
They must go seek it through a fearful wood:
Or a brown mulberry, then the rugged bramble
With a thousand scratches doth their skin bescramble.”

They are then described as hoarding up nuts for their subsistence during the winter.

With regard to their clothing, Du Bartas conveniently chooses to forget that they had dresses of skin by the special providence of God, that he may have the poetical satisfaction of decking them out with leaves, which he does most  fancifully. While Adam is about foraging for food, Eve also collects all the fine feathers that fall in her way—
“And then with wax the smaller plumes she sears,
And sows the greater with a white horse hairs:
(For they as yet did serve her in the stead
Of hemp, and tow, and flax, and silk, and thread).
And thereof makes a medley coat, so rare
That it resembles Nature’s mantle fair,
When in the sun, in pomp all glistering,
She seems with smiles to woo the gaudy spring.”

This splendid dress she works secretly, and when it is completed, presents it to her husband, and is abundantly rewarded by his applause and admiration, and by the magnificence of his appearance when he puts it on. This is a very fine fancy.

The approaching winter, with its frosts, creates the need of warmer clothing, and this the poet provides by making Adam meet with a flock of sheep, whose comfortable raiment suggests to him the feasibility and fitness of appropriating the fleece to his own use, which he does (we are sorry to say) by knocking the fairest of them down, and flaying it with a fish-bone.

Then as to their dwelling—
“A vaulted rock, a hollow tree, a cave,
Were the first buildings that them shelter gave.”

But finding the one to be too moist, the other too narrow, and the other “over cold,” a more commodious habitation was designed—

“Within a wood they choose
Sixteen fair trees, that never leaves did lose,
Whose equal front in quadran form prospected
As if of purpose nature them erected:
Their shady boughs first bow they tenderly,
Then interbraid and bind them curiously:
That one would think who had this arbor seen,
’T had been true ceiling painted over green.” 

From this they are eventually led to the construction of a still better habitation, a framework of dry boughs, walled with straw-compacted mud, and the poet leaves them somewhat comfortably lodged.