When Hawthorne's imagined pair, the new Adam and Eve, tour Boston, they visit
a jail, which, like the entire city, has been emptied of its human inhabitants.
In this passage, he makes it clear that Love, a treatment never tried, might well
be the antidote to sin. It is helpful to compare this passage with the representation
of Mary Goffe in "The
Man of Adamant."
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 propagated!